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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
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Cursed
SF Site Review: Fated

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Benedict Jacka's thrilling Alex Verus series continues with the third installment, Taken, that puts our divining hero where he seems to want to be, in the middle of nearly impossible situations. Apprentices of both light and dark mages have been going missing, and Verus gets appeals from both sides to track down who's behind the shielded disappearances. But as usual, he's bitten off more than he can chew alone. Hints take him to a mansion called Fountain Reach, owned by the beautiful and enigmatic Crystal and the site of this year's White Stone tournament in which apprentices harmlessly duel against one another. But Verus has also taken it on himself to protect an apprentice named Anne Walker, a friend and classmate of his own apprentice, Luna. For some reason, Anne has attracted the attention of thugs and magical assassins.

To say Fountain Reach is creepy would be the understatement of the century. It's warded so much that mages can't use gate stones to come and go, and Alex's divining skills don't work so well inside. Plus, he feels like someone is always watching him. Oh, and his favorite battle mage also puts in an appearance, too. Tons of fun and lots of excitement in this fast-paced thriller.

On top of putting together top-notch plots, Benedict Jacka also writes well, often with the ability to bring places to life as much as his characters, especially the city of London. Jacka's plots always work, given the parameters of Alex's and other players' magical abilities, so it never feels like I have to totally suspend disbelief as many thrillers require. Plus, I really like Alex as a character. He doesn't take himself too seriously, he always roots for the underdog and I can't imagine him every allying with either light or dark mages for more than a job requires. I don't see more books listed in this series, but I hope that, for once, it means I just haven't been observant enough. Easy to say, this is the best new series I've read this year that takes place in the present. I hate to put in the caveat because there's a historical fantasy that might give it a run for its money.

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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