First Chapter of Forged Online

The first chapter of Alex Verus #11, Forged, is online!  You can read it here.  

Advance warning for newer readers:  this is not intended as a standalone novel.  This is the second-to-last instalment in a 12 book series, and Forged builds VERY heavily on what’s gone before.  If you jump into book #11 without haven’t read book #10, Fallen, you are going to be totally confused as to why the hell the characters are in the place they are, and why Alex is following the person he’s following.  

Okay, with that over, go have fun!  Forged comes out in the US almost exactly two months from today, on November 24th, with the UK edition releasing a week later.  

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Updates, Releases, and AMAs

Update time!

First bit of news is that Alex Verus #12, the final Alex Verus novel, is 50% done.  If you’re wondering how I get these estimates, from past experience I go by the rule of thumb that each book will be around 90,000 words.  Sometimes they run a little bit longer – Bound I think holds the record at 110,000 – but usually it’s a fairly safe bet that the full novel will be around 90-95k.  With the most recent chapter I’ve finished of Alex Verus #12, the manuscript’s sitting at 46,000 words, so I’m going to call it halfway there.  I’d been hoping to finish book #12 at about the time of the release of book #11 – at the moment it’s looking like I’m going to miss that deadline, but probably not by very much.  

On the subject of book #11, Forged, here’s an updated release schedule!

• September 25th:  First chapter of Forged will be posted on this website.  
• November 24th:  US & Canada release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)
• December 1st:  UK & rest of world release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)
• December 3rd:  I’ll be holding a Reddit AMA on r/fantasy.  

For those of you who haven’t read a Reddit AMA before, it stands for ‘Ask Me Anything’ and it’s an opportunity for you guys to ask you anything you like about the new book, the older books, the new book, or the series in general.  I’ve been doing one of these a year and I enjoy them quite a bit, so do come along if there’s anything you’d like to ask.  

And finally, in unrelated news, the ebook edition of Fated is on sale in the UK for 99p!

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Ask Luna #170

From: Kevin

So apparently the theory that Richard made Alex specialize in short term/combat divination to control and strengthen him is more like encourage an existing skillset. Now at first I couldn’t see how being good at avoiding danger could be a specific type of divination that could be useful for multiple things but then it struck me and here is my question.

Is Alex really good at codebreaking/investigating compared to other diviners? I remember that Alex could break into those Death magic bracelets and discover that nearly unbreakable Chinese scroll that he gave to Richard and he seems to be able to codebreak really fast in general. That type of divination seems to be at the other end of the spectrum from the long term stuff if that makes sense.

As far as I can tell, most diviners don’t do that kind of stuff at all. They specialise in staying really far away from problems so that trouble doesn’t find them. It’s path-walking that they go in for, because that’s what lets them keep everything at arm’s length.

General rule, if it’s a kind of divination that works up close (so opening a safe, dodging a bullet, climbing a wall), Alex is probably better at it, just because he spends a lot more time on that kind of stuff than most mages do.

From: Lisa

Do you think it’s possible that Richard and Morden might not be as close of allies as we think they are? I only ask because of two reason.

1. Remember when Morden asked Alex to work for him? I get the feeling that Richard at the time and to this day still views Alex as his apprentice/Chosen and thus only he is allowed to have dealings with him since apparently Dark Mages are territorial about that sort of thing. Now sure if Alex is a Dark Mage that works out but having another rival mage do it? That could cause major problems, a moot point since Alex didn’t take up the offer but regardless making an offer to another mage’s apprentice seems to be really stepping on their toes.

2. Another thing is that before the raid on the Vault Morden was handling the Light Council, and Richard the Dark Mages, and as far as we know after Morden broke out he has been training adepts, which seems like something a subordinate would do. Now Richard getting the Jinn might have smoothed this over, and Morden could be on the Light Council after the war was won but without it?

Do you think this might cause a power struggle between them now that they don’t have their trump card and that they are now two big fish in a small pond so to speak?

We didn’t have any definite ideas one way or the other before, but a couple of things that have happened lately have been making me think that the answer’s yes. It’s not as blatant as a civil war breaking out, or anything like that, but the more you look at the two, the more they seem to have different priorities. Everything Richard does is all aimed at getting more powerful – sometimes it’s hard to tell how, at least straight away, but if you look back on it, it’s easy to say ‘oh, right, it’s so that he could do that thing to build up his power base even more’.

Morden’s way more complicated. He obviously knows what he’s doing, but he’ll sometimes do stuff where it’s really, really hard to see how it’s benefiting him. It feels like he’s playing some weird long game which isn’t just about himself, if you know what I mean.

Maybe things really would have turned out differently if Alex had said yes to working for him. Not necessarily better though.

From: Rick

Hello Luna I was curious before the war what did Vari do with the Order of the Shield? I think he mentioned that he and Landis were after some mage criminals so did they do similar war to the regular keepers are they kinda of like a SWAT team that only go in really dangerous situations?

Pretty much. The idea is that the Order of the Shield are supposed to be more military, and the Order of the Star are supposed to be more police. So anything that’s obviously going to end in combat gets assigned to the Order of the Shield. Oh, and magical creatures are their department as well, though there aren’t many of those these days.

In practice things are a bit different. The Order of the Star will hang onto cases that are high-profile or political or seen as important for whatever reason, even if it’s something the Order of the Shield should really be doing. Also, the directors at the Order of the Star don’t like handing off difficult stuff, because they think it makes them seem weak. So the lower-rank Keepers from the Order of the Star end up super overworked because their bosses want to look good, while Vari and Landis actually have (or used to have) a fair bit of free time.

(In case you haven’t guessed, this is something Vari likes to complain about.)

From: Richard

Hey Luna so I noticed all of the elemental magic seem to have their own strength and weakness’s. However there are three that I cannot seem to find a drawback in.

Do you know what Ice mages weakness’s are? They seem to have the offensive ability of fire mages but with better defenses do they have some flaw that I am overlooking?

And do Death and Force Mages have an obvious weakness as well? I only put them together because they seem to be designed for combat, so is the only way to take them down is by skill or is there something I am overlooking?

Ice magic’s main drawback is that it’s slow. Attacks are a little slower, direct spells take a little longer. You can dodge an ice spell if you’re fast – dodging a fire spell is a lot harder.

Force mages, their issue is that their magic only works really well in straight lines. Other mages can make bubble-type effects, force mages have to make weird geometric shapes that tend to have chinks in the armour somewhere.

Death magic’s weakness . . . when it comes to combat, they don’t have any. They’re fast, strong, and tough, all at once. The problem they have is that their magic doesn’t really do anything EXCEPT combat. If it’s not hurting or killing someone, or directly helping them to hurt or kill someone, they suck at it. Great in a fight, not so useful for the 99% of your life where you’re doing something else.

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Ask Luna #169

From: Fade

Hi Luna, how are you? In a great many of your recent questions people seem to be asking you about things that just aren’t really in your wheelhouse, and I imagine that must be a bit of a pain. So I wanted to ask something you might be more inclined to answer: What are the most interesting items that have come through your shop? Interesting, funny, silly, or powerful, many of the items we’ve witnessed so far have been… creative. Like the chilly cup, or the book that you forget you’ve read. Anything else you are willing to share?

Are you still tapped in to dueling circles? Have you won any new tournaments? Thanks for your time!

I’m more or less retired from duelling these days. Sounds funny to say I’m ‘retired’ when I’m still in my twenties, but that’s how it feels. Partly it was a case of not having the time, but mostly it was that it just didn’t have the same pull any more. I felt like I’d got all I was going to get from it.

As for the first question . . . I once got sold a bunch of magic sex toys. They came as a set. Pretty sure they were all made by the same guy.

I haven’t told Alex, because I’m absolutely sure that if he ever found out, he wouldn’t stop making fun of me for YEARS.

(And no, I’m not telling everyone what they were. There’s enough weird fanfiction out there already.)

From: Nicolas

Hi Luna. I have questions about differents type pf magic.
1-are there such thing as tech magic? Like manipulaing radio waves,the internet and televisions
2-are there any magic that makes food tastier?

Tech magic, yeah, various kinds. There are a few different types of mages that can do stuff with electromagnetism – light, electricity, darkness, that kind of thing. Actual technomages who can only work with technology are a bit rarer, but you do get them. Pretty common as adepts, though.

For food, it’s kind of hard. There are lots of types of magic that can mess with food one way or another, but making it actually taste GOOD is trickier than you’d think. Probably the ones who have the easiest time are mind mages – they can just mess with your senses so that you think it’s nicer than it is. Whether you’d trust a mind mage enough to let them do that, though . . .

From: Lisa

So there have been a few things regarding the events of Fallen that have me thinking you guy might have secret allies on the Council.

A. When Alex and Anne were freed from the Council’s strike team it struck me as too easy kinda of similar to how Onyx got into the Fateweaver’s prison which we know was Levistus’s doing. This is shakiest one I know and by itself it doesn’t prove anything and it could be Richard’s cabal really is that good but there are several other things.

B. Knock on wood but you and Vari haven’t been sentenced by the Council by being an associate of Alex. Now maybe initially they assumed you guys weren’t high enough of a priority but after Sarque you think they would go all dictatorship and go after you unless someone was blocking them. Now maybe Vari’s being Order in the Shield and you being a Light Mage might offer some protection but it seems to be you would need someone higher up to keep them from coming after you.

C. Finally this is what clinches it for me, Talisid knows about the Hollow and hasn’t revealed it to the rest of the Light Council. It took them several hours to track Alex down before he got the Fateweaver. Now maybe Talisid was trying to buy Alex some time but that doesn’t fit with what we know of him, being a Guardian through and through. The fact that he hasn’t still revealed it makes me certain that a faction on the Council is looking out for you.

So the obvious question is why they would do this, and the simplest answer is they want Alex to take down or weaken Richard significantly which as it were he already has. Also Sarque and Levistus seem to be the ones who embodies the corruption and brutality in the Light Council and what do you know Alex has taken out one already and is well on his way for the other.

Of course if the Hollow is semi public knowledge then this all of this means nothing, but if it isn’t do you think you guys have back up on the Light Council?

Well, it’s not like we’ve been left all alone. The Keepers have visited both me and Vari, and they haven’t been friendly.

But you’re right that they haven’t come down on us as hard as they could have. And, like you say, there are a few places where they could have gone for us really hard but didn’t.
So something’s holding them back. The question is . . . are they doing it because we’ve got secret allies on the Council? Or is it because they’re leaving us be as part of some plan? Or is it just because they’re incompetent and too busy arguing? It’s really hard to know which, and that’s kind of worrying.

From: Ryan Johnson

Hey Luna!

Covid has my first trip to the UK in September postponed until who knows when. I’m trying to look on the bright side, so at least this gives me more time to plan an even better trip!

Any recommendations on must visit places in London, especially for food and drinks that you and Alex love?

For food and drinks, a lot of the Indian restaurants are pretty good. And the pubs are good places to hang out. It hasn’t been that long that I’ve been able to do stuff like that, so I think I appreciate them more.

Other than that, the Heath is good. I don’t really go to most of the tourist sites, but if I had to pick one I’d probably say the London Eye.

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Forged – Schedule

It’s been a while and I’ve had a few questions about it, so here’s the release schedule for Alex Verus #11, Forged.  

• September 25th:  First chapter of Forged will be posted on this website.  

• November 24th:  US & Canada release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)

• December 1st:  UK & rest of world release of Forged (paper, ebook, and audiobook)

I get asked a lot about the audiobooks, and I always give the same answer – general rule is that they’re made available at the same time as the paperback and ebook releases.  I haven’t had any specific updates about book #11, but as far as I know the audio version should be coming out on schedule, with the same narrator (Gildart Jackson).

I’m also planning to do a Reddit AMA in early December to follow the book’s release, if there are any questions you want to ask!

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Ask Luna #168

From: Kevin

Do you think Richard coming back either exactly or close enough to ten years later some form of gate magic requirement like the bubble realm in Syria? I think Alex mentioned in Chosen that it was about ten years so have you ever heard of special conditions needed to travel to other worlds and back to this our own, since it is almost certain Richard went to one to study the jinn.

Probably, yes. I don’t really know any of the details, and right now we’ve got more immediate problems to worry about.

From: Adam

Dear Luna,

A couple of simple questions.

1) It seems as though your family were unusual in that they had a link (albeit a terrible one) to magic that spanned generations. Are there many (any) other families like that, whether the link is good or bad?

2) It seems as though each country does its own thing magically,and mages have a pretty easy time flitting around the globe. Given the times I was wondering does the British light council have any kind of travel advisory system? If so what would get a country on the do not visit list?

1) Probably quite a few, but they don’t advertise. It’s really hard to set up those kinds of family curses or bloodlines but once you do they tend to last, so even if there aren’t many mages doing them they do add up.

2) I think there’s a kind of travel advisory thing, yeah, but I haven’t looked at it. Western countries are generally safe but there are protocols. The more unstable countries are another story, and there are a handful that the British Council just get on really badly with for some reason (no, I don’t have the full list).

From: Alicia W.

Hey, Luna, how’s things?

I have what I hope are some easy, “softball” questions that aren’t too personal.

1. I’ve seen pictures of the typical “English breakfast” (was even served a traditional English breakfast a time or three when I visited London 20 years ago). I’m talking toast, baked beans, fried eggs, sautéed tomatoes and/or sautéed mushrooms with bacon and/or sausage. It seems like an awful lot to eat early in the morning. Alex doesn’t seem like too much of a “foodie” from what he’s said in the books, so he doesn’t strike me as the traditional English breakfast type. How about you? Sorry if this is a silly question, but for some strange reason I am curious about what you both like to eat for breakfast.

2. Can you give us some examples of the most annoying or amusing questions or requests you’ve gotten from customers at the Arcana Emporium v. 2.0? Alex seemed to get particularly annoyed when asked about:
a. sparkly vampires
b. stage magic tricks
c. love potions, and
d. what the admission requirements are for Hogwarts

3. Can you tell us how to get into Hogwarts?



1) I’ve hardly ever met anyone who eats a full English every morning – they’re too big! I think you’d be more likely to find someone eating one at a pub or cafe than in their house. Then again, maybe I just don’t know the right kind of person.

For breakfast I usually have cereal. I got into the habit a while ago since whenever I did any kind of real cooking it tended to go badly and I just didn’t want to face that first thing in the morning, and now it’s a routine. Alex usually has toast with either a piece of fruit or a raw carrot. (He likes the things, don’t ask me why.) Probably not a very exciting answer, sorry!

2) Ugh, too many to answer. I’ve had all four except the Hogwarts one for some reason (I guess the kids who grew up reading those are too old now). The ones that bother me aren’t the annoying ones, they’re the creepy ones. There’s one guy who kept on coming back asking about how life magic could be used to give people heart attacks/brain aneurysms/strokes. As in, CONSTANTLY asking, and digging for details. When I finally told him to get lost I started getting ‘anonymous’ emails to this address asking the exact same thing. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the worst questions I get are worse than the worst ones Alex used to get.

3) Okay, NOW I’ve had all four.

From: Charles

So I just realized something, you know all these questions you are getting about why Richard didn’t go after Anne and Alex after she connected with the Jinn? Or why didn’t he reveal she was behind the prison breakout, and why Morden was imprisoned for so long without any apparent gain?

Do you think Richard might have problems we don’t know about specifically with his Cabal that may explain these actions or lack thereof? I get the feeling that people are acting on incomplete information that without context could skew how they view things but what do you think?

Lastly, I was kinda of confused about you guys not knowing what Richard’s and Morden’s plans are? You think they might have something else planned aside from overthrowing the Light Council?

Yeah, definitely. It was something that Alex drilled into me. Always remember that what Dark mages are most worried about is other Dark mages. Their biggest enemies are other people like them, so the best way to deal with them is to avoid getting their attention. If you can do that, it won’t take long before they’ll start something with another Dark mage, or another Dark mage will start something with them, and they’ll be too busy with each other to bother with you.

As for their plans, well, that seems to be part of it (Richard, anyway, I’ve no idea what Morden’s endgame is). But practically everyone on the Dark side and the Light side wants to get more powerful at the expense of everyone else. When I say we don’t know what their plans are, I mean the specifics.

From: Logan

Can Alex pathwalk reading books and retain all the information? I just thought it would be pretty awesome, but wasn’t sure if it works like that. I know he got a lot of information pathwalking in Morden’s place in Fated, but it mostly sounded like physical actions where he could see a result, as opposed to pathwalking long hours of just reading say, a French text book, and suddenly he speaks French.

No. Or, yes, he could, but it wouldn’t actually be any use because it doesn’t let him learn things any faster. So he could path-walk reading a book, but that wouldn’t let him do anything that he couldn’t do already by just reading it. To memorise huge loads of info like that you need mind magic, not divination.

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I had been planning to do another Ask Luna this week, but the UK’s having a record-breaking heatwave.  It’s hard to do any work.  

The forecast is for the heat to drop off today during the thunderstorms.  I’m hoping that it does!

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Forged – First Review

The early review copies of Alex Verus #11, Forged, have started to go out, so here’s the review from Publisher’s Weekly!  Since it doesn’t contain any real spoilers for Forged I’ve copied the whole thing below, but it does contain spoilers for earlier books so stop reading now if you haven’t read up to book #10!

The 11th urban fantasy in Jacka’s superior Alex Verus series keeps the action at a boil. Alex used to be a relatively minor mage largely concerned with protecting his friends during the struggle between the supposedly moral mages of the Light Council and the mob led by dark mage Richard Drakh. But following the events of Fallen he’s become ruthless to save himself from his enemies and free his former lover Anne from the jinn that is working to lure her to the dark side. To keep ahead of his foes, Alex relies on the fateweaver, a potent magical artifact that threatens to take over his body should he use it too often. This outing is grittier than earlier installments, but Alex remains both smart and snarky as ever. Jacka has a gift for writing wild magical battles as simultaneously slapstick and pulse-pounding, as well as the discipline to shed characters and lore from previous volumes when they’re no longer necessary to the plot, keeping this long-running series feeling trim and accessible. While this won’t be the ideal starting point for the uninitiated, it admirably maintains the series’s relentless momentum. Series fans should snap this up. 

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Ask Luna #167

From: Mr McB

Hi Luna,
Thanks for answering these for all these years. Couple of quick, personal-but-hopefully-not-too-personal questions.
1). Do you ever see Chalice anymore? Were you ever friends, or more like the high school teacher you get along with but never see outside class? Any other dark mages you get on with?
2). Has… uh, “New Anne” been in touch with you? Or vice versa? She said she’d want a call from you when she talked to Alex. She seems to have no desire to hurt him, so I’d assume you’d be in the same boat. Might help her to be reminded about the people who still care about her, and she might be… well, entertaining if you’re not on her murdery side.
3). So you and the rest of the Arcana Emporium crew seem not to be too happy with the existing magical world order (except Vari, who’s kinda inside it now); had you ever thought about what you’d like it to look like if you had a the choice? More rights and protections for adepts/sensitives? Losing that distinction with mages? Dropping the secrecy clause of the Concord altogether?

1. Still see her fairly often, though a bit less at the moment with all the chaos. She’s less like a high school teacher and more like a coach. I don’t get regular lessons, but I’ll go to her if there’s something I’m having trouble with.

2. Yes. She’s a lot less ‘entertaining’ when you’re alone in a room with her out of earshot of anyone who could help.

3. Man, that’s a big question. I don’t know. The biggest thing would be levelling out the laws between mages and adepts/sensitives. I know they’d still treat us differently, I’m not stupid, but it would be a really good start.

From: Dakota

We’ve heard that your curse is less effective on inanimate objects, but it can still cause issues if the dose gets high enough. How often do you have to replace frequently-used objects (like clothing or bed sheets)?

I do go through clothing really fast. Never been completely sure whether to blame it on the curse or just my lifestyle, but it’s really annoying when other people can wear their favourite top for years when yours seems to get worn out or torn up in a couple of months. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a big deal if I enjoyed clothes shopping as much as some girls, but I don’t.

From: James

Has the war between Richard’s cabal and the Light Council changed after Alex thwarted his plans with Anne? I got the impression that Richard was playing a long game and had the Light Council where he wanted, but now it seems he might be vulnerable especially with Morden and Vihaela I can’t imagine they are happy with him losing the strongest Jinn ever. Or is the Light Council wasting their time going after Alex that Richard is still able to survive?

From all we can tell, it threw a wrench into things in a big way. A couple of major operations he’d been planning for a while got cancelled. And yeah, the Council’s doing exactly that, but even if they weren’t Richard’s cabal seems to have mostly gone to ground for now.

From: John

Hey Luna, I was just concerned of how you’re handling everything. I know things are tough now. How are you holding up?

Keep up the good work. You’re helping a lot of people.

Thanks. Nice to know some people think so!

Things aren’t great. I’m hoping they’ll get better, but right now there are some really powerful people circling around me and they’re starting to focus more on me and less on Alex. If they decide to do something then there isn’t much I can do to stop them, and that’s a pretty scary feeling.

From: Aaron

Hey Luna I was looking at the Alex Verus reddit page the other day and the topic of Richard’s mage name came up, and a theory was that he was using the Dragons divination powers as a statement saying he was power incarnate.

Now at first I couldn’t believe he would have his magic type in the open, but then it struck most people couldn’t believe that a diviner could be that powerful. On another note a lot of people have a lot of theories on why Richard acts the way he does. “Richard always intended for Alex to be his true Chosen.”, “Richard kept Alex on the Light Council as a way to destabilize them from within.” and “Richard isn’t actually a mage he just uses imbued items and cons his way with audacity.” Even the Light Council seemed to think Alex was some sort of Trojan Horse despite the fact he was the only one offering any effective opposition to him.

My question is do you think a lot of the fans and Light Council develop wild theories about Richard because they can’t believe someone would state their motives/powers outright and that Richard’s actions towards Alex and Anne aren’t some overly complicated plan, just that he is very patient and reacts to a situation when he think it works best for him?

I don’t really know what’s going on with all the questions and theories I get about Richard, honestly. For a while I felt like every third question was about the guy. If I had to guess I’d say your last guess is probably pretty close to the truth, he isn’t some dragon-fate-mage-superman, he’s just patient and good at using people to do what he wants. It feels like the time he’s told Alex what he wants, he’s been pretty damn straightforward, but maybe people just haven’t registered that yet?

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On the Mend

Just a short post this week to let you guys know that I’ve mostly recovered.  (I was going to do an Ask Luna, but it occurred to me that it might be a little ominous to give you the news that I did a fortnight ago and then say nothing else.)  There’s a lingering cough and some tiredness, but other than that I’m doing fine.  

Work on book #12 is going nicely, and the first draft is around the 30% mark.  

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