Book Review: Benedict Jacka’s Burned

Posted June 7, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Benedict Jacka’s Burned



Benedict Jacka

urban fantasy that was published by Ace Books on April 7, 2016 and has 326 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Fated, Cursed, Taken, Chosen, Hidden, Veiled, Bound

Seventh in the Alex Verus urban fantasy series and revolving around an independent mage who is wanted and unwanted.

My Take

It’s greed and politics again with an unhealthy dose of fear of Alex’s independence: Talisid wanted Alex as a spy; Richard wants him back in his old position; and, Morden and Levistus tried to recruit him.

All this work to keep Alex from working with Richard Drakh. Ya gotta laugh at how stupid those Light mages are.

You expect the good guys to be decent. To uphold honor and be righteous. When they ignore the law, use it to satisfy their petty wants and hates, when they betray you, threaten the people you love…all on the off chance, that makes them worse than the Black. With the Black, at least you know where you stand. That Undaaris. He makes a nasty bargain with Alex. What’s scarier is Maradok’s position on Alex, that he wants Alex dead because it’s the surest way (for him) to ensure that Alex never does anything for Richard.

Alex simply can’t win and suicide begins to look reasonable.

I suspect the incident in which the curious and apprehensive girl who comes into Alex’s shop is a bit of foreshadowing as to the direction the series will go.

Chalice makes a perceptive observation, that if the Dark takes over the Council, there will be no independent mages of either color.

Poor Anne. That masculine need to be the strongest keeps getting in the way of her love life. As for Caldera, I like her, but she believes too strongly in protocol and trusts the system.

Now, after all that, I gotta say that I’m getting a bit tired of how nasty the Light side is, that we never seem to get anywhere. It’s exhausting.

The Story

Levistus has had a hate-on for Alex forever, and he’s getting what he’s always wanted: Alex’s death. Along with Luna, Anne, and Variam.

There aren’t many options available to save the three younger ones: sponsorship and taking the journeyman’s test. Hoping…

As for Alex, well, there’s always a chance, and you know what they say about changing the future…you’re more likely to fall into what you want to avoid.

The Characters

Alex Verus, a diviner, had been an apprentice to a Black Mage, but ran. Now he keeps to himself running his magic shop and working to get into the Light side. He was recently appointed a Keeper auxiliary. Arachne is a magical creature, a gigantic spider with a clothing design business, with no Council protection; she’s also Alex’s best and oldest friend. Hermes is the blink-fox who came through in Hidden, 5.

Anne Walker is a Life mage who had been apprenticed to a Dark mage. No one trusts her outside Alex’s circle. Variam Singh is apprenticed to Landis, a Council Keeper who lives in Scotland. Luna Mancuso is Alex’s apprentice with a curse. Chalice is a Black mage willing to help train Luna, for a price. Saris is Luna’s duelling instructor.

David Sonder is on the Light Mage fast track and likes Luna, who rejected him.
James “Wolf” Redman is an ex-Light apprentice with Water magic, and he’s taking orders from Symmaris, a Space mage.

The Light Council is…
…supposedly the good guys, doesn’t have to provide proof of anything, and has the power of life and death. The Senior Council consists of Vaal Levistus (D), Alam (D), Sal Sarque (G), Bahamus (G), Spire (??), Druss the Red (??), and Undaaris (C; Water mage). I think I might be better off with the bad guys…! The Junior Council includes Morden (Onyx is his Chosen).

Maradok (G) is ordering Symmaris around, is with Council intelligence, and reports directly to Sal Sarque. He’ll also be the Council liaison on the deadly mission. Charles is an idiot bureaucrat. Nigel is in charge of admissions. Celia is a Water mage apprentice. Lyle, a friend of Alex’s before he hung him out to dry, worked for Levistus and is now secretary to Undaaris.

There are several parties: Guardians (G), Directors (D), Centrists (C), Crusaders, and the Unity Block. The Centrists and the Unity Block are generally opposed to hostile action against Dark mages…fools…with the Unity Block close to being pro-Dark. Guardians oppose the Dark but are reactive. The Crusaders are the more militant wing of the Guardians and the most aggressively anti-Dark.

The Keepers of the Order of the Star and the Order of the Shield are…
…the policing arm. The Order of the Star deal with cases directly involving other mages and the largest of the organization. Caldera is an Earth Keeper and a friend of Alex’s. Captain Rain is her immediate superior and likes Alex’s work. Other Order of the Star Keepers include Coatl, a Brazilian Keeper and Mind mage; Slate partnered with Trask; Nimbus, an Air mage and Director of Operations for the Order of the Star; the unfriendly Ares is a Fire mage; Straus, an Air mage; and, Sergeant Little is one of the four men Alex rescued. Captain Elandis will lead the containing force. The Order of the Cloak handles intelligence, and Alex believes Talisid (G) is part of it. Talisid has been working with Alex for some time now.

Master Alaundo is the foremost diviner for the Council and the most famous one in Britain. Helikaon is a diviner who had been Alex’s teacher.

Dave is in the first group of attackers; Barrayar leads the second group.

The Dark Council are…
…the acknowledged bad guys. Richard Drakh is the ultimate bad guy and used to be Alex’s master. Rachel, a.k.a., Deleo (Richard’s Chosen), had Harvested Shireen, another of Richard’s apprentices; it’s what made Rachel insane. Now Shireen’s ghost wants Alex to help Rachel. Cinder is a Fire mage who partners up with Deleo a lot. Vihaela is a strong Life and Death mage with a reputation as an extremely skilled torturer.

Sagash and Jagadev had been Vari and Anne’s masters in the past.

The Heraclians were a magical tradition during Byzantine times. More magical creatures include spell drinkers who eat any magical energy around. Djinn, genies, shayatin, jinn are said to have access to true wish magic. A bubble realm is a small pocket reality disconnected from our world and can change the laws of physics. A shadow realm is grown as a reflection of a real world location.

Diviners see the possible futures, Mind mages use telepathy, Space mages scry, and Time mages use timesight.

The Cover and Title

The cover is orange-red with sharp figures crowding the skies over a modern London and the same-old Thames River. The very top is a ragged black border contrasting with the yellow title. The author’s name is at the bottom in white.

The title is the many ways in which Alex is Burned by the Council. And there are so many…