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Taken by Benedict Jacka

The Blurb On The Back:

Welcome to Fountain Reach
Ancient seat of the Aubuchon Dynasty
Majestic setting of the White Stone Tournament


Alex Verus’s (not necessarily reliable) reputation attracts all sorts. Most are plain bonkers. Yet there’s one invitation he just can’t refuse.

At Fountain Reach, Alex is perfectly placed among the noted and notorious to figure out why apprentices have been vanishing. But the tournament is a minefield of ancient grudges and new threats, and Alex can’t afford to miss a trick as his elusive adversary stays one step ahead in this most dangerous of games.




It’s several months after CURSED. When Talisid asks Alex for help in investigating the mysterious disappearances of a number of apprentices, Alex receives an anonymous text message telling him the answer can be found at Fountain Reach where, coincidentally, a duelling tournament for apprentices is to be held. Distracted by a couple of former Dark apprentices Anne and Variam who are being targeted by assassins for reasons that he can’t figure out, the last thing he needs is to find that not only is Onyx also sniffing around the disappearances but he still bears a grudge following the events in FATED. Throw in former rival, Lyle, and tournament organiser Crystal, a mind mage whose offer of work Alex rejected, and the probability mage is soon up to his neck in ancient machinations, dastardly plots and an awful lot of people who want him dead …

The third in Benedict Jacka’s ALEX VERUS SERIES is another tightly written urban fantasy with plenty of twists and turns and a neat way of building up an overall arc by referring back to elements from the two earlier books. Alex continues to grow as a character and I really enjoyed the new master/apprentice relationship between him and Luna. The development of the mysterious Anne as a character (first seen in the last book) and the stubborn, antagonistic Variam is neatly introduced and Jacka does a great job of expanding the world he’s building with the introduction of a rakshasa, Jagadev, who provides protection to adepts and rogue apprentices. The plot revolves around a neat spin on old country house mysteries with a genuinely creepy villain and the ending is just open enough to leave more trouble in store for Alex going forward. This is easily one of my favourite urban fantasy series right now and I really look forward to reading the next one.

My favourite bits of the book actually relate to Luna and the way she’s learning to handle her curse. Jacka’s inventive in how he takes this forward and I particularly enjoyed one development, which I won’t spoil but which should prove to be a game changer for her going forward. Anne and Variam are also welcome additions (although Variam is in danger of being a little one note with his scowling antagonism). Ultimately though this is a fun, entertaining read and I’ll check out the next one.

The Verdict:

The third in Benedict Jacka’s ALEX VERUS SERIES is another tightly written urban fantasy with plenty of twists and turns and a neat way of building up an overall arc by referring back to elements from the two earlier books. Alex continues to grow as a character and I really enjoyed the new master/apprentice relationship between him and Luna. The development of the mysterious Anne as a character (first seen in the last book) and the stubborn, antagonistic Variam is neatly introduced and Jacka does a great job of expanding the world he’s building with the introduction of a rakshasa, Jagadev, who provides protection to adepts and rogue apprentices. The plot revolves around a neat spin on old country house mysteries with a genuinely creepy villain and the ending is just open enough to leave more trouble in store for Alex going forward. This is easily one of my favourite urban fantasy series right now and I really look forward to reading the next one.

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