Benedict Jacka - Shastrix Books

Benedict Jacka

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Chosen

Chosen

Benedict Jacka

4th May 2017

The fourth book in the Alex Verus series feels like a turning point from the first three books, which established the characters and their world, and what I suspect might become the major arc of the following novels.

As a magical thriller, it's really good, focusing on the chase and the battle between Alex and someone he has wronged in the past. It contains a lot of introspection and a lot of action, and shows a lot of thought that's gone into the backstory of the character, fleshing the world out in new ways and overall feeling like a more cohesive whole.

It takes a lot of what's happened before and brings it to a crescendo. In a way it reminds me of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which was the fourth book in its series and built up to a dramatic conclusion that changed the direction of the stories dramatically.

I seem to say this a lot as I read series of novels, but I really do think this was the best yet and am looking forward to continuing.

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Taken

Taken

Benedict Jacka

26th May 2016

I was surprised when I finally purchased this entry in the Alex Verus series to discover that it's only the third book, thinking that I had read more than just the two novels before it.

It feels a more mature story, with the characters seeming more comfortable in themselves and the narrative, presented in first person, flows more naturally. There are some nice new additions to the cast list, as well as deeper exploration of the world and its magic systems that strengthens and builds the existing ones.

The plot is a well structured thriller mystery, where nobody's intentions are clear and there are plenty of turning to explore. I did feel that the length of time I left between novels was probably a little too long, as some of the minor characters had declined to stick in my memory and I didn't feel that this novel did enough to roundly reintroduce them to me.

One place I did think this story disappointed was in not using the protagonist's own magical skills in a way integral to the plot. One of my favourite aspects of earlier stories was how it was used as a fundamental to hang everything else off, and this time it just felt like a tool used to solve a problem.

Overall, good, but not great. Enough to keep me reading though.

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Cursed

Cursed

Benedict Jacka

27th June 2015

The second Alex Verus novel sees the London-based mage investigate the death of a magical creature, as well as attempt to protect a beautiful women who arrives through his window one night.

While I enjoyed the book, I do find it to be derivative of some of the US urban fantasy I've been reading (in some cases this is even acknowledged) such as Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles - although it does have new elements that make it stand apart. Perhaps it's just that I'm reading too much from this genre at the moment.

I felt that this book was an improvement over the first, with less backstory to rely on and more focus on the events as they occur. The magic system is interesting, but I do wonder whether the main character's powers are too great and often found myself wondering whether everything had been adequately thought through.

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Fated

Fated

Benedict Jacka

1st November 2014

The first book in the Alex Verus series, this book introduces the character and his world well through a first-person tale which finds the mage stuck between two magical factions who both want to get their hands on a recently discovered artefact.

It's no secret that Jacka was inspired by Jim Butcher's Dresden Files novels, and the style does feel incredibly similar - yet the London setting makes some things feel more authentic to me (knowing that city far better than I know Chicago). The tone does however seem a little too cocky in places and I felt that it might have been good to have a narrator that felt younger and a little less confident.

The plot is solid and contains a good exploration of the character's backstory that's developed throughout. I thought that in places it was over laboured though and it felt we covered too much in one go and that it would have been nice to have a bit more left mysterious to tempt me into the rest of the series.

I'm not sure that the book is quite my cup of tea, but enjoyed it enough that I plan to pick up the second novel in the series at some point in the future.

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