By Ben Aaronovitch

DAW Books


263pp/$27.00/April 2022

Amongst Our Weapons
Cover by Tomas Almeida

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Ben Aaronovitch's latest novel following the exploits of Peter Grant as he navigates London's magical world, Amongst Our Weapons, returns Grant to the familiar embrace of the Folly and police work, which he had partly left behind in his previous outing, False Values. This time, he is summoned to action when a man is found dead in the London Silver Vaults, only the first of several violent murders to rock London.

Over the course of the novels, Aaronovitch has built up a sizable cast of supporting characters to draw from, some of whom, like DC Sahra Guleed, have taken on major roles in his investigations and are practically part of the Folly. Others are often seen, but are usually in support roles, such as Alexander Seawoll, who takes on a larger role in Amongst Our Weapons. In addition, this novel introduces Danni Wickford, who is being trained to help out with the Folly's caseload and provides an entrance for new characters as Grant explains the workings of magic and the Folly to her as they search for the murderer.

As with many of the novels in the series, the origins of the crime that has occurred has its roots many years before the actual murder that Peter is investigating and in the case of Amongst Our Weapons, this remains true. When a second, similar murder happens, Peter and his team realize that the two dead men are connected by a religious group they both belonged to at the University of Manchester in the 1970s. This realization allows them to track down other potential victims before the murderer can find them. In the course of their attempts to avert an additional body count, they come across a potential magical being Peter views as the angel of death as well as indications that Peter's one-time colleague Leslie May is also involved in the attempts to kills all the people who were in the groups.

The novel's title is a strong hint at one aspect of the cause of the murders, drawing Peter's attention to an even earlier period than the 1970s and helping to flesh out more of the rationale behind the magic that is used, offering a glimpse into non-Newtonian magical systems that Peter had not previously had to find himself exploring. Aaronovitch also introduces the Sons of Wayland and an organization focusing on female magic users in Britain, showing that the history and practice that Nightingale is teaching Peter is much more exclusionary than previously indicated, offering potential for further exploration and growth in future works.

On a personal level, Peter spends the week the book takes place mostly ignoring the fact that at the end of the week Beverly expects to give birth to their twins. While Peter is focused on the case, his support team, including Nightingale, constantly reminds him about what is coming. He isn't the only one, however, who has details of his personal life revealed. Peter's excursion to Manchester with Seawoll and Wickford reveals that Seawoll's own roots are from the Manchester area and the investigation takes the team into Seawoll's father's home, which they use as a base while tracking down clues and individuals of interest.

In many ways Amongst Our Weapons is the perfect stand-alone novel for nine books into the series. Beverly's pregnancy and an appearance by Leslie tie the novel into the overarching plot, but for the most part the novel focuses on the events that are covered within its pages, without addressing any overarching mystery. The introduction of Danni Wickford means that the basics of the setting can be explained to her and the reader without feeling like a datadump. For those very reasons that the book is a good entrypoint, it may be a letdown to some of Aaronovitch's longtime readers who may want to see something that ties in more fully to the mysteries that he has slowly been teasing and revealing through the previous eight novels, comics, and stories.

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