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Fantasy Friday Review – Amongst Our Weapons

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovich

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)


If you like quirky uban fantasy mixed with police procedural, you’ve probably already read Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London series. But if not, wow, you need to find these. Just start with the beginning, MIDNIGHT RIOT (aka RIVERS OF LONDON) because you’ll definitely need to know what’s going on before tackling the 9th in the series, AMONGST OUR WEAPONS.

I will recap just a little. Peter Grant was just a regular London police officer guarding the scene of a murder when he happened to speak to a ghost. This came to the attention of DCI Thomas Nightingale, the head of Metropolitan Police’s Special Assessment Unit, the branch that deals with all sorts of magic-y stuff that the regular police really don’t want to talk about. Peter is soon Nightingale’s apprentice, the first new wizard in decades. He’s learning spells, dealing with all sorts of supernatural nasties, getting engaged to a river goddess, and generally attempting to drag the SAU into the modern world.

In AMONGST OUR WEAPONS, Peter and associates are called to take a look at a dead guy in London’s Silver Vaults. Dead guy has a hole where his heart used to be. And then another dead guy, same problem. There are seven rings involved, a being who looks like an angel with a burning spear, and a magic jar that dates back to the Spanish Inquisition. Peter’s nemesis Lesley May also has an interest in the rings. And once again, Peter finds out that there’s more to the magical community than Nightingale has remembered to mention, notably the Sons of Wayland – magic-using blacksmiths who went missing during WWII. Peter, Sahra, and new recruit Danni are chasing down leads via the police databases and the other magic users.  And at home, the goddess Beverly Brook is expecting their twins any day now, and Peter had better be there for the birth or risk widespread flooding over the countryside.

Aaronovitch throws in a lot of popular culture references in each book, I’m sure way more than I can recognize. I laughed at all the Lord of the Rings references and of course no one expects the Spanish Inquisition. Every book reveals a bit more of the magical world.  Also in each book is Peter’s very funny commentary on London’s architecture, bits of mythology, Latin, and pokes at bureaucracy in general. Not to mention talking foxes.

A couple minor criticisms. The plot feels a little forced, and Peter’s home life takes over quite a lot of the book (but hey, she’s a goddess, and she’s having twins, so…).  There are a couple loose ends – what’s with the rings, after all? Maybe in another book?  It occasionally seems like Aaronovitch felt he needed to drop in most of the recurring characters – we didn’t really need Agent Reynolds, I think, and probably not Lady Caroline. And I would really like to see more Nightingale, and more of Peter’s training.

Peter is an intensely likeable protagonist; the first person POV is perfect for his voice. I love the diversity that Aaronovitch has depicted. All the characters feel unique and well-rounded, the pacing is excellent as is the imagery. I’m still loving this series and already anxious for the next.



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