Saturday 12 September 2015

Veiled by Benedict Jacka

This is the sixth novel in Jacka's highly entertaining Alex Verus series, about practitioners of genuine magic in present-day London. Reviews of the earlier five are on this blog and, if you are new to this series, it is best to start at the beginning with Fated because although each book has one major, self-contained plot, there are sub-plots which develop through the series, which the reader is assumed to know about.

There are some spoilers in the following review.

The key plot element this time is that Verus, feeling threatened by what Richard Drakh, his former master and Dark Mage of immense power, might do to him on his return from a ten-year absence, decides in the interest of survival to join the Keepers, the police force of the Council of Light Mages. Only to find himself in the centre of a crisis between Light and Dark Mages concerning the White Rose, a magical organisation which provides exactly what its customers require to achieve sexual gratification. The moral ambiguity and lack of any clear right and wrong sides in the crisis means that Verus is faced with an uncomfortable decision about who to support between two factions, both of which he despises. In the meantime somebody wants him dead – as usual!

Veiled is just as easy and enjoyable to read as the earlier volumes, but is less satisfying. Apart from Verus joining the Keepers and learning the ins and outs of Light Council office politics there is nothing very new in this one, no further revelations concerning Verus and his friends; just more of the same. Drakh continues to be a distant threat so his relationship with Verus is taken no further, and a sub-plot concerning the advanced training of his apprentice Luna barely has a chance to get going before the end of the book.

I do hope that Jacka isn't running out of steam or, if he is, that he brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion soon. As the old show-biz saying goes: "Always leave the audience wanting more!"


Bill Garthright said...

I enjoyed the book, Tony, but it does feel like a middle book, without much progress towards the end of the story.

I was fine with that, but I worry that he might not want to arrive anywhere. It's a series, after all, and he might not want it to end.

With the Richard Drakh storyline, though, everything else is going to seem relatively inconsequential. Until that is concluded, everything is going to seem like a middle book. And if it does get concluded, it's going to be hard to continue the series.

That's the problem with super-villains. Jacka might have been better off keeping Richard Drakh in the past. Of course, I'm going to get tired of any series after awhile, anyway.

Anthony G Williams said...

I agree. I'd prefer to see a great series brought to a satisfying conclusion rather than just slowly dying.

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