Alex Caine, a fighter by trade, is drawn into a world he never knew existed – a world he wishes he’d never found.
Alex Caine is a martial artist fighting in illegal cage matches. His powerful secret weapon is an unnatural vision that allows him to see his opponents’ moves before they know their intentions themselves.
After a fight one night, an enigmatic Englishman, Patrick Welby, claims to know Alex’s secret. Welby shows Alex how to unleash a breathtaking realm of magic and power, drawing him into a mind-bending adventure beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else. – Goodreads
Bound is the second Alan Baxter title to be reviewed on this site. The first was Crow Shine, a collection of short stories. To see that review (which was done by GracieKat), click here.
Bound wasn’t an easy book for me to read. I had some initial reservations about it, but as I do love the occasional dark fantasy book, I decided to give it a shot. Alas, Bound and I never quite bonded. It is the perfect dark/urban fantasy read for readers who love the Chosen one spiel. It is also absolutely absent of even a whisper of a love triangle.The epic quest is, indeed, epic, and the evil guys are very evil. The Chosen one, as one might expect, does have trouble coming to terms with his powers, but eventually begins to master them. Soon he is a force to be reckoned with, but you know everyone’s going to try.
Alex Caine is the macho man with the dark past that he doesn’t talk about. His companion is a feisty, sexy female who attaches herself to him for non-epic reasons. Actually, most of the men portrayed in Bound come across as strong/macho characters except for a few bit-player parts. Sex and sexuality play a large role in Bound. If you like your ‘adult interactions’ to be on the violent and/or demeaning side, you’re sure to be pleased. Unfortunately, sexuality is part of the problem with Bound. All the female characters ooze sex appeal and/or seek validation through it. That, combined with Caine’s macho-man persona, give the story a ‘teenage boy fantasy’ air that is not particularly appealing.
But, Bound is not awfully written and I don’t want to give the impression that is. While I do think the author has some more skill development to do, it’s obvious the talent is there. Bound is held back by a bit too much introspective weight around its middle, and a cup full of ‘struggle for control and temptation’ where periodic dashes would do better instead. However, mostly this is simply not a book that appealed to me. I prefer, when I dabble in fantasy, to deal in ghosties, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. My urban fantasy needs wise-cracking anti-heroes that you want to smack even as you can’t help but root for them. Bound is a more traditional fantasy read in an urban/modern setting.
Still, I have no doubt that there is a large market out there that would enjoy Bound. The action sequences were fun to read and easy to visualize. Alex Caine is the book version of the on-screen action hero. As the series develops and Alan Baxter has a chance to refine his writing and flesh out his characters, I think there’s a pleasant surprise awaiting. (There are two other books out in the series as of the time of this review, but I obviously have not read them, so I can only guess.)