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22 May 2014 @ 08:38 pm
Fated by Benedict Jacka  
I think I'm getting a bit bored of Urban Fantasy I thought to myself about one chapter into Fated, by about chapter 4 I was gripped.

Alex Verus is a mage who specialises in seeing into the future. He has, to a greater or lesser extent, fallen out with the powers that be in the magical world and keeps himself to himself and resolutely doesn't get involved with other wizards - that is until a mysterious artefact turns up in the British Museum and all the seers who are actually paying attention promptly make themselves scarce.

I liked Alex Verus a lot, though it took me a while to warm to him. His brand of magic is low-key, lacks any offensive capability but is hugely powerful if wielded intelligently and mostly Alex is pretty intelligent. Even his mistakes tend, at least, not to be of the irritating variety. However, it has to be said, there is a touch of the angst-ridden teenage heart-throb vampire about him. He has a dangerous and tragic back-story and feels alienated from and betrayed by the forces that control his world and reacts to that fact with a certain amount of petulance. But fundamentally he's a nice guy, he's pretty clear-sighted about some of the unpleasantness about him, and the ruthlessness he himself sometimes needs to deploy as a result. He doesn't waste a lot of time trying to justify himself but focuses instead upon the problems at hand. Given this is the first in a series of books about Alex, I think it bodes well that I found him a strong and likeable protagonist.

I was less certain about the general world-building. I noted about that Alex's ability to see into the future (or more accurately see all the possible futures) was both low-key but extremely powerful. However, the movers and shakers of this magical world were frequently wrong-footed by him and it seemed odd that they should be so unaware of the kinds of tricks a seer could pull. There was a suggestion that Alex's experiences had caused him to develop his ability in unusual directions but not enough was really made of this to convince me that he should be able to surprise experienced wizards quite so often. The book was also very focused on the magical world without the sense of realism which Urban Fantasy often tries to bring into its tales.

That said the plot, which focused on manoeuvring between the factions in the magical community, was well put together and naturally required its strong focus on the magical rather than the mundane aspects of the world. It never seemed totally stupid, nor were its twists and turns over-obvious.

I can't quite make up my mind about this book. I liked both the central character and the plot, but the world they existed in was flimsier and less convincing than I generally like from Urban Fantasy.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/116013.html.
fredbassettfredbassett on May 23rd, 2014 05:52 am (UTC)
Sounds interesting. Who are the author and publisher? If it's recent, I might be interested in this one for the site.
louisedennis: bookslouisedennis on May 23rd, 2014 01:07 pm (UTC)
The author is Benedict Jacka and the publisher is Orbit. I'm not sure how well it fits into the mystery/crime genre. It's definitely a step further away from it, I would say, than a lot of Urban Fantasy. It's more about navigating the politics of the magical world than solving a mystery (or at least this book was) given its a series the others may fall more into the fantasy-meets-modern-crime format.
Elaine of Astolatladyofastolat on May 23rd, 2014 09:11 am (UTC)
I read that series last year, just after reading the Rivers of London books, and felt it suffered a little in comparison, especially in its lack (or so I felt) of a strong sense of place. I never made a real emotional connection with the main character. I did enjoy them well enough to read all the books that were then available, but deep down I never really cared all that much, and I realise now that I've forgotten almost everything about them.
louisedennislouisedennis on May 23rd, 2014 06:33 pm (UTC)
lack (or so I felt) of a strong sense of place

That's it precisely. I felt rather as if the book could have been set a hundred or two hundred years ago or in any city in the Western world without changing more than a few sentences.