Cover Image: Ink & Sigil

Ink & Sigil

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Member Reviews

Such a creative story that allows old magics to exist in the modern world. Great characters and developed well with a plot that continues to move from beginning to end. I will definitely read the next book in the series.
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Thank you to Random House and Netgalley for gifting me these books.

This tale of elderly sigil agent Al MacBharrais hunting down a smuggling ring while also evading police and babysitting a hobgoblin is filled with the fantasy elements I love reading about. As a newbie to the Iron Druid world I went into this not sure what to expect. I got plenty of magic but also a great amount of humor and heart. I am absolutely going to continue reading this series and further exploring the rest of the Iron Druid Chronicles.

The absolute thrill for me was discovering that our lead was not a 20 something hero who never gets hurt or who is always right. Al is a widower who has a curse that he is trying to remove as it has immense, horrible repercussions for his relationships. He is fair and open minded and I loved seeing how he deals with all of the stuff that is thrown at him. The characters surrounding him are also wonderful to meet and see how they are all forming a bit of a team to deal with the Fae and other supernatural creatures as part of his job.

This world has so much potential and Al's journey is definitely not over so I'm excited to see what happens next. The magic system of special ink and writing spells is interesting (based on real life ink manufacturing) and along with the Glasgow setting, adds to the overall mystic feeling.

I highly recommend this new series for lovers of urban fantasy. You don't need to read his other series to appreciate the wit and charm of Al and his crew.
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It was refreshing that the MC was human and in his 60s.  Rather than making him a less effective protagonist, his life experience gave him an edge and he managed to accomplish what he needed to quite handily. 

I loved that it took place in Scotland. The author managed to include Scottish brogue in a way that addeď to enjoyment of the book. In less deft hands, the brogue might have become annoying, detracting from the book.

The characters were well done and interesting.  The humor and the main plot kept my attention. 

However, the author's tendency to lapse into exposition about politics or sex trafficking was jarring.  


I
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This book is in the world of the Iron Druid but a different main character.  Magic is done through the use of hand drawn sigils and hand made inks.  .The fae are still a part of the story so it feels familiar yet very different.  Set in Scotland, Al MacBharrais sets out to find out what his apprentice Geordie has been up to-right under his own nose.
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Initial Thoughts
I had a good time with this book. I have quite finished reading the Iron Druid Chronicles yet but I have read enough that I knew the world that this book was set in prior to beginning the novel. I don't really feel like jumping to this series spoiled anything for me in the Iron Druid series but what do I know. I decided to go with the audiobook for this one since Luke Daniels narrates the book and I think it was a good choice. I enjoyed going on this adventure with Al and I found myself completely sucked in by the mystery. Buck helped to keep things from being too serious and was the perfect character to offset Al. I found this to be a great start to a very promising series and I cannot wait to learn more about the curses and what Al will face in the next installment.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley and a copy of the audiobook was purchased.
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Hearne's Iron Druid series is one of my favorite series to read so I had high hopes for this new series that is Iron Druid adjacent.  Al is a Glaswegian sigil agent, a human who writes contracts for Fae movement on earth and uses written sigils with special ink to enforce those contracts and also to amp up natural abilities.  However, he's getting older and needs to train someone to eventually take over.  The death of his apprentice leads to the uncovering of a larger fae trafficking scheme that he must figure out.  The world building Hearne did in the Iron Druid series is upheld in this initial book you don't have to have read the Iron Druid series to pick up on the rules of the world.  Al and the cast of characters in this book are less snarky but no less unique than Atticus and Oberon and are enjoyable to read about.  This was a good start to a new series and I look forward to reading about more about Al & Co.  A free ebook was received from NetGalley.
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This book is wonderful! I always enjoy this authour, but this is a genuine surprise. Usually a spin-off series will take a minor character to be the new hero, this is a totally new set of characters in the same universe. The G-Ds are the same, but totally new set of people, new setting, new problems. Highly recommend whether or not you have read the Iton a Druid Chronicles.
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Kevin Hearne has made a name for himself with the Iron Druid Chronicles (maybe other stuff too, but it's always the Iron Druid stuff I see in bookstores!). I read the first one in that series years ago, liked it... and for some reason I never came back to it. When I was given the chance to read "Ink and Sigil," I was both very excited for a new series, and then a bit embarrassed for forgetting about his other series. I kept thinking, "How can I read this when I didn't properly read his other series? I should go do that! But but but... this one looks so fun... I should read this.

Anyway, about "Ink and Sigil." Obviously, based on my rating, you will know I loved it. I loved it!! Yes, it is set in the same world as his Iron Druid series, but as a casual Kevin Hearne reader, I did not notice that I was "missing out" by not having read his other series. The cast of characters includes a 60+ main character(named Al) that is surprisingly young-at-heart-- and with the right sigils, temporarily young in body as well. Al MacBharris is tasked with making sure that magical beings are not causing problems on Earth. He writes contracts for these magical beings and makes sure that they are enforced. He is also cursed so that anyone close to him dies. And anyone that talks to him for more than one conversation will inexplicably hate him. 

You'd think that a double-whammy like that would make this book unreadable. But instead it is highly entertaining, full of wit (and alcohol, whew!), and is just a good time. I really appreciated this light-hearted and fun urban fantasy. 

I think that a lot of enjoyment from reading any book comes with correct timing- I read this while on many 'heavy' books and while constantly checking my phone for wildfire evacuation orders (while stressful, turned out fine). Being able to escape into a fantasy where I knew things would turn out mostly okay was wonderful. Many thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Ink and Sigil was published late last month- it's available to read! Go read it! 
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** I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review,**
I adored the Iron Druid Series so I was really excited to read another story set in the same world but with new characters.  I read the novella that introduced me to Al,, a Scottish  Sigil Master who is charged with keeping the world safe from Fae who do not have permissions to be in our world.  
Being in Scotland with a whole new set of characters but understanding all I learned in Iron Druid was so much fun.  Al has a curse on him (a double one) that causes anyone around him to grow to hate him.  HE has also lost 7 apprentice's in the last 10 years.  This book has snark, mystery, action, crazy characters, and a lot of potential. There is even a small cameo of a character I adore.    I cannot wait to continue on with this series.
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Returning to the universe created in The Iron Druid series, Kevin Hearne's Ink & Sigil is a fantastic first step into a new series.  Hearne has a flair for conflict, and that shines brightly in Ink & Sigil, as his protagonist navigates carefully between our world and denizens of the others.  Refreshingly, Al, our eponymous Sigil agent, isn't a brilliant, dashingly handsome, invincible hero, but rather an elderly man who has just enough knowledge to stand a chance against beings much stranger and more powerful than he.  His compatriots are wonderful, driven by their own motivations and passions.  I have to admit I'm partial to accountants in fiction, and Nadia may be my new favorite.  Returning to the novel at large, Hearne has set the stage for a great, sweeping adventure masterfully, and I eagerly anticipate the next entry.
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Set in the world of the Iron Druid (who makes an appearance), Aloysius MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent. He monitors the various planes of existence, writing treaties that keep folks in the correct dimensions and places. He answer directly to Brighid, First among the Fae. He is both blessed and cursed, he knows the secret inks that bind, but he cannot speak to anyone because they will hate him and all of his apprentices are sentenced to death. When his most recent apprentice, Gordie, dies after choking on a raisin, Al discovers Gordie was trafficking the Fae to the CIA, who are enhancing them to be immune to iron. Al frees the hobgoblin that was Gordie's most recent sale and writes a contract with Buck Foi, to work for him and help him investigate which Fae is plotting to overturn Brighid. This is an imaginative expansion of the Iron Druid world. Recommended for anyone who loved Atticus O'Sullivan.
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Ink & Sigil is the first book in a new tie-in series by Kevin Hearne. Released 25th Aug 2020 by Penguin Random House on their Del Rey imprint, it's 336 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.
This is an exuberant Scottish romp and feels like a whiskey soaked script for a supernatural Scooby Doo adventure (including the tricked out van). It's an ensemble cast including a cursed sigil mage, a sarcastic hobgoblin sidekick, a more-than-competent-goth-battle-mage-accountant (who has a sweetly stable relationship), a cabal of international sigil mages keeping the peace over the interplanar beings, some shady government skullduggery, and a librarian for romantic interest.

For fans of Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, Atticus (and Oberon) do make an appearance, but it's a very short flashback cameo. Obviously since they're on one another's radars, it's more than likely they'll be showing up in crossovers, but this book stands very well on its own merits, and fans who are looking for Iron Druid won't find him here.

Many of the characters in this book are Scottish and the author has made a herculean attempt to translate the language and accent. It's mostly successful and I didn't have any trouble following (and got more than one chuckle out of the vernacular), but readers unfamiliar with spoken Scottish might find parts of the book slow going. The language is rough, but not egregiously so. There is violence and destruction aplenty (again, used in context). For readers familiar with the author's other work, it's on a similar level (or roughly equivalent to Jim Butcher, Charles Stross, and the like). I couldn't help but hear the dialogue in my head in the Glaswegian accent as written).

I liked that the main protagonist wasn't a 20something badass. He has to use age and experience to his advantage (along with magic). I like that he has a slight romantic interest who's a late-middle-aged librarian. I liked his egalitarianism, his morality, his kindness, and his pragmatism. I also liked that the book is genuinely funny. It's not often that I am surprised into laughter by reading (smiles, yes, laughter, no). This book actually made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

Definitely worthwhile and highly recommended to fantasy humor fans. Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Thanks go to NetGalley and Del Rey Books for a review copy of this book from one of my favorite fantasy authors. I got into the story quickly, reading the book with the feeling that an excellent series (on par with the Iron Druid Chronicles?) had begun. The characters were all well-formed, the challenges both daunting and unique, and the story brought to a satisfying ending. 
All of that should have inspired an easy 4 star rating. But alas, I really did not sense that the story was on the same level overall as the IDC series. I have thought and considered this for several weeks, torn between a 3-star and a 4-star rating. Why? I believe it is because I could not personally identify with any characters in the story, which helps me construct a realism to the events described. Also, the "evil forces" seemed to be too weak from the outset to truly threaten the demise of the "good forces". 
That said, I finally came to two conclusions: (1) I enjoyed the book; (2) it is a good beginning to what I hope is another fantastic series. Bottom line: I look forward to the next adventure for Al MacBharrais and his team.
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I would recommend this book to urban fantasy fans and readers of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles, but if you did come from that previous series, you may have to strap in for a while before you feel like you're getting back to the fun that was had in the Iron Druid books.  If you're a fan of Irish and Scottish lore, the author has gone to great lengths to incorporate significant detail from those into these worlds.     

Around halfway through, things loosened up and the remainder of the book was quite enjoyable.  The beginning felt slow for me as it took a while to get used to the idea of the main character speaking through an electronic device with a random British accent and I felt introducing new characters and plot ideas to a somewhat established world drug on without the normal action and plot development for a while.  The author no doubt put in a lot of work to create the detail given to the accents and how he would write the digital dialogue out, but I'm not sure it really added anything to the story, at least not in the early parts as you're trying to get acclimated to it.

The author's prose is always good and very readable.  The plot was interesting in a similar fashion to the Iron Druid Chronicles as it is the same world.  A few of the characters are really exciting once things get established and the plot starts moving.  Overall, I give it 4 stars.
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Ink and Sigil will be loved by new and long-term fans of Kebin Hearne. Whether it is gin or whiskey, pick your poison and settle in for this motley crue, found family of colorful characters, witty dialogue and action packed mystery.

Love the witty dialogue, found family and brilliant characters. Immerse yourself in Hearne's thoughtful  and intelligent deep dive into human trafficking that will shine a light on all sides of a little discussed and vital social issue.

Hearne's latest is at once, heartfelt, funny, and relevant.
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What a fabulous start to a series! Kevin Hearne has done a marvelous job bringing the world of the Iron Druid back to life with a fantastic protagonist and a set of supporting characters that rival those of the original series... The writing is crisp and entertaining. The series-long and book-specific story lines were set up well and delivered the perfect blend of tension and revelation to keep me engaged from the opening pages. I loved the way he blended backstory and current story to make the characters real and leap off the page.. I already cannot wait for the next book!!
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I received a digital ARC via Netgalley through the publisher thought all thoughts are my own.

This book was such a wonderful adventure and treasure all in one. This book was set in Glasgow, talks about the wonders/powers of Ink, one very funny hobgoblin that gets drunk off of salsa, lots of talk about the Fae, a powerful female sidekick who kicks butt and so much more.

I love it when books mention about the wonders of ink and there's also some fawning over the wonders of various different pens because these are two of my favorite things and knowing this book would center around ink and magic, it was bound to be one of my favorite books of this year so far. Spoiler alert: it more than exceeded my expectations and I'm already eager to read the sequel when it's released.

Full of humor, Scottish humor, a powerful old man with a huge heart, shenanigans and surprises, this was such a wonderful book and I'm so glad to have finally been able to finish it though also a bit sad because I wanted to savor it for as long as possible.

I highly recommend this book if any of the info mentioned is what you enjoy reading about! Also, who doesn't enjoy reading about a hobgoblin that gets high off of salsa?
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Ink & Sigil is the first book in a new series by Hearne set in the same world as the Iron Druid Chronicles. For returning fans of Hearne’s, this series is sure to be one to watch.  

Meet Alyonious MacBharris, a Sigil agent with a great mustache and a taste for fine cocktails. He’s also the recipient of two curses. Oh, and his  latest apprentice died via raisin scone. To top everything off, that apprentice was involved in trafficking supernatural creatures and now Al must investigate with the help of a few friends and a hobgoblin.

The guide to Scottish language can either been seen as a red flag or a prepared author. For me it teeters over to the red flag side of things. There are dense paragraphs with “this means that” for readers to understand some of the Scottish slang. For me, this was a not so great thing. I do appreciate the atmospheric experience of reading Ink & Sigil, but I was able to drum up my the Scottish accent in my head enough that the difficult reading of slang and phonic words kind of took away from the experience.

The story was interesting and the characters were enjoyable. I loved Buck Foi, and the humor was on point for me. What I took the most issue with was the pacing. It was slow and I had difficulty motivating myself get through chapters where things slowed down. I think the pace between action and investigation could have been more evenly distributed.

Overall, really did enjoy the characters and the world. It ranks high in the urban fantasy/modern fantasy books I’ve read. I really could not give it more stars because the pacing was just too slow. If you are on the fence about reading this, I firmly recommend you do. No matter the pace it is still an enjoyable read and I am still locking forward to more adventures with Al.
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It was a little slow to build-up and didn't quite start picking up the pace for me until about two thirds of the way through. Kevin Hearne brings his creative spin on a very real world problem by tying it to his world. Unique and memorable characters typical of the Iron Druid Chronicles universe. I would recommend for fans of that world.
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3.5 stars rounded up. This was a fun, fast read and nice way to close out my list of summer reading. I enjoyed this book a lot more than what I've read from Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid series, largely because I found the main character, Al, easier to get along with. Al's "curse", which causes people he talks to to eventually grow to despise him, makes for an interesting character/plot point and I liked seeing how Al navigates being somewhat non-verbal when interacting with others. I haven't seen any other genre novels talk about text to speech tools, for instance, and this was an aspect of the story I really liked. Side characters are reasonably well fleshed out and I appreciated the thoughtfully handled South Asian rep, since that's something you (frustratingly) don't see much of in urban fantasy. 

One issue I've had with urban fantasy in general is that many of the protagonists spend the majority of the story being smug/blase about everything happening, but then will abruptly switch to seriousness (Atticus, from the Iron Druid Chronicles suffered from this and I DNF'd the series after book 5 because I couldn't take it anymore). The writing in this genre also tends towards exposition dumps. This novel largely avoids these pitfalls while still drawing you into the world. While this is set in the same world as the Iron Druid, I don't think you need to read those to follow what is happening in this story. I haven't read that series in 4+ years and I could follow the plot and worldbuilding just fine.

The pacing can be a little weird sometimes and some of the tonal shifts are a little jarring, going from light hearted and snarky to serious without enough transition. The magic system isn't revolutionary (since its based on the power of sigils/ink), but it's fun to read about, especially if you're interested (like I am) in papercraft. Overall, I enjoyed my time with this book and am interested to see where the series goes.

Thank you to Net Galley and Random House Publishing Group for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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