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The Native Star Mass Market Paperback – Aug 31 2010
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"The Native Star is engaging, atmospheric, and lovely. I was quite taken by the concept of an Old West built on a foundation of magic and zombie slave labor. Oh, and giant raccoons. Bring on the coons! And how spectacular is the name Dreadnought Stanton? This book utterly absorbed me from start to finish—these days you have no idea how rare that is. You have something special in your hands—no pun intended." —Gail Carriger, New York Times bestelling author of Soulless
“M. K. Hobson dazzles! The Native Star is an awesome mash-up of magic and steam-age technology—call it witchpunk. This debut novel puts a new shine on the Gilded Age.” —C. C. Finlay
“Splendid! In The Native Star, M. K. Hobson gives us a Reconstruction-era America, beautifully drawn and filled with the energy of a young nation—and magic! Her heroine, Emily Edwards, is outspoken, rash, loving, and true; a delight to spend time with. Could there be a sequel, please?” —Madeleine Robins
About the Author
M. K. Hobson’s short fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sci Fiction, Strange Horizons, Interzone, Postscripts, and many other publications. She lives in the first city in the United States incorporated west of the Rockies and fancies herself a historian, bon vivant, and raconteur. Her husband, daughter, yellow Lab, and moggy cats generally humor her. The Native Star is her first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The era is the 1870's and the location is in the American west. Fate has intervened and thrown together two very different individuals...a benevolent witch by the name of Emily Edwards and an out of favor warlock, Dreadnought Stanton. Unusual circumstances lead them to the site of a strange mining accident where Emily finds a beautiful blue gem...and upon picking it up, it becomes embedded within her hand. This gem has mysterious powers and once its presence in known, every necromancer, every magician of any renown, wants to have it for his own. Our heroes flee with the hopes of getting to New York, where the one person who might be able to provide some answers and help resides...the story begins and the chase ensues.
Author Hobson weaves a fine tale. I had the feeling at the beginning that this would be a light hearted 'western' (romance, horses and small towns etc.) with a few zombies thrown in the mix. However, such was not the case, because not only did this turned out to have some very well developed, interesting characters, but also the 'light-hearted' (mentioned above), soon turned out to be exceeding gory and unpleasant at times. All this because of some interesting evil-doers doing whatever was needed to accomplishes their goals...in this case gain possession, at any cost, of the blue gem.
Previously, an unknown author to me; I picked up this book mainly because of an intriguing cover and the high number of 5 star reviews. After a 'quiet' beginning this turned out to be an extremely well written fantasy/adventure...getting better as it went along. Some interesting characters, some unexpected turns and some chilling descriptions made this a very enjoyable fantasy read. The epilogue certainly left room for a sequel. 5 Stars.
Young Emily Edwards, the local enchantress of a remote California timber camp, begins the book by making a series of very bad decisions involving love spells, a young man she's adored since childhood, mining camp zombies, and a hotly pursued magically reactive mineral that has not only embedded itself in her hand, but also seem to have something to do with her dimly-remembered murdered mother. To top it off, Emily is saddled with an irritatingly attractive New York City-slicker wizard who knows much more about magic than she does, and isn't afraid to rub her nose in it -- when he deigns to tell her anything at all.
Emily's adventure avalanches from there, chasing her from her childhood home across the United States by trans-continental train and clockwork-magical flying machine. In quick succession, this rural girl has to run from the wood-fired rustic Sierra Nevada backlands to San Francisco's red light district, and then to the glittering arcane lights and overcrowded hoopla of the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Along the way, Emily must figure out where her own backwoods spell casting fits into the world economy of magic systems, and discover how cheaply life is bought and sold by the political and magical power brokers of the U.S. and the terrifying, ruthless underworld overlords.
The Native Star is original, blisteringly paced, satisfying, and compulsively readable. The author has created her own new sub-genre of fantasy (she calls it Bustlepunk but I'd name it Spellpunk Western.) She reports that a sequel is in the works, and I personally hope for many more. As quickly as possible, please!
The Native Star takes place in a slightly different late 1800's America. Witches and Warlocks are standard fare and there are competing schools of magic. The schools themselves are amazingly well thought out and each have a fascinating culture of their own. Strong world building is what pulled me in to this novel, and a wonderful cast of characters kept me reading. Apart from the magical schools (credomancy being my favorite for the sheer brilliance of it's design) there are the Aberrancies, creatures (and occasionally people) twisted by a dark matter the magical core of the earth exudes from time to time.
The protagonists are wonderfully human, with all the flaws and failings that implies, and the best of the villains are perfectly chilling. It is a love story worked very well into a grand tapestry of adventure, violence, and betrayal.
The book opens with a love charm gone terribly wrong, works its way through zombie miners that would kill to keep something buried, and the woman who unfortunately gets past them and winds up with an artifact of unprecedented power embedded in her hand.
And all of the competing magical schools would kill to have it in their possession.
What results is an excellent, fast-paced read that is very hard to put down.
I think the time is ripe for novels like The Native Star. Part fantasy, part historical, part romance, and with a sprinkling of steampunk, it's a colorful mix of all of my favorite styles within one book. My goodness, there were even zombies! There have been a few of these cropping up here and there, like Soulless by Gail Carriger, and I certainly hope to see more, but what sets M. K. Hobson's debut apart is that it's set in the American West. The setting spans from San Francisco all the way to New York City, and it's hard to top that kind of big, bold, cross-country adventure. This is the type of story that can satisfy so many different kinds of readers that I have no idea where I'd shelve it in a bookstore.
The Native Star works because Ms. Hobson did not take all of these elements and toss them randomly like a salad. Her fantasy world is robust and complicated; those who possess the ability to work with magic are divided into multiple factions who operate with all the fervor of religious zealots. She also explores the method behind the magic far more than most authors are willing to do in an intro book, and it blends into the story beautifully. This is a fully realized world, and her characters are no less engaging.
The plot stays focuses on Emily and Stanton (I can't call him Dreadnought, it sounds awful in my head), which should please the romance fans in the crowd, and their early relationship has all the bitter acrimony I hope to encounter when it comes to opposites attracting. They are so mismatched that I didn't begin to see how they could possibly fall in love until the second half of the novel, and I like it when the pair doesn't seem to be fated right from the start.
According to Ms. Hobson's website, book two, The Hidden Goddess, will be released in May 2011.
University educated warlock Dreadnought Stanton finds himself saddled with awkward country witch Emily Edwards in a race against time to save the universe. As they speed from one end of the country to the other, Emily learns about different types of magic, with delightfully well-thought-out rules and wonderfully confused questions reflecting much of modern life in the light of the magical. In Emily's world, not only are science and religion at odds, but so are each with magic, adding a third point of contention to civilized, and uncivilized life. Magic practitioners will either be revered as the hope of the nation, or burned at the stake as the causers of all ills. Valuable artifacts might be captured and studied, stolen and used, or spirited away for safekeeping. But which is the right reaction when Emily tries to tie her long-dead mother's inheritance with the future world's plans and the precious stone she holds in her hand?
Of course, Emily is learning about another magic too as she travels, and the bonds of true love. But the question remains, of two loves, which one is true, and indeed, which can be true?
The exciting conclusion solves this mystery and more, bringing a pleasant sense of completeness to the tale. But other secrets lie in the eaves, waiting, I hope, for a second book in the series. Certainly these characters and their world merit more words, and the author has imbued them with such a convincing reality they're sure to stay in the reader's mind until book two comes out. Horses, trains and biomechanical flying machines will people my dreams, and the landscapes of late 1800s USA will form a beautifully described background waiting for more.