I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. Probably since I realised Urban Fantasy was one of my favourite genres after reading Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would be listening to this book instead of reading it.
Some information about this book:
- Release date: March 1st 2012
- Published by: Orbit
- Pages: 329
- Genre: Urban Fantasy
- Series: Alex Verus (book #1)
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.
In the heart of Camden, where rail meets road meets leyline, you might find the Arcana Emporium, run by one Alex Verus. He won’t sell you a wand or mix you a potion, but if you know what you’re looking for, he might just be able to help. That’s if he’s not too busy avoiding his would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a mysterious relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.
Yes, an audiobook! I’ve not listened to an audiobook since Andy Serkis read The Hobbit last year. The truth is I find it hard to enjoy them. I get distracted easily and lose track of where I am. I prefer holding a book, whether it’s physical or eBook. Surprisingly though, I actually enjoyed this audiobook!
Fated follows a man called Alex Verus who owns a magical shop in Camden. He has magical abilities but not what you might expect in the traditional sense. What Alex can do though is see into the future. Think of how Doctor Strange searches for a way to beat Thanos and finds that one method of beating him – this is what Alex can do. This comes in handy for the story when Alex is recruited to steal a magical artifact from inside the British Museum in London.
“I’ve heard of a guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under “Wizard”,though that’s probably a urban legend.”
Fated, and I assume the whole series of Alex Verus, is set in London and so you will immediately compare this to Rivers of London. It’s different enough to be different but you still can’t help but compare. There is a nice history to this world that involves the The Gate Rune War. It was a conflict some 60+ years before Fated and was a battle for Earth between the light and dark mages. Since Light mages won a concord was put together and has rules for both sides to live by. Dark mages haven’t disappeared, they’re just living among the Light mages.
The light and dark mages, plus other characters for are fun. Alex himself seems like the kind of smart kid you wouldn’t want to trick because he’d get you back in a way that you wouldn’t see was coming and you would certainly not realise it was him. He’s also slightly devious but in a way that is good, using it for the right reasons. As Alex works towards the objective of stealing this magical artifact he is joined by a whole host of various characters. Some of these are good, on Alex’s side and want to help him. Others want to kill him, betray him or use him. Sometimes all three to be fair.
“If you can’t have another ally,” I said at last, “next best thing is to give your enemy another enemy.”
I really liked the supporting characters. One of them is called Arachni who is a giant spider who lives underground in London making magical clothes. It’s that kind of crazy idea that makes Urban Fantasy so wonderful to read. It takes what should be absolutely barking and makes it completely normal, at least in this world. The antagonists, of which there were a few, were equally well written. Their dialogue was well written and easy to follow and I liked their personalities. They came across like multiple pieces of one angry personality. Some of them calm and frustrated, others angry and boiling over, splitting as they spoke.
“Arachnophobia’s no match for shopping, huh?”
The magic was really clever in this book and I didn’t expect it to be so. For example, fire mages can detect body heat, air mages can detect breath and life and mind mages can directly sense thoughts but death mages can sense absence in their magic – a place where their death magic won’t work. I found this unusual use of magic to be refreshing. Of course a fire mage can throw fireballs and an air mage can pick you up so the traditional stuff can still be done too.
I thought the story was a good story and played out like a heist story (think Six of Crows). Everyone had been recruited but who were they really working for? That was the question running through Alex’s mind for most of the second half of the story. He also had people he had to protect and remember he did it without using normal magic (i.e. fire, ice etc) and had to be smart with how he pushed people towards the probabilities that would most benefit himself.
Rating 4/5 – I really really liked this book. I’m happy because it was one that I actually wanted to enjoy. Urban Fantasy is potentially my favourite genre to read and to find a new series that I can get stuck into to was brilliant. The story captures you and doesn’t let you go. I burned through this in about 3 days when normally an audiobook would have taken me weeks. I have already ordered the next book in the series with my audible credit!
You can buy a copy of Fated by Benedict Jacka at The Broken Binding here. Remember to use the code BLURB5 for all your orders to save money!
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