Monday, January 19, 2015

Taken by Benedict Jacka

Damsels in distress, dangerous monsters, sorcerous duels! What's not to like about the third book in the Alex Verus adventures?

Well, the only problem is that about three days after I finished it, I can barely remember what it was about. Maybe that's simply a memory issue on my part, but there's really no Wow! factor here.

There's a big contest about to happen in the wizarding world, where most apprentices and mages test themselves against the competition (hmm, there's no mention of what the prize is for the winner of the contest at any time), and the mage who is hosting the contest, Crystal, tries to convince Alex to provide security for the gathering. He catches her trying to manipulate him by reading his mind - her mage skill is telepathy - and declines to play her game. But when one of the few wizards he slightly trusts, Talisid, asks him to look into the recent disappearances of several apprentices, and the trail leads to the contest grounds, he ends up in the middle of the muddle anyway.

His cover for attending is to coach his apprentice, Luna, in her first competition. He also gets involved with another apprentice, Anne, when he rescues her from a murder attempt by some goons. I think there's some romantic attraction hinted at here (Jacka is being cagey), and we may see more of Anne in future books. Anne and her friend Variam were "adopted" by a rakshasha, Jagadeve, after they broke free of their first master, a dark mage. The supernatural being is playing his own game, pursuing a vendetta with the mages that has gone on for centuries, and Alex manages to get caught up in that intrigue, as well.

The solution to the mysterious disappearances is not surprising to old urban fantasy hands, and a bit anticlimactic. The purpose of this book seems to be to move Luna's development as an adept along and to perhaps introduce a new love interest.

On to the next book.

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