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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 October 2013
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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on 14 January 2014
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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on 29 October 2013
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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The author moves this character and his series of books on to a whole new level with this instalment. Where the previous books were entertaining they were also quite light in tone despite dealing with some quite difficult issues to do with power and its use/abuse. This novel is much darker in tone and richer in texture. I strongly advise anyone new to the series to read the previous volumes before tackling this one as you will then get the full benefit of what the author has done here.

Alex has filled his flat with the apprentices he rescued in the previous story and is occupied with them and Luna. He comes under attack and has to work out how to deal with those who want to hurt him and also how to handle people from the past who wish to avenge themselves on him for the activities of his first master and his apprentices.

There are no easy answers here. Alex doesn't have particularly strong magic and although his ability to see alternative futures is useful it can't save him in a battle of magic. He has changed since his youth and deeply regrets what happened but he was never made to pay for what he was involved in. This is a book about the boundary of black and white, light and dark, good and evil. Can people change ? Should people pay for the actions of their youth ? Where do you draw the line when defending yourself ? You may be surprised at the choices that Alex makes and what that reveals about him as a man.

Some excellent writing here which makes clear the difficulty of moral choices and the limitations of individual power. A great read - I look forward to seeing how the author develops Alex's character further.
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on 17 September 2013
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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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 August 2014
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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on 15 January 2016
Alex Verus is in a world of trouble, something foul from his past has finally caught up to him, every path is either appalling, terrifying or simply unthinkable no TV or Movie ending here folks, all I can say is its brutal!
And Chosen is the best one yet, never tried a Alex Verus novel easiest way to entice you is to say Jim Butchers 'Dresden' would stay well away from Verus 'nuff said'
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on 29 December 2014
A real good read . Jim butcher praises this Authors work and it is no wonder as I feel Harry Dresden and Alex are kindred spirits in the magical world . If you like Harry Dresden then you will like Alex and vice versa .
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It’s 8 months after TAKEN. Alex is trying to find new masters for Anne and Variam, but is finding that the nature of Anne’s life magic make most mages reluctant to take her on. Otherwise, life is good – the shop is doing well, Alex and Variam are staying with him, Luna has more control over her powers and no-one’s tried to kill him in ages.

But when Alex takes Luna on a teaching expedition to a London casino, he’s ambushed by a group of adepts called the Nightstalkers. The Nightstalkers are attacking mages who abuse apprentices and adepts, but their leader has a personal grudge against Alex and it all ties back to his past as an apprentice to Dark mage Richard Drakh. As Alex desperately tries to stay one step ahead of the Nightstalkers, he’s forced to confront his own history and in doing so, must decide how far he’s prepared to go to save both his own life and those of his friends …

The fourth in Benedict Jacka’s ALEX VERUS SERIES is the darkest one yet as we finally get details on what drove Alex’s escape from Richard Drakh and how Rachel became Deleo. The best part of the book involves running into the limits of Alex’s powers as a probability mage, which gives him much needed vulnerability and adds a real sense of danger as he finally faces a threat that he can’t easily negotiate with or run away from. I wished that Will (the leader of the Nightstalkers) had been slightly less two-dimensional, but I could forgive that given that the focus of the story is on Alex and the decisions that he’s willing to make. Given the ending, I’m interested in seeing where Jacka moves now with the overall arc and will definitely check out the next book when it’s released.

Having spent the last 4 books developing friendships and assuming responsibility for people everything is ripped away from Alex in this novel. It’s a story with something to say about the extent to which you should be held accountable for the bad deeds of your past and asks questions about whether your current actions can ever erase your history. I liked the fact that Jacka isn’t afraid of unpleasant answers.

This remains one of my favourite urban fantasy series and I’m very much looking forward to the release of the next book.
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on 11 September 2013
Chosen is an interesting book, in that the main character does some pretty nasty things, and some pretty stupid things, and you come away thinking, ok. The reason is the strength of the writing and the character. Alex is not a black or white character, he is grey. This book really focuses on this as Alex has to face up to consequences arising from some of his actions in the past. You can argue all you like on whether those consequences are fair, or Alex's response to them, but they fit within the world and what might happen. There is no feeling of reaching with the plot. Similarly the character does make some stupid decisions within the book - but there are reasons for this and the character actually realises what they are.

This book (and series) is not your average Urban Fantasy where something wacky, out of left field, or plain stupid is used to move the plot along. The characters are real, the interactions are real, and what we have is a story with actual moral arguments. And consequences for the characters actions - both those now and those in the past. Add to that great personalities and some humour, and I honestly can't recommend this series enough.
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