Fated by Benedict Jacka (published by Orbit Books) is the first in the Alex Verus series. Amazon recommended it on the back of my Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London purchases — both comprise London-based, urban fantasy novels. Fated had a huge number of reviews, so ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained….’
With 322 pages, in a good-sized typeset, it didn’t take me too long to read. The characters were interesting enough, although didn’t show an incredible amount of depth, and the plot enough to keep me going until the end. A couple of feints added interest — I wouldn’t call them full plot twists, but they added to the narrative.
The book ended with enough resolution I’d class it as a stand-alone story and there are enough elements for me to see the start of bigger story arcs. I also enjoyed that it didn’t lurch to a screaming halt (not looking at you at all, Aaronovitch!)
I’d also like to mention the cover art – that also helped me in my buying decision — as it’s beautifully done and there’s a few subtle details in there that I appreciate more after reading.
My biggest gripe is that there were a few swathes of exposition. Not to the extent of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One thank goodness, but enough that I got stuck in the world-building explanations a few times. The developmental editing could have been better managed: J. K. Rowling uses Hermione to explain the magic world to Harry and in doing so, explain it to us readers. It’s a deft trick and keeps the story moving. In Fated, perhaps Alex could have explained those concepts to Luna, much along the same lines.
I also felt that although it was set in London, there wasn’t really enough to ground it there. Other than the British Museum, the book could have been set anywhere and for a book that trades on being London-based, it needs to be strengthened.
Would I want to read more in the series? Yes, if I want a lightweight read I don’t need to become too heavily invested in.
Publication Title: Fated Series: Alex Verus #1 Author: Benedict Jacka Publisher: Orbit Publication Date: 1st March 2012 Synopsis:
Camden, North London. A tangled, mangled junction of train lines, roads and waterways. Where minor celebrities hang out with minor criminals and where tourists and moody teenagers mingle.
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 would-be apprentice, foiling the Dark, outwitting the Light, and investigating a mysterious relic that has just turned up at the British Museum.