Ask Luna #105

From: River

Hello Mage Vesta,

Firstly, while I’m sure you’re dealing with quite a bit as of late, I hope you’ve had at least some time to breathe and relax. Congratulations on your test, I’d be quite curious to hear more of how you completed it. It did not seem particularly enjoyable from an outside perspective.

Secondly, I was curious about something more historic. Have there been, or are there, any prominent/powerful/living dark emotion mages? My personal philosophy leans that way, at least compared to the light side, and it would seem likely for me to be an emotion mage if it’s tied so closely to personality. It’s just a bit off putting to think of my theoretical self as dead upon arrival so to speak. I’m sure Alex has had a good taste of that feeling too. Have you heard of anyone, past or present, like that?

Hope you and yours are doing well, and good luck with continuing to advance your magic.

I didn’t enjoy the test much, no, but to be honest what happened afterwards pretty much drove it all out of my mind. Got out wanting to celebrate and talk all about it, and found out that all of a sudden it didn’t matter any more.

And yeah, there are dark emotion mages, just like every other type, but they tend to make a lot of effort to stay under the radar. I know about maybe half a dozen Dark mages who are supposed to be enchanters, and in every case it’s a mixture of rumours and second-hand news. I’ve no idea which ones are the actual big fish.

From: Faragorn

I’m curious as to how water magic gets a disintegration beam. It is similar to how water can over time erode things, and if so, does the effectiveness vary depending on how resistant the target materials is to water erosion? For example Granite would be highly resistant.

Yup, I think that’s the theory. Anything that’s erosion-resistant is disintegration-resistant, and from what I’ve heard, if you want to make an anti-disintegration item, that’s the kind of material you want. Though a water mage can always just amp up the power, so ‘resistant’ isn’t necessarily going to be enough.

From: May

These are two totally unrelated questions and I am sorry for that. However they have been bugging me.
1) Do you think Alex is depressed?
2) Can Anne see people’s penis sizes?
Sorry for the personal touch, I was just curious. If you don’t want to answer you don’t have to, but thanks anyways.

1) I’m pretty sure he used to be (takes one to know one). He seems a lot happier now. Well, maybe not happy, but he’s a lot more engaged.
2) When it comes to people’s bodies, Anne can see literally everything. Inside, outside, you name it.

From: Arborden

Why hasn’t some enterprising mage made an annuler bullet? It just seems logical from a defense/military standpoint. It would defeat shields, and kill the underlying mage at the same time? Or a bullet laced with a life spell to kill etc, I’m sure they’ve made arrows with like spells in the old days. If the Light council is afraid to let something like that out, I’m sure a Dark Mage would jump at the chance we to make his troops, hirelings etc, deadly to Light Mages.

Someone’s been watching Fate/Zero.

Short answer is that an annuller spell won’t automatically dispel what it touches – it depends on how much power you put into it and how resistant the target is. It’s also possible to harden a spell against annullment effects. You get a whole rock/paper/scissors thing where mages balance the effectiveness of trying to dispel something against trying to bypass it or brute-force their way through.

But they probably wouldn’t use bullets in any case since it’s annoyingly difficult to tie any kind of decent spell into something so small (you run into mass/power limitations). An arrow would work better.

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German cover!

This week, a quick look at the cover for the German edition of Fated!

Das Labyrinth von London von Benedict Jacka

The edition will be published this July 2018 by Random House.  Details here.  

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Marked Chapter 1 Online

The first chapter of the ninth Alex Verus book, Marked, is now online!  You can read it here.  

Marked will be released in the US and UK on July 3rd, 2018.  

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Ask Luna #104

From: Andrew

Hi Luna,
1. We’ve seen mages who have had the goal of turning non-mages into mages via transferring power from magical creatures. Your curse seems to have successfully turned you into a mage. Has there been much interest from the magical community toward studying your curse with a
view of being able to expand the mage population by doing something similar?
2. Do you think the new Councillor Alex Verus will be able to be much of a voice for the rights of apprentices and adepts and magical creatures?
3. There seems to be no female representation on the council. Is there no female mage group that women can join to network together and push for representation?

1. Not really. I get the feeling that they think I’m a ‘second-best’ sort of mage and they want the real thing, though no-one comes out and says it. Personally, I think they like the idea of expanding the mage population a lot more than the reality.

2. He’s trying. Some people listen, but I don’t know how much impression he makes. I know he finds it pretty exhausting – he says it feels like trying to push over a house.

3. There are a few women on the Council (it’s either one Senior and one Junior or one Senior and two Junior – can’t remember which) but not that many. There are a couple of clubs for female Light mages which claim to be pretty much what you describe, but the times I went to check them out I wasn’t impressed.

From: Yasain

Greetings,

I was wondering about mage Traditions, Alex and Talisid briefly discusses a Tradition that existed during the Byzantine era. I was wondering, what are traditions? Do members of a given tradition gain any new kind of magical power or is it simply a social club with similar interests?

A second question, during Bound Archon(presumably Richard) displays some kind of black magic effects. Alex says it doesn’t look like any Darkness or Radiation magic he knows, do you know anything of those kinds of magic? What do they do, which family do they belong to?

I’m sorry if these questions have been asked before, thanks a lot for the taking the time!

-Yasain

I think both of those questions are new ones, actually.

Traditions are sort of a cross between schools and politicial parties – so they’re more like social clubs, but they’ll also tend to have a bunch of research and resources that they’ll keep secret from anyone not in the inner circle. It’s kind of like a label that mage historians stick on after the event.

Darkness, light, and radiation are closely related magic types – the way I was taught it was that they’re all sub-types of radiation magic and darkness and light are more like specialities. They’re classed as universal but they’ve got a bunch of traits that puts them closer to elemental. It’s pretty much light control, so brightening things, darkening things, visual effects, and so on. The more subtle ones go in for invisibility tricks, the more aggressive ones prefer laser beams.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

To Mage Vesta,

I have two questions for you today:

First, we know that Alex was worried that informing the Light Council of Morden’s impending attack against the War Room was exactly what Morden and Richard wanted him to do, but he felt it was the still the best option to take. Now Alex’s fears appears to have been correct, even though Morden and Richard also used well timed rumors and probably set up the adept protest to further mislead the Council as to their true intentions. Does Alex feel that he was used or is he worried that his actions were easily predicted by Morden and Richard? Or, perhaps Alex feels he made the best out of a bad situation by getting the Council to remove the death sentence that sat over his and Anne’s head and has moved on to dealing more pressing issues. I’d like your insight into the matter.

Second, you have a unique perspective of having learned directly from Alex what happened in the Light’s Council’s vault. You also know what the Council allowed to become public knowledge (to the magical community) of that night and you have probably heard from Talisid as well.

I imagine having an entire Crusader strike team wiped-out with no apparent losses to the dark mages who attacked and looted the vault must have created shock waves of fear, recriminations and paranoia within the hierarchy of the British Light Council, but I’m wondering what Council allowed to become public knowledge of that night. Did the Council try to hide their losses in secrets and personnel? I also wonder if this is something that really can be kept secret or if it became an open secret? Perhaps everyone including independent mages and possibly adepts have heard the Light Council took a beating that night even if they don’t know the specifics. What was the Light Council’s public reaction?

The first question . . . well, it wasn’t just Alex’s decision, we all had a say. As far as the Council goes, I think things went about as well as could be expected. I mean, it was a crappy situation, and we came out of it with everyone alive and with the death mark lifted. The thing with Richard and Anne worries me a lot more.

The Council’s official reaction was to claim that Richard had launched a sneak attack and was driven off. Nothing about the casualties, nothing about anything being stolen. The cover-up didn’t work very well – it’s hard to keep something that big under wraps and we’re pretty sure Richard’s agents were spreading word as well, so between one thing and another it didn’t take long before people had a pretty good idea that the Council had come out worse. Eventually the Council put out a more informative statement (still with all the important stuff censored out) but by then it didn’t do much except confirm what people knew anyway.

From: Ryan

Mage Vesta,
Not sure if you have addressed this before, but do you know how the human looking constructs are made? Are the bodies made from scratch, or do they use a human body to start? I’ve always been curious about it, as any mage seems to be able to do it. Thank you for your time. I’ve long been a big fan

They make them from scratch. Dead human bodies aren’t actually very good focuses for the kinds of spells that constructs use, so it’s a lot easier for mages to custom-build them to purpose. If they’re not very good at the hands-on side of the process, they might get another mage to supply the body for them.

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Marked reviewed on RT

Early reviews are starting to come in for Marked, and Romantic Times has named it as one of their Top Picks!

“Benedict Jacka doesn’t waste a moment in this ninth series installment, plunging readers into the ongoing action and lingering intrigue of his increasingly complex Alex Verus series.  Even though the plot races forward at a breakneck pace, this story is also very much about the toll that Verus’s adventures and choices have taken . . . Serious devotees will no doubt savour the intense character developments and leave eager to see all that the future holds.” (Bridget Keown.)

We’re getting towards the two month mark, so I’ll put the first chapter online in two or three weeks.  

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Cursed On Sale


For those of you who don’t have it yet, or who have a friend who might be interested, Cursed is currently on sale!  It’s being promoted by BookBub and will be available for only $1.99.  You can find a list of retailer’s links under the book’s name under the ‘Supernatural Suspense’ category here.  

I’m told that the sale will last until April 22.  

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French edition!

I don’t think I’ve made an announcement about this yet, but the Alex Verus series will be released in a French translation this year!  Here’s a look at the covers.


Fated, Cursed, and Taken, will be released in in their French edition this June.  

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Three Months to Marked

Well, it’s getting to that time of year again.  The ninth book in the Alex Verus series, Marked, should be released about three months from now, on July 3rd.  

I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA on r/fantasy within a week or so of the release date, and as usual I’ll put up the first chapter a month or two in advance.  More details closer to the time!

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All Caught Up

I’m actually caught up on Ask Luna questions.  It’s been so long since that happened, I can’t remember when it was.

Still working on Alex Verus #10, but in the meantime I’ve started to think about the next book (or series of books) I’ll write.  The end of the Alex Verus series isn’t close, but this is the first time I’ve seriously thought about it.

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Ask Luna #103

From: Andy deal

Now that some time has passed what has alex found that he can do with the dreamstones. Or his in particular. And it sounds like they might have different qualities depending on the stone hence alex ‘s pick of the one less geared towards compulsion. what are the strong points of his crystal. Very curious about this new avenue of magic. Thanks so much.

Alex has mostly been working on the communication aspects of his dreamstone, I think. He can use it to talk to any of us now at pretty much any range. The Elsewhere abilities are a bit murkier. The top-level ability is supposed to be to enter Elsewhere physically, but I don’t think he’s actually tried it yet, since Arachne has warned him that it’s horrendously dangerous.

From: Jack

Hi, Mage Vesta. I was wondering if you could grant a request/answer a few questions?

1/ We haven’t had an encyclopaedia article in almost four years! Could we get one? Maybe one on Illusion magic, or plant/nature magic, or a series on Adepts.
2/How true is the myth of Arachne and Athena in regards to the huge spider we all know and love?
3/I’m not sure if you’ve answered this before, but can Adepts use focus items? Although they are limited in their breadth of power, I would’ve thought they could channel their energy into a focus.
4/In the recounts of your ‘adventures’ with Alex, for lack of a better term, have you met any other magical creatures we don’t know about? Could you give us a little information on the most common magical creatures native to the British Isles?

All the best,

Jack

1. Honestly, I’ve been kind of enjoying not having to hit the study books any more. I guess I could look one up . . .

2. Good question. My guess is that it’s one of those things that was based on a true story but which has gotten changed a lot over the years. The obvious way to find out would be to ask her, but Arachne doesn’t seem at all keen on talking about her past. I’ve got a feeling there’s something going on there, but she doesn’t make it easy to find out what.

3. Most can’t. I can. I don’t know if that’s because I’m more powerful than average, but I think it’s more to do with practice and opportunity. I spent a lot of time around Alex and his shop, which meant I got to spend a lot of time trying out different focus items and fiddling around with them. It did take a lot of trial and error, though.

4. I’m not sure if there are very many common ones any more. The ones that are numerous enough that you’re likely to ever see more than one are the ones like blink foxes, that can blend into the background and stay out of trouble.

From: toniaraem

Hi Luna,
I was wondering, can life mages heal animals and plants? If yes, do they need special training for things like that?

Yes, they can, and apparently it’s pretty easy. According to Anne the basic techniques for healing a dog or a cat are exactly the same as the ones you’d use for healing a human. It only gets difficult once you try to work on ones with really different physiologies (so you might need some pointers to figure out how to do reptiles, for instance).

From: Jim

Hi Luna,

I have two things I wanted to address.

First back to my last missive, your point that there was some bribery possible to get Anne to remain under a threat of death. I thought a lot about this and see it in two steps. First, Alex and all his dependents were put on the list. This required one of 4 people to create the threat. The way out for yourself (as an example) but not Anne required a separate effort. If Levistus was only concerned with Alex, then why put the dependents under the threat of death at all. Again, this points to influence at the start of the process as well as the end. If we assume that Levistus did not talk directly to Morden about this, then somebody probably suggested it. Some Light Mage who knows Alex and has some influence. I am thinking directly here about Lyle. If there is a go between, he seems perfect for the role.

Second, I was thinking a lot about the Light Council and its view of everyone else. And it seems to me to be prototypically British – having a distinct and clear class system that people can not escape. I am wondering if the shape of relationships between particularly Adepts and Mages in other countries is different, based around the culture of those countries.

It’s . . . possible. I don’t like thinking about this stuff because it makes me paranoid, but it could have happened, yeah. It’s so hard to figure out who to blame with stuff like this, though, just because there are so many mages out there who’d be willing to do it. It’s one thing to keep track of enemies, but once you expand that to ‘anyone who can be pushed around or bribed’ then it feels like that’s half the Council.

As for the second . . . well, I’m afraid that the mage/adept/everyone else class distinction is pretty much exactly the same in every other part of the world that I’ve been to. The conventions are different and the flavour is different, but I don’t know a single country where adepts don’t get treated differently to mages.

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