Early 5bat! Review: Trickster (Ustari Cycle #1) by Jeff Somers

February 19, 2013 Review 12 ★★★★★

Early 5bat! Review: Trickster (Ustari Cycle #1) by Jeff SomersTrickster by Jeff Somers
Series: Ustari Cycle #1
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Book Trailer: View Trailer
Published by Pocket Books on February 26, 2013
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Reviewed by: Chris
5 Stars
Praised by the Guardian for stories that are “exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining,” Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society.

Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own. He’s grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren’t doing well, but they’re getting by.

That is, until they find young Claire Mannice— bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car’s trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos. Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they’ve uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality— and Lem just got in her way.

TRICKSTER is a book that has restored my faith in the urban fantasy genre as a whole. Jeff Somers has created a wholly original world that, even with magic, feels incredibly real.

The book centers around Lem – one of the world’s blood mages. And, yep, blood mages are exactly what they sound like. In this world there are two types of mages – those who use bleeders and those who supply their own blood for their magics. Lem is one of the latter.

The title comes from how the low-ranking, barely enough skill for a glamour mages refer to themselves. They are – almost to a man – con artists, thieves and grifters. They survive using little spells like making a crumpled up one dollar bill appear as a twenty. They’re scraping by and for the most part ignore (and are ignored themselves) by the more powerful magic users of the world. At least that’s how it was for Lem before he found Claire Mannice tied up in the trunk of a car. Now Lem’s in the thick of it and fighting just to keep himself and his friends alive.

I understand if right now you’re thinking I was a little hyperbolic in saying how this book restored my faith in urban fantasy. You’re just going to have to trust me and give this book a try. Seriously. It has everything. It has an incredibly well-thought out magic system, wonderful world-building, characters who not just break, but shatter, the cookie-cutter stereotypes so common to the genre and a plot that moves along at breakneck speed. Hell, it even has a dash of kinda-sorta romance in it for those who are in to that sort of thing.

To put it another way: I loved TRICKSTER so much that even though I received an ARC, I’ve already pre-ordered four copies of it. One copy to put on my shelf (and I almost never buy anything but eBooks anymore) and three copies to let friends borrow. That’s how much I loved this book.

Do yourself a favor and read what should rightfully be one of the biggest urban fantasy releases of the season.

Series Titles

  1. Tickster

12 Responses to “Early 5bat! Review: Trickster (Ustari Cycle #1) by Jeff Somers”

  1. J-9

    Interesting. I am very intrigued by this book due to your statement that it has restored your faith in Urban Fantasy (I think that all readers get to that point in this genre sooner or later). So I will have to check it out. Just wondering if the book is considered a YA novel? Just basing the question on the cover as they look like teens.
    Thanks and great review.

    • Chris

      It is most definitely not YA. Lots of cursing and what not.

      This is one of those books you can’t judge by the cover. I’m not sure what they were going for with it, but it doesn’t fit with the book at all.

      • Abigail

        I’ve got to cop to my own shallowness too with this cover. Chris McGrath is one of the top artists in this genre, and normally, I think he kills it. In this case…I don’t know what was going on. But Based on your review, Chris, it sounds like the book is amazing. Bumping to the top of my TBR pile too.

        • Chris

          Whoo hoo. Glad you’re bumping it up. And I agree with what you said about McGrath. I normally really like his work. This one, um, not so much. :)

  2. Julia

    Awesome review, Chris, your “book management” confession at the end bumps this to the top of my TBR list. The leap from eBook to my shelf (or a friend’s hands) is my own threshold between 4 and 5 bats, so the fact that you want to both horde and share this book has me very intrigued.

    • Chris

      Oh good. I’m not the only one who uses “do I want this on my shelf?” as part of their way to decide if it’s 4 or 5 bats. :)

    • Chris

      Don’t buy it for the kinda-sorta romance stuff in it. The entire “romance” would fill maybe a paragraph. ;-)

      • Jun

        Vampires and romance are the main reasons I am rejecting 90% of urban fantasy books. Your review and this sentence just made me buy this one. I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks!

        • Chris

          Ha! I’m a sucker for a decent vampire book (Joe Pitt, Fevre Dream, Anno Dracula to name a few), but I completely agree with ya on the romance part.

  3. Tamlyn

    I wanted this book based on the blurb and cover (uh.. I guess I’m alone there), but your review clinches it, I think (judging by your list of fav authors in the introduction post, I reckon if you like it, I will).

    Maybe I’ll treat myself this month for my birthday. I haven’t bought a new book in ages /wistful

    • Chris

      This book is certainly worth treating yourself to. It’s also worth bugging your local library to get if you want to go that route. :)