This excellent series has been frequently compared to the Harry Dresden Files – and there are similarities. The protagonists both had bumpy childhoods where their abilities were exploited and are therefore edgy and distrustful. But where Harry is just plain powerful, Alex Verus is relatively weak as his ability lies in being able to see into the future, though only by a handful of seconds, sometimes stretching into minutes. That, so far, has been enough to keep him alive… As the series is now stretching forward and getting steadily darker, is it still as enjoyable as when it started?
Alex Verus can see the future. But he never thought he’d see this day. Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he’s agreed to work for his old master once more. Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again. And this time, he won’t let go so easily.
While I have always enjoyed this series, – see my review of Fated – I think the last couple of books have nocked up the tension and pace so that once I started reading, they were difficult to put down. Moreover, if you have randomly picked this one up intending to read it, while you inevitably will have missed huge chunks of the backstory, given this is the eighth book in the series, you wouldn’t unduly flounder. Told in first person viewpoint, Alex’s terse narrative does a good job of explaining the stakes and any necessary information for new readers. I’m not sure if this book is specifically designed as an entry point to the series, but I think it could certainly work like that.
I used to wish I had magical abilities – but I’m very relieved I haven’t, if Jacka’s take on the British magical community is anything like the reality. The Council deals with policing mages and are supposed to be Light mages. But having witnessed the very rough justice they hand out with little accountability, it is clear they aren’t much better than the Dark mages, who are supposed to be the villains. Alex has spent all his adult life trying to stay out of the clutches of his former mentor, the powerful and very unpleasant Richard Drakh – and at the start of this book, he is right back where he didn’t want to be…
The world is well depicted with strong supporting characters who ping off the page, but what elevates this book from the rest is Jacka’s handling of Alex’s prescient abilities, particularly in a fight. I think the description and manner in which this particular talent works is just plain brilliant and if you enjoyed the Harry Desden Files, then give this series a go. It comes very highly recommended.