Read Powers by James A. Burton Online


Albert Johannson lives off the grid. He's forgotten more than he remembers about his past, but those snippets he's retained tell him two things: he's lived a long, looong time and he doesn't trust anyone, particularly gods. He's not any too fond of demons either, particularly the one that materializes in his kitchen wanting to hire him for a special mission. It's as deadlyAlbert Johannson lives off the grid. He's forgotten more than he remembers about his past, but those snippets he's retained tell him two things: he's lived a long, looong time and he doesn't trust anyone, particularly gods. He's not any too fond of demons either, particularly the one that materializes in his kitchen wanting to hire him for a special mission. It's as deadly to cross a demon as to deal with him, so Albert reluctantly agrees to investigate, putting him in the path of a prickly arson detective named Melissa el Hajj with trust issues of her own. Clashing at a crime scene, they uncover a broken seal that seems ancient enough to have been forged by Solomon himself. The seal cries out to Albert that he must mend it or something dark and dire will happen. Albert, who has a special affinity for metal, must first discover exactly what that will do to his kind - and he's only just beginning to understand who and what he really is....

Title : Powers
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781607013365
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 309 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Powers Reviews

  • Patrick
    2019-06-26 08:07

    It started slow and somewhat exposition heavy. But had some clever ideas, and built to a strong finish.Kept me up at night to finish it when I knew I *really* should be getting some sleep. So you know something good was going on there.

  • Rachel Neumeier
    2019-06-30 11:03

    The air hummed, oily golden liquid condensed out of sparkling haze, and a demon took human shape across the table from Albert Johannson. The thing stood at an angle to the world until it put one glowing hand on the scarred Formica tabletop and twisted to vertical without apparent movement, as if concepts of up and down were optional and it had to locate itself in space.I had collected a reasonable number of samples over the past year, and yesterday was my day to read through a bunch of them, deleting as I went, until I reached one I couldn’t put down. POWERS was that one. Initially, it was the writing that grabbed me. I love the passage above. Description, it turns out, is a major strength for Burton. Not the only strength. Characterization and pov were handled in an unusual manner in this story, which was told almost as a stream of consciousness from Albert’s viewpoint, even though the story is told in third person:Feel the iron, smell the iron, hot in the coals. Read the temperature by eye. No welding here, no blazing white sparks flying from each strike of hammer on hot metal. Uniform red heat, a human would just see it as a glow, he saw something more – he saw iron willing to change in certain ways. Tongs came to his hand as if he’d called them, gripping, setting the glowing cane shaft between the jaws of the swage, tapping rather than pounding, matching rounded grooves along both sides of the shaft, up the length and then down again, to taper out a couple of inches from each end, up and back, widening, deepening, then back into the fire, judge the glow, up and down the shaft again, smoothing, fire again, swage again. Turn a quarter in his tongs, a second set of grooves, four total as he saw the finished work in his head.Albert is plainly a smith, and not any ordinary smith, either. He is not exactly human. Who and what he is, is a mystery, especially to himself. His memories go back a long, long way, but they are as filled with holes as lacework. We find out why that is as the story goes on.At first this novel looks like it might be an Urban Fantasy. It’s set in a gritty modern city and the important secondary character is a cop. Well, among other things, she is a cop. But actually this is not UF. It belongs, more or less, to the sub-sub-genre of mythological fantasy. I don’t like gods, Albert thinks on more than one occasion, but as he discovers, he is a god himself. If I tell you that he’s lame and a superlative smith, I bet you can figure out which god he is – which is more than he can; he never does recover much of his memory, not during the course of this book.But this is not a story that restricts itself to one pantheon. The important secondary character is Mel el-Hajj, who is also a goddess, and knows it, though she, too, has dwindled over the centuries. She’s a Middle Eastern goddess of the winds, also associated somehow with Kali. There are strong implications that gods in this world might not confine themselves to neat categories and that very different myths might have grown up around various gods.Anyway, whoever she exactly is or used to be, Mel is definitely prickly and dangerous. The first words she speaks to Albert are: Now what in the name of Allah’s eight million afreets are you? And then a moment later, If Allah so wills, I’ll drink your blood. … I don’t need some soft-hearted law of the infidel dogs for vengeance.So, the writing is excellent, if in an unusual style; and the characterization is also unusual and very good. There are essentially only two characters – other secondary characters are much less important, although of course they can be important for driving the plot, and they are drawn effectively in their few lines. I loved the tight focus on just a couple important characters. That intimate focus normally works better for me than a huge cast. I mean, I like epic fantasy, but the stories I actually fall in love with are generally smaller scale, like this one.Also, you know how from time to time one sees comments about loving unlikeable female characters – well, if that’s you, here you go. Mel is probably my favorite “unlikeable” female character since Tremaine in Martha Wells’ Ile-Rien trilogy. Though the stories are very different, Mel’s got the ruthless competence in spades, plus the loyalty to her own people. We do have a romance here, but it is very (very) slow to develop and I found the progression of the relationship believable.The pacing of this story could seem slow, I guess, as Burton paints the world(s) for the reader. In fact, checking out the reviews on Goodreads, I see various readers have found it slow. I enjoyed the pace, leisurely as it was at times, because I enjoyed the characters and the setting and the description. Given all that, I don’t mind a bit if the pacing is slow.Thankfully, the setting is not all gritty and poor, because with an unpleasant setting, description is a two-edged sword. But in addition to the urban slums where the story begins, we also get another world, almost all wilderness, and also the peculiar place between the worlds. The description throughout is dreamlike, or occasionally nightmarish. The most beautiful description is probably of the smithing, or maybe of the immense subtly landscaped territory in the other world.The plotting is intelligent, even elegant, in how it arises directly out of the characters’ backgrounds and motivations. We don’t understand everything at the end, because this is such a close third-person narrative and Albert doesn’t understand everything. But we understand the essentials, including why the protagonists chose to go on with their quest even after they understood that success as well as failure is going to carry substantial costs. The ending is satisfying and this book stands quite well on its own, even though a sequel is out now.

  • Jennifer Estep
    2019-06-23 03:51

    Book: PowersAuthor: James A. Burton (aka James Hetley)Series: NoneGenre: Urban fantasySummary: Albert Johansson has lived a long time -- so long that he doesn't remember a lot of things, including who or what he really is. All Albert wants is to be left alone to work in his forge and craft the metal that he loves to shape. But when a demon shows up in his kitchen and asks him to investigate a crime, Albert doesn't really have a choice. As he starts his investigation, Albert crosses paths with police officer Melissa el Hajj, who has also lived a long time and has as many secrets as Albert does. Together, the two of them stumble upon a plot to unleash something dangerous on the world -- and they're the only ones who can stop it ...First line: The air hummed, oily golden liquid condensed out of sparkling haze, and a demon took human shape across the kitchen table from Albert Johansson.Cover thoughts: An okay cover, although it doesn't really capture the story all that well.What I liked: The characters. Both Albert and Melissa are likable characters. Living such a long time has made both of them wary and set in their ways, and it's interesting to watch as they slowly learn to rely on and trust each other. I especially liked Mel's character, how strong and capable she is, and how she prepares for everything. I also enjoyed the various mythology and literary references in the book.What I didn't like: The scenes of Albert working in his forge were interesting, but I thought a little bit of the detail could have been cut down, especially in the latter part of the book, when Albert and Mel are being threatened by a powerful being. Also, it takes a while for the story to get going, and I didn't find the villain to be all that threatening.Overall: A thoughtful urban fantasy that should appeal to readers who like books that reference mythology, literature, and more.Would I read this author again: Yes. I'd be interested in seeing where the characters go from here.My grade: C

  • Hallie
    2019-07-19 07:02

    3.5 stars.Another that is beyond my powers of review atm (Get it??? Okay, sorry.) (It's been rough lately.) I took a very long time reading it, which was part of the problem, but also a bit indicative of how I felt - I thought it was probably "good", but wasn't always engaged. It's hard to engage with a centuries old supernatural being who has lost his memory of who/what he is, you know? But Albert is cool, and Melissa grew on me a lot, and absolutely opposite of instalove, if ever I've seen said opposite! It didn't exactly sizzle though, and a lot of descriptions were nice but felt much longer than they needed to be.

  • JJ DeBenedictis
    2019-07-20 03:44

    This book has strong writing, interesting and atypical characters, and a bit of a slow plot. The story revolves around a protagonist who doesn't know what he is, although he knows he's not human. Eventually, he learns he's quite a bit more mythical than his careful, hermit-like existence would imply, mostly thanks to meeting a terrifying woman who is equally mythic and equally confused about her identity. Together, they save a demonic salamander--and the world.The writing really is very good, with an attention to detail and an abundance of sensory information that slurps you into the story nicely. Unfortunately, the book's plot always felt a bit lacking in drive and the protagonist's motivations weren't very strong (or at least not very strongly felt; his life is in danger, but you never get the sense he's particularly frightened.) It was an engaging-enough story, with great characters, but it wasn't as gripping as it could be.I'd recommend this one for the strong writing and good characterization, but be aware you need to be a patient reader to really enjoy this one.

  • Cptaylor
    2019-06-27 12:01

    I really struggled to get it into this book. The beginning of the story is a bit unhinged and does not really tie into the book until the very end. There are mentions of the character Legion every so often throughout the book, but until the end the beginning scene w/ Legion seemed rather pointless. This was a book that I had to stop and start a few times before it caught my interest.

  • Jacey
    2019-07-01 04:02

    A mixture of urban fantasy with deeper myths of cultures from Scandinavia to the high Afghan hills, this is a story that is that rare combination of fast-paced action and excellent characterisation underpinned with literate and intelligent investigation of mythology and religion.When Albert meets a demon in his kitchen, he's not phased by it. He knows something of demons even if his memories are patchy. Albert's lived a long time, no wonder he can't keep all his experiences in his head. All he really knows about himself is that he's a smith, a damned good one, better than any human could ever be... oh, yes... and he doesn't trust gods. Currently he's living successfully under the radar and dirt-poor, so the demon's gold, bright shiny metal (Albert's weakness) in return for one little job, is very tempting.So he goes to investigate the scene of a fire and accidentally stumbles into arson detective Melissa El Hajj – and not in a good way. In fact Albert's pretty sure he's split her skull open with his (metal) cane. It turns out she's not dead, but she's as mad as hell and out for his blood. It seems, however, as though the demon is pushing Albert and Mel to work together. A salamander has been tortured, but worse than that something metallic and ancient that has been hidden for thousands of years, had been stolen and damaged. It's leaking its ancient secrets about the nature of godhood into the world and it's calling out to Albert for repair. The artifact must be found and repaired or the old gods will reawaken.Following the trail together, but still not trusting each other, Albert and Mel chase from the real world to somewhere else entirely in pursuit of the thief, someone Albert knows very well – or does he? Albert and Mel learn a lot about themselves, each other, their family and their origins during a fast-paced chase to save not only the artifact, but ultimately the world.I expected this to be good as James A Burton is none other than Jim Hetley with a new pseudonym, and I've always loved Jim's Maine books. Highly recommended.

  • Kthaeh
    2019-07-05 09:08

    I have to give Powers credit for originality and an imaginative premise. That's about as much praise as I can muster though. The writing quality is decent - meaning it's good enough not to be distracting or irritating, but falls far short of beauty. The plot is unaccountably slow moving. There are pages upon pages in which the protagonists do nothing more interesting than hike through dangerous but largely uneventful wilderness while remaining distrustful of one another long after they have any reason to do so. In fact their motives for the hiking seem as opaque to them as they do to the reader. This is clumsy on the author's part and feels like filler invented to take up space between a nebulous beginning and a not-very-satisfying conclusion. Neither protagonist is particularly sympathetic or likeable. The climax isn't particularly fulfilling for the narrative, and the "afterglow" is rather arbitrary. If Powers is meant as the first installment in a series, I have no real motive to continue reading, neither on the basis of writing quality, nor out of curiosity to see what happens next with the characters. Ultimately, this is a "meh" read.

  • Anne
    2019-06-25 11:04

    The back cover blurb is accurate as far as it goes, this is an urban fantasy, but it feels like it might be set in a dystopic near-future. Albert knows he is not human, but his memory is not what it used to be. He has an "affinity" for metals, iron in particular. A demon appears at lunchtime and gives him an order (wonderful description of that lunch, too) that he cannot refuse. Led to the site of a burned-out building, Albert is accosted by a police officer - who also turns out to be a non-human. Lieutenant Melissa el Hajj, also on orders from the demon, is looking into the same crime. Thrown together to save the world, these two very different people must come to grips with both each other and the task they are given - or it will all come crashing down around them.Interesting story, great description. There are a few loose ends that I hope mean that we'll see these characters again. Definitely worth the time to read.

  • Brian M.
    2019-06-24 04:12

    After some 55 years of reading sf, I very rarely am fortunate enough to come across a book that doesn’t remind me of half a dozen others, but Jim Hetley's Powers (published as by James A. Burton), is a true original. It’s also one of the best books that I've read in the last year or more. I’m not going to try to summarize it; I can't beat Jacey Bedford’s description in her review. I'll just mention some of my reasons for liking it so much:Unusual characters who grew on me very quickly, and more gradually on each other. Magic with cross-cultural mythic roots, strange and real, not fabricated from a supernatural Lego set. Settings that even I found vivid, and I don’t visualize. A satisfying ending that leaves plenty of mystery in the world(s) of the book. And some really effective word-smithing: if it were metalsmithing, I think that even Albert would approve.

  • Nancy
    2019-07-19 06:11

    What do you say to a Demon that appears in your kitchen and tasks you with saving the world?Albert Johansson really, really, wants to refuse.He's worked very long and hard to remain off the radar, and lead a simple life. Being a god, and semi-immortal, he's reinvented himself so many times that his memories of centuries past are beginning to dim. The only pleasure he takes is in smithing, and his communication with the metal as he forges.But it seems as though fate has other ideas for him.Before he knows it, he's teamed up with a local cop/goddess and on an epic quest through another dimension.Will he be able to find and repair Solomon's Seal, which appears to be a seal between our world and that of the gods? Can he trust that he should, as the story unravels?This is a most enjoyable tale. Would love to see it spun off into a series!

  • Dustpuppy
    2019-07-03 06:53

    I really liked this book; it was complex and utterly unpredictable, while not giving me that uncomfortable feeling that some unpredictable books give. I waffled between three and four stars -- oh, how I wish half-stars were possible! -- because I can't give any concrete reason why I liked it more than a little. The characters are very rich, and the opening exposition is utterly unnoticeable (which is good; I hate being bludgeoned with exposition. The only book that has been as subtle that I can think of is "Nine Princes In Amber," and for a similar reason -- both characters are suffering from partial/full amnesia).It's not as frivolous as my usual reads, and very, very well written.

  • Val Schmitt
    2019-06-23 08:12

    I didn't know what to expect with this book, but I loved it!I never quite know what a new pen name means - is the author going in a new direction that I won't like, will the writing still be in a style that I appreciate, etc... But in this case I liked the writing and the book even better than Hetley's other books.The story was intriguing from the start, and just got better, taking turns which I wasn't expecting, but found interesting and thought provoking. The characters were believable and appealing. The wit displayed in the writing was funny and not overdone.I was reminded a bit of Neil Gaiman's work, which is always a good thing.Definitely recommend this one!

  • Will
    2019-06-26 04:49

    This book has pretty much everything I like in a fantasy novel. Great story line that grabs you from the get go, and never lets up, with pretty much non-stop action and adventure. And a compelling mythological framework to back it up. Highly recommended! I'll definitely be looking for more of Burton's work.

  • Ithlilian
    2019-06-28 04:57

    Can't do it. Too long winded, too obscure. A demon shows up asks for help with a quest it gives little information on. The main character stumbles across another non mortal character and then an object that calls for him. It wants him to fix it, others probably don't want him to fix it. The characters and the writing are tiresome and there isn't enough happening to interest me in the slightest.

  • Deirdre
    2019-07-02 09:14

    The concept was intriguing and refreshing, but the plot was slow and plodding. The ending was anticlimactic and felt rushed. Overall it felt like the beginning of a series, but it didn't stand very well alone. I'm torn, I would probably read more of these if it became a series, it has a lot of potential. The characters are exotic and interesting, just not that likable.

  • Kerry
    2019-06-21 10:52

    Overall, I found the book an easy, entertaining read. The dialogue was stiff and the characters a totally flat (why are "strong" female characters such violent bitches so often?), but it was worth the time.

  • John
    2019-06-24 10:57

    A new author to read! Burton/Hetley writes an engaging and well-paced story setting ancient personalities in modern times. I am eager to see more of Mel and Al and catch up on Hetley's other works.

  • Emmalee
    2019-07-19 06:49

    An interesting twist on the nature of gods in modern times.

  • Michael Rhode
    2019-07-05 05:03

    Reminds me of Zelazny, which is not a bad thing at all.

  • Peter
    2019-07-04 05:50

    All I can say is I loved this book. Still enjoy re-reading it.

  • Tim Gannon
    2019-07-04 11:00

    The first book I wasn't able to pull up on Goodreads. The book filled the time but didn't do much else. Deals with the adventures of some gods.

  • Jennifer Boyce
    2019-06-22 11:46

    Oh so this is a first in a series? Good. I was a little unsure about this book at first but it quickly hooked me and wouldn't let me stop reading until I was finished.

  • April
    2019-07-14 12:13

    This book didn't hold my attention for long and just wasn't something I would read.