close

The Qwillery | category: Alex Verus

home

The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

qwillery.blogspot.com

Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017


Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017


I am going to start this post with a confession. I'm not really a size zero....just kidding! My confession is that I made some poor reading choices this week. Not that the books I read weren't good...rather that I read them too early. I received a few books from NetGalley and in my excitement to read them I didn't check the publication dates and I can't tell them you about them quite yet. I do have a couple of books to tell you about though so don't despair.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017
I received Patricia Brigg's 10th instalment of the Mercy Thompson series Silence Fallen via NetGalley a few months ago. This was another book I read too early, couldn't review immediately after I read it and then forgot I had. Sorry! I did a quick re-read in order to review it for you as soon as I remembered I had it!

This instalment starts quite dramatically with Mercy being abducted not far from her and Adam's home. She wakes up in Europe in the home of a ruthless and evil vampire. Mercy's link to Adam is cut off and she is on her own and it is going to take all her skill and luck of the coyote to survive this. While Mercy looks to escape Adam is forming an unlikely alliance with the vampire queen Marsilia and Stefan in order to rescue Mercy. Told from both Mercy and Adam's POV we travel across Europe as both the hunted and the hunter in search of answers and in search of mercy.

I thought it was interesting that Briggs decided to tell this story from multiple POVs and you can't beat Prague for an atmospheric setting. I really think that Brigg's needs to wrap up this series as the story lines are starting to feel forced. There are only so many times that Mercy can just miss dying. It feels like her 9 lives should have been used up already. It is difficult to see where else Briggs can go with these characters. Good book if you need a time filler but I wouldn't say it was essential reading in the series.


Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017
UK Cover
A number of people have recommended Benedict Jacka's Alex Versus series to me and it has taken me a while to decide to buy one of the books. That time arrived and I got my chance to see what everyone has been talking about by starting with Fated. Qwill reviewed this book back in 2012 so you can read what she thought about it here.

As not to repeat the synopsis of the book again I am just going to tell you what I thought. I liked Alex Versus and thought he was an engaging and conflicted character. I usually always enjoy books set in London and this was no exception. My friends who have recommended this series said it was really funny and while I didn't necessarily think it was a laugh a minute I did find Alex mildly amusing. I have also heard comparisons to Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden but again, I couldn't really see the connection - both wizard/mages? That is about it other than they were both loners. I enjoyed Fated but I can't say I would stop reading other books to move onto book 2. Having said that the next time I am looking for a nice enjoyable read then I will check out the next instalment of this series.


That is it for me this week. Wishing you a productive week ahead in reading and remember - check the publication date! Until next week Happy Reading.





Silence Fallen
A Mercy Thompson Novel 10
Ace, March 7, 2017
Hardcover and eBook, 384 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017
In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…




Fated
An Alex Verus Novel 1
Ace, February 28, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever’s inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none…

The View From Monday - August 26, 2013


Happy Monday!  Summer is over for us as the kids go back to school on Tuesday. This makes me unhappy. I really like having them here. It's not that I won't see them both after school, but life will be much more hectic for everyone. On the other hand I should get a lot more reading and writing done. My reading has been very light since the end of January for RL reasons. Hopefully I will begin to catch up on everything soon.



The View From Monday - August 26, 2013



August is ending with 5 debuts!

Twilight Hunter (The Execution Underground 1) by Kait Ballenger;

Saxon's Bane by Geoffrey Gudgion (I highly recommended you read this.);

Children of Fire (The Chaos Born 1) by Drew Karpyshyn;

Billy Moon by Douglas Lain; and

The Returned by Jason Mott.


And from formerly featured Debut Author Challenge Authors:

The Exodus Towers (The Dire Earth Cycle 2) by Jason M. Hough.  The first novel in The Dire Earth Cycle, The Darwin Elevator, came out last month. It's an excellent read and a very, very self-assured debut so pick that up along with The Exodus Towers. The third novel in the series, The Plague Forge, will be out on September 24, 2013 so you won't have too long to wait because you will want the next book right away.

Chosen (Alex Verus 4) by Benedict Jacka. This is a terrific UF series featuring Alex Verus, a mage who can see possible futures. Alex is fantastic and the books are great fun and very well written.



August 26, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Demon's Desire (e) Kendra Leigh Castle PNR - Hearts of the Fallen 2
The Awakening: Liam (e) Abby Niles PNR - The Awakening 2



August 27, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
Perdition Ann Aguirre SF - Dred Chronicles 1
Hearts in Darkness (ri) Keri Arthur UF - Nikki and Michael 2
Twilight Hunter (D) Kait Ballenger PNR - Execution Underground 1
Only Superhuman (h2mm) Christopher L. Bennett SF
Deception Cove Jayne Castle PNR - Rainshadow 2
For the Love of Magic Janet Chapman PNR - Spellbound Falls 5
Heaven and Hellsbane Paige Cuccaro PNR - Hellsbane 3
Heavy Metal Natalie J. Damschroder PNR - Goddesses Rising 2
Heart of Venom Jennifer Estep UF - Elemental Assassin 9
Shadows of the New Sun: Stories in Honor of Gene Wolfe Bill Fawcett (ed) Anthology
Dark Storm (h2tp) Christine Feehan PNR - Dark 23
1635: Papal Stakes (ri) (h2mm) Eric Flint
Charles E. Gannon
AH - Ring of Fire 15
Immortally Ever After Angie Fox PNR - Monster M*A*S*H 3
Spirits From Beyond Simon R. Green UF - Ghostfinders 4
Saxon's Bane (D) Geoffrey Gudgion UF/H
Transcendental James Gunn SF
The Exodus Towers Jason M. Hough SF - The Dire Earth Cycle 2
Star Trek: The Fall: Revelation and Dust David R. George III SF - Star Trek
Chosen Benedict Jacka UF - Alex Verus 4
Children of Fire (D) Drew Karpyshyn F - The Chaos Born 1
A Thousand Perfect Things Kay Kenyon AH
Crown of Vengeance (h2mm) Mercedes Lackey
James Mallory
F - Dragon Prophecy 1
Billy Moon (D) Douglas Lain F/AH
Dragon Ship (h2mm) Sharon Lee
Steve Miller
SF - New Liaden Universe 5
Age of Godpunk: Collecting Age of Anansi, Age of Satan and Age of Gaia James Lovegrove F - Collection
The Gemini Virus (h2mm) Wil Mara S/Th
Songs of the Dying Earth (tp2mm) George R.R. Martin (ed)
Gardner Dozois (ed)
SF - Anthology
Too Many Curses (tp2mm) A. Lee Martinez F
Kenobi John Jackson Miller SF - Star Wars
They Also Serve (e) (ri) Mike Moscoe SF - Jump Universe 3
The Returned (D) Jason Mott F
Crux Ramez Naam SF - Nexus 2
The Five Deaths of Roxanne Love Erin Quinn PNR
Cast in Sorrow Michelle Sagara PNR - Chronicles of Elantra 9
The Time of Contempt Andrzej Sapkowski F - Saga of Wiedzminie 4
Must Love Fangs Jessica Sims PNR - Midnight Liaisons 3
The Vampire With the Dragon Tattoo Kerrelyn Sparks PNR - Love at Stake 14
Blood Bond Jeanne C. Stein UF - Anna Strong 9
Red Rain (h2mm) R.L. Stine H
SideQuest Adventures Mark Teppo
Angus Trim
Michael Tinker Pearce
Linda Pearce
AH/F - Foreworld Saga
The Sorority Tamara Thorne H
The Thursday War (tp2mm) Karen Traviss SF - HALO
Kiss of Night (tp2mm) Debbie Viguie PNR - Kiss 1
The Blinding Knife (h2tp) Brent Weeks F - Lightbringer 2



August 31, 2013
TITLEAUTHORSERIES
The Minority Report (Deluxe) Philip K. Dick SF
Hot Times in Magma City (Deluxe) Robert Silverberg SF



e - eBook
D - Debut
h2tp - Hardcover to Trade Paperback
h2mm - Hardcover to Mass Market Paperback
ri - reissue or reprint
tp2mm - Trade to Mass Market Paperback


AH - Alternate History
F - Fantasy
H - Horror
PNR - Paranormal Romance
SF - Science Fiction
Th - Thriller
UF - Urban Fantasy

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters

Please welcome Benedict Jacka to The Qwillery. I'm thrilled have Benedict at the blog today as part of the Cursed Blog Tour. I'm a huge fan of Benedict's Alex Verus series, which is one of my favorite Urban Fantasy series and on my automatic buy list.


Surprising Characters

One of the most fun things about writing is when your characters end up surprising you.  To begin with a character is completely your own creation:  you invent their appearance, personality, background, abilities, and everything else.  For most characters, that’s where it ends.  For the really good characters, though, it’s different.  They take on a life of their own and end up doing things that make sense based on their nature but which you really didn’t expect at the beginning. 
    From a writer’s point of view this is enormous fun, because it means you don’t know what’s going to happen next.  Usually the writer gets to decide everything in advance – having your characters surprise you adds a small but very welcome bit of unpredictability to the story.  Characters like this are the most interesting to write, and often the most interesting to read. 
    In the Alex Verus series, the characters that have surprised me the most are: 

    • Luna:  Luna was probably the most difficult character to write in Fated, and the one who was most heavily rewritten from first draft to finished book.  Partly it was because she was the main female character (characters of the opposite sex are always harder to write than your own) but mostly it was the problem of giving her a real personality rather than having her identity dominated by her curse.  One of the things I did out in China was write a short piece from Luna’s point of view in diary format, and it helped when I came back to do the first major rewrite. 
    All the work was worth it though.  Luna’s developed more and more as I’ve kept going and right now (as I’m writing Book #4), out of the whole cast I’m finding her the most fun to write.  She’s probably had more character development than anybody else in the series and she’s settled into a very good rapport with Alex. 

    • Arachne:  I have no idea where Arachne came from.  For some reason I’d decided that I wanted Alex to have a nonhuman friend who was very nice but physically terrifying, and I think my mental processes went something like “What’s really scary?  Oh yeah, giant spider”.  The dressmaker angle was just completely random – the spider-weaver aspect is obvious, but I really don’t know why I ran with it as far as I did. 
    But it worked, and somehow or other Arachne ended up turning into one of the permanent fixtures of the series.  I think she fills some kind of grounding/experience-related role among the cast of characters.  She doesn’t show up that often (usually only a couple of scenes per book) but she’s always fun to write when she does. 

    • Cinder and Deleo:  Cinder and Deleo started off as bit-characters for Fated.  Cinder was a thug, and Deleo was the slightly-more-competent-but-equally-threatening thug.  Once I started to work on Deleo’s background, though, she began to develop, and as I figured out the links between her and Alex’s history she turned from a simple villain into a much more complex character.  (I also worked out just why she’s so crazy, which is going to be revealed in Book #4.)  Cinder got his turn in the limelight too, in Cursed.  As a part of it I worked out a background for him as well, though I’m not sure when it’ll make its way into the books. 
      I think the appeal of Cinder and Deleo is the old draw of having sympathetic villains.  They’re very definitely in the bad-guy camp, but they’ve got redeeming qualities that make it hard to just dismiss them.  They make for very memorable scenes when they and Alex have a reason to co-operate, but I’ve been careful not to overuse them – I don’t want them to suffer the fate of Spike from Buffy! 

    There are two other characters whom I’m warming to, but I’m going to avoid mentioning them as they don’t get properly introduced until Taken.  (Well, not technically true I guess – one of them does make a cameo in Cursed.  See if you can guess who it is!)



About the Alex Verus series

Cursed
Alex Verus 2
Ace, May 29, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters
Benedict Jacka's acclaimed Alex Verus series continues with Cursed.

Since his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages, Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he's discovered the resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who would risk their own sanity for power...


The UK Cover (Orbit, June 7, 2012)

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters
Things are going well for Alex Verus. He’s on moderately good terms with the Council, his apprentice is settling in and his shop in Camden is gaining quite a reputation.

But when a mysterious woman bursts into the Arcana Emporium one night with an assassin on her tail, Alex is thrown into a plot to revive a long-forbidden ritual. His old enemies are after the secret, as well as a Council mage named Belthas and a mercenary named Garrick, and at least one of them is trying to get Alex killed – if he only knew which.

He can see the future, but knowing who to trust is something else.



Fated
Alex Verus 1
Ace, February 28, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...


The UK Cover (Orbit, March 1, 2012)

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer.

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 apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.



And the US cover for Taken...

Taken
Alex Verus 3
Ace, August 28, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 300 pages

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters



About Benedict

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising Characters
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.

Website:  http://benedictjacka.co.uk/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/BenedictJacka













The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Cursed (Alex Verus 2) - print book for US or eBook for international - from Ace/Penguin!

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which book series is/are on your must buy list?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US mailing address for the print copy of Cursed and an email address for the digital copy of Cursed. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Wednesday, June 27, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills

Fated
Author:  Benedict Jacka
Series:   Alex Verus
Format:  Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher:  Ace (February 28, 2012)
Price:  $7.99
Language:  English
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
ISBN9781937007294
Review Copy:  Provided by Publisher

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...

My Thoughts

Fated is the first in a new series about a mage named Alex Verus.

Alex can see possible futures. As a diviner, he has to rely on sorting through the futures, his intelligence and the occasional use of the martial arts that he studies. He doesn't have power over the physical world (e.g., throw fire). Alex owns a magic shop in a section of London called Camden Town. He’s a loner. Something happened in his past that has made him want to be on his own. We get more and more information about what happened to him and why he prefers to be a loner throughout the novel. Alex gets caught up the machinations of several factions of mages. They all want a particular relic and they all want Alex to help them get it. The mystery surrounding that relic kept me guessing.

Over the course of the novel, Mr. Jacka does a wonderful job explaining the magic system within which Alex operates. The world building (magic world in plain sight) is exceptional. There are references to myths and supernatural creatures that are seamlessly woven into the story adding to the richness of the magical world.

I really like Alex. He’s intelligent, tough when he has to be, and a good guy. He also makes mistakes and gets himself into trouble out of simple curiosity, which seems to be a diviner trait. While Alex is the main character, there is a terrific supporting cast including Luna, Alex’s sort of apprentice, Starbreeze, a ditzy air elemental, and many mages both Light, Dark, and scary. Luna is a great character, and I'm looking forward to reading more about her in future books.

There will be inevitable comparisons to The Dresden Files, but Alex Verus does not pale by the comparison. Fated is the start of a wonderful new Urban Fantasy series. It is well written, well-paced and a thoroughly engaging read. I’m hooked.

I give Fated 5 Qwills.

Review - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 Qwills

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012

Please welcome Benedict Jacka to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Fated, Benedict's adult debut and the first novel in the Alex Verus series, was published on February 28, 2012 in the US. You will definitely want to read this wonderful Urban Fantasy series.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Benedict:  I used to only write between the hours of 12 and 3 each way – that's 12pm to 3pm and 12am to 3am. I'd get a lot of work done but it did lead to kind of a weird sleep pattern and it made it a little tricky to keep up a job . . .

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Benedict:  Agatha Christie's a big one - she's superb at formal structure and layout, not to mention quickly sketching characters. I'm also a fan of Jack Vance, especially his settings and cultures. Other than that – Tolkien, Richard Adams (just for Watership Down), Paul O. Williams, and Jim Butcher. I tend to take bits and pieces from anime series and computer games too, although I won't say which ones as I steal from them even more blatantly than I do from books.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Benedict:  What's a pantser? *Googles it*. Oh, so that's what it means. I'd been wondering about that.

I'd say a mix of both. I usually have a skeletal plot laid out in my head, and I'll have certain details of certain scenes planned a long way in advance (often before I know when or how the scene's going to happen). But it's like a fishing net – there's much more empty space than there is rope – and all that space gets filled in as I go along, often with stuff I make up on the spot.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Benedict:  Waiting! When I've finished a book all I want is to give it to people and have them read it and talk about it with them. Instead I have to wait anywhere between months and years before it gets on the shelves and other people can read it. Mind you, that's still better than how it used to be, which was waiting to see if the book was ever going to be published at all.

TQ:  Describe Fated in 140 characters or less.

Benedict:  To solve a mystery and protect a friend, a lonely diviner with a dark past reluctantly comes back to magical society.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Fated?

BenedictFated is actually my tenth novel. Back when I was writing my earlier books I wrote several children's books in an urban-fantasy-esque universe split between the real world and a fantasy one. One of the main ideas I played around with in that book was the idea of magic-users who could use a very specific type of magic tied to their personality – so you could get an ice mage, a life mage, a time mage, etc. The novels I wrote in that setting never sold, but I never quite gave up on the idea.

Then one season while I was working as an English teacher I started thinking of writing a story in the same universe, but one where the main character was an adult instead of a teenager. Up until now I'd always made the main character an elementalist, but somehow or other I got the idea of making the protagonist a diviner whose magic couldn't affect the physical world but could instead be used to see the future. The more I thought about the idea the more I liked it, and in between teaching lessons one day I started on the story . . .

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Fated?

Benedict:  More stuff than I could name! On a typical writing day I end up researching everything from the muzzle velocities of sniper rounds to the exact names for the steps of Latin dances. For Fated the most fun bit was probably a trip to the British Museum. It had been ages since I'd last gone and I'd forgotten how impressive the architecture is, not to mention the exhibits.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Benedict:  Easiest was Starbreeze, by a mile. She's an air elemental with a three second memory and she's completely and utterly straightforward. I know exactly what she's going to do without thinking about it (because she never thinks about it either).

The hardest was Luna. She has a particularly nasty curse that makes it almost impossible for her to get close to or spend any length of time with other people, and figuring out how that would have affected her childhood and eventual personality was very difficult. I ended up having to write a couple of extra pieces just to work out her character properly. Since they're done from Luna's point of view rather than Alex's though, I doubt they'll ever be released!

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Fated?

Benedict:  The scene in Chapter 13 where Alex has his final confrontation with Khazad. For a lot of the story I'd been telling readers that battle-mages (especially Dark battle-mages) are dangerous and scary, but I hadn't had much chance to show it – until then. I got to demonstrate exactly how terrifying a Dark mage can be, and why battle-mages look down on diviners . . . and why judging someone only on their brute strength is a mistake.

On top of that, the scene showed a couple of sides to Alex's personality which had been mostly hidden until then. First, it showed how frightening these confrontations are to him, which in turn acted as a test of character by forcing him to stand up to someone who totally outclassed him. And second, it showed Alex's ruthless side, and gave a hint of just why he might have been chosen by his old master.

TQ:  What's next?

Benedict:  Fated is coming out Feb 28th in the US, and March 1st in the UK. After that, the second and third Alex Verus novels are coming out at three-month intervals in the same year – the second volume Cursed is coming out around the beginning of June, and the third volume Taken at the beginning of September. Alex and Luna make a return, along with a lot of old faces and a growing cast of new ones!

In the meantime I'm releasing regular updates on my blog about the setting, background, and universe of the Alex Verus series. The articles are called the Encyclopaedia Arcana, and they're posted at 9:00 AM every Friday. So if you've finished Fated and would like to see more, or if you'd just like to find out more about the series, take a look!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery

Benedict:  Thanks for having me!


About the Alex Verus series

Fated
Alex Verus 1
Ace, February 28, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...


The UK Cover (Orbit, March 1, 2012)

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer.

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 apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.

Fated will be followed in 2012 by Cursed (Alex Verus 2) and Taken (Alex Verus 3).

Cursed
Alex Verus 2
Ace, May 29, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and Ebook, 304 pages

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012

 The UK Cover (Orbit, June 7, 2012)

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012


About Benedict

Interview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.

Website:  http://benedictjacka.co.uk/













The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Fated (Alex Verus 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which do you prefer - the UK or US covers?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, March 9, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Limits of Magic

Please welcome Benedict Jacka to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Fated (Alex Verus 1), Benedict's adult debut, will be published on February 28, 2012 in the US.


Limits of Magic

I like magic systems. I especially like harder magic systems which have clear rules on what can and can't be done. Most stories tend to focus on the first of those: if asked about a character, a writer will talk about what powers they have. In this post, though, I'm going to look at the flip side of that – the boundaries of a magic system and what a character can't do.

Brandon Sanderson has written about this in the past, and he has a take on it which he calls Sanderson's Second Law: when it comes to magic, limitations are more interesting than powers. If a character is faced with a problem which their magic can overcome easily, there's no story: they'll just solve it and be on their way. But if their magic can only partially solve the problem or can't solve it at all, they have to think and work and make decisions. It creates conflict, and conflict is interesting. So when it comes to magic, what a character can't do is more important than what they can do.

I didn't have Sanderson's article in mind when I designed the universe of the Alex Verus series (since I started on that about ten years before the article was written) but reading it made me realise why I'd done things the way I had. In the universe of the Alex Verus series, mages can only use a specific type of magic: you get fire mages and life mages and chance mages, but you don't have generalist spellcasters who can do everything. In the previous books I'd done in the setting, the main characters had tended to to use elemental magic, like ice and air. But when I first sat down to write the Alex Verus series I decided this time I wanted to do something different.

The problem I'd been finding with elemental magic (which had been growing on me for a while) was that elemental magic in my setting is great at applying raw power but isn't very subtle. This works out okay from the character's point of view, since they can usually bulldoze most problems with sheer brute force. What it's not so good for is creating stories – situations get resolved by some version of 'hit it until it breaks' and I was finding it harder and harder to write those in an interesting way.

So for the Alex Verus series I came up with something new: I made the protagonist a diviner. Alex's magic can tell him the probabilities of future events, and that's it. It can't affect the physical world in any way.

Straight away that opened up a lot of interesting possibilities. Since Alex's magic only gives information, it means he can't force his way through problems – his magic can point him towards a solution, but he still has to think up the plan and do the actual work (which tends to make for better stories). It also created a David vs Goliath sort of feel when Alex has to go up against someone who completely outclasses him in terms of direct power, and I liked that – I've always had a soft spot for the idea of the smart hero who relies on intelligence rather than brute strength.

Fast forward three years and I've now just finished writing the third Alex Verus novel, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to say that it worked. :) What was a surprise was how easy I found it to keep coming up with new material – the combination of Alex's powers, his history, and his personality was great for supplying story ideas.

A character's powers can be interesting in concept, but it's the limits on those powers that make them interesting in practice.


About the Alex Verus series

Fated
Alex Verus 1
Ace, February 28, 2012 (US)
Mass Market Paperback and Ebook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Limits of Magic
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex's own powers aren't as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future--allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.

But when Alex is approached by multiple factions to crack open a relic from a long-ago mage war, he knows that whatever's inside must be beyond powerful. And thanks to his abilities, Alex can predict that by taking the job, his odds of survival are about to go from slim to none...


The UK Cover (Orbit, March 1, 2012)

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Limits of Magic
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and the canal. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals, where tourists and moody teenagers mingle, and where you can get your ears pierced and your shoulder tattooed while eating sushi washed down with a can of super strength beer.

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 apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a highly toxic Relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.

Fated will be followed in 2012 by Cursed (Alex Verus 2) and Taken (Alex Verus 3).


About Benedict

Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Limits of Magic
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.

Website:  http://benedictjacka.co.uk/
Melanie's Week in Review - April 23, 2017The View From Monday - August 26, 2013Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Surprising CharactersReview - Fated by Benedict Jacka - 5 QwillsInterview with Benedict Jacka and Giveaway - March 2, 2012Guest Blog by Benedict Jacka - Limits of Magic

Report "The Qwillery"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?

Cancel
×