Cover Image: Ink & Sigil

Ink & Sigil

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Member Reviews

Ink & Sigil is a much welcome return to the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles, and although Atticus and Oberon make but a brief cameo, Al and the rest of these new characters are just as colorful and quirky. The only disappointment for me was the villain who I found a little bland. Otherwise, this first book in the spin-off series holds all the charm, wittiness, and humor of the original series, and does a wonderful job enlarging upon its mythology. I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing where the next book takes us!
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Kevin Hearne is back in the universe of his much beloved Iron Druid with a new series Ink & Sigil. Readers unfamiliar with this universe will feel welcome, as the book doesn't lean on prior knowledge, but fans of Atticus O'Sullivan will still find plenty of little nods to the previous series to feel connected and treading familiar ground. 

I really enjoyed Ink & Sigil. Al is a thoughtful old man who clearly tries to take care of those around him to the best of his abilities and tries to minimize harm. Nadia is an interesting, nuanced and strong (literally) character with a lot more depth than Hearne's earlier women characters. The hobgoblin is amusing and provides needed humor and levity when the book sometimes goes dark. The characters are all a little unusual making for a book that stands out from other Urban Fantasy novels I've read. 

I will say flat out that Kevin Hearne has sprinkled in all of my favorite things, so I am immediately biased to like this book. Ink & Sigil somehow surprised me by featuring....handmade inks and fountain pens. Why this is surprising with a title like that is beyond me. And yet it was. (I am notorious for not reading blurbs of books before I read the book - it's right there in the blurb - enchanted ink!) Anybody who knows me IRL knows I love fountain pens and inks. I've got a tidy little collection of fountain pens (mostly TWSBI) and an slightly less tidy collection of inks. So it's no wonder that Al and his story full of magical inks and beautiful pens instantly charmed me. I've added photos of three of the five pens called out in the story to this post. 

Not only that, but Hearne then moved on to include gin and whisky quite prominently and with much fine detail in the story. Again, anyone who knows me IRL knows that gin and whisk(e)y are my go-to spirits of choice. There's nothing finer on a hot day than a gin and tonic. Nothing better on a chilly evening than a dram of something brown and neat or a Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Ink & Sigil is a book that pays attention to the details. Hearne takes care to tell us the color of Nadia's nail polish, the brands and flavor profiles of the drinks consumed and the rich hues and ingredients in the inks included in the story. And it doesn't get bogged down in the details. The story of Al, Buck and Nadia moves at a fairly brisk pace for a senior citizen and is full of wit, charm and mysteries to unravel. There were moments I literally laughed out loud, and others where I was very tense, wondering how the team was going to accomplish their goals. 

Throughout the story, we discover some of what happened in the Iron Druid Chronicles and afterward through the lens of someone slightly more in the know than the average person, but without a front row seat. These callbacks help fans of that series keep their footing and timelines clear, but add depth and richness to the universe without being confusing for new readers, unfamiliar with the adventures of Atticus and Oberon. 

It is hard to review a book set in the universe of the Iron Druid Chronicles without comparing it to the Iron Druid Chronicles, so I'm not going to try. Just from book one, I like Ink & Sigil more than I liked the Iron Druid books. Al and Nadia and the hobgoblin are more interesting, nuanced characters than Atticus, Granuaile and Oberon. For many readers of the series, Oberon was the best part of the books and frankly he turned me off of the books a lot. He was, even for a dog, very one note and crude. Granuaile didn't get interesting until the final two books when she suddenly got a personality and Atticus always felt very "poor me" even when he was in a situation of his own making. Al, Nadia and the hobgoblin are completely different and I frankly like them much better. Where Oberon was the comic relief in Iron Druid, the hobgoblin takes that place in Ink & Sigil to a much funnier effect, at least to me. Nadia feels like Hearne took all of the (deserved) criticism about Granuaile to heart and wrote a character that looks and sounds like a real person. Hearne is a better writer in Ink & Sigil and it shows.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ink & Sigil and will be excitedly waiting for book 2 to come out. In the meantime, book 1 hits shelves August 25, 2020. If you pick it up, come back and tell me what you thought in the comments below.
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Al MacBharrais is a unique lead in that he isn't an overly handsome, quirky youngster. Well, he's quirky, but that's a check in the awesome column. I loved him right from the start. And what a start, you get the tone instantly, which is fun with a dabble of dark humor.

I adored the variety of creatures that inhabit this fantasy, and was especially partial to the hobgoblin. And Saxon Codpiece, gotta love the name, he was an awesome character. There are a lot of creatures and I loved that Al kept me in the know with what they were in this world. 

The sigil/magic ink concept fascinated me and you can tell a lot of creative energy went into it, brilliant. I also really appreciated the unique curse. I think I may have a similar curse, or maybe I just talk too much. Anyway, as Al tries to find out both who cursed him and who his apprentice was smuggling Fae for there was a nice amount of action and the pace was good.

I hadn't read the Iron Druid series this spins from, but found it easy to sink into this world and enjoyed my stay so much that I'm going to grab the other series. Fantasy fans are in for a treat with this and I hope there will be more soon.
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I have been a huge Kevin Hearne fan since the very day Hounded released. My coworker unpacked it from our shipment and put it in my hand saying, “oh this one looks like your kind of book.” 

This spinoff does not disappoint. ❤️
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Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a little slow in the beginning, but it was well worth the read. Recommended for adult lovers Of fantasy fiction.
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Kevin Hearne consistently creates likeable characters. He uses well-researched mythology in his world building and it shows.
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Thank the gods and Kevin Hearne.   Another chance to re-enter the delightful world of the Iron Druid ....  this time through the eyes and action of the delightful Al MacBharrais ( Mac Vare Ish) ... one of five Sigil Agents in the world ... his territory is Scotland and Europe.  His job is to monitor and control visitation of spirits, creatures and deities from the multiple other planes and pantheons ....  especially the various creatures of the Fae.  He not only makes and interprets magical contracts, but is able to create special effects and actions through the rendering of Ink "Sigils". He hand crafts the inks from rare ingredients which instill the latent magic.  The Sigils manipulate ones visual apparatus ...  sort of a hacking the brain.  For example:  Sigil of Porous Mind leaches away the targets usual priorities and makes one open to suggestion with the secondary effect of difficulty remembering what happens in the next few minutes.  MacBharrrais  crafts the Sigils on small placards and once revealed to the eyes of the target they have the desired  "beneficial" effect ...  these are used only to accomplish good for the citizens of earth and protect against the denizens of beings from other planes and pantheons ...  especially  rogue elements of the Fae.
       Al's apprentices always seem to die of a mysterious freak accidents.  The mystery begins in Scotland with the  seeming accidental death of his seventh apprentice.  Gordie apparently is found in his Glasgow flat ...  the victim of choking on a  raison laced scone?  Al assumes the role of detective and uncovers the dastardly life of crime that Gordie is involved in..  In cahoots with a black ops he is trafficking different Fae to servitude on earth for nefarious purposes.  Somehow luring to earth ....  the likes of a: troll, clurichaun, leprechaun, pixie, undine, fir darrig and even an ogre, but for what purpose ?   Al must uncover who is behind these heinous acts ...   and for what purpose.
      Hearne does it once again !   He weaves a complex narrative filled with magic, wit and whimsy  and suspense that leads one down a twisted and exciting pathway filled with creatures from unearthly planes and even a chance meeting with a real Iron Druid and his friend Oberon.  This delightful tale is bound to please all with an anticipation of future trials and tribulations in the life of Aloysius (Al) MacBharrais and his multiple unique assistants and associates.  Who wouldn't love his office manager and bodyguard, Nadia ...  who happens to be a "battle seer" ...  she usually sheaths herself in a symphony of black.   Black lipstick and nail polish accompanies her spiked mohawk, studded choker, black leather corset and boots and studded belt.  Or his personal hacker ... Saxon Codpiece.  Thanks to NetGalley and Random House publishing group for providing an Uncorrected Proof of this magical interlude in exchange for an honest review.   ( at readers )
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Very much a different flavor of story that the Iron Druid books. Quieter. But I enjoyed it and look forward to the next adventure!!
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Ink & Sigil is a story filled with excitement, magic and adventure. I enjoyed the variety of unexpected characters that populated this gorgeous Scottish landscape. Not knowing exactly what to expect is part of the fun. Sigil agent Al MacBharrais tries to uncover the evil lurking in the shadows that has somehow ensnared seven of his apprentices. He discovers illegal activities secreted in the seedy underbelly of his magical world that threatens to upend it all. Can he stop this sinister plan before it's too late and bring the perpetrators to justice?
I was happy to see that the author chose to use the beautiful and very colorful Scots language to tell this story and remain as authentic to the language as he possibly could. A clear and concise pronunciation guide is provided for the reader; a must read before diving into this funny and heartwarming tale.

I came for the title and stayed for the rich, adventurous, action-packed story. I have enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to the other stories to come.
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So I was a bit delayed in reviewing this because I had to go and finally read the last book & a half in the Iron Druid Chronicles to make sure that I wouldn’t be spoiled for those. Why hadn’t I read those yet? Well. Sometimes we don’t want a story to end, and so we delay as much as possible. Also, it could have a little something to do with the fact that it feels like Ragnarok has been happening in the real world for the last 3.5 years or so, especially if you’re in the US.

That said, if you’re as worried as I was, I can reassure you. The spoilers are very light: x,y, and z characters have managed to survive is about all you’re told. If that bothers you and you haven’t finished the original series, then you should probably get on that.

But enough about the old series. Let’s get into the new. I kind of wish I was still into audio books because with the proper reader, this one would be super fun to listen to. It’s all Scottish and English accents and fun swear words that an American reader wouldn’t normally get exposed to.

The main characters are also super fun. Al MacBarrais (pronounced Mac-VAR-ish, if I remember the guide at the front of the book correctly), our Sigil Agent and narrator, works for Brighid (who you should know from Iron Druid!), keeping the peace between the mundane world and visitors from the Fae. His exact age isn’t mentioned, but he’s old enough to have lost his wife and to habitually carry and use a cane. Then there’s Buck Foi (yes, he chose his own handle and yes, it means what you think), a hobgoblin who joins with Al to investigate how & why Al’s recently deceased apprentice, Gordie, had been involved Fae-trafficking*.

*Well, it’s not human trafficking, is it??

Al is an interesting character. He’s older (if not elderly) and under a curse which causes anyone he speaks with to, at some undetermined point, come to murderously hate & detest him. Even his own family. Alone, except for a string of apprentices who keep expiring in bizarre and accidental ways (Gordie choked on a raisin), Al is effectively handicapped. He uses a phone app to speak for him.

The plot is your basic murder-mystery, with the addition of Fae creatures, magic, modern technology, politics, and a particularly hard-to-glamour detective. This is clearly going to be a series — and has been marketed as such — and has lots of room to grow. I’m looking forward to see where Hearne takes us.
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I'll be buying an actual copy of this -- the Iron Druid Chronicles are just too  much fun and it was awesome the NetGalley and the publisher to allow me to read this before official release!

When it comes out in hardback I"ll certainly be wanting a print copy!
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I found this book to be extremely interesting. 
I thoughtfully enjoyed this novel and will look for more books of this author for me to read in the future. 

This had a very solid storyline, with good characters and a nice development. 

Definitely recommend.
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I enjoyed seeing the Iron druid world from a different perspective. Hearne traveled to Glasgow to research this book, which lends authenticity to the language and places /drinks that the characters encounter. This did feel a little contrived though, like he was trying a bit too hard to cram a couple weeks of Scotland into his book. However, I recommend Ink and Sigil if you are an Irod Druid fan or enjoy Celtic mythology.
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I really enjoyed this book. I finished it in a couple of hours. It's really good to read in the Iron Druid world again. I liked the characters very much, I was rooting for them all the way. I hope to read more about Al, Buck and Nadia in the future. #InkSigil #NetGalley
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Thank you NG and Kevin Hearne for this arc for an honest review!

I first have to say that the Iron Druid series is one of my all time faves.. so when I saw this series starting up.. I couldn’t wait!!  I laughed through most of this book.. it was so fun and the characters were never boring. It’s kept a steady to fast pace through out and I didn’t want it to end. It’s going to feel like forever waiting for book 2!
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Recommended for: Fans of urban fantasy, fans of fiction with older protagonists, fans of crude Scottish insults, fans of adventure comedy

Ink and Sigil takes place in the same universe as Mr. Hearne's Iron Druid series, but the Iron Druid series is not a prerequisite to enjoying this, and while the finale of the Iron Druid series is alluded to, it won't spoil that series if you choose to dive into it next.

By day, Al runs a printing business in Glasgow. When he's not on the clock, he is a sigil agent for Brighid, first of the Fae, writing and enforcing magical contracts that hold gods and fae in check on the mortal planes. He works with a crew of delightful oddities and kicks a surprising amount of behind for a sixty-something year-old man with a fancy mustache. 

When Al stumbles onto a fae-trafficking ring right in his backyard, he is compelled to find those responsible and punish them for their crimes. He enlists the help of other sigil agents around the globe, a rude little pink hobgoblin man, and an accountant who is uncharacteristically vicious. 

Quick paced, hilarious, and heartwarming. You'll be stalking Kevin Hearne's website for news on book two.
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Ink & Sigil builds upon the world Hearne built in the Iron Druid Chronicles and shifts from modern urban mythology to urban fantasy with a mystery twist. Al MacBharrais is the ultimate ink (and pen) geek who runs a print shop with the aid of an amazing and uniquely skilled manager, Nadia. But it is his mastery of magically enchanted inks and sigils which provide the interest to this particular story. Primarily he writes binding contracts for the Fae and other gods visiting Earth. 

However, dealing with the other planes is never simple, especially when dealing with the Fae. 
MacBarris suffers from a curse that has taken his relationship with his son, friends, and now seven of his apprentices. He's found ingenious ways to work within the limits of his curse, and push text-to-speech apps through their paces. As MacBarris solves the mysterious demise of his recent apprentice (raisins *are* evil), he also must avoid having all his secrets revealed to the mundane world. Combines with allies established, wary, and new. In the process he uncovers a plot that would have changed the Fae forever. 

Hearne has once again built a rich world, the characters are able to enjoy themselves (even when they're getting their asses kicked), and the wordplay is rambunctious. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Ink & Sigil.

I've never read the author's The Iron Druid Chronicles before but the premise was intriguing so I was excited when my request was approved.

I love mysteries but a mystery with magic and magical creatures, a reluctant detective, a street smart office manager, a hilarious hobgoblin, and all things magical, count me in!

I really liked Al; a good guy with special abilities as a sigil agent. He's affable, good at what he does, and cursed. That's a story that could fill another book.

I loved the world building; the names of the sigils Al uses to thwart both the good and bad guys, the alliance between sigil agents and the fae; Al's responsibility to keep humanity ignorant of the fae and all things magical.

Like a reviewer had previously noted, I would have liked exposition on Al's wife; he misses her terribly, but never refers to her by name. I would have liked to know how they met, how they used to spend time together; these little details offering insight into their marriage would have been nice to read about.

There was humor and action, drama and interesting characters, both human and non-human. 

I really liked the part about how Al met Nadia, how loyal she is to Al, and how well they work together.

I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
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Well now I have a new series for when Jim Butcher goes off on another hiatus from the Dresden files. Good world building, excellent characters development, interesting plot which felt secondary to building up everything else but still moved everything forward. I can not wait for future books and more of the deities (I enjoyed the name dropping like Morrigan) and the very wide and vast world of the fae. And Buck was such a delightful sidekick! Great book and great start to a new series.
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This is the beginning of a new series set in the same universe as Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, and it is perhaps the first urban fantasy novel whose protagonist is over 60. At last, I have a hero for my own demographic.

But our hero gets around pretty well and even holds his own in a fight, courtesy of temporary magic spells called 'sigils'. The supporting cast is entertaining: there is a larcenous hobgoblin, a goth accountant warrior, assorted goddesses and fae, and even a librarian who may know more than she lets on.

T.he typical urban fantasy banter is witty, the story moves fairly quickly (although there are a few asides to provide backstory for the characters), and the action sequences are well written.

I'm looking forward to additional books in the series.
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