FATED (Alex Verus #1)
by Benedict Jacka
PUBLISHER: Orbit (UK) | Ace Books (US)
RELEASE DATE: March 2012 (UK) | Feb 2012 (US)
FORMAT: Paperback, 304 pages
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
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… (Goodreads)
FATED by Benedict Jacka is a novel steeped in magic, mystery and corruption, that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as protagonist, Alex Verus, is dragged into the battle for magic supremacy between Light and Dark.
Alex Verus runs a magical shop in Camden, London, and is possessed with the magical power of being a diviner. He is able to see into the future, but classifies himself as a ‘probability mage’, as he can see a multitude of choices and what will result from those, without knowing the concrete future. This allows him to see any approaching danger, and to talk his way out of situations by seeing exactly what response each phrase might cause.
His friend and would-be apprentice, Luna, brings him an unexpected magical find in the shape of a red crystal, which brings a whole host of trouble to Alex’s shop door. The magic council have discovered a Precursor relic, dating back thousands of years, and Alex is the only one who can crack London Museum security to get to it using his diviner abilities. This relic is said to contain unknown power, with mages of both Light and Dark desperate to get their hands on it, trying to gain Alex’s services by whatever means necessary.
Alex is a very interesting hero of the story, not sharing a particular allegiance to either Light or Dark. He is out for his own interests, primarily his safety and the protection of Luna. I liked him, but we never learn that much about his appearance besides his dark hair, not even his age, and his past is not fully revealed in this novel. We learn that he used to be an apprentice to a Dark mage called Richard, but very little is revealed about what actually happened whilst he was in Richard’s service.
Alex’s friend, Luna, is not a mage, but does have an awareness of the magical world around her. She is inflicted with a curse that protects her from bad luck, but in turn passes that bad luck to those around her, meaning she can never get close to anyone. There are hints throughout that she may feel more than friendship for Alex, but this romance is never explored in the book, and I have a feeling that it may be a future plot point for the series. She undergoes a strong character development, becoming strong and sure of herself by the end.
I was intrigued by the plot, wanting to know the secrets of the red crystal and how it related to the mysterious relic in the London Museum. Seeing Alex cleverly defy those that want to use him for their own benefit was entertaining, as his gift is very intricately explained, setting Verus up as a highly intelligent individual. Even at one point during the novel where I thought a plot point had become too predictable, Jacka turned it around in the next paragraph with this:
And suddenly I got it. Maybe you’ve already guessed by now, and you’re sitting there wondering how I could take so long to figure it out. If you are, all I can say is that it’s a hell of a lot harder to step back and look at the big picture when you have to keep watching your feet for landmines.
Overall, FATED was a novel with a very good plotline, and fascinating characters. The only thing that spoiled my reading experience was the fact that it took me a while to get into it, and it just felt like a slow read to begin with. It did pick up towards the end though, and I enjoyed the plot twists that faced the main character. I believe there is a lot of potential for this series to only get better.
I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book, as I loved the plot and the characters but found the book to be a bit of a slow read. The ending was great, and the characters were very well developed, but I have a feeling that the author is saving more character revelations for future novels.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER