Introducing Alex Verus

So one of Amazon’s suggested books actually paid off. Though I really place the thanks firmly in the court of Jim Butcher, who wrote a blurb for Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus novels in which he said that Harry Dresden would like this guy. Since I love Harry Dresden (Oh Jim, please write another novel soon!), I figured I’d give Fated a try.

Jim Butcher was right I think, Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus. While I wouldn’t really call Verus a knock off Dresden, I would say that there are striking similarities between the two. Both are outcast wizards thanks to the misfortune of having a Dark Wizard as a master/instructor. Both have a bit of an unusual way of making a living (Dresden advertises as a wizard in the phone book, Verus owns a magic shop). And both get into, and survive, a lot more trouble than any one person really has a right to see in their lifetime.

However, in Jacka’s wizarding world, mages don’t negatively effect technology and in fact use it regularly. Light mages and Dark mages have a sort of status quo where neither group will rock the boat. They went through a costly war and no one wants to repeat it. Each mage generally specializes in one thing (i.e.-fire magic, water magic etc) and gets really good at it, rather than Dresden who can do a great many things but seems to just favor fire.

In Fated, Alex Verus is unceremoniously thrust back into the world of mages because of his magic. Alex is a diviner, meaning he can see the future. All futures. He’s spent his whole life learning to control it so he doesn’t go mad. It makes it very easy for him to avoid trouble…unless he isn’t looking for it. Which he wasn’t when an old friend dropped by his shop in Camden (North London) and tried to recruit him, on the down low of course, for the Council.

Alex refuses and not long after not one but two Dark mages try to forcibly recruit him…for the same task. Alex has to find out what it is that everyone wants him for, who is after it and a way to get his friend Luna out of trouble with those very same people. Luna is a literally cursed young woman who is trying to break into the wizarding world with Alex’s help. She has a family curse where good things generally happen to her…at the cost of bad things to those immediately around her.

I found this book so engaging that I immediately bought the second book, Cursed. After foiling a bunch of Dark mages in the last book, Alex has become okay to work with in the eyes of the Council. So he’s getting more jobs, which means more wizard street cred but also means more trouble. Helping the one guy on the Council that he can stand, Alex finds himself at the bad end of a number of assassination attempts over the course of a couple of days.

Turns out that someone is trying to harvest magical energy out of magical creatures, such as barghests (a sort of feral, magical dog) and a sentient spider named Arachne. Trouble is, Alex is rather fond of what most mages consider mere monsters. So he agrees to investigate. If only Luna didn’t go and get herself in trouble again. *sigh* I have a feeling that this is going to be a trope for Jacka, though I do hope I’m wrong. Luna has potential to be pretty bad ass just like Molly from the Dresden files.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I didn’t go into too much details on these books. They just came out recently (Feb. 28 for Fated, May 29 for Cursed). I’ve just started the third novel, Taken. It is promising. So, if you all love the Dresden Files as much as I do, I (and Jim Butcher) highly recommend Alex Verus to you. A and A respectively.

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