Book Review: Fated by Benedict Jacka
Fated presents us with an alternative view of modern London where a society based on magic exists unknown to the general population. On the one side of this society we have the Light Mage’s of the Council. They have large numbers but are bogged down in politics. On the other side we have the Dark Mage’s. Very powerful and dangerous but disorganised. In the middle we have Alex Verus. As a probability mage Verus can see possible futures before they happen. After a bad experience years ago Verus now runs an out of the way magic shop in Camden and wants nothing to do with either the Council or the Dark Mages. Problem is he might not have a choice. When a powerful relic from the Dark Wars is discovered both factions have need of a probability mage to retrieve it and Alex is drawn back into a world he want’s nothing to do with.
Alex Verus is a great central character. He’s likeable and has a strong sense of right and wrong. His first person narration makes a very nice entry point into this world. He also has a dark, painful past which makes him quite vulnerable. In one of my favourite sections of the book we get a look into the time Alex spent as a Dark Mage’s apprentice/slave. It’s only a brief look in to the past but it goes a long way towards fleshing his character out and leaves plenty of room for exploring more of this era in the future.
Benedict Jacka has a very light and easygoing writing style which makes this a very enjoyable read. He also writes great action scenes. Verus’ divinity powers give a unique dimension to the action and this makes for some very tense and exciting moments. You might think that it would be very limiting to have a main character who can see into the future but Jacka provides some important limitations on Verus’ powers such as not being able to see past a decision that hasn’t been made yet. He also uses the divinity powers in some very imaginative ways and it’s this aspect that I think most separates this book from other urban fantasy series.
We start out with quite a bit of exposition but once that is out of the way we are quickly led on a fast paced journey through the many different corners of this world. Familiar London landmarks play an important part of the story which help to ground things in the real world. Throughout there are hints towards a larger history to this world which may be explored later on in the series.
We are introduced to several well developed supporting characters all with complex histories and motivations. There are lot’s of interesting character relationships ready to be exploited in the future. I’m particularly looking forward to meeting the Dark Mage who previously enslaved Verus. He doesn’t appear in this book but he is an important presence throughout.
Fated makes for a great first volume in a new series, there are so many elements that show promise and there is plenty to be expanded on in the future. It may have similarities to other urban fantasy series out there but there’s enough originality to set it apart. I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time in this world.