A mage in our modern times holds a wizardly day job in a big city. He is not in good standing with the wizarding council, and distrusts almost everything they do. He has a tragic past involving betrayal by a mentor figure. Who am I talking about?
Those who have known me since my discovery in 2009 of Jim Butcher, be shocked and amazed, for it is not Harry Dresden of whom I speak! Lo, I have discovered Alexander Verus and the book Fated!
So, there’s this new urban fantasy series, penned by a Playgrounder who I know as Saph but I guess is actually Benedict Jacka, and I have just finished reading the first book. And you, my lucky blog readers, all 1 of you (hi sweetie!) get to read my opinion of it, filtered through my obsession with the Dresden Files.
Alexander Verus is a mage who runs a magic shop in London. He is a diviner, a probability mage, a seer of the future. And he’s pretty dang good at it. He has this friend named Luna, who is cursed (I knoooooooow but it’s ok, it’s not like that at all), and another friend named Starbreeze, who is an air elemental. Luna delivers to him a mysterious item, which sets off the plot. There is drama from the Council, dark mages and light mages are sniping at each other. No one likes Verus very much and he of course ends up in the middle of a massive conflict during which he has to confront his dark and tortured past.
The unique thing about Verus that stands him apart from the mages in this book and in the other books, is his power. It’s almost entirely useless in battle. Unlike Harry Dresden, Verus does not storm in and set fire to everything. He can see the future. He can see ALL of the futures, and by determining the one he likes best he can follow the steps to get there. It’s a neat power, and I’m sure Dresden would be intimidated by that. No really, I’m sure:
“Harry Dresden would like Alex Verus tremendously – and be a little nervous around him.” – Jim Butcher
That quote is on the cover of the book, which I do not have because I have an e-reader. JIM BUTCHER LIKES THIS BOOK, GUYS, AND YOU SHOULD TOO! I did!
There were two things that pulled me out of this book while I was reading it. The first was some parallels between this guy and Dominic Deegan. Verus is what Dominic Deegan was at the very beginning, when the comic was competent. Like early Dominic, his battle strength comes from magic items and his ability to see what his opponent would do. UNlike Dominic, Verus doesn’t grow random powers at the whim of the plot. And Verus’ cursed girlfriend is actually an interesting character with an interesting curse.
The second disruptive thing was very small, and possibly only noticeable by someone like me who remembers details from stories, but there is a sentence in the book that comes right out of another source I won’t name. It surprised me, and completely broke the flow of the book by making me think “Wait, I’ve heard that before… What is it from? Oh… is that a deliberate reference? Is that allowed?” However it happened, it distracted me, but I don’t think anyone else noticed.
The book hits a lot of cliches, with the tragic past and the wizard council and all that, but that’s a good thing. Things wouldn’t become cliched if they didn’t work and work well, and if I didn’t want to read urban fantasy cliches I wouldn’t read urban fantasy! It’s not a book-of-the-year winner, it didn’t blow me over with literary excellence, but it captivated me while I read it. Once the action started, once I stopped being picky, I felt involved in the characters’ situations and wanted the good guys to win. I stayed up until 1 AM reading it, and once I forced myself to put it down my head kept spinning about it and the characters featured in my dreams. And then I woke up and finished it in another 2 hours.
That’s the most important thing for me in a book, that I finish once I start. I don’t finish a lot of books because I like my books to be easily devoured. That’s what this book is, it’s delightfully digestible!
Time for dinner I think.
Fated is good. It is of Storm Front quality. It is a good start to what could become an excellent series. I liked it, if you like Harry Dresden you’ll like this book. Here’s the website, and here’s a conversation between Benedict Jacka and Jim Butcher.