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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darker and Better, 13 Oct 2013
By 
Marleen (Cavan, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Chosen (Alex Verus Novels) (Paperback)
This is the fourth book in the Alex Verus series, and while it can be read on its own, I'd advise anyone to read the three previous titles - "Fated", "Cursed" and "Taken" - first.

Recently life has been easy and peaceful for Alex Verus. It may be a bit crammed sharing his house with three young adepts but our Mage finds he quite enjoys having Variam, Anna and Luna treating his apartment as their home. Alex is starting to feel that maybe he has atoned for the sins of his past; maybe now he can leave the darkness he's been trying to get away from behind him and start a new, brighter future.

Of course things are never that easy. And just when it seems that the past is well and truly behind him it returns to hunt him down for the one thing he has never been able to forgive himself for.

And those hunting Alex won't give up until they have their revenge, and he is dead. They refuse to listen to him and are determined to achieve their goal, even if it means going through those who would stand with Alex.

Alex has to confront his past and make some very difficult choices. If he manages to win this battle he might lose the few people he has grown close to. If he doesn't win, he won't be around to tell the tale or assist his friends. Caught between a rock and a hard place, there are no easy options for our diviner.

This is by far the darkest Alex Verus novel so far. While the story is still written with a light hand and there still are moments of light relief and humour, be it of the dark variety at times, this is the book in which the reader learns the truth about Alex's time with the dark mage Richard and about what happened to make him run away from his master to face a life of solitude and uncertainty. And it is not a pretty picture.

In fact, that is one of the things that make this book such a very good read. There are no easy answers here. There is no clear distinction between good and bad, dark and light. There is no doubt that what happened in the past was very, very wrong. And it is quite easy to understand why those who are hunting Alex want their revenge. And yet, while his pursuers are unaware of this, the reader knows that Alex no longer is the person he was ten years ago and can't help rooting for him.

While this is a work of fantasy it poses some interesting questions; is it possible for a person to redeem themselves? Are we allowed to go to any length in order to protect ourselves? What exactly makes a person either good or bad, and is it even possible to make such a clear distinction? Like I said, interesting questions and something I could ponder about for hours.

I like where Benedict Jacka is going with these books. With every subsequent title Alex becomes a more rounded character. And Jacka doesn't take the easy way out; he doesn't try to make his main character look sympathetic regardless of what he has to do, isn't afraid to show Alex warts and all and leave it up to the reader to make up their minds about him. Others may disagree but I only find myself getting more interested in this character and everything he comes up against with every subsequent book.

And talking about subsequent books; the final chapter in Chosen seems to indicate that the best, and in all likelihood, darkest part of this tale is still to come. Bring it on! I can't wait to see what will happen next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars steadily brilliant, 14 Jan 2014
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One of the things that makes this series stand head and shoulders above most books in this genre is the characters. Verus has great strength of character, a conscience and a fair dose of kindness. He doesn't stride around bolstered by convictions or self-righteousness. Instead he acts with restraint, exhausting every possible avenue before resorting to violence. He is brave, but the self-questioning almost hides that. In fact, superficially he spends a great deal of the book running around hiding, not knowing what to do, dodging fights and letting other people lead the charge. But what is usually happening is that he's leading the danger away from his friends, playing for time, setting up very subtle variants and coming out of the situation still alive. By the skin of his teeth.

I love the way Jacka has created a very squishy character, in a world of heavyweights, but balances everything perfectly.

The secondary characters are also interestingly complex, and for the first time, women are positive, helpful 3D characters interacting in layered ways. Verus' friends don't stand by him unquestioningly. Each person reacts according to their character, life history and motivations.

I think it is a complement (to both authors) to compare this series with Butcher's Dresden Files. However, there is a huge difference between the two - Butcher has been steadily, systematically, upping the ante. Every novel sees Dresden gaining power in some way., becoming bigger, badder, stronger. Jacka takes a very different route. Verus' powers have not appreciably grown (so far). Instead, his tactics, support network and friends have broadened (although he still feels isolated, mainly because of how he feels about himself). He has a few gadgets, and more may follow, but it is never a matter of firepower, even when surrounded by mages far above his fighting weight.

I'm beginning to wonder if I should read this series again, from the beginning, just to savour its development.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is Benedict Jacka Jim Butcher?, 29 Oct 2013
By 
OneCatEvil (Swindon, Wiltshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Love this book - I do suspect that they are one and the same guy though - very similer worlds/rules and so on. Love it though. Its interesting and funny (very much like Dresden Files in that vein) and keeps you interested in how things will turn out till the book ends :) I will deffinately be keeping an eye out for any other works by this author, he has an engaging style that never gets repetitive or monotomous.
Read it you will love it. Its set in modern day has as far as I remember no sex in it and is an investigative, magic book. So far the series has remained well writen, great main and supporting characters, with no copping out to the S&M thing that seems to be in every single book at the mo.
If you do enjoy the Dresden files you will enjoy this!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Return to Form and the Main Story Arc., 27 Aug 2014
By 
Bruce "from Brighton" (UK - England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Chosen (Alex Verus Novels) (Paperback)
I have enjoyed all the series so far, with its believable descriptions of a very real London and the well-drawn chracters, who are now set into an established group and we know about the light and dark, with Alex sitting somewhere in the middle. However, I felt that the last book was drifting into young adult fiction and possibly even Harry Potter territory, with its apprentice magicians tournament in a country mansion.

But with the Chosen, we are back to the main story line and back to London, with Alex very much at the centre of things, as he comes to terms with his past and how he defines himself. Has he been irrevocably shaped by the dark mage, Richard Drakh and his relationship with Deleo or can he choose to do good?

We do get some elements of the young magician genre in the team of apprentices who target Alex, but really this is all about whether you can shake off your past and leave that behind to define yourself going forward. There is a large section of the book that takes place in a dreamworld or the neverwhere, which is interesting and through this we learn more about Alex's past and that of Rachel, how she became Deleo, which fills in a lot of gaps and fleshes out the characters.

I don't want to give away too much more of the plot, but this all makes for more well-rounded characters and the series seem to be well-established; allowing Benedict Jacka to take his time in developing an interesting world that merges London with a fantasy universe all of his own. I look forward to reading many more installments.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A slight change in direction?, 17 Sep 2013
By 
Mr. M. K. Gungaram-smith "MikeS" (East-Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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One of the things that has hit me about books in the urban fantasy market is that, though the protagonist has a dark past, they really are a deep down nice guy, and so it has been with this series as well. Up to now. However, without wanting to give too much away, the central character takes a somewhat darker route to solve his problems in this book, introducing a thousand shades of grey into the mix.

For me this is a welcome change and marks this series, for want of a better phrase 'growing up'. I only wonder now if Alex can keep my sympathies in future novels now I know, rather than suspect, what he's capable of!

As you can tell though from the 5 star review I loved it, and while I found the earlier books entertaining, this is where the series has come to life for me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading, 16 Jun 2014
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This is the latest in a series and it would be easier if you read them in sequential order though I tried the second in the series first.
Science fantasy at its best and will be enjoyed by readers who like Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A rival for Harry Dresden, 6 Jun 2014
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Well not really, but as I was waiting for the next Jim Butcher novel I found these and am so glad I did. The premise is the same but it's set in Camden not Chicago. Brilliant books well written and very hard to put down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another good book, 19 May 2014
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This review is from: Chosen (Alex Verus Novels) (Paperback)
I have really enjoyed reading the Alex Verus Novels - the characters are excellent with a good story and a touch of humour. If you have read the previous books, you will love this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite so far, 10 April 2014
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While I don't think you always need to read a series of books in order, it can help you understand the back story. 'Chosen' would easily stand by itself, and is another great story that grips you from the beginning, drawing you into a world, hidden in plain site from the lives of 'normal' people.

The adversary faced in this story by the hero and central character, Alex Verus, is one unlike anything he has faced before, and once again the odds or stacked against him. How he solves the problem is something to keep the reader guessing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chosen, 9 April 2014
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This series just keeps getting better and better !! It is really exciting,clever and brilliantly written. What more can be said !!!!
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Chosen (Alex Verus Novels)
Chosen (Alex Verus Novels) by Benedict Jacka (Paperback - 5 Sep 2013)
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