Cover Image: Ink & Sigil

Ink & Sigil

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Member Reviews

I loved this new adventure in Hearne's world.  This time, the story revolves around a not-wizard and not-druid who is in charge of using sygils to keep his part of the world safe from the otherworlds.  It is an adventure for anyone, but especially for him as he also has a curse he has to deal with.  Fun abounds!  People get thrown across rooms!  Things explode!  Fun for all!  

I want more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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This is my first read by this author.  What first grabbed me with this book was the book cover and the title. I read the summary and already got hooked.  The book went off to a great start that keeps you hooked into the story.  Very original plot and action packed.  It is set in the modern world but there still exists magical creatures on different planes living together and of course, something happens in the process and our main character delves into the mystery of it all.  I'm a fan of both crime/mystery and fantasy so this combination of mystery with fantasy which is always a good and entertaining mix.  Looking forward to more of this series!  Recommend this book!
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So there's this series called the Iron Druid Chronicles which is a favorite of mine in the urban fantasy genre. I've listened to almost all them as audiobooks. I say almost because I have one book left. The final book in the series, and it's been sitting unread since 2018 because I don't want the story to end. If I don't read it, then it can't be over. Which is, of course, a highly logical conclusion to come to 🙄.

But Kevin Hearne has given us a new world adjacent to the Iron Druid, full of fun great characters and an interesting take on magic.  In Ink & Sigil we meet Scottish Sigil Agent Al McBharrais. An older gentleman with a well turned out mustache, cane, and who's been cursed so that anyone who hears his voice over a length of time comes to despise him, so he communicates via text-to-speech apps.

A Sigil Agent is kind of a combo between a spellcaster whose magic lies in the ink and symbols he draws and a gate/peace keeper of the pantheons. No otherworldly creature can set foot on our plane without clearing it with him first. And there are only a handful of Agents in the entire world.

This book contains underground fight clubs, CIA spies, rogue trolls, wailing banshees, whisky heists, and just some generally fun shenanigans.

A great read for my 75th book for the year, which was also my goal for the year.. If you like the Dresden Files or the Iron Druid Chronicles, this should definitely be on your TBR list.
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This story introduces Al MacBharrais who is a sigil agent. Sigil agents use special, magical ink to create sigils which have magical effects. Sigil agents are also the ones who write the contracts that keep beings from the nine magical realms from having free reign on Earth. 

Al is an older man who is a grieving widower and who is under a curse. Anyone who hears his voice also begins to hate him. So he uses his phone and computer's speech apps to do his talking for him. 

Al also has a problem with his apprentices. When the story begins, he is informed of the death of his seventh apprentice who fell victim to eating a raisin scone. Al has lost all of his apprentices to a series of freak accidents. 

As he looks into his apprentices death and also goes to the scene to gather up all of his special inks and pens before someone might accidentally use them, he learns that his apprentice wasn't quite what he had thought. In fact it looks like Gordie was trafficking in fae for some unknown purpose. When Al arrives at his apartment, he discovers that Gordie had captured a hob and was planning to sell him. Hiding the hob from the police is not a trivial task even with his magical sigils. D I Munro should have had her memory wiped but she still remembers bits and pieces and finds Al very suspicious.

Al isn't alone in his investigation. His office manager Nadia is also a battle seer and he is friends with a hacker who goes by the name of Saxon Codpiece. The hob who names himself Buck Foi also becomes one of his partners in this enterprise. Together they find themselves looking into suspicious government agencies and evil scientists as they try to stop the trafficking in fae.

The story is filled with humor but also includes a number of more serious issues like human trafficking. I enjoyed Al's character with his cursed loneliness and grief, well-tended mustache, love of designer gin, and determination to do the right thing even though he isn't totally against stealing already stolen money.
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Ink and Sigil is a spin off of Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles and you do not have to have read the Iron Druid books to enjoy this one. The characters in this urban fantasy are in your face snarky with Scottish brogue and so many likeable characters. Al the MC is in his 60’s and while he will tell you like it is still has compassion and heart for what he does and for everyone in his life. There are a many slow plot parts in this book but overall it was engaging and I enjoyed a new way of thinking about magic through sigils. 

I was provided with an electronic ARC through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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This was an enjoyable urban fantasy/mystery set in the same world as the Iron Druid, but set in Scotland and with a whole new set of characters, although the background is still based in the same Irish deities/mythology.  There is both Scottish dialect and the main character talks mainly through a computer, however, I felt the author pulls both of these off with minimal distraction from the story.    I would say my biggest negative is the attempts to be funny with the hobgoblin sometimes came across as more forced than funny.   Otherwise I enjoyed the jump to a new set of characters and am looking forward to future installments.   Book received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I'm really hoping that I may have just found a new favorite author. I've wanted to check out Kevin Hearne's books for a really long time now, and Ink and Sigil seemed like the perfect opportunity to finally do so. And wow, I am so glad that I picked this book up. That was the most fun I've had reading in a long time.

It's pretty rare that a book actually makes me laugh. Like, out loud, actual, genuine laughter. Ink and Sigil had me laughing the whole way through. Hearne's humor and timing just clicked really well with me. I'm a sucker for silly but smart humor and that's exactly what this book is full of. I'm really hoping this is a feature in all of his books, because I need more of it in my reading life, and it's probably the biggest thing I'll be looking forward to if this series continues.

The world building of Ink and Sigil is excellent. It's like Artemis Fowl meets the Wax and Wayne Mistborn books, but still somehow wholly unique. The Scottish dialogue used throughout the entire book was so immersive and fun. The urban fantasy vibe never felt gimmicky, but instead it just seemed like our world, only full of magic. The magic system was really unique, at least to me. I've never read anything similar, with the use of ink recipes and sigils granting different abilities and protections. It was well fleshed out, there were clear rules, but it never felt constricted.

The characters in this book were so good! Easily one of the strongest aspects. The cast is diverse, fully of unique personalities, so many of whom I couldn't help but just genuinely like. Al MacBharrais is not the kind of main character I'm usually drawn to- a sixty-something year old man- but I loved how he was written. So endearing and compelling. His story needs more and I really hope he gets the sequel he deserves. The secondary characters were just as great, from Al's amazing manager, Nadia, to the extremely funny hobgoblin, Buck Foi. (I told you this book was funny.) I just really enjoyed each and every character presented in this story. They all felt unique, and they obviously had their own lives and stories outside of Al's, which only added to the depth of his story. So well done.

Ink and Sigil is easily one of my favorite books I've read lately. It was like a breath of fresh air. It felt good to read it and laugh, to fall for a whole new set of characters, to find a new writer whose work I'm eager to seek out. It was genuinely funny, so heartfelt, and really wrapped up the story well. There were just enough loose ends left dangling to leave me really hoping for a sequel. Fans of fantasy, and anyone looking for humor in their books really, are sure to love this one. Ink and Sigil is definitely going to be one of those 'feel good' books I revisit over and over.
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*Review will be Published 8/12/20*

Hello Fellow Reader,

First of all, let me just say that you don't have to be well versed in the Iron Druid Chronicles series to be able to enjoy Ink & Sigil. Does it help? Yes, nit while it takes place in the same world it can be read as a standalone. It's been a long time since I have read a book where the protagonist is a senior citizen, which is also true about fantasy reads.

Al, was an absolute sweetheart. He's been through so much, that it's a little heartbreaking, but also makes him think through his choices rather than let his emotions guide him. I also particularly enjoyed those around him and with names like Saxon Codpiece, Buck Foi, and Gladys who has seen some shite, who wouldn't? Nadia was my favorite by far and while she doesn't have too much of an interesting name, she still kicks major ass and takes names.

I've always enjoyed Hearne's writing in the Iron Druid books and I did like it but in Ink & Sigil I found the pacing a little slow. Also, everything with D.I. Munro seemed a little unnecessary, like it was only there to show off what Al can do. If this is a standalone it was great, but if it eventually becomes a series I wouldn't mind as I would love to see more of Al and his merry band of misfits.

Overall, If you enjoy fae Urban Fantasy this is for you.
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A great message inside a good story can ruin everything.
This book is set in the Iron Druid universe, but you don't really need to have read those books first.  It would be helpful and add quite a bit of depth to the story, but its not necessary. 
The story is moving along fine, creative character and worldbuilding and then the MOST afterschool special ass paragraph in my life just stops everything.  Its a good message about the dangers of human trafficking.  I support the message.  Trafficking is  a problem that has to be looked and and uncomfortable conversations need to happen.  In this case, it ruins the flow of the story TWICE, same character reads a "Now You Know, and Knowing is Half the Battle" script and just stops everything.  
The plot goes from saving someone to stopping someone to saving someone else, all well done except for the jarring conversations that could have been done smoother.  Saving someone and then having a discussion about trafficking would have been amazing, using the metaphor of a goblin or pixie to discuss the real plights of a Mexican or Ukranian, awesome idea.  Just not well done in this case.
The story is good overall, a creative magic system that has a lot of potential to go places, I'll look for the sequel and give the series another chance to have a meaningful discussion without ruining the story.
**I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is in the iron druid world, but he only appears in a minor cameo showing. It is a well written story, with a great plot and background. I find the use of local wording/idioms quite amusing. Though some might balk at this, I find it helps to connect the story to the locale. I highly recommend this book.
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Series Info/Source:  I got this as an eGalley from NetGalley for review.  This is the first book in the new Ink & Sigil series.  This series is set in the same world as the Iron Druid Chronicles but some time after that series.

Story (5/5): I loved the idea of Sigil Agents and enjoyed being introduced to Al MacBharrais’s world.  In addition to Al’s fascinating day to day life there is an excellent mystery here that encompasses the strange deaths of many of his apprentices and a curse placed on Al himself.  There is also a more contained mystery involving fae trafficking, which Al’s most recently deceased apprentice Gordie was involved in.  I love urban fantasies that have a contained mystery/story that is solved in one volume but also have an overarching story that carries across multiple volumes.

Characters (5/5):  I was a bit skeptical that I would like and engage with an “old-man” character but found myself pleasantly surprised.  I loved Al; he is capable and humorous and has a lot of depth as a character.  I really enjoyed the hobgoblin he contracted and his bad-ass battle goddess office manager, Nadia.  The characters in here are fun and interesting and just a hoot to read about.  I loved them all and they were incredibly well done.  We also have run-ins with characters from the Iron Druid Chronicles and it was intriguing to see them from a different point of view.

Setting (5/5):  I loved the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles so it’s no surprise that I continue to love this world.  Here we see this complex world of gods, goddesses, and different realities through a slightly different viewpoint...that of a Sigil Agent.  This is an intricate and well thought world that I absolutely love!

Writing Style (5/5):  This book is engaging, well-paced, and very easy to read.  The writing flows seamlessly and I love how the mystery of Gordie’s fae trafficking is blended seamlessly with the mystery around Al’s curse and his constantly dying apprentices.  I always enjoy Hearne’s writing style but feel like this book was even more polished and well written than previous books in his Iron Druid Chronicles.

My Summary (5/5):  Overall I ended up absolutely adoring this book.  I think I like it even better than the Iron Druid Chronicles so far.  I approached this a bit tentatively but I shouldn’t have.  I loved the characters, the mystery and the idea behind the sigil agents.  This was so much fun and so well put together, I can’t wait to read more books in this series!
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Off to a good start

Kevin Hearne has begun a new series set in his Iron Druid world. Aloysius MacBharrais is a Sigil agent, which is a bit like a notary public for the supernatural world. He has special training in contract preparation between beings on different planes and he has the right, on this plane, to adjudicate breaches in said contracts. He also is specially trained in a kind of witchery that works through "Sigils" or spells that are pictographs carefully drawn using specially formulated inks.

"Ink & Sigil" is an excellent beginning to what could lead to a long run. There is a lot of room in Al MacBharrais's Glasgow for Mr. Hearne to be creative. We can surely hope.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I enjoyed this book tremendously!  Hearne has a gift for writing engrossing stories, with interesting characters, with plots that are fun to read - not that bad things don't happen, but that they're a realistic part of the plot and that they aren't thrown in for no reason.

Like the Iron Druid series and the two books so far in the Seven Kennings series, the book has interesting, well drawn characters.  It's a bit of a treat to have a central character who's an older man, and who presents as an older person, unlike the Iron Druid.  And the other characters have some depth - they're not just cardboard cutouts there to fill spots.

The system of sigils and sigil agents in which the book operates is complicated, but not too much - complicated enough to seem fresh and not repetitive of other books, yet well written enough to make sense.  I understood the overall system and could enjoy how it worked, and how the plot progressed within this system.

It seems pretty clear that the door is wide open for more books in this series, although this book does end - you don't have to wait for a sequel to have the basic plot wrapped up.  However, there are interesting plot lines waiting to be developed in future books, and I am eagerly looking forward to reading them.
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here are two curses on Aloysius MacBharrais, placed by someone who is very good at what they do. Curse one involves Al having to be very careful with who he talks to - and how. Curse two seemed to only manifest itself in one character who wasn't even a character; this character was only a name and had no presence in the book. So here goes Al trying to keep his part of the world's geography clearly marked with who and what can travel here from other planes. Somebody is working some kind of trafficking in altered Fae. So who, what and why? That's all Al has to figure out. And fix.

I began reading the Iron Druid Chronicles written by this author and loved them until....I didn't. I think this movement to a character completely grounded in the modern world has the chance to become interesting because of the scope available for future stories. However, having Al saddled with that curse made story progression slow down and almost halt at times. He also has to retire to a special place to draw the sigils he will (?) need in whatever encounter he's going toward. Then using each sigil has it's own difficulties. It just felt rather awkward and slow for the special effects to be utilized. If you've been missing Atticus O'Sullivan and Oberon they both make an appearance in this book, but not as actors in this drama, more as a temptation. Seemed like an author pushing their own series within a different series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House, Ballantine, Del Ray for an e-galley of this novel.
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"Do you have a headache?"

"I've got you, have I no'?"

Al MacBharrais is a Sigil agent. He is one of the few humans tasked with keeping the human and Fae world separate. And his apprentice just choked to death on a raisin scone.

So down the rabbit hole Al goes, armed only with his Sigils (magical symbols which can grant him a multitude of practical powers,) his lustrous mustache, a hacker with a penchant for exhibition, an accountant who can beat the shit out of anyone, man or fae, a tiny pink man with a raunchy sense of humor, and Gladys Who Has Seen Some Shite.

If you were looking for a serious book, a book to make you think very hard, or a book to change your life... don't look here.

But if like me, you're damned tired of 2020 and could use some weird shite to make you laugh (and make you say shite instead of shit,) you've come to the right place!

At first I wasn't too keen on ole Al. Why? I need to emotionally connect with characters to be interested in a book. Al lost his wife, and his grief is barely touched on in the beginning. So I struggled to retain interest for a few chapters.

And then I met his side characters. 

There's Buck Foi, the pink hobgoblin who must balance his good deeds with beer theft and pranks, and incidentally gets high off of salsa.

There's Nadia, the Weegie Goth, with her glorious Wizard van. She's Al's accountant and a battle seer.

There's Saxon Codpiece, Professional Wanker (and hacker.)

And then of course we can't forget Gladys, whose "utter unflappability distinguishes Gladys Who Has Seen Some Shite from all other Gladyses."

Once we really got rolling it was quite hilarious. The pranks and general dialogue were funny and made me want to keep reading. The side characters made me more interested in Al, and the mystery was in no way easy to predict. (Because don't you just hate when you can tell exactly where a story is going? I do.)

So overall I'm going to give this a solid 3.5 stars. I needed a read like this right now, and I'd read another about the shenanigans of Al and his crazy gang of misfits.
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This book starts a new series by Kevin Hearne, but it's set in the same world as his Iron Druid stories. As such, it makes a perfect spot for new readers to jump in as well as a welcome return for those of us who already enjoy Atticus and Oberon's world. Hearne's trademark humor and expansive world-building are on display here, with some more serious elements to add depth. Some readers may find the Glaswegian dialect hard to parse at first, but it adds flavor. And I'm of an age to appreciate the musings on mortality and legacy from the protagonist, Al.

Ink & Sigil is a satisfying tale on its own, but contains hints of future adventures and quests. That's welcome news, because I'd love to spend more time with Al, Buck, and Nadia.
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I was so excited when I heard about this book. The Iron Druid Chronicles are one of my all time favorite series. I was really happy to return to this world. At the same time I was skeptical since it's different characters.
I ended up really enjoying it. I love Al. He reminded me of Owen. I love this world and the magic. And I love the humor. I tend to avoid humorous books. I prefer morally gray characters in my fantasy, but Kevin Hearne does humor so well. I need to listen to this on audio when it comes out because I think it would be even more amusing.
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Aloysius “Al” MacBharrais is a Sigil Agent. Only five such people in the world exist and it is their ability to create sigils from special ink that make them special. These sigils work like magic spells and can be used for both offensive and defensive and even for more mundane purposes. But when Al’s apprentice dies by choking to death on a scone, Al is convinced it isn’t really an accident. Perhaps that is because his previous six apprentices have also all died in various accidents. His investigation into the death leads him to another crime, this time a large-scale fey trafficking ring being run by what appears to be some sort of governmental organization. He manages to free a mischievous hobgoblin who was next to be sold off and who then acts as a sidekick throughout the rest of the story.

This first-in-a-series novel takes place in the same universe as the author’s Iron Druid Chronicles although it’s important to note that it is not necessary to have read those books in order to enjoy this one. The character of Al MacBharrais is well developed in this first book along with his sigil craft and several of his closest friends and allies. Some of this is told through brief flashback sequences but the author does this in creative ways to avoid the dreaded info dumps. At one point he even remembers back to when he met Atticus O'Sullivan, the Iron Druid himself, as well as his loyal dog companion Oberon.

This book does have a fair bit of dialog that reflects unique Scottish terminology and accents (specifically Glaswegian, or “Weegie). When I read that in the author’s note at the beginning of the book along with a pronunciation guide, I was plenty worried. That sort of thing often yanks me out of any kind of immersive storytelling experience. But here, it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think it helped me see and hear these people better.

There is quite a bit of humor in the novel, perhaps even more than can be found in the Iron Druid stories. Some of it is a little juvenile, especially from the hobgoblin, but then that seems totally in character for a hob anyway. Most of it is actually quite clever and original.

Recommended. Keven Hearne fans will not be disappointed.
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Few humans are aware that the fae and other magical beings not only exist, but also enjoy coming to visit and wreck havoc in our modern world. The rare humans who are in the know work with the magical world to keep it that way, and to keep the humans safe in their beds. By using ink made from complicated recipes, the human agents can create sigils, which is basically like doing a spell, but they need to be written down & prepared properly in advance. After his apprentice's untimely death, Al, an Irish sigil agent, discovers that his apprentice had been trafficking magical beings to an unknown third party, possibly for scientific experimentation. It's now his job to clean up the mess.

Al is one of the most interesting heroes I've ever met. He's not big and brawny or young and brash. He's a middle aged man, closer to aged than middle, who's been at this job for many years. He bears a curse that causes anyone to whom he speaks with too often to hate him. Luckily, there are text to voice apps that he can make use of, although the discovery of his curse came too late to save some of his dearest relationships. Al is great at his job, but he doesn't run around like a spring chicken farmboy hero. He's methodical and thorough, true to his age. He's also very Irish, which adds plenty of spicy flavors. He's kind of like Gandalf, but a more human one that we can relate to. He's not the usual cliched hero, and he's all the more interesting for it.

The writing style here was more complex than the typical modern easy to read prose. Not that it was a drudge to read. It was very well written, but it's the kind of book that you need a moment to get used to its deeper and satirical style and slower pace before you're fully absorbed. It works very well in this book, but I also found myself constantly switching in and out every other chapter between reading other, more fast paced books. Still, it was far from boring, and while it took me a long time to finish, I kept coming back to it. It was easy to remember and enjoyable to return to.

The setting and dialect was very Irish. The writing uses an Irish spelling and most characters speak with that accent, spelled out the way it sounds, so I came away from the book thinking in Irish. It was nicely done, although it takes a chapter or two to get used to and to better understand it. Once you do, it's fun and immersive, and hey, it's fun to try speaking that way in everyday conversations.

As with any proper hero, Al has a sidekick team, consisting of his bookkeeper/manager/war-seer, a lady I totally want to meet, and a mischievous hobgoblin. The sigil magic system is pretty cool. That and the world building were very well done. For all I know, there really are fae and other beings running about Earth, bound by contracts with the local sigil agent. The plot is a nice mix of action and investigative work and some cool magic sigil exploits. I haven't read any other books by this author, but now I'm eager to read his other series.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Wonderful writing, intense characters and fascinating story! I loved this book so much. The author has a brilliant imagination and his characters seem to be so alive and they are so complex
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