Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Fated Fated
Alex Vera Book 1
by Benedict Jacka

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jan Butterworth
Jacqui Smith

Able to see the possible future, Alex Verus runs a magic shop in London. A small minnow in the world of magic, he keeps his head down and tries to avoid being noticed. His magic allows him to see the into future, useful when you can look into the future when fighting an opponent and know which direction they will come from and what powers they'll use.

Alex has a dark past he's trying to hide from, involving an apprenticeship to a Dark mage, a lost love, and a body count. This has left him with strong desire to stay away from all Dark mages. The White Council have unearthed a relic from the fabled Progenitors though, and they need a probability mage to help them find and understand it. Before the Dark mages do.

I wanted to read this as Jim Butcher recommended it and am so glad I did. Like Harry Dresden, Alex lives in a world of magic that exists alongside the normal one. There’s - a White Council that ignore unpleasant truths, Dark and Light mages, a hierarchy of abilities and prestige. Yet it’s totally different; the world, the magic, the rules. The first half explains how the magic works, while the second is full of action and a rollercoaster of excitement.

Read this book! If you liked the Dresden world, you’ll love this unique one. There is no romance in this book, though the possibility is there for later in the series, so is safe for boys! I’m looking forward to the next in the series, Cursed.

-Jan Butterworth

How shall I describe this novel? The "Dresden Files" meets "Warehouse 13" and "Dune" with a dash of "Night at the Museum" and "Doctor Who"? Okay, so it’s a cool urban fantasy with a welcome absence of vampires and werewolves, and a copious amount of wit and insider humour. Alex Verus is a mage, certainly, but he’s essentially a one-trick pony, a diviner. That means he can sift through possible futures and choose the actions which will bring about the most desirable result. Sound familiar? I assume you’ve read "Dune"… It’s the same basic idea, only without the spice, and set in the present day.

The location is present day London and the tale begins in a shop—Alex Verus runs the Arcana Emporium where he sells things which may or may not be actually magical. He is interrupted by a visitor who wants him to do a job for the Council—a Council who Alex Verus believes to have sold out to Dark Mages in order to keep the peace. This job turns out to involve a powerful artefact which is in a new exhibition at the British Museum. Of course, everybody wants it… but nobody knows how to get at it. Alex has to solve the problem, while fending off various factions of mages, with only his collection of magic items, a flighty air elemental and his unlucky apprentice to help. Even so, things are not what they seem…

This is a bright new take on urban fantasy, with a strong sense of character and setting—London is an old city and that so fits this genre. The story cracked on at a great pace, and it was a whole lot of fun. Bring on the sequel!

-Jacqui Smith

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