Alex Verus's (not necessarily reliable) reputation attracts all sorts. Most are plain bonkers. Yet there's one invitation he just can't refuse.
At Fountain Reach, Alex is perfectly placed among the noted and notorious to figure out why apprentices have been vanishing. But the tournament is a minefield of ancient grudges and new threats, and Alex can't afford to miss a trick as his elusive adversary stays one step ahead in this most dangerous of games.
Reviewed on 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.