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on 3 August 2017
To be honest this has sat on my tbr pile for an indecently long time and as always with these things, why on earth didn't I get round to it sooner? A fast, entertaining and adventurous read, with everything a reader could wish for in a modern urban fantasy, with that one rare ingredient for an English person who reads mostly set in America books like me, it's set in London. As often with an urban fantasy the place partly takes on a character of it's own, and London is very much present, and a few scenes are centred around the British Museum, always fun when you've actually been to some of the places mentioned.

But onto the characters and story, totally fun, with Alex and Luna hugely likeable and I really am looking forward to getting to know them better over the next few books. Alex's magic is passive, or so you would think to start with when compared to the battle mages, and if you are wanting sword fights and duels you aren't going to get it here. What does happen is very intelligent and exciting in it's own right and we are certainly not left without action as such, just a different kind than usual. I really liked Benedict Jacka's easy style, it was familiar and enjoyable to read and I'll most definitely be back for more.
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on 9 May 2016
This series popped up on my recommended list on Audible originally, and remains the first audiobook in all the dozens I own that I have ever returned, and that was two chapters in because the narration was unlistenable. (Seriously, just awful with no redeeming features at all.) After that my interest was piqued so I bought the Kindle version.

Anyway. Cursed is just about okay. The problem is, Benedict Jacka wants to be a cross between Jim Butcher and Ben Aaronovitch when he grows up, but unfortunately his writing skills and plot devices don't compare to those of the former and his characters and use of London as a setting aren't as convincing as the latter.
There are weird Americanisms scattered throughout for no apparent reason, little backstory and the whole thing is just a bit... flat. The editing is lacking which doesn't help matters.

Ultimately this series is fine for an easy read when you might be in need of a distraction, but there is little here to merit a second read.
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on 7 December 2013
I almost surprised myself by how quickly I succumbed to te urge to get the second Alex Verus book after reading the first, 'Fated'. I have to say that I enjoyed this just as much.

Alex is a London-based mage who runs a magic shop and despite being apprenticed to a dark mage in his youth reckons that he's left that behind him. Well, he may not class himself as a dark mage, but as one of the characters points out, he's been the object of several assassination attempts and not many of the assassins are still standing. This is a high body-count book.

For a mage who doesn't class himself as powerful Alex's talents are unique. He can see the future, not a single future as it will happen, but all the strands of futures showing what might happen. It means he knows just when to duck, an especially useful talent when someone is pointing a high velocity rifle at his head and about to squeeze the trigger.

After nearly getting killed four times in the first twenty four hours of this book Alex might be forgiven for thinking someone is out to get him, but he's not the real target. Someone has figured out how to suck the power out of magical creatures and when two of those magical creatures are counted amongst Alex's very small circle of trusted friends, this understandably pisses him off.

Also Luna, who Alex has been teaching to control her curse (a curse that kills anyone she comes into close contact with) in endangered by a developing new relationship.

This book brings back some characters we met in the first one: Sonder the young time-mage; Talisin a council member Alex almost trusts, and Cinder and Deleo, antagonists last time, but it's more complicated than that, now. There's a new bad guy in town, though it's just possible that Alex's old enemy is still lurking in the background.

This is developing into an excellent series. I seem to have been reading a cluster of male-magician-urban-fantasy books this year, all of which I've enjoyed, but it's particularly nice to have a British-based story as a contrast to Harry Dresden, Atticus O'Sullivan and Isaac Vainio.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 February 2015
This is the second in the series featuring Alex Verus - a magic user based in London who has the gift of being able to see all the pathways of the future. In style this book is very like "Rivers of London" by David Aaronovitch and Alex Verus bears more than a passing resemblance to Harry Dresden in the novels by Jim Butcher. If you like either of those excellent series then you will enjoy this one.

Alex is still living in London and running his shop of magical items. He has an apprentice, Luna, who is cursed so that no one can touch her. He has a series of eccentric and unusual friends from a large spider to a spirit of the air. Sadly, it also appears that he has an enemy that wants to kill him and his apprentice has been lured away by the love of a young wizard who shows remarkably poor judgement.

The magic in this book is unusual and well thought through. The author shows us how Alex's gift can be useful but also its limitations and, as usual, how people of evil intentions seek to use his gift for their own reward. The book is witty and amusing and Alex is an entertaining narrator who is wiser than he first appears. The author also examines the dark side of power and of magic and the whole monkey's paw/three wishes thing was very creepy and ended as you might have expected.

This isn't a very long book and it is very easy to read but nevertheless it has plenty to make you think together with a very engaging main character.
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2014
Alex Verus is a probability mage, whose magic enables him to see the future. He runs a magic shop in Camden where he buys and sells magical and pseudo-magical artefacts to mages and ordinary people alike. As a former apprentice to a Dark mage, he’s been the victim of the machinations of the ruling Council and tries to stay out of politics but that’s not easy when Luna, a girl whose under a powerful hereditary magical curse, brings a mysterious artefact to him that every Dark mage in London wants to get their hands on. At the same time, the Council offer him a job as an old magical relic has turned up in the British Museum and they want him to find out what it is.

Soon Alex is neck-deep in a load of trouble that forces him to confront his past while putting him in the middle of the struggle between Dark and Light mages. The only certainty is that everyone wants him dead …

The first in Benedict Jacka’s urban fantasy series is a fast-paced, entertaining read that features a magic system with a unique hook and neatly spins the old chestnut of dark versus light. Verus has an engaging narrative voice and although there are some telegraphed plot twists, Verus does at least acknowledge them in a way that kept me reading. All in all there’s enough here to keep me reading and I look forward to the next book.

For me the best thing about the book is Verus’s probability magic. I particularly enjoyed how Jacka showed this working, with Verus working through different scenarios and probabilities to work out the best way forward and how this can be both a strength and a weakness. Jacka also does a great job of weaving in the background world, both the wider scope in the difference between Dark and Light mages and how the Council works and in Verus’s personal history and how it’s shaped his attitude. I also enjoyed the relationship between Verus and Luna who has her own problems and whose introduction to the magic world helps the reader’s own understanding. There are a couple of places where the reader will get a twist much earlier than Verus but this is acknowledged within the book and as such didn’t bother me.

Ultimately, this is entertaining popcorn urban fantasy and I will keep reading on.
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on 4 December 2014
I've really enjoyed the Alex verus novels and they seem pretty much of even par quality-wise throughout.

I bought the first of these books as a recommendation because i bought ben aaronovitch's PC Grant series and if you have also read those then you would no doubt like this too. I've seen some reviews talk a little about how these novels go down the 'adult fiction' route somewhat, but i wouldnt worry about that too much. The author had previously written adult fiction and these are stories about an urban wizard with magical creatures living in hyde park - it's bound to seem a little like adult fiction!

If you are looking to buy this book and havent read any of the others in the series then i would recommend that you do, or that you at least get the first book - 'fated' before buying this one. Although it could be read as a stand alone novel, it is much better read in sequence and will fill in more of the details for you.
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on 9 November 2015
I was recommended this book as an alternative to Jim Butcher's Dresden series and have to say I found it a bit difficult to get through.

The setting is great as London has many interesting places and fantastic history to draw on, however the characters just felt a bit shallow and I struggled to have any empathy for them.

My main gripe would have to be with the magical powers of the main protagonist (Alex Verus), the explanation of his probability/seer/ability to see the future powers was so muddled that its hard to really get behind them and believe. In order to build tension at certain points of the story the writer states that Alex cannot see past a choice that someone hasn't made yet and therefore cannot see any of the future till that choice is made. However, surely this means that any interaction with people (or even animals) would render Alex's powers all but useless as all of us make last second choices based on the information in front of us. At another point the writer gives a better explanation that Alex sees the future as probabilities with the more likely being 'brighter' to his perception, this is a much better explanation but when coupled with in the inability to see past a human choice this again would be rendered useless in most cases.

I have a degree of sympathy for the writer as writing anything that involves the ability to see the future and keeping it consistent must be on par with doing a review on a Kardashians episode and making it sound intellectual. However, I can only have so much sympathy when there is so many glaring holes in the logic.

I may try and read the second book as apparently it gets better but I won't be in any rush to do so...
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 July 2013
In my quest to find the best ever Urban Fantasy out there having fallen in love with this genre due to the Felix Castor novels by Mike Carey (thanks to my good friend Gary for his recommendations!) I came to the first in the series of Alex Verus novels from Benedict Jacka.

Alex Verus is a mage, a diviner to be exact, he see's all possible futures and can act accordingly. Much preferring to stay out of the magic community, he runs a little magic shop and tries to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately a would be apprentice, a strange artifact at the British Museum and other mages both light and dark combine to foil his plans for peace and he ends up chasing clues all over London and trying to keep himself and his friends alive.

I LOVED this book. Its a rip roaring adventure with tons of humour, lots of action and, well, magic to boot. Who could ask for more? As is often the case for this type of novel, London is the setting, Camden more particularly and it lends itself well to the story - Benedict Jacka has an amazing ability to put you right on the spot, I'm never going to look at Camden in the same way again when I visit and I'll certainly be looking out for Starbreeze! As for the characters they are all well drawn and despite their magical abilities very very like you and I. I loved all of them - even the bad guys were great - I lived in that world while I was reading it and when I emerged I wanted to go back.

I would highly recommend this novel if you are looking to dip your toes into Urban Fantasy and I would also say for those of you who already love this type of thing that its at the top of its class. Brilliant. The very second my reading schedule allows I shall be returning to see Alex Verus again. You should join me. Happy Reading folks!
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on 18 September 2016
An excellent novel in the urban fantasy series, characters believable and act well together and powers that though they are familiar are also slightly different from other books .

Alex Verus is the main character is not as always is the hero who does what he must to survive in the world, at the start of the novel he doesn't seems quite understand as well as at the finish.

I would suggest that anyone who likes this type of genre read this as it is a very good first novel in what I hope is a good series.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 October 2013
I rather enjoyed this fantasy romp through the highways and byways of London. Having previously read and enjoyed Ben Aaranovitch's London based fantasy series I had hoped for more of the same kind of thing here, but it was different in a good way. There was less of the London history and more of the focus on how the magical world of the hero, Alex Verus, works. This is much more based in magical lore than the Aaranovitch's novels, and I like the magic world that the author creates for his hero. I am intrigued to read more, as although this book was quite pacy and full of action, you still get the sense that it is setting the scene for what is to come later in the series. My teenage daughter has read the three novels that come after this one and tells me that they get better. I look forward to seeing if what she says is true.
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