Cover Image: Ink & Sigil

Ink & Sigil

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Member Reviews

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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I was incredibly excited when I learned that Kevin Hearne was going to jump back into his Iron Druid world and publish a side story. Ink & Sigil immediately jumped onto my "I have to have this book'' list. I love the Iron Druid series, and I was very sad when the series concluded. I love Hearne's Seven Kennings series, but Atticus and Oberon hold a special place in my booklover's heart. I will always read a book set in their world, even if they aren't in it!

Al is both blessed and cursed.....literally. He uses his magical powers to protect this world, but it comes at a cost. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to hate him....really hate him. So he writes his words and uses technology instead of his voice. When his apprentice is killed, Al finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation. Its not easy to investigate a death in Scotland's magical underworld, but Al is determined to discover the truth.

I loved reading the story of another sigil agent. Al is a great character and Hearne is a great storyteller! I read my review copy and immediately purchased the audio book. I have all the Iron Druid books in audio format, so had to have this one as well! I can't wait to find out what is in store for Al and his magnificent moustache next!

**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Random House publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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I am a huge fan of Kevin Hearne and loved his earlier Iron Druid books; so when this one became available on Net Galley, I jumped at it.

I completed about a third of the book, but never became absorbed into the story. It was interesting and original to have a main character who was cursed so that upon hearing his voice, people immediately despised him. It sounds better in theory than in practice, however. I found the bracketing of dialogue indicating that MacBharrais was speaking via his cell phone text-to-speech app very distracting. I kept thinking about how long it might take to type it in and what that delay might be like in the scene.

As I woman, I also could not identify with the main character. He seemed to be a man's man. Curmudgeonly and particular about his whiskey.

In Mr. Hearne's support, since the Covid crisis, a book has to be pretty spectacular to keep my attention. Perhaps in a couple of years I will revisit the story and see whether it was just me. If you love his work, books set in Scotland, whiskey, Gaelic, and a lot of backstory, this could be your favorite book.
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I'm halfway through 'Ink & Sigil' by @KevinHearne and have never wanted to visit Scotland more... and find myself a hobgoblin named 'Buck'. A well written urban fantasy story filled with much needed laughs, highly recommend.
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Maybe it’s a worldwide “Boomerization”, or maybe it’s simply that as seasoned writers age, they lean more toward writing characters who reflect their own well-earned years, rather than attempting to vicariously recapture fleeting youth through much younger ones. Whatever, it’s fascinating how many books have crossed my path, recently, that feature older protagonists. (Perhaps I should view this as a positive, like getting older won’t automatically be so bad..??)

Anyway, that brings us to what has to be one of the most delightfully fun “oldsters” I’ve read in a long time… the very Scottish (and rather proper) Al MacBharrais, in Kevin Hearne’s new spin-off from his popular fantasy series, Ink & Sigil (From the World of the Iron Druid Chronicles). 
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Al MacBharrais is one of only a handful of people in the entire world who can cast spells via sigils (think of them as handwritten words and symbols on paper, penned with enchanted inks [the creation of which is a whole ‘nother hunt-gather-create sort of thing]). Fortunately for the world, Al generally uses those spells for good… often, for keeping the blissfully-unaware, regular-human dwellers safe from the devilries, naughtiness, and—on occasion—evil intentions of the Fae (the broad term for the myriad fairy folk who can gain admittance to our world from theirs). There are plenty of other tricksy little things those sigils are good for, too, but that’s best left for you to find out. 

So, yeah… turns out that oldster Al—this mustachioed, dapper-suit/overcoat/hat-wearing, cane-carrying Glaswegian gent—is actually something of a badass. (Seriously, that’s kinda cool; he reminds me a bit of Mr. Steed from the old ‘60s TV show, The Avengers.) (Erm, please note that I said “cool”, not “hot”.)

Back to the story, though. Things kick off when Al learns that his current apprentice—a chap named Gordie—has just been found dead. (I’m not gonna tell you how he died; it’s too funny to spoil… but I will say that this isn’t even close to being the first of Al’s apprentices to meet an unexpectedly early demise.) 

A little deeper digging on Al’s part soon unearths some unsavory surprises about the recently-departed Gordie, though—namely, that he was involved in something very, very bad… in both the human AND fae realms. And, as fate (and fae) would have it, it falls to Al—rather than the police—to put things right, because it’s infinitely better for humans if most of us don’t know that the fae are actually, really REAL.

So, armed only with a hodgepodge of associates—the manager at his legitimate (i.e., not-secret-sigil-producing) business, who’s a former female brawler; an ace hacker whose quirky pastimes veer sharply into kink; and a hobgoblin rescued from Gordie’s flat, now being hunted by whoever Gordie had been engaging with in those shady deals—plus a little advice from a couple of friendly fae bigwigs (who visit earth now and then when something goes fifty shades of wrong), Al sets out to play detective… all while trying to keep the actual detectives firmly out of the picture.
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Ink & Sigil is some of the most pure, unadulterated fun I’ve had in some time… from the first page, when Hearne dives right into a helpful dictionary-slash-pronunciation guide for popular Weegie (Glaswegian) words and terms that are peppered throughout the story. (You know when people say that someone could read the phone book to them, and they’d be happy to listen? Well, I wanna hear someone read these pages, because many of them are seriously belly-laugh hilarious.)

There aren’t any throwaway characters here; everyone is given a voice, a perspective, and a real role to play, whether “good” guy or “bad”, whether human or… not human. Same goes for the world-building: each place Hearne takes the reader is full of detail so rich, you feel you’re right there with Al and company.

As for the mystery—since that’s really what the story revolves around—it’s a good one. Honestly, though, the sheer delight of it all is what I think you’ll remember from Ink & Sigil… because that’s definitely my big takeaway. 
~GlamKitty
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Kevin Hearne has started a new series set in the world he created in the Iron Druid Chronicles.  You will recognize some of the supporting characters and some of the scenery, but Ink & Sigil is most definitely the start of a new, fresh journey through one of the most unique background worlds in print.  
As our sigil wizard, Al has great power and responsibility, but he also has a curse that makes it very difficult for him to do his job.  Difficult and hilarious.  Circumstances conspire to give him a hobgoblin as his assistant/ pain in the...  As Mr Hearne introduces us to the cast, we find that weird and difficult people with bad attitudes are not specific to humans.  Several story threads weave through the book, keeping the focus on entertainment and figuring out who is selling fae while trying to find a spell to lift his curse.  All in all, I'd say this one's a sure winner.  It will be interesting to see what the series holds in store for Al.
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A refreshing take to urban fantasy and magic genres. We follow Al MacBharrais, a blessed and curse man that can cast spells with magically enchanted ink which he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheon especially the Fae, who teams up with his sidekick—a mischievous hobgoblin (and probably one of my favorite characters in the entire series) to seek the truth as to why all his former apprentices keep dying from peculiar freak accidents, the secret to his curse, and the investigation to his latest apprentice’s death that will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld.
 
This was different but a good kind of different. First of all, the lead character was unlike anyone I have read in a long time. He was older than most, (50-ish) with a curse I'm sure no one would wish for. A curse that would make anyone who hears his voice begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for him so to prevent that, he typically communicates using text or speech applications. Al does break that habit when put in situations where he or someone he knows is put in immense danger and he doesn't quite have the time to sit back and text away.
 
Now with the plot/storyline, it did at times was a bit drawn out which I believe may have just been me attempting to decipher the dialogues here and there with the strong accents that had me saying 'whaaaaaaat?', hence the skimming that was brought upon. But the magical creatures, eccentric characters, action packed scenes, and the magic itself surely made up for it so it's a no-brainer that I'm down to read more of Al and Buck and their next adventure.
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As a huge fan of Kevin Hearne’s writing, especially his Iron Druid Chronicles (IDC), I was very excited to get my hands on his new series which kicks off with Ink & Sigil. The story is set in his IDC world, with overlapping characters; however, it’s something wholly unique, and one need not have read IDC to utterly enjoy Al and his adventures. 

At the start of the book, we are introduced to Al MacBharrais, a sigil agent; one of only five in the world. He is able to create magic using special ink, writing specific sigils on paper. This gift was granted by Brighid, First among the Fae. He helps keep dangerous fae and other creatures off the human realm and brokers contracts for the fae who want to come to the human realm. In the beginning of the story, we learn that Al’s apprentice, Gordie, is found dead. When Al investigates Gordie’s flat, he discovers that Gordie was involved in illegal fae trafficking and had many sigils and inks that are well behind what Al had taught him. Here Al meets the hobgoblin Buck Foi, who ultimately becomes his hilarious sidekick.

Mr. Hearne is a master storyteller. He creates amazing worlds and interesting characters, bringing it all to life through action and dialogue. Character attributes and world rules/dynamics are seamlessly woven into the tale, giving readers a complete picture without being spoon-fed details. Hearne also works in an impressive backstory using Al as the story teller. Through this, he gives readers an extensive understanding of the creation of sigils and a tutorial on the Tuatha Dé Danann. It is entertaining and helpful to both new and existing readers of the IDC series. Hearne provides a “history” lesson to readers without anyone really knowing it was happening. 

At the heart of the story is a mystery - who is behind the trafficking. Al, Buck, and a few other close associates/friends, work together to bring down the operation. The plot is complex, but easy to follow as Al and his gang go from point A to point B. The motley crew works well together, each bringing a unique talent to the fight. Intertwined into the mystery are snippets of side plots that will span the series - to include a human police inspector who seems partially immune to the magic and a curse placed on Al that impacts his relationships with all those around him. While the action is intense at times, it is tempered by Hearne’s amazing humor. Some of it is outright silly slapstick, but other times it’s just a sly, offhand comment. 

In the end I absolutely LOVED Ink & Sigil… it is so much fun. It’s familiar in that I know general mythology and world, but there is so much new - the characters, the sigils, inks, and agents…  And there is more humor than the IDC because Al is a fairly well-adjusted human rather than Atticus, an ancient Druid. Hearne’s storytelling is off the charts and there is enough left dangling out there to make me want to know more right away. It’s a wonderful start to a new series, and I hope it is followed with many books to come. 

My rating: A
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The author's Iron Druid series is one of my favorites, so I was excited to discover this first book in what will hopefully become a series set in the same world as the Iron Druid stories. But that is really the only similarity as Ink and Sigil is a delightful new entry into urban fantasy with a unique type of magic used, depending on the usage of "sigils" drawn with specially prepared inks. The main character is also somewhat unique in that he is an rather ordinary older gentleman with no innate magical talent, but is never the less employed by Brighid, First among the Fae, as a "sigil agent" tasked with policing the mortal realm from unauthorized excursions by the various gods and other mythic pantheon members.. There are numerous charming supporting characters, the dialogue is crackling, heavy on the Scottish idioms, and even a brief recollection of the Iron Druid himself. Highly recommended for fans who like their Urban Fantasy to primarily feature the Fae. Through in a touch of mystery and detective work all stirred by a different type of magic usage, and you have a recipe for success. Can't wait for a sequel!
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In this first book of Kevin Hearne's new (published last week) Ink & Sigil series, patterns and inks have power; hobgoblins are insufferably mischievous but in rare cases redeemable; all manner of creatures coexist in and visit our world (although  humans are generally unaware of this); and some unknown creature or group with power and greed is compromising the sacred old ways.

Hearne offers a playful, action-packed, magical, layered modern-day London. Al MacBharrais is a widower who adored his wife, and who uses unconventional methods to right wrongs, to ferret out those betraying his craft's secrets for nefarious purposes, and to protect those he is loyal to.

The book takes a turn into real-life, weighty issues such as human trafficking, government corruption, and gun control, while the characters' banter and affection for each other keeps you rolling right along.  

I thought this was great. The playful and absurd are presented as everyday occurrences, and supernatural events are regularly intermingled with detective work with a twist. There's also lots of attitude and sass. 

The Scottish speech patterns were fantastic (but what a job for the copy editor!). The backtracking to the start of Nadia's involvement in the situation is wonderful; other brief side stories (Iron Druid, for example; or how Al processes patience/personal space/snappish behavior/frustrations) felt somewhat beyond the scope for the moment. And is the man foraging in the woods in the white suit (who I therefore pictured as Tom Wolfe) going to come back in the next book? If not, what the heck was that about? (I wonder if these might be Iron Druid Chronicles references that I'm missing since I haven't yet read those books.)

The tone of the book often reminded me of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee, which I also loved. 

A minor but delightful reference: Al suggests Terry Pratchett books to the newly reading hobgoblin in what feels like a perfect book-recommendation-within-a-book moment.

This title was recently listed in the Greedy Reading List Three Offbeat Series I Just Started and Love: www.bossybookworm.com/post/three-offbeat-series-i-just-started-and-love.

#mystery, #fantasyscifi, #series, #LGBTQ, #fourstarbookreview

I received an advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
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A great new series by Kevin Hearne. Set after the time line in The Iron Druid and in the same world this takes a very different track. The main character is human and one of five sigil makers. He has wide duties and it is when he is working on one of those that something comes into his life. Great characters, interesting plot, and tension by the bucket loads. In addition there are some very good laughs. One thing is settled but much remains. I will definitely pick up the next book when it comes out.

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
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Kevin Hearne has done it again, but in a new way.  Meet Al MacBharrais (pronounced McVAREish), an older wizard with a wry sense of humor and a luxurious mustache.  Al is having trouble keeping his apprentices alive.  The story opens as he investigates the death of his seventh apprentice who fatally choked on a scone.  No one is surprised because, duh, the scone had raisins. After glamouring the real police and checking out the body, Al discovers his apprentice had advanced far beyond his master's teachings.  He was also trafficking in Fae, Al found evidence of a caged pixie and was able to free an ungrateful hobgoblin.  Al's specialty is crafting enchanted inks and using them to work sigils to create all kinds of magic but he had only just started teaching Number 7.  The evidence in the apprentice's rooms was of much more advanced magic.  There's one more thing you need to know about Al.  He's been cursed.  Anyone he speaks to, in person, or who just hears his voice, ends up hating him - for no reason.  So to get along in the human world he has to write what he wants to say, or use a speech app on his phone.  Now he's caught up in the mysterious events surrounding his apprentice's death and must work on his own to solve the case, travelling throughout Scotland's magical underworld and aided only by the hobgoblin he helped and his office manager Nadia..
Hearne keeps his hilarious wit and creative plotting while introducing MacBarrais.  He writes using Scottish, specifically Glaswegian, dialect which is a little difficult to read at times, but also makes McBarrais's  adventures more authentic.  This was a fun, fast read.   I appreciate the ARC and eagerly await the next installment.
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Great read and stand-alone spin-off! This was my introduction to the world Hearne has created and I will definitely be picking up the Iron Druid series. Al MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent keeping the world of the Fae from corrupting the mortal plane with the help of his battle seer manager and a cheeky hobgoblin. Steadily paced and well-crafted, this book was a great read!
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Really fun read!  I’ve read a few, but not all, of the Iron Druid series, but I don’t think that’s necessary to enjoy this book. The characters were great and the story was interesting. The curse was an added twist that I enjoyed. I can’t wait for the next book!
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I’ve read – actually mostly listened to – enough of the Iron Druid Chronicles to know that I love the series. Since I’m 2/3rds of the way through I figured I knew enough about the world created in the series to be able to get into Ink & Sigil. Al Mac Bharrais’ adventures take place in the same version of our world as Atticus O’Sullivan, but from a much different perspective.

Ink & Sigil is a sequel that isn’t a sequel, it’s more like a consequence. Which is an interesting way of launching a series. Also an effective way for new readers to get aboard this marvelous train. So you don’t have to have read the Iron Druid Chronicles to get into Ink & Sigil, but a taste for one will probably result in a yen for the other.

Al is a fascinating protagonist for an urban fantasy series. Most urban fantasy series are headed by either the young and the energetic, or the extremely old, seriously immortal, and fascinatingly unaging.

Al is none of the above. He’s 63, he’s getting creaky, and he’s all too mortal. (I would love to see Al meet Marley Jacob from A Key, an Egg, an Unfortunate Remark. They’d have a lot to talk about when it comes to kicking paranormal ass when you’re 60-something.)

Al isn’t exactly a wizard, and he’s certainly not a druid like Atticus. He is actually a kind of paper-pusher for the paranormal. His power is literally in paper – and especially in ink. He draws symbols of power with special ink on special paper, and that power affects whoever sees the symbols he has drawn.

Among many other useful things, he’s created his own version of the “psychic paper” that Doctor Who uses. The one that seems to be a universal high-ranking ID for wherever the Doctor wants to get into that he shouldn’t. In Al’s case, the paper just opens the mind of the person who sees it so that Al can plant the suggestion that he belongs wherever it is that he has just entered that he isn’t supposed to.

Like the apartment of his just-deceased apprentice. Gordie seems to have died of natural causes – depending on how one feels about raisins in one’s scones. Al has arrived in the middle of the police investigation into Gordie’s death to clean house of all of the fascinating, esoteric and sometimes illegal substances that sigil agents like Al and Gordie use to do their work.

Al expects to leave with a bag of inks and ingredients. What he finds in Gordie’s secret workroom changes his focus – as well as his opinion of the late and now entirely unlamented Gordie. Because Gordie was practicing things he hadn’t learned yet, and seems to have been breaking all the rules while doing so. And he had imprisoned a hobgoblin in a cage – a hobgoblin from one of the fae planes that he intended to sell to someone nefarious in this plane.

Which is illegal, immoral, and constitutes trafficking of the nasty kind that either leads to slavery or lab experimentation of the mad scientist variety.

Putting Al on the hunt for a mad scientist and at least one corrupt fae deity selling out her own kind for either fun or profit. That she’s selling them to the CIA adds a whole ‘nother level of crazy complexity to a case that is almost but not quite too much for Al and his friends to handle.

Making it a fantastic start to this series!

Escape Rating A+: I fell straight into this book and just didn’t want to leave. Possibly ever. This is one of those books that I just want to shove at everyone I know and hold them down until they read it.

In that vein, I really, truly don’t think you have to have read ANY of the Iron Druid Chronicles to get into Ink & Sigil. Not that you shouldn’t read them, they’re awesome. Howsomever, while these are set in the same world, Atticus is not a character in this series – so far – except for the scene where those of us who have read the Iron Druid Chronicles discover how Al ran into Atticus that one time and they had a nice dinner together. It doesn’t affect the plot of Ink & Sigil, it’s just a lovely scene IF you’ve met Atticus before and it’s still a lovely scene if you haven’t.

What one does need to buy into in order to get into Ink & Sigil is the concept that lies behind, or underneath, both the Iron Druid Chronicles and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. The idea that the old cliche about humanity creating gods in their own image is the actual, literal truth. That belief creates the god rather than the god’s deeds creating the belief.

One of the things that I found marvelous was the character of Al MacBharrais, and just how much he and his companions play with just how many classic tropes from urban fantasy and even from the mystery detective genre from which it partially sprang.

Al is so different from the standard run of urban fantasy protagonists. I have a hard time saying Al is old because he’s the same age that I am, but he’s certainly no spring chicken. He’s led an already long and fairly hard-knock life. He can no longer serve as his own muscle – except in what is inevitably a very painful pinch – but he still needs an enforcer. Like Nero Wolfe needed Archie Goodwin. Or any other case where the “real” detective is no longer quite spry for one reason or another and needs someone to occasionally punch the bad beings where it hurts.

That Al’s version of Archie is a female battle-seer who does double duty as his printing firm’s manager and accountant sets all sorts of tropes on their tiny little heads. She’s great at both cooking the books and conking out their enemies. Also, Nadia’s wizard van is absolutely to die for. She’s also more than able and willing to help a few people – or things, or beings – die when they really, really need to.

The other really fun character in this one is Buck Foi the hobgoblin. The one that Al found in a cage in his dead apprentice’s apartment. When Al opens that cage he also opens up the whole case, and it’s Buck who tags along to help him close it. Because Buck needs the fae trafficking ring shut down in order to remove the price on his head. Buck is the comic relief, but it’s comic relief with one hell of an edge. (Buck reminds me a bit of P.B. from Laura Anne Gilman’s Retrievers series, which was also an awesome urban fantasy. I digress.)

But underneath the paranormal scene-setting, and Buck’s constant scene-stealing, the story is ripped from the headlines. Al’s case is to uncover a fae-trafficking ring, and it’s every bit as nasty as human-trafficking. It also seems to work in a surprisingly similar fashion. And it has to be stopped – and not just because the CIA (really, the actual CIA) is chasing after Al and his friends to silence them.

That Al manages to use some of his not-so-otherworldly connections to help the police shut down a couple of human-trafficking rings adds some real-world drama to this otherworldly story without being heavy-handed about the message. This stuff is evil and needs to be stopped. Period.

Shutting down this one, particular operation still leaves Al with plenty to do in subsequent books in the series. He still has to find out who dropped two seriously awful curses into his life, before those curses wipe out this cohort of his friends and colleagues. So he can keep Nadia and Buck around. So that he can finally manage to train an apprentice to mastery. So that he can talk to the librarian he’s been in love with for years and not have the curse make her hate him and the sound of his voice. As it did with his son.

So there is plenty for Al to be going on with in future books in this series. Hopefully soon!
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Al MacBharrais is a sigil agent in the Iron Druid's world in Glasgow, Scotland.  He's a 60's something widow, whiskey loving, mustache grooming, and a serious contract agent for Celtic Goddess Brigid.  If you loved the Iron Druid series then you might love Ink and Sigil.  I am quite fond of  Al MacBharrais.  I hope to hear from him often!
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