Quiet Week

Uneventful week today.  Alex Verus #9 is moving steadily along, Bound is still on its road to publication, and there are a few Ask Luna questions in the queue.  There’s a new game released that I’ve been looking forward to, but right now I’m mostly distracted by the new book.

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Ask Luna #77

From: Jason

I was wondering about the basics of how one would go about enchanting magical items?

This is actually something I know very little about. According to Alex, to be good at making focuses and one-shots, you have to understand the theory of how they work very well, and that’s something I never cared about much. I can use items just fine – it’s a matter of figuring out how to press their buttons – but I’ve never been interested in how they’re made. I know mages who go in for that stuff have workshops and a whole bunch of special tools, but that’s about it. Sorry.

From: Ryan

Luna,

I was once again enjoying your and Alex’s exploits in Hidden. As a color blind person, I noticed Alex’s difficulty with colors when y’all were doing inventory and when he dyed his hair. Is he also colorblind?

No, he just has really bad fashion sense. There’s a reason he goes to Arachne when he wants to look good. It’s probably also a guy thing – ‘oh, dying your hair is easy, right? You just pick a bottle off the shelf and use it like shampoo?’

From: DrizztMajere

Hi Luna,
I was just reading where you were comparing chance and fate magic. I was curious, isn’t what Alex does close to fate magic? I searches the future and picks the path that he wants to walk or that would be more beneficial for him. If this is the case why hasn’t he tried branching out magically in that direction to give himself more versatility in dealing with the psycopaths that want to use or kill him?

Because as far as I know, the only way to use fate magic is via those old imbued items, and the only one we know about has a two-thousand-year-old mind mage stuck in it waiting to possess anyone dumb enough to pick it up. Yes, there’s overlap, and yes, it would be very powerful, but I don’t think Alex is that desperate. Yet.

From: Massimo Barbagallo

hi Luna, I was born in Sicily though I have not been there in very long, what with moving to Cambridge for my PhD, and then to California to live. I was wondering if you speak any sicilian, since it’d be funny if you said a word here or there, and why you’re so bad at cooking, since most sicilians love good food.

I actually used to speak a little bit that I picked up from my dad and at family gatherings. But the trouble with languages is that if you don’t use them, you lose them – it’s been more than ten years now since I’ve spent any time around native speakers, and I can barely remember a word of Sicilian. I dunno, maybe it’d come to me if I went back there, but after that last visit, I’d find it really hard. Too many bad associations.

And as for the cooking, jeez, not you too. You know how much stick I used to get from my family for being bad at that? The way my dad reacted, you’d think I was torturing small animals or something. It wasn’t even my fault, it was the curse, but it’s really hard to get good at something when every little thing keeps going wrong. I don’t even know why it would mess up cooking more than anything else, but maybe it just really hates anything that’s for the benefit of other people . . .

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Bound ARCs are here

The first paper copies of Bound are arriving.  They’re just for me (you guys don’t get to pick them up just yet) but here’s a picture so you can see what they look like!  

bound-arc500

This isn’t how the finished versions will look (they’ll be missing the white border) but I kind of like this design, too.  Bound will be out in the US and UK at the beginning of April, 2017.  

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Ask Luna #76

From: Xexas

Luna are there any magic types that con only be passed down hereditarily.

Not as far as I know. If there were, they probably wouldn’t last that long. Mages tend not to have big families, and while there’s a much better chance that a mage’s child will have some magical talent, it’s nowhere near a sure thing.

From: Nick stephenson

Can magic be given voluntarily to another person

Nope. Magic’s a part of who you are. Only way to ‘give’ it to someone else would be to replace who they are with who you are, ie possess them, which wouldn’t exactly be doing them any favours.

From: Faragorn

So, how is the publication of Alex’s story likely to affect how other mages see him?
I’m guessing most wont even read them, but even if they do will they care?
Caldera might find it somewhat interesting, but she doesnt end up looking that good overall.

Will the average light mage even care about how corrupt Levistus is?

Most mages don’t read those kind of books, so they’d be unlikely to notice. In case they do, there are some . . . other measures Alex has taken. Can’t really tell you what they are, for obvious reasons. But yes, if mages read it, they’d care, if for no other reason than that Alex and I have done more than a few things that’d be considered highly illegal. People like Levistus would be in trouble too, but he’d have a lot more political clout to deal with it.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna.

I have been thinking about Mage Lyle, and I wonder what your impression of him is? You’ve had him as a part-time teacher in the apprentice program and I believe you might have met him briefly at the ball at Canary Wharf.

Before you answer here is what I think about Lyle. I believe he was probably sincere when he told Alex that he was trying to help him. I think Lyle might actually have felt some sense of remorse for turning his back on Alex, when Alex was desperate for support from the Light Council after he left Richard. However, Lyle has a problem and because of it Alex has one too.

There is nothing wrong with Lyle wanting to improve his place in the world, except the career path he has chosen for advancement has put him in waters that are over his head, and he’s swimming with the sharks.

Without knowing what Lyle’s specific magic abilities are, my guess is that aside from the time Mage Crystal manipulated him at Fountain Reach, Lyle is probably pretty good preforming whatever duties have been assigned to him. Whatever you may think of Levistus and his allies, as a general rule they probably don’t employ incompetents.

Unfortunately, Levistus and company are the kind of people who, if they read about the machinations of historical figures like Cardinal Richelieu, the Borgias, the Medicis, Ivan IV (the Terrible) and Henry VIII; to name a few, they would probably see them as kindred spirits. Like Levistus, the people I named had no problem sacrificing minions, executing innocents or doing whatever they needed to do to accomplish their goals. I doubt Lyle has the street smarts to see the danger he may be putting himself in by working for these coldblooded players of Mage politics, and I don’t think he realized he helped set up Alex until Alex told him off.

There may be a lesson here for Sonder, as someone with his abilities may be coveted as a useful asset by the same or very similar types of people on the Council. What do you think?

I never liked Lyle very much. Whenever I talked to him he always seemed vaguely uncomfortable, like I was a homeless person approaching him on the street and he was trying to figure out how to get rid of me without having to give me any money. As for your analysis, you’re probably right. He never really struck me as evil, just snobbish and the kind of guy who just automatically assumes that everyone must see the Council as the best thing ever. His dealings with Alex haven’t exactly earned him many favours, so I expect he’s had his own problems. Nowadays he’s working for Undaaris, which from the sound of it probably suits him pretty well. (Oh, and he’s an enchanter, by the way – aka charm mage. You get them in male versions as well as female.)

Whether the same thing’ll happen to Sonder – good question. I like him more than I do Lyle, but he’s got kind of the same attitude as far as the Council goes, so maybe it wouldn’t be that surprising. I have been wondering for a while what he’ll do when he starts working with the Levistus types and finally has to make a choice about whose side he’s on. It feels as though, up until now, he’s managed to put that off.

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Ask Luna #75

From: Yoshi

Alex says that there are 4 magical mean of transport gating using mounts like pegasi elementals like starbreeze but also Taias what are Taias exactly?

Giant birds with rainbow-coloured wings. Apparently they used to be a lot more common than they are now. There are much fewer magical creatures around than there were in the old days.

From: Sam

Hey Luna!

I really look forward to reading your posts every Friday, so thanks for answering everybody’s questions!

I was just wondering what the LGBT* community in mage society is like. Are queer mages openly out of the closet, or are things more conservative. Also, are there any LGBT* groups or anything among mages, or do they stick to groups with normals? Sorry about the weird question!

I hope life as an official mage treats you well. Stay safe!

Depends what you mean by ‘in the closet’. Gay/lesbian types in the magical community don’t exactly advertise, but they don’t pretend to be straight either – they just don’t bring it up. This is easier than you’d think because mages are pretty secretive about their private lives. If they’re married, or in a relationship, or anything like that, they generally don’t talk about it. Usually the only way you find out about that kind of stuff is through rumour/gossip, and you never know if the rumours are true. You do get a few who wear it on their sleeve, but they’re the exceptions.

I think it’s probably true to say that people pay less attention to what your sexuality is in the magical world than they do outside it. It’s because mages care so much about the mage/adept and the Light/Dark divides that everything else comes a distant second. Religion and race are the same way. It’s not that they don’t notice, it’s just that the number one priority is always whether you’re ‘on their side’ or not.

From: Blackendedsoul

Hi there, I am a casual fan from Bangladesh. I do have a lot of questions and I honestly think that they are a bit too much for one session. So I would like to separate them into topics.

For now I am going to ask about – and sorry for bringing back the topic – your curse.

So what I understand is, when the present bearer of the curse passes away, the next person to get it is the youngest female of the bloodline, correct? So what happens if a younger female is born into the family after someone gets the curse but is herself too young to come under the influence of it. I mean, say someone gets it when she is 5, she would have to be 10+ for the curse to take a swing, right? What if a younger sister is born when she is 7? Also, what type of mage was the person who weaved this curse (both in magic type and affiliation, i.e. Light/Dark/Independent)? Finally how many generations has it been running?

Thanks and sorry for the long message…

If a girl’s born when someone else has already got it, then nothing changes. So if a girl gets it when she’s five, and when she’s 7 she gets a younger sister, she’s still cursed. The curse doesn’t say ‘welp, nice knowing you’ and pack up and leave. Only way for it to move on is for her to die.

As for who the mage was who did it, nobody knows. I mean, our family isn’t magical, so they’d have had no way of knowing about this stuff. It’s not like they could go on the Internet and look her up or whatever. She wasn’t even described to me as a mage, just as a strega. I guess she’d have had to have been a chance mage, but beyond that, I doubt anyone will ever know.

From: R Mandell

Hi Luna:

Did Alex ever learn who it was who tipped Will Travis off that Alex was part of the hit squad sent to acquire his sister? And how did Will learn it was Alex Master as well?

This is one of those things we’ve never known for sure. I mean, Will wasn’t exactly interested in explaining himself, and by the time it was over, he wasn’t able to explain himself, what with being dead and all. But we can take guesses, and one name kept cropping up. At the time Will showed up, who had a lot of links to adepts and was someone Alex had very recently pissed off? If you’re guessing someone who lives in Soho, you’re on the right track. Can’t prove it, though.

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Bound Cover – US Edition

This one is a little later than planned, since I’ve had the first draft sitting around for a while now, but I just recently got a finished version of the US cover for Bound, so here it is!  Once again, release date is April of next year.  As usual, I’ll post the first chapter a month or two in advance.

bound_front mech.indd

Alex Verus #9 is also going well, with the first section done and the second underway.  

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Ask Luna #74

From: Arenna

Hai Luna,
When is Alex is going to realize that Anne is in love with him?

Not touching that one with a 10-foot pole.

From: Hrok

Hi Luna!

What is the difference between Fate and Chance magic? Also how far out can Fate magic work? For instance, can a Fate mage set an individuals destiny so that something will happen decades in the future, or is it like divining that the farther you go the harder it is to effect. sorry about all the questions obscure magic types, its just that the more “divine” magic types like fate and wish magic fascinate me.

Okay, so first of all, I don’t actually have any first-hand experience of this, so everything from here on is all second-hand. But it is something I asked Alex about a fair bit, so here’s the short version of what he told me.

Fate and chance magic are similar in the same way that lightning and fire magic are similar – they have similar strengths and weaknesses, and the end result when you use them tends to be pretty much the same, but the way they do it is different. Chance magic works by bending luck, so that something that might happen under very very unlikely circumstances happens exactly when you need it. Fate magic works by selecting a path that you want to happen. They can both do the same sorts of things, but the mindset is different. When I’m using my magic, I often don’t know exactly what I’m aiming for – I just make myself lucky, and I trust that it’ll work out somehow. From what I understand, that kind of thing doesn’t work for fate magic. You have to know exactly what you’re trying to do, and if you pick something that’s too unlikely, it won’t work at all. To be honest, Alex made it sound as though it was a lot weaker than my own kind is, but he claims it’s a lot more precise, which I guess has its upsides.

From: Kate Gowers

Can mages stop being mages?

What I mean is, it seems to me that a mage’s life kinda sucks, especially if they have any kind of moral compass. You’re constantly in danger of death (or worse), the mage world is morally dubious at best (Light or Dark – doesn’t matter), it’s tough to fit into ‘normal’ circles and have a ‘normal’ life. Unless you’re completely amoral (or immoral), there seem to be few benefits from where I’m sitting. In addition, there’s still politics, bureaucracy, back stabbing and the like.

I’m not really seeing an upside here…so if you’ve discovered you’ve got magical powers, can you just ignore them and avoid mage society all together?

Yeah, you can, and a lot of them do. It’s not something mages like to talk about, probably for exactly the reasons you just listed, but it happens – more often for adepts than mages, but pretty often for mages too. It’s hard to guess exactly how often, since it’s hard to count people who aren’t there, but according to some of the guesses I’ve heard it’s actually the most common way that mages check out.

It’s more extreme than just ignoring your powers. From what I’ve heard, if you really reject your abilities and decide you don’t want them, then you usually get your wish. Magic’s hard – you have to train and practice. If you go out of your way not to, then it’s like never training a muscle. I’ve had some people claim that if you go without using magic long enough then you lose it completely, like a bird that lets its wings get so weak that it can’t fly. Maybe they end up deciding that they just imagined the whole thing and convince themselves that magic isn’t real at all. It probably makes their life easier that way.

From: Blackmass

in the Mage Justice system an I use that word loosely what happens to criminal mages who are no sentenced to death for their crimes do the council have their own Azakaban?

There are prisons, but they’re only for prisoners awaiting trial. The Council doen’t really do ‘sentenced for X years’ as a punishment, probably because confining mages and adepts is really hard and they don’t want to do it long-term. Generally the sentences that are less than death amount to some type of fine or probation or service.

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Alex Verus in Russia

Was going to do another Ask Luna this week, but instead I’ve got a bit of news which I’m just now able to share:  the Alex Verus series is going to be published in Russia!  The publisher is Eksmo, and they’ve just contracted to publish Fated, Cursed, and Taken.  Exact date isn’t specified yet, but should be within a year or so.  Although not too many people know about it, Russia actually has a quite a strong home-grown urban fantasy market of its own, with some of their authors having been translated and re-published in the UK and US – the most famous is probably Sergei Lukyanenko with his Night Watch series.  So it’s pretty cool to be published there in turn.

Other than that, I’m working away on Book 9.  I’m past the first, most difficult section now, so hopefully it’ll be downhill all the way from here.

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Bound Cover Release

Still in the USA, visiting friends and family and preparing to head back home.  NYCC was lots of fun, especially viewing the cosplays and meeting other authors/artists.  Meeting everyone at the signing was good, too!

In other news, the copy-edits on Bound are finished and the manuscript’s now pretty much locked in.  The UK cover’s also been released, so take a look! Release date is unchanged: the book will be coming out next year, in April 2017.
bounduk300

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At NYCC

Just a reminder that I’ll be at NYCC today, at the Penguin booth, #2208, signing copies of Fated between 11am and 12am.  Not sure where I’ll be the rest of the Friday and on the Saturday, so if you want to find me, that’s the best time and place to do it!

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