Bound by Alan Baxter
Review by Kylie Thompson
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: action/adventure, supernatural
Alex Caine is a fighter whose world is about to change forever.
A martial artist with a talent for anticipating the moves of his opponents, Alex is a favourite in the illegal cage fighting scene. But when an Englishman with an agenda claims to know Alex’s secret, and offers to help him grow his abilities, Alex will be dragged into a world he never imagined, the sort of world his training never prepared him for. His Sifu may have taught him about discipline and control, but magic and monsters never figured into the lessons.
‘Bound’ is a stunning blend of action, fantasy, and thriller- a top-tier page turner that makes itself near-impossible to put down. It feels, in many ways, like reading an action movie: the pacing is quick without being hard to follow or rushed, with a flair for action scenes that blend martial arts and magic to fantastic effect.
Though ‘Bound’ has the feel of a well-paced action flick, Alex Caine makes for a far more interesting hero than the majority found on the screen. This isn’t an action story where the hero stoically kicks ass and carries on, obscenely confident that he can fly that tank and do the impossible. He’s not a cardboard cut-out of an alpha male stereotype, thankfully. Instead, Alex is fully aware that he is out of his depth, scared, and at times doubtful of his abilities even though he’s a trained fighter.
That’s part of the magic of the story: though Alex is clearly a strong character more than able to kick ass, he’s also human enough to worry, doubt, and consider his actions and their consequences. For those worried that such characterisation will leave the plot struggling beneath a mountain of man-pain, don’t worry: these aren’t large tracts of self-pity or misery, simply small moments woven seamlessly through the story, but it’s enough to take the typical action hero and make him something infinitely more compelling. It’s rare to see the self-doubt of the action hero, and I hope it’s a trend that gains momentum.
As a writer, Baxter has a knack for captivating readers, and keeping them firmly on the edge of their seat. This might not be the book for you if the idea of intellectual and philosophical contemplation seems out of place amongst the action scenes, but if you’re a fan of fights with thought, and heroes capable of more than brawling, then this might just be your next must-read. And those who hate the wait between books in a series are in for a treat here: ‘Bound’ was released simultaneously with its two sequels, ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Abduction, meaning there’s no wait to see where the story moves next.
‘Bound’, and its sequels ‘Obsidian’ and ‘Abduction’ are published through Harper Voyager, and are available through the publisher’s website, and through local and online retailers.