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Benedict Jacka - Alex Verus Series #1

(Originally posted by myself in urbanfantasyfan : Post)

Okay, okay. There are dozens of new writers out their every month in the urban fantasy section. I know. So, what might make this one different?




At first glance, the interesting about the first book 'Fated - An Alex Verus novel' was the cover itself - no half naked heroine, no vampire, no.
Only the fantastic picture of London and one quote:
"Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus tremendously - and be a little nervous around him. I just added Benedict Jacka to my must-read list." - Jim Butcher.
http://img1.imagesbn.com/p/9781937007294_p0_v1_s260x420.JPG
I love the cover and as a Harry Dresden fan the quote was of course more than enough of an argument to buy this. I bought the other two books of the series (Cursed and Taken) the very next day, after having finished 'Fated' within a record time.
Amazon summary of the book:

Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.
But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...

To add my 5-cent: Alex is a diviner, which is cool, but in a world were most other mages can throw around fire, manipulate gravity or time and are most commonly insanely dangerous this might be not enough.

Why do I like this book?Because of Alex Verus. Per default he's always the underdog in a battle, and his only chances to win are his intelligence and wit. But there is more. Alex tries to bury his past, but over the course of the books the struggle to be "good" (and the question of what is 'good') becomes obvious. In this he's not like Harry Dresden. He's far more ruthless, colder and doesn't allow himself to hesitate.

Another thing I like is the world itself. It's complex, unique in its problems (mainly other mages, monsters are dying out) and solutions and everyone has their own agendas. I would recommend the website of Jacka himself, if one wants to know more. He publishes there a new entry about his world every Friday where he explains more of the magic system, the politcal system, and so on. Because it really doesn't fit everything in one book, even though the character explains much (which some might not like, but I enjoyed).

Also, the supporting characters are likeable and with their own powers. Especially the female characters are far more than just... well, female and pretty. And just because one is an enemy in this book, doesn't mean he's an enemy in the next book, and in the third all might look different again... which is refreshing to read.

Problems? Warnings?
A few. I mentioned that the character explains much, but if you aren't interested in the explanations you might get bored. Also, if you're looking for romance this is definitely the wrong author. Additionally, so far I've not made out a big story line, but this might yet come. It's clear that this author is planning in advance.

Who should read this?

Anyone who enjoyed Harry Dresden (Jim Butcher), Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs), The Rivers of London (Ben Aaranovitch) or the Matthew Swift series (Kate Griffin).

Other Reviews:
On LJ:
birdsedge - Benedict Jacka: Fated - Alex Verus #1: Very positive (Interesting is a comment below about the fourth book becoming darker than the previous ones)

Blogs & Websites:
Jet Black Ink at wordpress/: Very positive about the book
Review at the Bookbag: Mainly positive
At fangs for the fantasy: Mainly positive; 4 out of 5 points

Benedict Jacka's Website:
Maybe a strange place to look for book reviews about Fated, but Jacka is one of the few authors who actively read the reviews of their books. At the end of February he updated a list of reviews which he personally liked. My own at Urbanfantasyfan was included - to my delight and surprise.
Reviews Benedict Jacka liked


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
claudia_yvr
Mar. 1st, 2015 01:15 am (UTC)
Ha ha, obviously didn't see this post
Just thought of another non-romantic fantasy novel I recently read: Devon Monk's House Immortal. It's steampunk, a genre I usually don't enjoy, but this was very engaging and unusual. It's the start of a new series and I'm very much looking forward to the sequel, which is coming out next month.

As for the Alex Verus series, it definitely does get darker as the series progresses. We learn more about the characters, what makes them tick, and they learn more about themselves as they find themselves as they deal with some relentless pressure.
silberstreif
Mar. 2nd, 2015 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Ha ha, obviously didn't see this post
Steampunk is always a gamble to me. :) I haven't heard about "House Immortal" yet, thank you for the rec! The summary on amazon definitely reads already very interesting and unusual. Immortal stitched together beings? Sounds like Frankenstein meets Steampunk and Games of Thrones. ^_^

Oh yes, it gets darker and I am enjoying it. :D Benedict Jacka really does not play it "safe" with the series, by not challenging his readers. I still love the series and will buy the next book the minute I can.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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