Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
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.