[[quoteright:340:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Hard_Magic_cover_9582.jpg]]
->"We now have over a thousand confirmed cases of individuals with these so-called [[TheMagicComesBack magical abilities]] on the continent alone. The faculty has descended into a terrible uproar over the proper nomenclature for such specimens. All manner of [[GratuitousLatin Latin phrases]] have been bandied about. Professor Gerard even suggested Grimnoir, a combination of the old French Grimoire, or book of spells, with Noir, for Black, in the sense of the mysterious, for at this juncture the origin of said Powers remains unknown. He was laughed down. Personally, I’ve taken to calling them wizards, for the very idea of there being actual magic beyond the bounds of science [[TheProfessorIsCryingAgain causes my esteemed colleagues to sputter and choke]]."
-->Dr. L. Fulci, ''Professor of Natural Science, University of Bern, Personal Journal'' 1852

->"The learned gentlemen from the university have asked me if I relied on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity or if I used the simpler rules of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation on the evening in question when I accidentally took Sheriff Johnson’s life . Shit. I don’t know. [[AWizardDidIt I just got angry and squished the fucker]]. But I’ve gotten better at running things and I promise not to do it no more."
-->Jake Sullivan, ''Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary'' 1928

''Jake Sullivan is a [[WorldWarOne war hero]], a [[PrivateDetective private eye]]—and an ex-con. He’s free because he has a magical talent, being able to alter the force of gravity in himself and objects in his vicinity, and the Bureau of Investigation calls on him when they need his help in apprehending criminals with their own magical talents. But the last operation he was sent along to help with went completely wrong, and Delilah Jones, the woman the G-men were after, who just happened to be an old friend of Jake’s in happier times, had a lot of magical muscle with her, too much muscle for the cops to handle, even with Jake’s help.''

''It got worse. Jake found out that not only have the Feds been lying to him, but there was a secret war being waged by opposing forces of magic-users. Worst of all, he had attracted the attention of one side's ruthless leaders-who were of the opinion that Jake was far too dangerous to be permitted to live...''

''The Grimnoir Chronicles'' is an AlternateHistory fantasy taking place in the early [[FilmNoir 1930s]]. Sometime in the 1800s [[TheMagicComesBack magic appeared in the world]], giving a small fraction of the population one of a standard set of super-powers, such as [[PlayingWithFire fire]], [[HealingHands healing]], and [[TeleportSpam teleporting]]. Just like his [[Literature/MonsterHunterInternational other series]], Creator/LarryCorreia provides some of the best action scenes out there, fueled by pure distilled RuleOfCool. A gravity-controlling private eye teams up with a guy who can walk through walls to fight a bulletproof samurai. A teleporting ninja with a katana goes up against a teleporting Oklahoma girl with a shotgun. Bullets fly, demons are summoned, and [[StuffBlowingUp stuff blows up]].

The first in the series is '''Hard Magic''' (released May 3 2011). After Jake Sullivan fails to bring in his former LoveInterest for murder, he makes some inquiries and finds out that things aren't what they seem. He's soon caught up with a [[MagicalSociety secret society]] sworn to stop the Japanese Imperium, led by the indestructible [[BigBad Chairman Tokugawa]], from taking over the world. At the same time, an [[TheGreatDepression Okie]] named Faye witnesses the murder of her adoptive grandfather at the hands of a mysterious one-eyed man. His dying command is for her to protect a strange mechanical device, designed by someone named [[NikolaTesla Tesla]].

The sequel '''Spellbound''' is out as of November 1 2011. It follows up on some of the [[SequelHook sequel bait]] from the first book -- such as the [[CosmicEntity entity]] stated to be pursuing [[MetaOrigin The Power]] itself.

The third book, '''Warbound''' was released in August 2013.

----
!!This work uses the following tropes:
* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: Harkeness...speaks in...THIS manner.
* AffablyEvil: The Chairman is really a very pleasant man, when he isn't subjugating whole nations or ripping the soul out of your body.
* AlienGeometries: The Power seems to be made of strange glyphs that are strange but can be grasped by the human mind. [[spoiler: The Pathfinder's minions in ''Warbound'' are so complex and bizarre that even Fuller has trouble grasping them.]]
* AllYourBaseAreBelongToUs: [[spoiler: The Imperium Shadow Guard destroys 3 of the 4 Grimnoir strongholds in Shanghai before the attack on the false Chairman in Warbound, killing dozens of Knights, including Lance.]]
* AlmightyJanitor[=/=] BadassBureaucrat: "Anyone ever tell you you're the best accountant ever, [[spoiler: Chandler?]]"
* AlternateHistory: Aside from the major change of people starting to gain magical abilities in the mid-19th century some more traditional chnages are Teddy Roosevelt pursuing a military career rather than a political one and becoming a general who dies in The Great War, Hitler being executed in 1929, the Great Dust Bowl getting an early start due to a misaimed government attempt at weather manipulation in 1929 (in OTL it didn't get really bad until 1933) and the Titanic being saved by an Active.
* AnIcePerson: Iceboxes
* AndIMustScream: Zombies are in this situation, since when they're brought back to life their injuries keep on hurting.
* AntiHero: [[spoiler:Harkeness turns out to be a Grimnoir knight, who killed Pershing as part of a longer plan to defeat the Chairman. When Browning finds out, he still kills him for it.]]
* ActionGirl: Both Faye and Delilah.
** And in the second book, Hammer. And Whisper, who throws a gods's fire back at it.
* AllYourPowersCombined: It's subtly hinted at at the end of ''Spellbound'', and outright stated by Fuller in ''Warbound'': [[spoiler: Faye isn't a Traveler. She's actually a Cog, whose power manifests in her understanding and being able to use ''all the powers''. She's not just a telporting agent of chaos, she's a telporting agent of chaos who can heal the injured, read your mind, and ''unleash black holes'']]
* AnalogyBackfire: When one of the Grimnoir elders skeptically refers to the Pathfinder as Sullivan's "[[MobyDick white whale]]," Sullivan points out that the whale was real.
* AscendedExtra: Lady Origami and [[spoiler: Master Saito]] have very minor parts in ''Hard Magic'' but return for a much larger role in the sequels.
* AntiMagic: The Dymaxion Nullifier is introduced in ''Spellbound''. You ''can'' destroy them magically, it's just not a good idea, as it requires spellbinding a Nixe's power...which is ''[[NiceJobBreakingItHero unleashing black holes]]''
* AttackOfTheFiftyFootWhatever: [[spoiler: Spellbound's finale has a skyscraper-sized Demon, the most powerful in existence attacking Washington, DC due to Crow's DealWithTheDevil.]]
* [[spoiler:BabiesEverAfter: Sullivan marries Lady Origami and fathers a son at the end of the third book.]]
* BackToBackBadasses: Sullivan and [[spoiler: Toru]] at the end of ''Warbound.''
* BadAss: Just about everyone involved.
* BadassAdorable: Faye is so cute that Browning jokes it must be the result of a spell, and so powerful that she can destroy an entire battleship single-handedly in less than five minutes.
* BadassBoast:
-->[[spoiler: The Pathfinder:]] "I am ''everywhere!''"
-->'''Faye:''' "Well, [[TeleportSpam so am I]]!"
* BadassBystander: In the third book, none other than [[IpMan Yip Man]] himself appears as one of these, taking on several teleporting, magic-wielding ninjas ''bare handed.''
* BadPowersGoodPeople: One of the Grimnoir is a Lazarus, an Active who can bring back the dead and are universally despised.
* BatmanGambit: [[spoiler:Harkeness]] is running one against the Chairman.
* BattleCouple: Jake & Delilah. Faye and Francis, briefly.
* BerserkButton: Faye's dangerously unstable most of the time, but if Francis is threatened, she's downright ''terrifying.''
** She also reacts badly to pretty much anything involving her grandpa's death.
** Trying to harm Jane will result in Dan ordering you to blow your own brains out, and you ''will'' consider it an excellent idea.
* BewareTheNiceOnes: Faye very calmly vows to kill both Madi and the Chairman himself. She [[spoiler: manages half of that, facilitates the other half and makes up the difference in mooks and property damage]].
** Jake notes that she's really the nicest person in the world most of the time, until you [[BerserkButton cross her invisible line]], whereupon she just kills you without a second thought.
** Dan's a nice guy; in fact, his power revolves around being pleasant and ingratiating with people. Unless he gets really mad, whereupon he speaks with the voice of a god and can cause all but the most strong-willed individuals to instantly commit suicide.
* BewareTheSuperman: Part of the Imperium's plan for taking over the world is to sow distrust of Actives in the United States, by framing them for a Peace Ray attack.
* {{BFG}}: Jake carries two different ones at various points of the book. During an Imperium assault on a Grimnoir safehouse, Heinrich and Francis break out a Browning M2 heavy machine gun, a weapon so large that Faye mistakes it for some piece of farm machinery.
** In ''Warbound'', an Imperium super-bazooka that's basically a launcher for Boomer power appears, and it obliterates the top half on an apartment building in one shot
* BigBad: The Chairman.
* [[spoiler:BiggerBad: The Great Enemy]]
* TheBigDamnKiss: [[spoiler: Faye and Francis share one of these]] when they're reunited in the third book. They have ''maybe'' fifteen minutes before the world is destroyed, but she figures they can spare a few seconds.
* BoxedCrook: Jake is a fairly free-range one at the beginning of the book.
* BullyingADragon: One of the Grimnoir knights is rude to Faye. Browning reminds him that this is the girl who killed several hundred Imperium troops, fought the Chairman, and [[spoiler: teleported an airship across the Pacific.]] The other knight quietly apologizes.
** A lot of the prisoners in Rockville Penitentiary liked to pick on Jake in an attempt to make a name for themselves. They all ended up leaving in bags.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: A common trait of Cogs. Buckminster Fuller is a prominent example: he's staggeringly brilliant and has a habit of making up words and expecting everyone to understand them.
* CameBackWrong: Lazaruses can bring people back from death, but most resurrectees go insane and become shambling monsters due to having to constantly experience the pain of their fatal injuries. Only a handful of strong-willed people such as [[spoiler: Heinrich's Father and Delilah]] can remain functional for a long period of time.
* CosmicEntity: The Power itself turns out to be some kind of massive space... thing, which is in a symbiotic relationship with the people of Earth. It's on the run from a mysterious Enemy; can you say 'SequelHook?'
* ChekhovsGun: Early on, it's said that the Chairman could only [[spoiler:killed by a direct hit from a Peace Ray/Geo-Tel. Guess how he dies at the end.]]
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: Faye is not like you.
* CombatPragmatist: Pretty much everyone, but Heinrich most of all.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant
* CrappsacharineWorld [[spoiler: Shanghai]] is a pretty nice place, with modern buildings, most of the war destruction patched up and everything you could ever imagine for sale. Give any reason to doubt your undying loyalty to the Imperium conquerors, however....
* CuteAndPsycho: Faye is an adorable farm girl who will also kill anyone she thinks is a bad person without hesitation (sometimes with unfortunate results).
* CuteBruiser: Delilah.
* DarkActionGirl: Toshiko.
* DealWithTheDevil: Crow invokes this near the end of ''Spellbound.'' [[spoiler: The demon just eliminates him as soon as it has what it wants]].
* DecoyDamsel: Interesting variation in ''Spellbound:'' the attack is real, but Hammer deliberately provoked it and could have easily handled it herself. She just wanted to test Jake.
* DefectorFromDecadence: [[spoiler:Toru]].
* DieselPunk[=/=]FantasticNoir
* DemonicPossession: Inverted; Crow is a [[SummonMagic Summoner]] who can possess the demons he summons. He prefers these bodies over his real one, but using a powerful enough demon causes its personality to influence his own, which makes him somewhat AxCrazy while in such a body.
* DesignatedGirlFight: Faye vs. Toshiko. Despite this, it's an ''awesome'' fight scene featuring frenetic TeleportSpam on a [[BattleAmongstTheFlames flaming]] [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld zeppelin]] in the middle of a [[SkyPirates pirate attack]] on said [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld zeppelin]]. Did I mention Toshiko is a {{Ninja}}?
* DifferentlyPoweredIndividual: in-universe, supers are variously referred to as Actives, Magicals and more.
* DistressedDamsel: [[spoiler:Jane]] is kidnapped by the Imperium in the middle of the book.
** DamselOutOfDistress: [[spoiler: and at the climax she grabs a gun and starts shooting the Chairman's men, and even the Chairman himself. He admits he's impressed.]]
* DumbMuscle: The stereotype of Heavies is this.
* DyingMomentOfAwesome: Dear God, [[spoiler: Lance]]!
* EldritchAbomination: The Enemy is a PlanetEater that chases the Power to feed on the worlds it's touched. Even pieces of this entity are almost as powerful as [[SuperpowerLottery Chairman Tokugawa]], and the Enemy itself is so horrible that a Fortune Teller capable of perceiving it ''bleeds'' when he tries to get a good "look" at it.
* EliteMooks: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard are superpowered, ''very'' highly trained and magically enhanced to boot.
* TheEmpire: The Imperium, natch.
* EncyclopediaExposita: Each chapter is opened with some historical quote, throwing out hints about the AlternateHistory, such as Hitler being executed before rising to power, TheodoreRoosevelt dying in WorldWarOne against the Kaiser's zombies, etc.
* EnemyMine: [[spoiler: Toru]] joins forces with the Grimnoir to track down the Pathfinder.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is a thoroughly selfish bastard, but he does love his grandson.
** Harkeness cares for his granddaughter [[spoiler: Jane]] and is very proud of the fact that she was able to counteract his curse for years.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Madi is actually quite squeamish about Unit 731.
* EvilCounterpart: see EvilTwin. Same applies to Faye and Toshiko.
* EvilTwin: Not a twin ''per se'', but Jake and his brother ([[spoiler:Madi]]) look similar enough that [[spoiler:Faye shoots him on sight]].
* ExplainExplainOhCrap: Madi does this to himself near the end of ''Hard Magic'' when he notices that Jake has brought Dan along. He remembers the dumpy little guy from the mansion, but can't quite remember [[MindControl what his power is]]...then he remembers, just as Dan [[spoiler: commands Madi's troops to commit suicide]].
* ExplosiveOverclocking: [[spoiler: When Lance is fatally wounded a Shadow Guard strike force in Warbound, he draws upon a lethal amount of his possession magic to take over the body of a Shadow Guard, deciding that he has nothing to lose.]]
* FairCop: Hammer.
* FalseFlagOperation: In the second book President-elect Roosevelt is attacked by an Active assassin sent by [[spoiler:the OSI]] so that they can manipulate public opinion and use that to pass various laws controlling Actives and place them under their authority.
* FantasticRacism: Many people hate and fear Actives and even among Actives some types like Fades, [[TheNecromancer Lazaruses]] and [[MoreThanMindControl Mouths]] are disliked and distrusted.
* [[FarmersDaughter Farmer's Granddaughter]]: Faye.
* FateWorseThanDeath: [[spoiler: The "angels" and "demons" that are summoned by the Power are actually the remnants of the souls of the destroyed planets and/or dimensions that the Power has previously inhabited that have been destroyed by the enemy.]]
* {{Fiction 500}}: Cornelius Gould Stuyvesant is the richest man in the world, and owner of [[ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld United Blimp & Freight]]. [[spoiler:Francis is his grandson, and ends up inheriting the company]].
* FightsLikeANormal: Despite their oft-incredible powers, most of the characters default to firearms in battle, and everyone has guns for backup.
** Some characters, like Hammer or Lance, have powers that are more or less useless in battle, but are nevertheless talented and dangerous fighters.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Faye starts the first book as a poor Okie girl with a power that's likely to get her killed trying to use it. By the end of the third, she's fought ''and injured'' the Chairman and survived that, teleported ''an entire airship'' thousands of miles, killed ''the'' uber-Summoned, and manages to kill a zeppelin battleship ''by herself''.
* GadgeteerGenius: Much of the current technology is produced or at least initially developed by Cogs, whose Power is a supernatural aptitude for a particular branch of science.
* GeniusBruiser: Jake. Exceptionally well-read, brilliant enough to figure out what the Power really is, and a giant hulk of a man.
** Invoked by Walter Donovan in one of the chapter quotes: "the ideal OCI man is a PHD who could win a bar fight."
* GoodIsNotNice: Ian Wright is an arrogant, argumentative jerk, but he's a loyal knight and can be incredibly brave in a pinch.
* GravityMaster: Sullivan [[spoiler:and his brother Madi]] can control gravity. Most Heavies can only lighten objects that they try to carry, but Sullivan practiced with his Power enough that he can change the direction of gravity, amplify it, etc.
* GrayEyes: A trait shared by all Travelers,
* GunPorn: Toned down from the Literature/MonsterHunterInternational series, since they have magic to fight with too this time, but that doesn't keep John Moses Browning from giving Sullivan a tour of his workshop.
* HandicappedBadass: Madi only has one eye. Lance has a very pronounced limp.
* HappilyAdopted: Faye...until her adopted parent is killed by Imperium agents.
* HealingHands: Healers such as Jane are in high demand, and a standard part of any rich person's retinue.
* HealingFactor: Passive Healers. Also, anyone with one or more kanji of healing.
* HeartIsAnAwesomePower: Lance's power is mostly strictly limited to recon unless there are large predators handy, but he can be pretty creative with it, as when he stops a car chase by [[spoiler: making a cow run in front of the other car. And wink.]]
** Heavies are generally considered among the most useless Actives out there, since all most of them can do is make heavy things a little lighter. Jake has practiced and studied enough that he's one of the most powerful characters in the series.
* {{Heavyworlder}}: Apparently, all [[GravityMaster Spikers/Heavies]] are huge, stocky types.
* HeroWithBadPublicity: Near the beginning of Book Two, the Grimnoir are framed for an assassination attempt on FDR, and spend the rest of the book dealing with the fallout.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: George Bolander and Whisper]] both do this in ''Spellbound,'' the former so spectacularly that he becomes a folk hero.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: John J. "Black Jack" Pershing and John Moses Browning are both Grimnoir knights, and Sullivan has some unpleasant dealings with J. Edgar Hoover.
** In the second book, Buckminister Fuller makes a brief but significant appearance (he has a larger role in the third book). A United States Navy "[[Creator/RobertAHeinlein Lieutenant Heinlein]]" makes a briefer, much less significant appearance.
** In the third book, it's revealed that [[spoiler:Winston Churchill and William Donovan]] are Grimnoir elders.
** Also in the third book, turns out that [[spoiler: Rasputin]] was one of the Chairman's students.
** In the second and third books, Francis's [[HyperCompetentSidekick right-hand man]] is [[spoiler: Raymond Chandler]].
** ''Warbound'' features a very brief cameo by [[IpMan Yip Man]], who's a member of the Shanghai Grimnoir.
* HistoricalPersonPunchline: The UBF accountant (who helped in the climactic battle, explaining that he fought with the Gordon Highlanders in WorldWarOne), turns out to be [[spoiler:Creator/RaymondChandler]].
** Hilariously subverted with [[spoiler: Rasputin]]. Most readers have probably guessed his identity long before he reveals it, and he expects Faye to have do so as well. He's therefore rather disappointed to find she's never heard of him.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: In RealLife, ImperialJapan was racist, militaristic, and expansionist, with an array of atrocities to its name. The Imperium is all of that, turned UpToEleven, and more succesful.
* HonestCorporateExecutive / BenevolentBoss: Francis, after he [[spoiler: inherits UBF]].
* HopeSpot: Just after defeating the Bull King, [[spoiler:Delilah gets run through by a ninja]].
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Faye kills [[spoiler: Rasputin]] by Traveling him into the path of his own spell.
* HugeGuyTinyGirl: The massive Jake and the petite Delilah.
** Non-romantic example in the two protagonists: enormous Jake and tiny Faye.
* HumansAreSpecial: [[spoiler: it turns out that humans are the first rational, creative beings the Power has found, which is what makes it think it can defeat the Enemy at last.]]
* IAmNotLeftHanded: [[spoiler:Faye isn't really a Traveler. She's a Cog who's specialty is understanding magic so well that she can use ''any'' power.]]
* IAmNotPretty: Faye thinks of herself as quite plain. Most people who meet her seem to disagree.
* ICantBelieveAGuyLikeYouWouldNoticeMe: Charmingly, neither [[spoiler: Faye nor Francis]] can quite figure out what the other sees in them.
* InsistentTerminology: Sullivan ''really'' prefers the term 'Gravity Spiker.'
* InsultToRocks: After Faye calls Toshiko a fat cow, she mentally notes that that's not really fair, since cows are nice.
* IntangibleMan: Heinrich, one of the Grimnoir knights, is a Fade, who can walk through walls and let weapons pass right through him.
* [[IfYouEverDoAnythingToHurtHer If He Ever Does Anything to Hurt You]]: Lance cautions Faye to be careful, because he really doesn't want to have to break Francis's neck for dishonoring her.
** In the final book, Captain Southunder warns Sullivan that if he doesn't make [[spoiler: Akane]] happy, he'll find himself having a lethal 'accident.'
* InterClassRomance: [[spoiler: Faye and Francis]]
* InterserviceRivalry: The Iron Guard and Shadow Guard (or at least Madi and Toshiko) do not have a high opinion of each other. The FBI and OCI conflict plays a significant role in the second book.
* ItHasBeenAnHonor: [[spoiler: Sullivan and Toru]] share a moment of this when surrounded by Imperium troops at the end of ''Warbound.''
* ItsRainingMen: In ''Warbound'', Sullivan decides to interrupt [[spoiler: the false Chairman's Singapore visit]]. How? By donning a suit of PoweredArmor and dropping in. ''From seventy-five thousand feet up''.
* JerkAss: Cornelius. Gould. Stuyvesant.
* JustTheFirstCitizen: In the epilogue of book three, [[spoiler:Toru]] becomes the new Chairman. Well, he ''claims'' that he's just another one of the Emperor's ministers, but Sullivan doesn't doubt that [[spoiler:Toru]] has managed to acquire the power of that position even if he hasn't gotten the official job title.
* KingpinInHisGym: Just before the climactic battle of ''Hard Magic,'' there's a scene of Madi sparring with several dozen Imperial Marines at once.
* KnownOnlyByTheirNickname: The real name of Lady Origami (Also known as Ori for short) is Akane. This doesn't get revealed until late in the third book.
* LadykillerInLove: Francis had "been around a few blocks" before [[spoiler: falling in love with Faye.]]
--> ''"Francis had loved a lot of women. He only cared about one."''
* LetsGetDangerous: Lance is a Beastie, who can control animals, and generally uses squirrels, birds, and dogs for recon. And then the final battle in ''Spellbound'' he decides to borrows a ''Siberian Tiger'' from the National Zoo. In ''Warbound'' he uses a ''Polar Bear''. [[spoiler:And in his final battle he takes over an Imperium Shadow Guard and has him murder all his comrades before committing suicide.]]
* LivingLieDetector: Justices, such as Hammer.
* LivingOnBorrowedTime / TheLastDance: Shortly after [[spoiler:Delilah is killed, she is accidentally revived as a zombie by an Imperium necromancer. Rather than being immediately put down, she decides to go out fighting]].
* LittleMissBadass: Faye, who may or may not be 18 yet and is pretty small. She irritates everyone trying to fight her by not being where they think she is and, in the final battle, kills around a hundred Imperium marines and wounds the Chairman. In ''Spellbound'', the evil OCI chief is scared by Sullivan and a Lance-controlled Siberian Tiger. He's ''utterly terrified'' of Faye.
** In ''Warbound'' she kills an Imperium ''Kaga''-class zeppelin ''by herself''. As in, she solos the largest, most powerful warship ''on the planet''. In under four minutes.
** [[spoiler: It's eventually revealed that she can use ''any power she wants''.]]
* MadeOfIron: Madi and Rokusaburo in particular, Brutes, Massives and people with [[PowerTattoo kanji]] of durability in general.
* MagicAIsMagicA: Turns out there are very structured cosmological underpinnings to the seemingly-random magical gifts.
* MetaOrigin: All magic powers (be they innate or the kanji brands) come from [[CosmicEntity The Power]].
* MightyWhitey: Madi is a villainous example leavened only by the fact that there ''are'' other Caucasians in the Iron Guard, none of whom are on his level or that of the Japanese members.
* MiniMap: Faye has a "head map" that shows her all people and obstacles around her. It lets her teleport safely without ending up in a wall, makes her impossible to sneak up on, and she can punch the map through a communication spell to travel long distances.
* MindControl: Beasties such as Lance can control animals and see through their eyes for reconnaissance. Mouths like Dan can control people to a limited extent, but can't make them do anything they wouldn't consider anyway.
* MindOverMatter: Francis comes from a long line of Movers.
* MirrorMatch: Twice, Sullivan has to go head-to-head with his brother, pitting gravity powers against gravity powers. See also Faye vs. Toshiko
* MundaneFantastic: Active are a known entity and many types like Heavies, [[ShockAndAwe Cracklers]], [[AnIcePerson Iceboxes]] and [[MindOverMatter Movers]] are commonly employed while the rarer types like [[HealingTouch Healers]] and [[GadgeteerGenius Cogs]] are highly sought after.
* MundaneUtility: Donald Bryce is a [[{{Necromancer}} Lazarus]] who works for the Grimnoir. He used to be an NYPD homicide detective known for ''always'' closing his cases.
* NearDeathExperience: Both Jake and Faye. When caught up in it, they can see the two most powerful beings on Earth: The Power itself, and the Chairman.
* {{Necromancer}}: In-setting, an Active (such as Hiroyasu) that can raise and command zombies is called a "Lazarus." They are the most universally hated groups of Actives, even by other Actives, due to their power.
* NegativeSpaceWedgie: Nixies can create black holes, which fortunately never grow more than a mile or so across [[spoiler: except for the giant one that Faye creates to swallow the Enemy at the end of ''Warbound'']].
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: In the first book Faye almost kills Sullivan [[spoiler: after mistaking him for Madi, his older brother]].
* NietzscheWannabe: The Chairman's philosophy has elements of this; Madi takes those elements and runs with 'em as far as they can go.
* {{Ninja}}: The Shadow Guard. Membership is restricted to highly trained [[IntangibleMan Fades]] and [[TeleportersAndTransporters Travelers]].
* NinjaPirateZombieRobot: Ninjas, pirates, and zombies all come together for the big climactic fight scene of ''Hard Magic''.
** Then, of course, robots show up in the sequel ''Spellbound''.
* NobleBigot: Travelin' Joe hates the Okies that pass by his farm, but not so much that he doesn't adopt one to keep her from killing herself with her power.
* NotQuiteSavedEnough: The Chairman killed two Pathfinders of The Enemy, but a third is on the way and he isn't around to stop it this time. [[spoiler:He actually only killed one. The third Pathfinder is actually the second, which escaped him and has been subverting influential Actives around the world for half a century, and is now ready to call its master.]]
* OddFriendship: Smooth, friendly Mouth Dan and taciturn, paranoid Fade Heinrich.
* OddlyCommonRarity: The first book mentions multiple times that Healers in particular are the rarest of the rare among the rare individuals at are Active... and yet it also mentions multiple forms of Actives who are so rare that they're barely known. People with enough money can find multiple Healers to have on-call, but no one can find a Nixie to ask what he does, despite the name being known. The second book doesn't have anyone talk about how rare Healers are, probably because the heroes keep finding Actives they didn't know of in the first book.
* OhCrap: In ''Spellbound,'' OCI thug Sharps has this reaction when he realizes that [[spoiler: Heinreich, whom he had just been working over, has gotten his magic back.]]
* OnePersonOnePower: an in-setting rule of thumb to which Chairman Okubo Tokugawa is the sole exception as far as anyone knows, though people who are very skilled with their one power can often emulate a related one. For example, Sullivan can use fine gravity control as a makeshift telekinetic ability. [[spoiler:In the third book, Faye is revealed to be a Cog who can use any power she wants.]]
* OutOfCharacterAlert: Toru tests the Chairman by asking him to interpret one of his poems. The Chairman answers with a perfectly acceptable interpretation. [[spoiler: But the ''real'' Chairman would never have lowered himself to interpreting one of his poems.]]
* PetTheDog: In a very human and even kind moment, the Chairman [[spoiler:consoles Sullivan over Delilah's death and helps him come to terms with it; Sullivan even sincerely thanks him for it. . . right before saying that he still plans on killing him regardless.]]
* PlayingWithFire: Torches. Most Torches are actually employed to ''put out'' fires, especially on zeppelins.
* PlayingWithSyringes: Frequent mention is made of the [[TruthInTelevision horrific medical experiments carried out by Unit 731]]
* PocketProtector: In their TeleportSpam duel, Toshiko believes she has the upper hand when she slices into what she thinks is Faye's spine. That is until Faye reveals that what was actually hit was [[ChekhovsGun the cheap pistol she had purchased earlier]]. Toshiko does not take this revelation well.
* PoisonousPerson: Harkeness is a Pale Horse, an Active so rare they border on mythological status. He can control his power at will, but that doesn't make Stuyvesant any less wary of him.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Despite being set in the 1930s, by far the most explicitly racist (American) character is [[TheDragon Crow]].
* PortalCut: How Faye [[spoiler: cuts the Chairman's hands off]].
* PowerArmor: The Imperium developed some for the Iron Guard, which were restricted to the elites because of the difficulty of manufacture. Fuller makes a set for Sullivan in the third book.
* PowerStrainBlackout: Using too much power at once can put an Active into a coma, or even kill them.
* PowerTattoo: The kanji used by the Imperium to enhance their operatives. They are technically brands though as opposed to actual
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: The Chairman is the very first Active, and is thus considerably older than he looks. Other members of the Dark Ocean were given dramatically reduced aging by him, but were not immortal.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Francis delivers one of these to ''Franklin Roosevelt.'' Needless to say, it comes back to bite him.
* RichIdiotWithNoDayJob: Francis purposefully cultivates this image.
* RuleOfCool
* SadisticChoice: Presented by an accident rather than malice. When [[spoiler:Faye shoots Jake, and Heinrich shoots her]], Jane only has enough healing power to save one of them.
* SeenItAll: Due to his [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld advanced age]] & [[WalkingTheEarth extensive travels]], the Chairman suffers from a mild case of this.
* SequelHook: The glossary references to Active types that didn't otherwise appear in ''Hard Magic''. Boomers (who are kept locked in lead-lined chambers, hint-hint), Nixies and Justices for example.
** All three of which show up in ''Spellbound.''
* SchoolOfSeduction: Part of Toshiko's training as a ninja, as observed by Madi. Later, he totally hits that.
* SequelHook: [[spoiler: The ending has Toru and Sullivan on a beach, with the latter stating that, while the Imperium has shut down its schools and Unit 731, that war may resume one day with America or the Grim Noir. He also speculates that the Enemy may one day find a way to escape and have to be dealth with for good. On a positive note, Faye has become an inventor that's changing the world with her inventions and her next project might involve the fact that she misses Travelling... ]]
* SesquipedalianLoquaciousness: Buckminster Fuller. This is apparently a trait he possessed in RealLife.
* SheCleansUpNicely: Faye turnes out to look really good in a nice dress.
* ShockAndAwe: Cracklers, although they prefer to be called "Edisons."
* ShoutOut: When Sullivan stops to ask directions from an Imperium soldier: "English! [[Film/PulpFiction Do you speak it]]?"
** After Francis [[spoiler:inherits the family fortune]], he considers [[Franchise/{{Batman}} wearing a costume when performing his Grimnoir duties to to distinguish himself from his playboy millionaire public image]]. He decides against it.
** When Sullivan drops in on the Imperium in Shanghai, a couple of Iron Guards have a "Is it a [[{{Superman}} bird/plane/man]]?" conversation.
** The climax of ''Spellbound'' features [[spoiler: a hundred-foot super-demon]] [[KingKong climbing the Washington Monument while fighting off biplanes]].
* ShutUpHannibal: Crow tries to convince Faye to come with him quietly, offering to spare her friends and explain the true nature of her power to her. Her response:
-->'''Faye:''' "You should have thought of that before you beat up my boyfriend."
** In the same book, Dr. Bradford outlines his grand vision to Francis to try to get him on board with it. Francis responds with "''Fuck'' your vision!"
* SinisterMinister: [[spoiler: Rasputin the Black Monk]] is posing as a Russian holy man in ''Warbound.'' Faye is ''quite'' offended that a man who wants to help [[spoiler: the Pathfinder]] kill all of God's creatures is posing as a man of Christ.
* SkyPirate: The last piece of the Geo-Tel is protected by Southunder, who preys on Imperium ships in the Pacific ocean from his zeppelin.
* TheSpartanWay: The Imperium's infamous magic schools take anyone with a drop of power away from their families to be pushed as hard as they can. Thousands have died from being considered too weak or being pushed too far.
* StealthHiBye: Faye, being a Traveler, does this all the time.
* SuperFunHappyThingOfDoom: Tesla's "Peace Ray."
* SuperStrength: Delilah, enough said.
** In the second and third book, Toru.
* SwarmOfRats: Lance unleashes one of these in ''Warbound''
--> ''"So much blood!"''
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: Zig-zagged; while Faye's natural talent lets her run circles around the well-trained Toshiko, Jake's greater power does not generally keep him from getting smacked around by the more skillful Madi.
** Given his TrainingFromHell and [[PowerTattoo Iron-Guard-issue kanji brands]], Madi was both more powerful and more skilled than Jake. Jake was just [[CombatPragmatist smarter]] and more focused on winning -- as opposed to proving a point.
* TeleportSpam: Any fight involving a Traveler such as Faye, Toshiko, Travelin' Joe, etc.
* TeleporterAccident: One of the reasons Travelers are so rare: most kill themselves early on by teleporting into flying insects or tree-branches.
** Faye gets a beetle stuck in her foot early in ''Hard Magic.''
* TheDragon / TheHeavy: Madi, to the Chairman.
** In the second book, Crow to Bradford.
* TimeAbyss: In ''Warbound,'' an oracle states that the Power has been on the run from the enemy for at least 1 million years.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: Dan and Jane.
* TokenEvilTeammate: Sociopathic psychologist Dr. Wells in the third book. In the end it's revealed that [[spoiler: he's taken control of the Shanghai underworld]].
** Arguably Mr. Bryce the Lazarus, who seems to enjoy turning dead criminals into zombies and beating on them a ''little'' too much.
* TrainingFromHell: Madi has this in his backstory. Presumably, the other Iron Guards did as well.
* TranquilFury: Jao the Icebox in ''Warbound.'' When he meets the man who murdered his family, he very calmly lists the man's crimes while freezing him solid.
* UglyGuyHotWife: Plain, overweight Dan and movie-star gorgeous Jane. It helps that, as a Healer, she sees people's insides rather than their outsides.
-->'''Jane:''' "Oh, Dan! I love you just the way you are: squishy and filled with juice."
* UnEqualRites: There are two forms of magic in this world: the innate magic that people are born with, and magic that comes through drawn symbols (kanji). As it turns out, they have the [[MetaOrigin same ultimate source]].
* TheUnfunny: Toru. He ''has'' a sense of humor; he just considers it beneath his dignity to let it show. Doesn't stop him from being frequently hilarious.
--> '''Toru:''' "I am wet."
* VictoryIsBoring: The reason the Chairman doesn't just wipe out the Grimnoir? Because they're interesting, and being immortal can get very dull sometimes.
* WalkingTheEarth: The Chairman's backstory includes a long period of doing this.
* WaveMotionGun: [[NonIndicativeName Peace Rays]]. One shot, at ''seven percent power'', is sufficient to wipe the city of Mar Pacifica off the map. The Geo-Tel is even more powerful, able to destroy everything for hundreds of miles around; the Tunguska Event was a test fire.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: In the assault on OCI headquarters, Lance manages to hijack a Siberian tiger. Then everything goes to hell, almost literally. What happened to the tiger is never explained.
* WhatBeautifulEyes: When Francis first meets Faye, he doesn't find her that attractive…except for her striking gray eyes. They're easily her most commented on feature.
* WeCanRuleTogether: The Chairman speculates about making the offer to Jake. Jake's answer?
--> '''Jake:''' "Whatever."
--> '''The Chairman:''' [[DeadpanSnarker "You sum up so much philosophy in so few words."]]
* WickedCultured: The Chairman. Madi tries to emulate his mentor in this, but fails miserably.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: Crow's summoning magic has been augmented to the point that he can [[spoiler: possess the bodies of the creatures he summons.]] The drawback is that this has a negative effect on his mental stability, especially when he uses a powerful demon.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: The Chairman just wants humanity to be strong so we'll be able to fight The Enemy when it arrives. [[spoiler:Harkeness curses the General in order to set up a BatmanGambit against the Chairman]]
* WorthyOpponent: The Chairman views Sullivan as this. The feeling isn't entirely mutual.
** [[spoiler: Toru]] comes to think of Sullivan as this over the course of the second and third books. This time, the feeling's mutual.
* WretchedHive: In ''Warbound,'' Sullivan muses to himself that, if God doesn't destroy [[spoiler: Shanghai]], then he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.
* YellowPeril: Averted. Despite the Imperium (which consists of Japan and its conquered territories of China and Korea) being the initial antagonists of the series, it's made clear that this is due to the Chairman and his followers, not the people in general. When Sullivan meets Lady Origami, a kind Japanese woman working as a crewman on a Grim Noir pirate zeppelin, the captain points out that Japan only became the fascist hellhole that it is by killing or exiling people like her. It's also shown in Spellbound that [[spoiler: the United States could be just one corrupt and powerful senator away from becoming another Imperium.]]
* YouCannotGraspTheTrueFrom: Trying to draw the Enemy causes an oracle to start writing so hard that his own blod mixes with the ink and he claims the only a blood-ink mixture can begin to illustrate its horror.
* YouFightLikeACow: Faye ([[{{Irony}} who grew up on a dairy farm]]) spends much of her fight with Toshiko tossing insults at the ninja.
* [[YouKilledMyFather You Killed My Adoptive Grandfather]]: Why Faye joins the Grimnoir.
* ZeppelinsFromAnotherWorld: Kind of. Zeppelins play a large role in the story, but it takes place during a time when they really were used in RealLife, though not to the extent they are in the story. It's also justified, as Cracklers and Torches manage to alleviate many of the dangers of the technology.
* ZombieApocalypse: [[spoiler: The second Pathfinder attacked the Chariman and the Dark Ocean with wave after wave of skinless undead bodies that it had taken control of. The third Pathfinder spreads them around, preparting to feast on all Active living zones at once.]]
** On a smaller scale, the fate of Berlin after the Great War.
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