‘I’m just going to stay here, in the darkness under the arch. I can hear you all out there, trip-trapping, trip-trapping over my bridge..’
Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy . This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers. The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite. Future week’s themes are listed below. This week’s theme:
Bridge “I demolish my bridges behind me…then there is no choice but to push forward”
This week I’ve gone for a series. The Alex Verus series by Benedict Jack. Lots of bridges sprinkled around both sets of covers. A good series that I do need to catch up with:
I like both sets to be honest but something just screams out at me to pick these covers with the stylised fonts:
Which is your favourite?
Next week – Beach/Seaside
28/04/2017 – Beach/Seaside”Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!”
05/05/2017 – Lion “If you place your head in a lion’s mouth, then you cannot complain one day if he happens to bite it off”
12/05/2017 – Phone “Don’t use the phone. People are never ready to answer it”
19/05/2017 – Plane “When everything seem to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it ….”
26/05/2017 – Mice “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘it might have been’…”
02/06/2017 – Moon “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”
09/06/2017 – Mummy “It shuffles through the dry, dusty darkness”
16/06/2017 – Guitar “You couldn’t not like someone who liked the guitar”
23/06/2017 – Cat “In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this”
30/06/2017 – Hat “It is always cruel to laugh at people, of course, although sometimes if they are wearing an ugly hat it is hard to control yourself “
07/07/2017 – Gold “All that is gold does not glitter”
14/07/2017 – Boats “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat…”
21/07/2017 – Planet “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those who live on it”
Just finished reading Cursed by Benedict Jacka which is the second instalment in the Alex Verus Novels which I started earlier this year with Fated.
Alex is a Divinity Mage living in Camden. He can look into the future and see any number of possible outcomes to whatever course of action is chosen (the benefit of hindsight before the event has happened is definitely a plus). I won’t go too much into this world of mages. Basically the world Jacka has created is living and breathing right alongside us plain old muggles. He has a few friends, Luna in particular, who has now become his apprentice due to the strange curse that she needs to learn to tame. Plus he’s friends with a giant arachnid that lives in a sort of Hobbit hill if you will and he has the trust and help of an air elemental called Starbreeze.
In this story Alex will again come up against a powerful mage and will find help where he least expects. He will also discover a little bit more about one of the strange artefacts he seems to have become the keeper of – a monkey’s paw. This isn’t actually a monkey’s paw just in case you’re about to gag, this is an imbued magical object. However a monkey’s paw is never all that it seems. It chooses it’s potential victims but unfortunately the monkey’s paw brings a whole new meaning to the words ‘be careful what you wish for’.
I’m not going to elaborate on the plot much further. We’re introduced to a few new mages with different abilities and learn a little bit more about the world that Alex lives in. In terms of second books I think this develops well from the first and definitely feels and reads better – although, I wouldn’t say there is any real sense of tension. Maybe that’s one of the problem with this sort of series – you never truly experience a real sense of danger for the main protagonist because that would, after all, be the end of the line. Unlike George Martin, for example, where you haven’t got a clue who will survive to the end!
I will just say that I particularly enjoyed reading about Alex’s discovery in the dark caves beneath the spider’s domain but, again, I won’t spoil that part.
In terms of criticisms I think my feelings on this are similar to the first novel. In spite of Alex’s experience he does seem to rush into situations that he could surely see the outcome of? He sometimes seems to act very immature – particularly where Luna is concerned, and I find it difficult to believe that he lives in a location that everybody seems to know about – including all his enemies. Considering he has very little by way of defence I would expect him to exercise a little bit more caution. In fact, given that he seems to be making enemies as though they’re going out of fashion I would say that if he doesn’t start to exercise a bit more caution soon he probably will end up in a sticky situation before too much longer – he’s no longer living a life under everyone’s radar and has come to the attention of too many dangerous people.
I have enjoyed both these books and would definitely pick the third up as well. Obviously these are being compared to a number of similar books but I think they stand on their own quite well. They probably don’t have the dark threatening side of the Dresden Files or the humour of the Druid Chronicles but they’re still entertaining.
Just finished reading Fated by Benedict Jacka, a new urban fantasy series starring Alex Verus. Alex is a probability mage who runs a small magic shop out of Camden in London. He spends very little time in the world of magic, his apprenticeship didn’t go well and the magic Council are not exactly impressed with him, hence the need for him to keep a low profile. However his attempt at leading a quiet life are about to become a lot less easy, particularly as his talents as a seer are suddenly going to become greatly in demand from both light and dark mages. An ancient artefact has turned up at the British Museum and everyone is interested in accessing it’s secrets.
As first books in series goes this was very enjoyable. It obviously has similarities to other urban fantasy series and, in fact, contains a reference within the first few pages to a certain magician who advertises his investigative services in Chicago, but they are different enough to co-exist. Alex is not an investigator, his ability as a probability mage allows him to see the path that a course of action will lead to, he’s therefore very useful at predicting trouble before it arrives or finding the right course of action, he’s not however very powerful, in fact he’s rather vulnerable to be honest and has to rely on his wit and a few simple magical items or friends to keep him alive.
This book pretty much gets straight into the action and to a certain extent I think it relies on the fact that the readers will bring a certain level of knowledge to the reading. I quite liked that, we obviously have a certain amount of looking back and world building but no major info dumps which can be a bit of a dampner on the plot. It’s a fairly basic plot, not in a bad way, and also bearing in mind this is the first in the series. We have this relic and within it is contained an artefact of great magical import. The light and the dark mages are both in a fight to obtain the relic and claim it’s power for themselves and Alex is needed to help overcome the protections surrounding this object. I hope I haven’t given too much away there, I don’t want to spoil the plot after all.
The characters are an interesting bunch. I can’t say too much about Alex as I haven’t got a really strong feel for him yet. I like him but I’m waiting to read more before I get a fuller picture of his true identity. We have Luna, one of Alex’s friends whose family has a deadly curse upon it that has lasted for centuries and affects all who come into contact with the bearer. Then we have Starbreeze, an air elemental who Alex calls upon to help him out of a tight spot occasionally. She’s very whimsical and childlike and I like her. She’s simple and innocent.
I like the magical system that Jacka has set up. The Mages are not ‘all’ powerful. Their magic is usually focused in a particular way, for example fire, whereby a fire mage can manipulate, use and control fire. Alex is therefore a seer and this is the extent of his magical ability, he relies heavily on others for protection. On top of that we have the light and dark mages but this is in no way as black and white as it at first appears for whilst the dark mages can be quite evil and manipulative the light mages are definitely not knights in shining armour. The villains, the dark mages, are most assuredly an unfriendly bunch. They take what or whoever they want and the fact that they are able to take something merely reflects the weakness in whatever it is they take, therefore if they don’t take it someone else will.
In terms of criticisms, well, I wouldn’t say that I truly understood everything around the light and dark mages but I guess this will be explored in future novels, for me they come across at this point not so much as light and dark more bad and badder! I’m not exactly clear either about developments at the end of the book but I don’t want to really go into that further for fear of plot spoilers. No major criticisms really. Probably the only irritation I had was initially to do with Alex who, appeared to be incredibly lax in terms of his own safety and the security of his place – particularly when he seemed to have a good idea what he was up against and also given his own abilities which he, admittedly, under utilised at the beginning.
Other than that this is a good start to the series. It was a quick read and the last third I found really engaging in a sort of explorer/Indiana Jones type of way. Yes, you could compare this – the Dresden Files, the Druid Chronicles or even Rivers of London – and there are obvious similarities but that being said I think it stands on it’s own. If you’re looking for a new urban fantasy this could be the one for you.