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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

 Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

Secrets! Magic! Enemies to. . .something more?

Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, would love a nice, safe, comfortable life. After the death of his twin sister, he thought he was done with magic for good. But with the threat of a dangerous ritual hanging over every magician in Britain, he’s drawn reluctantly back into that world.

Now Jack is living in a bizarre puzzle-box of a magical London townhouse, helping an unlikely group of friends track down the final piece of the Last Contract before their enemies can do the same. And to make matters worse, they need the help of writer and thief Alan Ross.

Cagey and argumentative, Alan is only in this for the money. The aristocratic Lord Hawthorn, with all his unearned power, is everything that Alan hates. And unfortunately, Alan happens to be everything that Jack wants in one gorgeous, infuriating package.

When a plot to seize unimaginable power comes to a head at Cheetham Hall―Jack’s ancestral family estate, a land so old and bound in oaths that it’s grown a personality as prickly as its owner―Jack, Alan and their allies will become entangled in a night of champagne, secrets, and bloody sacrifice . . . and the foundations of magic in Britain will be torn up by the roots before the end.

An amazing finale to one of the best trilogies I've read in years! I've adored The Last Binding series, and this is a spectacular end to it.

The series started with A Marvellous Light, continued with A Restless Truth, and ends here with A Power Unbound. For those unfamiliar with it, it's a very sexy, spicy alternative history magical story. The setting is the early 20th Century, the Edwardian period. Magic is a secret, held and used mostly by certain aristocratic families and their servants but generally kept away from the rest of the population. There's murder, there's mystery and there's romance.

All three elements are definitely present here. But in different ways to the earlier books. There's no retreading of old, familiar ground here. Where A Marvellous Light was very much a mystery introducing the world and its players, and A Restless Truth was a murder mystery treasure hunt set on an ocean liner, A Power Unbound is probably a lot more straightforward. There's one of the three treasures remaining to be found, but the hunt for it only occupies the first half of the book. After that it's a race to stop the villains from enacting their evil plan, which involves strategy, teamwork, magical secrets and an understanding of magical theory. All of the pieces have been very cleverly put in place in the earlier books, and this is really all about them coming together to save the day. 

Each of the stories in the series has two different point-of-view characters, and that tradition is continued here too. This time it's two already established characters, Jack Hawthorn, the lord with the terrible reputation seen in both the earlier two books, and Alan Ross, the journalist, thief and pornography peddler introduced in A Restless Truth. All four of the previous point-of-view characters are here playing major parts too, and it's fascinating seeing them from new perspectives. Character development has been really well done across the series and that really pays off here.

World building has been another strong element too. This book again builds on the groundwork done by its forerunners. We learn more about how magic functions in this world, really as the characters themselves learn and adapt their own knowledge. It can be fairly complex but never seems to bog the narrative down in too much detail, and when it does it's usually poking fun at Edwin's love of bogging down conversations with too much detail. There's enough in there to follow the action without ever feeling like a treatise or essay on magical theory. 

Appropriately, given the name, this is at heart a story about power. This is reflected in different ways. There's magical power, a recurring theme but here taken to dramatic extremes as the villains try to seize more of it for themselves. There's political power too, and politics plays more of a lead role here as Hawthorn is something of a political beast and Alan is something of a political commentator. The structures, dictates and forces within both the magical and the mundane political establishments all play a part and it's interesting seeing them being explored more. There's also a lot about inequalities in power. Exploring this through the medium of Alan and Jack is fascinating. On the surface Jack has all the power. He's got his wealth, his status, his standing, his magical friends and acquaintances. He's also big and strong, a man of physical power as well as political power. This definitely creates tension between the two, but it's really interesting seeing how it plays out, how it's explored and how it makes them both feel.

It's also fascinating exploring Jack's past too, and I loved how the story slowly let the truth of what happened in his youth unfold and be revealed. It was subtle and emotional and very well done.

Then there's the sex. Oh boy, is there the sex! If A Marvellous Light was all about a slow building tension, a love that dare not speak its name, with yearning glances and longing hearts, and A Restless Truth was about an enthusiastic education in corruption, A Power Unbound is about a very different kind of sex. This is enemies to lovers, it's fantasies about power inequality and force, about taking and being taken, and about two men who know what they're doing trying to figure out just what they want. It's very hot, very sexy, but what I particularly loved was that for all of this, there was a discussion about consent, about limits and safe words, albeit in a way that felt more in fitting with the Edwardian landscape rather than forcing modern terms and values in there in an artificial way. It was very clever, very thoughtful and very appreciated. It also fitted in perfectly with the novel's core ideas about the importance of power and consent. 

A Power Unbound is a wonderful end to a magical series. I loved it.


A Power Unbound by Freya Marske is published by Tor Books and is out now. 

I was given a review copy in exchange for an honest review and participation in this Black Crow PR blog tour.


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