Bound (Alex Caine #1)
Finalist for the 2014 Ditmar Award for Best Novel!
Alex Caine, a fighter by trade, is drawn into a world he never knew existed — a world he wishes he’d never found.
Published by HarperVoyager (Australia) and Gryphonwood Press (rest of the world). Australian and US covers shown here.
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 along a mind-bending course beyond his control. And control is something Alex values above all else.
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2014 Ditmar Awards
Finalist Best Novel
PRAISE FOR BOUND
“Baxter’s efficient prose never gets in the way of the story, and his dialogue is vivid and dynamic. I had a lot of fun reading this book. It kept me hanging in there, eagerly flipping pages to find out who was going to be the next brutalized victim or what twisted deed would be performed next. This story packs a punch! I recommend Bound for readers who love violence, sex, monsters, and blood-splattering action.” – Grimdark Magazine
“Kick ASS!” – Sean Williams, New York Times #1 Bestselling author.
“Bound, the first in a quick-release series of three novels… is gritty and filled with battle. Alex Caine is like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher with a spell book. A genuine page-turner from a major new writer.” – The West Australian newspaper.
“Alan Baxter delivers a heady mix of magic, monsters and bloody fights to the death. Nobody does kick-ass brutality like Baxter.” – Greig Beck, Internationally bestselling author of Gorgon.
“Given the darkness—and the incredible stakes at play—Bound is much like its main character: it succeeds on its own terms, it never deviates from its chosen path, and it fights to win…even when that means to the death.” – The Horror Review
“I would highly recommend Bound to anyone who likes a good supernatural action thriller.” – Traci Harding, bestselling author of The Ancient Future, The Timekeepers and many more.
“I had a lot of fun reading Alan Baxter’s Bound… It’s a teeth-gnashing, shadow-chasing, magesign-riddled sexy beast of a thing!” – Margo Lanagan, multiple Award-winning author of Sea Hearts and Tender Morsels
“…an honest-to-goodness page-turner… there’s a dark depth to Bound that will resonate long after you put it down… Alan Baxter has penned a truly unique protagonist in Caine, at once superhero and antihero; and perhaps something beyond even that, something darker still… Not for the faint of heart (I’m a calloused horror reader, and at least one scene in this book damaged me), Bound is fantastic storytelling in the vein of Neil Gaiman or Alan Moore, but with a merciless black streak… If you like a double-dose of darkness with your sense of wonder, Bound will deliver. At breakneck speed.” – J. Ashley-Smith, Spooktapes
“I was completely blown away when I read this. A classic hero’s journey with a cast of real three-dimensional and really interesting characters. The world he’s built rivals anything by Jim Butcher – actually I think he’s a better writer than Butcher: his prose is fluid and engrossing, and he balances action with pace and at the same time provides wonderful vignettes of really quality descriptive prose. I’m reminded of Benedict Jacka and Kevin Hearne when I read this – the pace and the terrific page-turning attributes.” – Kylie Chan, author of the Dark Heavens, Journey to Wudang and Celestial Battle trilogies
“It’s a relentless whirlwind of magic, sex, and violence. Bound is a rollercoaster of gritty magic, evocative settings, and brutal action: a solid intro to a new urban fantasy series.” – Billy Burmester at Aurealis Magazine
“Alan Baxter has joined the ranks of talented authors who seek to push the boundaries of fantasy fiction with Bound, a modern day magical mystery. Bound is gritty, graphic and edge-of-seat thrilling in its exploration of magic and mythology. Not for the faint-hearted. Entertaining, sexy and intense – I loved it.” – Mel Glasson in The Manly Daily
“Upon finishing Bound my first thought was ‘damn.’ My second thought was that if Stephen King and Jim Butcher ever had a love child then it would be Alan Baxter. Finally, my third thought was that Bound is a seriously entertaining read. Full of dark, gritty and bloody goodness, Bound is possibly one of the best debut novels I’ve read in many years… All in all Bound was a bloody excellent read. I cannot recommend this book enough to fans of Butcher and Wendig.” – Matthew Summers at Smash Dragons Fantasy & Speculative Fiction
“A grimoire, ancient magic – and cage fighting. This novel romps through it all. Warning! Wizards are no longer weedy, spectacle-wearing dorks with wimpy scars on their heads waving sticks and reciting pig Latin. In the world of Bound, the first in the Alex Caine series by Alan Baxter, wizards are cage-fighting kickboxers, channelling eldritch powers as extensions of their murderous will in order to harden their bodies to punch through rock – or flesh/bone/brain matter – before bedding their girlfriends/sidekicks to quell their post-fight rage… It’s all a lot of fun…” – Keith Stevenson at The Newtown Review of Books
“I loved the gritty, bloody, dangerous world that Baxter introduces in this book… Alex Caine is a kick-butt protagonist and I liked journeying all over the world with him… In addition to an interesting protagonist, Baxter has created a varied and complex secondary cast… I’ve enjoyed Bound a lot and encourage readers who like their urban fantasy dark and gritty to pick it up. Fans of Butcher and Wendig won’t be disappointed. I’m looking forward to reading the next two books in the Alex Caine series, Obsidian and Abduction, which will be released soon by HarperVoyager.” – Shaheen at Speculating on SpecFic
“All in all, Bound is a terrific first novel in the Alex Caine trilogy, it’s set the stage well but has also left things open for the next two books to build on and hopefully lead to an explosive finale. If you love fast paced, action packed, dark urban fantasy, you can’t go wrong picking up this hand grenade of a book.” – Heavy Mag
“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.” – Hush Hush Biz
“Both villain and hero alike claw their way through Baxter’s cruel cosmos – failure leads to extinction, survival leads to evolution and perhaps to extinction of a different sort. No one exits the book unscathed neither in body nor soul. Read it at your peril, because the novel has bite and it will like its plagued world, leave some proper scars.” – European Review of Speculative Fiction
“The start to this series has given me faith that the Urban Fantasy scene is not just the same story with different characters.” – Collins Booksellers (Edwardstown, SA)
“…an escalating adventure that mixes epic dark urban fantasy with thriller pacing… The pressure doesn’t let up the entire novel. It’s a polished piece of work. …Baxter’s trimmed down the prose to fighting readiness and he’s come out swinging… I’d compare this series to Jim Butcher’s work in terms of Urban Fantasy, though whereas Butcher riffs off hard boiled tropes, Baxter most definitely riffs off the thriller genre. I also found Bound to be a little more adult in tone and delivery. I am so thankful that HarperVoyager allowed the swearing and the dark fantasy/horror elements to come though. Nothing worse than having a hard as nails cage fighter talk as if he’s got a plum in his mouth. The darkness, violence and sex might turn some readers off but I think Baxter and HarperVoyager are treating us as adults with this one and that’s refreshing, it’s not gratuitous but when you have flesh eating fey and bloodsports there is enough there to maintain our suspension of disbelief.” – Sean Wright at Adventures of a Bookonaut
“Bound brings together some of the finest elements of speculative fiction and whips them up into a gritty, fast-paced, urban fantasy thriller that will appeal to a wide audience. Alan’s work is reminiscent of that of Clive Barker and Jim C. Hines, but with a unique flavour all of its own. Alex Caine is an engaging hero, a kind of modern knight errant, finding his way through a world with new powers, new possibilities and new dangers.” – Angela Slatter, the first Australian to win a British Fantasy Award, an Aurealis Award winner and a World Fantasy Award finalist. Author of Sourdough & Other Stories and many more.
“Bound is a great read, full of action and magic. I loved the characters, from Alex who is genuinely likeable to Hood who is deliciously evil. Alan Baxter sets up a vivid world on the boundaries of our own — playing with recognisable creatures like werewolves and fey but doing something really different and original with them.” – Joanne Anderton, award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and horror, including Debris, published by Angry Robot Books in 2011 and followed by Suited in 2012.
“…a page turning dark fantasy that doesn’t shy away from sex and violence and the underbelly of society. Filled with guts, passion, determination and the will to survive, Baxter has delivered a great romp of a novel and I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes Alex Caine next.” – Mark Timmony, Booktopia Science Fiction + Fantasy Buzz (July 2014 Book of the Month)
“a breathless ride of a book, full of big, dark supernatural action, convincing fight scenes and a powerful magical ambiance – set in dark urban spaces across the world… The characters are well-drawn and sufficiently complex in their emotional life to draw the reader in and take him/her along for the ride. Excellent choreography in the depiction of the fighting, too, yet never overly repetitious. Well-structured, so that climactic moments are built rather than merely in-your-face, Bound reveals an author in tune with what he’s doing and waiting to go even further. Highly recommended.” – Robert Hood, author of Fragments of a Broken Land and Backstreets
“Bound is a fantastically gritty and modern view of dark fantasy, with twisted mythologies, sexual deviancy, and unapologetic characters. Most chapters have plenty of action, but not enough to hide the fact that there is a great story-line and dialogue going on from cover to cover. Greed, gluttony, wrath, and lust are all demonstrated in large portions throughout, and no character is without their vices and imperfections. It all comes together to create a book that’s difficult to put down and thoroughly worth re-reading. Baxter has proven he has real skill with this genre, and if this first novel is anything to go by, there are even greater things to come.” – Jamie Marriage, reviewing at Marianne de Pierres blog
“…not a story for the delicate, what with innocents suffering, rampaging monsters and plenty of collateral damage, it is fast-paced and a worthy addition to the dark urban fantasy genre.” – Damien Smith, SQ Mag
“Bound was an action-packed and fast-paced read with elements of moral ambiguity and horror. You could also call it a dark urban fantasy, if you were so inclined. If you are looking for a darkish and violent read, then Bound is the book for you. It’s also self-contained if sequels aren’t your thing. Mind you, I think I remember reading that books 2 and 3 will be out soon (like months, rather than years, apart), so there won’t be a long wait until we get more of Alex and Silhouette’s story, if long waits aren’t your thing. I have no idea where the story might go next, but I want to find out.” – Tsana Dolichva, Tsana’s Reads & Reviews