Book Review: Benedict Jacka’s Veiled

Posted September 5, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

This book came from the library, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.

Book Review: Benedict Jacka’s Veiled

Veiled

by Benedict Jacka

five-stars

Series: Alex Verus #6

Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Fated, Cursed, Taken, Chosen, Hidden, Burned, Bound.

Genres: Urban Fantasy

This Paperback has 295 pages and was published by Ace Books on August 4, 2015. Discover more about it at Goodreads. You can also buy it at Amazon

Sixth in the Alex Verus urban fantasy series set in London and revolving around an ex-Dark mage.

My Take

I agree with Alex. There’s nothing to choose between the Light and the Dark. The Dark are simply more open about how nasty they are. It’s world where no one matters unless they impinge on an individual’s plan. Then, you’re only punished IF it breaks a Concord rule AND is visible to the normal world and can’t be explained away as something other than magic. And, of course, the Light mages never do naughty things. *Unggh, unghh, sorry, trying to yank my tongue back out of my cheek!*

I do like Luna. She’s a realist, even if she is eager for combat. She doesn’t see much difference between Light and Dark either, especially after how the Light has treated her in the past.

I am so hoping that Landis will be playing a larger part in the future. I like him. He has a flowery way about his teasing that hides a very keen mind.

Caldera’s explanation (and previous stories) tell of a magical world that is so wrong. It needs a major revolution in thinking and action, and I don’t see how that can be done. If anyone can do it, though, it’ll be Alex. And I’m damned curious to know how Jacka is going to pull this off.

That “chat” Verus has with Levistus was terrifying. Partly because you almost want to side with him, because it would be against the Dark. BUT, Levistus is pretty damn Dark himself and his threats had my heart in my mouth. It’s Arachne who will put it in perspective for Alex, and she’s right.

It’s a tricky balancing act for Alex. The Dark want to recruit or kill him while the Light hate and distrust him. Alex would prefer to avoid both, but he has more of the idealism of the Light within him and hates the Dark for what it does to people. And that’s why he is a Light idealist, because the actual Light mages destroy people as well. You’re no one unless you’re a mage.

It doesn’t help that half of his team want to kill him and the other half aren’t talking. Too many are in bed with different factions who each have their own objectives. And I sure hate Haken’s attitude about this all being a game to be manipulated and screw anyone who gets in the way.

It’s a good lesson in keeping your strengths and toys secret and your allies on speed dial as traps and betrayals abound with each faction having its own agenda.

The Story

Diviner Alex Verus and the Council that governs the magical community have never gotten along. But with his former teacher back in Britain, Alex is in desperate need of allies, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get them — even if it means accepting a job with the Keepers, enforcing magical law.

Alex forms an uneasy alliance with his new partner, Caldera, but his attempt at legitimacy quickly turns lethal when a mission puts him in possession of an item that factions both inside and outside of the Council would kill to get their hands on.

Once again caught in the middle of a deadly conflict, Alex will need all his abilities to figure out who his friends are — especially when enemies are hiding on all sides…

The Characters

Alex Verus, a diviner, is an ex-Dark mage’s apprentice who now runs the Arcana Emporium, a magic shop in Camden Town. A mage the Light ignored in his need. Now he struggles to survive against both Light and Dark while protecting his friends. Hermes is the blink fox he helped in Hidden, 5. Luna Mancuso is Alex’s apprentice and cursed with a chance spell. She’s friendly with Variam Singh, a fire mage with apprenticed to Landis, an Order of the Shield mage, who is based in Edinburgh. Anne Walker is a Life mage with whom no one wants to work. Arachne is a magical creature who happens to be a giant spider who weaves cloth and sews clothing. She’s probably Alex’s best friend.

The Council…

…is the ruling body of Light mages. They’re not very different from the Dark. The different factions within the Council are the Guardians, Crusaders, Isolationists, Directors, Centrists, Weissians, and the Unitarians. The Crusaders are the most militant. Guardians are less extreme but more defensive. The Unitarians want the Light and Dark to unite, a cause that the Centrists are beginning to embrace. Mantis Golems are four-armed bodyguards used by the Council. The Concord is an international set of laws all mages are required to follow. National laws vary from country to country but can’t contradict the Concord.

Vaal Levistus is a Council member who wants Alex dead. Griff (Fated, 1) and Belthas (Cursed, 2) are some of the mages he’s sent after Alex; Thirteen (Fated, 1) was an air elemental Levistus tried to use. Barrayar and Nirvathis (he has a Council seat) are Levistus’ stooges. Nirvathis’ ex-apprentice, Rayfield, has disappeared.

Talisid (he’s involved with one faction of the Council) has been sending Alex and friends out on missions to find out what the Dark is up to. Sonder used to be a friend until events in Chosen, 4.

Lensman is a mage with contacts for tech and language translations. His shop sells items to mages. Dr. Shirland is a mind mage working with Anne and her issues. Xiaofan is a time adept who does objects. She currently works in an antique shop and wants nothing to do with mages.

The Keepers of the Flame are…
…made up of three Orders: The Order of the Star, an everyday policing force for the Council; the Order of the Cloak who preserve the magical world’s secrecy; and, the Order of the Shield who are the battle mages as a military reserve. Caldera, an earth mage who specializes in reinforcement magic, has worked with Alex before and trusts him to back her up. Haken, a fire mage, shares an office with Caldera and is sort of her partner. Carol is one of the Keeper admins. Captain Rain is the Keeper in charge of the White Rose case.

The Keeper team that goes after the White Rose includes the nasty Lizbeth, an air/water hybrid; Slate has death skills and he really hates Alex (both Lizbeth and Slate love violence); Trask who is Slate’s partner; Abeyance is an auxiliary and a timesight specialist; Cerulean is an illusionist; and, Coatl who uses mind magic. Part of the security backup includes Rick.

Red’s is a mixed-martial arts gym where the Keepers hang out and train. Dr. Cazriel is a Keeper medic.

The Dark mages include…
Richard Drakh was Alex’s master from whom Alex ran. Everyone thought he had died, but he’s back and wants Alex. Morden is allied with Drakh and also VERY powerful. He’s agitating for a seat on the Council.

Chamois, Jean Jacques Duval, a.k.a., Silence or The Silent, is an air mage out of France who works as an assassin.

Torvald has been a bad Dark mage. Again. He’ll get a slap on the wrist, if the Keepers catch up with him. Maybe. Pyre is another Dark mage who’s worse than Torvald. The Keepers wouldn’t stop him hurting Xiaofan because he wasn’t breaking the Concord. Tough luck, Xiaofan.

The White Rose is…
…an independent Dark organization that takes children and turns them into sex slaves. Adjusts people to suit your fantasy. It’s all okay, though, since the White Rose doesn’t enslave mages or adepts. Ya gotta wonder how an obvious law like adhering to the normal laws of humanity, of the country in which you live, isn’t part of that Concord. Leo is a sex slave on the run. Marannis is the Dark mage who runs it and has a de facto alliance with certain factions. Vihaela is his second-in-command, a really nasty, torture-loving bitch who is a death/life hybrid mage and good, wicked good. She apprenticed under Ylath.

Chalice is an independent Dark mage with chance magic who may become Luna’s teacher. She wants an unexpected and undesirable form of payment for those services.

Lucian is an adept asking Verus questions. Kath is part of his circle.

Diviners can see all the possible futures. Fire mages can call up fire. Time mages can look back into the past of their current location. Gate magic lets you travel instantly from one place to another IF you’re an elementalist or a death or space mage. Anyone else has to use a gate stone. A data focus is a magical thumb drive that locks to the mind/voice of the person using it, a signature lock.

The DLR is the Docklands Light Railway. Heraclian is an obscure mage tradition from the Byzantine era.

The Cover and Title

The cover is an electric lime green in a collage of London landmarks. At the top is a ragged edge of black forming a stark contrast with the lime green of the title.

The title is how magical politics works in Alex’s world; they’re Veiled from view as the factions scurry about in their own self-interests.


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