Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka

fatedSeries: Alex Veras #1
Published by: Orbit
ISBN: 0356500241
ISBN 13: 9780356500249
Published: March 2012
Pages: 322
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Related Reviews: Cursed (Alex Veras #2)

‘Fated’ by Benedict Jacka is the first book in the Alex Verus series, an urban fantasy set in London.

We meet Alex Verus, a mage who’s mostly ignored by his kind, as his powers aren’t that varied; he can’t teleport himself and can’t control fire, but what he can do is foresee the future. The futures spread out before him off into a million tiny branches, and he can check each and every one to know how to act in every situation.

As long as he remembers to look ahead, of course.

He runs a magic shop in Camden, London. He has a friend called Luna who finds objects he can sell. He doesn’t like to think about his past (and as the story progresses, we find out why) and he, like most people, doesn’t like it when people try to kill him.

So when he’s requested by quite a few different mages, all who want him to obtain a certain relic, he finds himself suddenly in the kind of situation he hates: when his ability to see the future shows fewer and fewer chances for him to get through the day alive.

The book has the strong point of including recognisable bits and pieces that will make you smile – a slight hint that the Dresden series exists, certain bands and certain ways certain people dress. It’s also welcoming to those who know London as it takes you almost street by street – and also to those who wish they knew London.

The book is clever with the use of magic – it makes it believable and doesn’t abuse it to make the main character unbeatable. It shows the failings and difficulties that could come with such powers, so that you see that otherwise these are regular people. Having magic doesn’t suddenly mean life is easy. What’s also interesting is that it shows their dependence on magic – when they suddenly can’t rely on their magic, they are, in ways, weaker than a normal human might be.

It is always refreshing to see characters who aren’t godly attractive and built to fight, still manage to win with their wit, knowledge and knowing when to run away. Alex is exactly that, and his friend Luna seems a bit of a tomboy. A character later on in the book may as well be called a bit of a nerd – and I hope we get to see more of him in the next book.

Unfortunately the fight scenes flop a little as the author uses a passive voice that fails to draw you into the action.

The different sides to mages weren’t very developed. There were dark mages, light mages, and renegades – and not much else.

The naming of certain things in the magic space such as the wind elemental ‘Starbreeze’ and the use of glitter were cringe-worthy.

Overall however, this book is unique and manages to draw you in. While it has its similarities to the ‘Dresden Files’ by Jim Butcher, and Kate Griffin’s, ‘Matthew Swift’ series, it is still its own in its very own right and deserves a try. The start is a little jolty, but it soon builds up a third of the way through and races you home.

There are more books in the series, in order of Cursed, Taken and Chosen.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 9th March 2012. 

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