Book Review: Fallen: Alex Verus (Book 10) By Benedict Jacka
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Fallen: An Alex Verus Novel
Alex Verus Book 10
Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
By Benedict Jacka
Publisher: Ace (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
Release Date: September 24, 2019

I am a fairly new fan of Benedict Jacka‘s Alex Verus series. As a longtime reader of urban fantasy, I cannot fathom how I ever failed to pick these up until last year. But life is funny like that. I chewed through the first nine books in the series fairly quickly and was stoked beyond words when I saw that this one, Fallen, was coming out soon. I literally inhaled it when I received it. In fact, the guy who got me started on these books was so jealous that it took all I had not to tease him with some spoilers. But I persevered and he remains oblivious to the story. Sorry, Patrick. But it is better this way. Anyway, let me fill you in one some of the basics about the book without ruining the overall plot. Okay? Okay.

So, for those not in the know, Alex Verus is a diviner. No, scratch that. He is a Diviner with a capital letter D. He essentially sees the outcome of situations before they happen. The further out the he stretches that ability, the more options open up and the less accurate his prediction are. Put bluntly, he can make some astounding things come true by running different scenarios through his head and determining which one has the greatest chance for success. It is not a powerful battle magic, but it is far more versatile than most people understand. And Verus is an expert, hands down. So much so that he is a hot commodity in certain circles.

Life has not always been kind to Verus. In fact, he ends up getting his rear handed to him on a regular basis. Because while events are fairly easy to divine, people are fairly chaotic creatures and not always prone to thinking their way through things. Even our protagonist is guilty of flying by the seat of his pants on occasion. Not literally, of course. Again, he is a Diviner. In fact, he is often his own worst enemy. He wants to do good by his friends, but he seems to trip over a lot of dead bodies of his own making, his dark past rears its ugly head on a regular basis.

This is a central pivoting point in many of his adventures, folks. And while he may be on the Junior Light Council, he is still anything but a shining example of all things good. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty to protect those he cares about. In fact, he is currently trying to avoid close examinations of something he and his girlfriend Anne got into a while back. Anne is a Life Mage and can heal or harm through touch. Also, she is far more powerful than even he understands, especially with a jinn (aka Genie) trapped inside of her. Oh, and her darker and more ruthless half of her psyche is trapped in an alternate dimension. What can I say, Anne is a complicated young woman.

Our story starts off with a meet and greet at Anne’s parents’ home. Things are less hunky dory than you might think with terrible tension and sometimes open hostility in the air. Well, true to form, Verus is having none of it and fails to hold his tongue when push comes to shove. He and Anne leave early, citing a meeting they must attend. Meeting being an alternate word for storming a fortress of a dangerous and powerful Dark Mage. Again, this group never does anything halfway. All of this is precursory to the war that is silently raging against his previous mentor Richard Drakh, a ridiculously powerful mage who possesses an unknown power. Seriously, I have spent the whole series speculating as to what discipline this guy must have and why he is able to manipulate everyone every time. I am not kidding, this dude is a total badass.

It is in this tale that things begin to take shape and the war appears to be coming to a head. But what is real and what is subterfuge? Misdirection is second nature to Dark Mages and Richard Drakh is de facto the leader of a huge group of these evil wizard types. As events unfold, it is obvious that plans have been in the works for far longer than anyone realizes. As allies fall to the side and choices are made, Verus puts himself firmly on a darker path than he has ever traveled. But when he says he will do anything for those he loves, he means it.

Watching this character develop over the last ten books has been mesmerizing. Jacka does an exemplary job of creating a protagonist who elicits empathy from the reader. I not only understand what Verus is going through, I would probably do almost exactly what he does in the same situation. Provided I had his abilities, that is. He humanizes the monstrous and builds a world of infinite grays. Even the most evil are people, too. In fact, even the actual monsters seem personable in the right settings. This is no cookie cutter fantasy novel, it wraps real themes into a slightly unreal world and presents it to the reader as the great gift it is. If you have read the previous books in the series, then you probably already have this pre-ordered. If not, then you have so much excitement and pleasure ahead of you that I am jealous! Enjoy this book, dear reader. Not like you have a choice, it is that good.

Once Alex Verus was a diviner trying to live quietly under the radar. Now he’s a member of the Light Council who’s found success, friends…and love. But it’s come with a price””the Council is investigating him, and if they find out the truth, he’ll lose everything.

Meanwhile, Alex’s old master, Richard Drakh, is waging a war against the Council, and he’s preparing a move that will bring Alex and the life mage, Anne, under his control. Caught between Richard and the Council, Alex’s time is running out. To protect those he cares for, Alex will have to become something different. Something darker…

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