Fated by Benedict Jacka – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the first in the urban fantasy Alex Verus series, Fated by Benedict Jacka.
“An exciting and engaging story that dives right into a deep fantasy world that will have you hooked from the start. Alex Verus could go head to head with Harry Dresden anyday.” – The Founding Fields
Its been some time since I reviewed a non-BL book but for Fated I simply had to do it, I greatly enjoyed the first Alex Verus novel from start to finish, and personally I must say that I disagree with my fellow TFF reviewer Bane of Kings, I think that Fated does bring some nice new ideas to the table such as the idea of Light and Dark Mages living together in, relative, peace. On with the review.
In the heart of London, at a small town called Camden lies the Arcana Emporium owned by one Alex Verus, Diviner Mage and neutral party in the world of magic. Disliked by mages of the Light and hated by mages of the Dark, Verus spends most of his time selling crystal balls and herbs to high-school kids and appraising items from his only friend, the cursed magic adept Luna. Of course that all changes when an ancient relic is unearthed in the British Museum, and every interested party needs Alex Verus to take what lies within, and none of them are interested in taking no for an answer. Alex Verus can see the future, and he’ll need to see it quickly to find a way out of this.
The story of Fated is enjoyable and a very good start to the series, not only for quality but for world-building. While telling the actual story the book seamlessly reveals more and more of the world that Alex Verus inhabits through each chapter. The story itself is very engaging, starting off slowly and building up the plot until midway when everything explodes and things become much more dangerous for Alex and Luna. I particularly enjoyed the look into both Light and Dark mage society in the first novel no less, and the premise of the plot was enticing as well.
The characters in Fated are all interesting, from the cameo characters to the main cast. Alex Verus is the lead, a witty and intelligent Diviner mage who can see the myriad futures with an extraordinary degree of clarity that is not often given to magic-users like him in other series. Verus’s past plays a large role in the novel and shows how he has become the person he is, and the novel shows just what type of person he really is by the end. Luna, his would-be-apprentice, is the secondary protagonist and her curse makes her a very compelling character, her hatred of it and how it affects her life were great to read, as is her strange relationship with Alex. Other characters include the tailor Arachne, who I found very enjoyable as characters like her do not appear often in these kind of books, the Dark Mages Cinder, Khazad and Deleo who show what its like to be a Dark Mage in the middle class, and Morden, a high-ranking Dark Mage who I personally could not picture as anyone else but Mr Morden from Babylon 5, I could even hear his words being spoken in Ed Wasser’s voice, its a true shame he never said the word associates.
The action in Fated is… different from most urban fantasy novels. Whereas in Dresden Files or Skulduggery Pleasant both protagonists can, and would in Alex’s place, unleash massive elemental magic and even some more advanced tricks, Alex Verus has none of these. I commend the author for sticking to what Alex has and not giving him combat magic above what he already has, instead using his divination powers as a combat aid. Alex can fight with martial arts and that brings a few good physical fights out in the book, but its Alex’s use of his divination to fight that is really impressive. And of course other mages use fire, ice, shadow and disintegrations to fight so there are plenty of powerful magic battles, Alex just doesn’t have those powers himself.
The pacing in Fated is nicely done, the fourteen chapters are of a good length so that you can really sit down and immerse yourself in reading but not so long that you don’t feel like your making progress as you read. The novel itself starts off slowly, introducing Alex Verus and the world of the series, and halfway through speeds up as the plot itself crosses from world-building/story to pure story and moves into the final scenes of the novel. The world-building was a good touch, but there is still so much more to explore in the Alex Verus world so I don’t doubt the future books will have much more information to reveal.
My favourite quote from the novel is definitely this one,
“I don’t know if this’ll hurt, but I really hope it does.”
The ending is enjoyable and reminded me of the ending to Storm Front by Jim Butcher, who also loved this book, and I liked how it ended the story. It doesn’t set up the next novel because this is really a stand-alone novel, of course the next novel Cursed will continue on from here but its story will not rely on what happened in Fated.
For a highly interesting new magical world, a compelling cast of characters and the promise of a great series to come I give Fated a score of 8.1/10, this is a great novel that has me anticipating the next in the series which i’ve already ordered prior to writing this review.
Should you buy this book? If you are a fan of urban fantasy then my recommendation is a definitive Yes. This is the start of a great, and hopefully long, series that I will definitely continue to read. Fans of The Dresden Files and other urban fantasy series should be able to enjoy this series without a problem. I would not recommend it if you don’t like urban fantasy but if you don’t like it then I doubt you’ll be reading this review. And to those who say this novel is too similar to Dresden, I say I disagree. While Fated shares some genre similarities with Dresden that is it. The two are very different series and should be enjoyed on their own merits, I could list the number of ways in which they are different but that would take up too much space so i’ll just say this. Jim Butcher is giving Fated praise, do you really think he’d do that it it were a rip-off of his own work?
That’s it for this review, I don’t know what will be next but if nothing else compels me to review it then it’ll be Fear to Tread by James Swallow. Until next time,
AVE DOMINUS NOX!