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Benedict Jacka
Ace, 304 pages

Benedict Jacka
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at 19 he sat in his school library and began writing in the back of an exercise book. Since then he has worked for the civil service, studied philosophy at Cambridge and been a bouncer, but has always found the time to keep writing.

Benedict Jacka Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Benedict Jacka joins the top ranks of urban fantasy writers with Fated, the first installment in his Alex Verus series. Alex, who runs a magic shop in London, is a diviner, so he can see the results of his actions before he makes choices. If he needs to walk across a room without being seen, he can look ahead and judge the exact moment when someone will look the other way, so he can walk by, for example. Both the Light and Dark mages want to use Alex's talent to open an ancient artifact that has recently surfaced. Alex, an entity unto himself and with an attitude, has no interest in being used and normally he'd flee, but he has vulnerable friends to protect: Luna, a not-quite mage with a curse on her that hurts those who come too close to her and Starbreeze, an ancient air elemental who is terrifically sweet but as dumb as they come.

Dark Mages, and a lot of the Light Mages, too, have little empathy for those around them and will do whatever it takes to get what they want, but Alex cares about his friends and won't leave them in harm's way. He's a good guy with a fairly horrific past and has a pretty good idea of what the Dark Mages will do to him if he doesn't cooperate. He's got a fine line to walk to try to keep them all happy, unlock the artifact and make sure the treasure inside stays out of the wrong hands.

Benedict Jacka will become a favorite for fans of Jim Butcher, Simon Green and/or John Levitt. His recipe for success combines believable and well-developed characters, lots of action, enough suspense to keep one up all night and a new twist on magic. While some of the characters represent black or white, the majority, including our hero, have a lot of gray areas. Alex is a loner and the mages seek him out because all of the other diviners have turned them down. He's a talented mage, plagued by nightmares from his past who only recently has allowed himself to have friends again. It's a lonely life when one trust so few, but there's a reason for that. Fated is one of the strongest first books in a series I've read in a long time, and a series I will definitely follow to its conclusion. Few writers have mastered the ability to bring so many different types of characters to life so vividly.

Copyright © 2012 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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