Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chosen by Benedict Jacka

 I sincerely believe that Jacka has truly hit his stride with the Alex Verus series with this book. Let us hope he hasn't peaked too soon, instead. I picked up the book around 8 PM, and didn't put it down until 10:30, finished. There's about two pages of relative calm at the beginning of the book, as Alex, Luna, Sonder, Anne and Variam play a game of Settlers of Catan (which Alex pointedly avoids winning with his divination skills) when the action starts with him confronting a spy on the rooftops.

Soon after that, he is attacked by a group of vigilante adepts in the middle of a casino, where he is teaching Luna to use her power to manipulate random chances, and comes extremely close to dying. Only Anne's healing powers pull him back from the brink of death. The band of bravos, called the Nightstalkers, are after Alex because of his role in the abduction and murder of Catherine Traviss at the behest of his former master, Richard. Catherine's brother, Matt, leads the group.

Coincidentally? the Council's enforcers, the Keepers, are interested in talking to Alex about his former master, who is rumored to be returning from wherever he has disappeared to for the last decade. Alex is uncertain about Catherine's true fate, so he decides that the best way to stop the Nightstalkers is to find out if she is still alive somewhere, thereby removing Matt's reason for vengeance.

Alex voyages into the Elsewhere, a dream realm where he may be able to scan the memories of one of his former fellow dark apprentices, Rachel, now known as Deleo. When he gets there he is guided by the shade of Shireen, another one of Richard's apprentices, and we get a couple of great installments of Alex's back story at last, as well as, by the end of the story, an explanation of Deleo's madness and a glimpse of some of the light vs. dark struggles which are on the way. Alex gains a new "ally", Keeper Caldera, who is the lead investigator into Richard's whereabouts, and his friendships with his young adepts are seriously tested.

Here's hoping Jacka can maintain the quality of storytelling he's established in Chosen.

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