Rec a Series is a monthly post highlighting one of my favorite series, past or present. This month’s spotlight is on a lesser known series by one of my favorite urban fantasy authors. Best known for their kick-ass heroine Kate Daniels, the husband/wife team of Ilona Andrews also created a world of multiple dimensions. The Broken—a world without magic but with things like cell phones and Walmart. Our world. The real world? Then there’s the Weird where magic runs high. Bluebloods rule, changelings are shut away as children and trained to be an elite but expendable fighting force, and the air force consists of griffins. But the most fascinating stories? Those dwell in the Edge.
The Edge Series by Ilona Andrews
The Edge Series is one of the few series that, to me, make transdimentional worlds make sense. The two main worlds, the Broken and the Weird, are geographically similar. The Dukedom of Louisiana is located at about the same area as the state. The climate is about the same. Even in the Edge, you see similarities—swamps, alligator-like monsters, etc. There are boundaries that separate each from the other and all require varying degrees of magic to cross. If you have a lot of magic, you can cross from the Edge into the Weird, but crossing into the Broken could kill you. If your magic isn’t as strong, you can move between the Broken and the Edge, but not have enough to enter the Weird. A rare few move between all three. Most of the natives of the Broken don’t know the borders exist at all.
Each book focuses on a different couple, with at least one of the pair being a native of the Edge. They’re interwoven through family connections or friendships, so many of the couples in earlier books show up in the later ones. In the first book, On the Edge, we meet Rose Drayton and Declan Camarine, Marshal of the Southern Provinces. In the second, Bayou Moon, the pairs are Cerise Mar—an Edger from the Mire—and William Wolf—changeling, nobleman of the Weird (adopted son/heir of Lord Sandine), and Declan’s best friend. The last two books feature more of the Mar family with the other characters popping up here and there.
Each storyline is complete, no cliff-hangers here, but are connected by some common threads—mainly, family or the Mirror. The Mirror is a spy group located in Adrianglia, the country where Declan and William were born and served in the military. They have pretty gadgets and hire some shady characters (looking at you, Kaldar Mar), but they’re represented as being mostly on the side of right. Their primary opposition is the Hand, a similar group from the Dukedom of Louisiana that provides some delightfully horrific antagonists. Instead of gadgets and shady characters, they employ genetic mutations and think morals are things other people die for. There are slavers and pirates and thieves and rogues a-plenty as well.
While not my favorite series by the Andrews team, their skills at world building shines.
The Broken is easy as it’s our world as we know it. There are good folks and bad, nice ones, loyal ones, greedy ones, and just plain mean ones.
The Weird is almost stereotypical fantasy…until it’s not. There are the easily recognized aspects—royalty and nobles, fantastic beasts, etc.—yet it’s neither all good nor all bad. Adrianglia is the “good” nation, yet it routinely takes changeling children, locks them away, trains them to be unstoppable special forces soldiers, and then punishes them harshly for daring to deviate from their orders even if it’s to save an innocent life. There are dark secrets amongst the royal family. Even healing abilities have a dark side.
The Edge has a “Wild West” feel to it. There are no rulers, no governments, not even a police force. Each settlement operates by a different set of rules, and that’s using the term “rules” in the loosest sense. Most are firmly in the “every man for himself” camp. East Laporte, where Rose was born, has an odd type of militia but they definitely won’t go out of their way if they don’t have to. The Mire, where Cerise and the rest of the Mar family are from, is populated with exiles from the Dukedom of Lousiana.
The characters are where I get a hit or miss feel. I loved William Wolf Sandine, Kaldar and Richard Mar, Eleonore Drayton, and Gaston Mar. Rose Drayton Camarine and Cerise Mar Sandine felt a little too much like Kate Daniels clones to me, especially Cerise. Declan Camarine was Curran Lennart without turning furry (a recurring weakness for the Andrews team—Connor Rogan from Burn for Me was also a Curran clone, imo). However, the shining stars of the series, the ones whose stories I want to see so badly my skin itches (no, it’s not a rash, I checked) are George and Jack Camarine née Drayton. They turn this series from good to great and I can’t wait to see more of them.
George is a necromancer from the Edge who starts the series at 10 years old. He goes from a sickly child who doesn’t understand why things have to die to a 16-year-old boy showing the beginnings of the man we see in the Clean Sweep series. Jack is an adorable, but not too adorable lynx changeling child who starts the series at 8 years old. Jack does a considerable amount of growing throughout the series, but his thoughts are always very much a cat’s.
Favorite quotes –
- Quote from Declan and Jack, On the Edge – “Grandpa?” Declan raised his eyebrows. “We keep him in the shed out back,” Jack said helpfully. “So he doesn’t eat dog brains.”
- Quote from Kaldar Mar, Bayou Moon – “Well, shit,” Dobe said. “I guess you’re familiar with the law. You hit it over the head, set its house on fire, and got its sister pregnant.”
- Quote from Fate’s Edge – Jack didn’t fully get Jesus. Audrey tried to explain it, and he could repeat it back to her, word for word, but he still didn’t comprehend most of it. The best he could gather was that Jesus lived long ago, told people to be nice, and they killed him for it. At the end, he asked who was Jesus’ necromancer and if he was in the Bible, then Kaldar couldn’t stop laughing and had to sit down.
- Quote from Charlotte de Ney, Steel’s Edge – “Having a fling with you doesn’t appeal to me. You’re handsome, but you’re too inexperienced and too arrogant to be good in bed. Having ridden many horses doesn’t make you a good rider; it just proves that you can’t recognize a good one or don’t know how to keep her. You’re too young for me, and in ten years, when you improve, I will be too old for you. So let’s not speak of this again.”
The Edge Series –
Number of Books: Four
Number of Extras: None that I know of
- Maybe? I haven’t heard if there will be a #5, but it does tie in (loosely) with the Clean Sweep An adult George, Jack, and Gaston appear as Arbitrators in the series. Sophie/Lark appears as well.
- Ilona Andrews (note: The Edge section of their website is acting wonky for me at the time I wrote this, so…sorry?)