Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review: Fated

Fated (Alex Verus - Book 1) by Benedict Jacka

Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
ISBN-13: 978-1937007294
ISBN: 1937007294

(Received for an honest review from Ace)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Benedict Jacka on the WEB: website, blog, facebook

Excerpt from Fated


Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future—allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...


Benedict Jacka gives readers an Urban Fantasy alternative to the Dresden Files. Fated is the first book in the Alex Verus series and introduces readers to a mage, who is hiding in plain sight. The world building in this one is exceptional. It has a smooth pace and multi-faceted characters. Jacka's novel is riveting and grips the reader from the first page to the last. Readers who are expecting this one to be exactly like Jim Butcher's series will be surprised at both the similarities and the differences.

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher and especially the Dresden Files series. Butcher's endorsement of this novel was one of the reasons I wanted to read it. However, I did go into it with an open mind and wasn't expecting Alex to be just like Harry. Fated can easily stand on it's own and boasts some exceptional characters and world building. Benedict Jacka is on to something with this one and I can honestly say I liked just about everything about it. There are similarities to Butcher's series, but they are not overwhelming and do not detract from the book in the least.

Alex is quite different from Harry. He's tough when he needs to be and more curious than most, which tends to get him in trouble. His abilities are not quite as powerful as Harry's but they are more refined. Alex is a diviner. He is able to see possible futures and steer events toward a particular outcome. For example during a fight he can see whether a particular move with benefit him or hurt him. Or if he was in a situation which required him to choose one door or another, he could see what was on the other side of each. It's quite the super-power and I thought Jacka did a fantastic job of describing how Alex used his ability.

The world building in this one is just off the charts. Jacka describes the world in which Alex lives and works with such precision the reader is able to see the sights that Alex might see in his everyday life in their minds eye, almost like the story was playing out on the big screen. That's a rare gift that not every author can boast. The people and places that Alex interacts with are also vividly described and come across as authentic and real. Jacka does a masterful job of creating a world where magic happens but it is not openly accepted. Where he impossible is possible, you just may not know it's taking place. I liked the whole, secret world within a world atmosphere of the book and I think readers will really appreciate how Jacka ties everything in.

The supporting cast in this one is just as interesting as the main character. Alex's apprentice, Luna is very believable. Her attitudes and her reactions to some of Alex's troubles were classic. Starbreeze, the air elemental is another great character who adds some comic relief to the book. He may be dumber than a box of rocks but he sure is funny. Urban Fantasy is a genre that tends to be a bit dark and it's nice when an author realizes there needs to be some lighter moments added to the mix.

As you can probably tell, I liked this one a lot. I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Cursed which will be released later this year. Benedict Jacka has written a book that while being in the same genre as Jim Butcher, is in no way overshadowed by him. Fated is definitely a keeper! If you're thinking of giving Urban Fantasy a try, this one would be a good one to start with. You'd be catching it at the beginning of the series, and it's extremely well written. Take a chance. Get out of your comfort zone a little bit. You'll be glad you did!

Fated is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.

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