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.

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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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Off to the US!

Flying today!  Hope to see some of you at Comicon this Friday.

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NYCC Next Week!

Okay, so I’ve finally got my itinerary for New York Comicon.  I’ll be at the Penguin booth on the Friday, number #2208, signing copies of Fated between 11 AM and 12 AM.

The bad news is that that’ll be the only event I’ll be doing.  Long story short, I had other stuff lined up, but then was told that it had been cancelled.  To make matters worse, this meant that I wasn’t given any entry badge, which I wasn’t told about until long after the ticket sales deadline, meaning that I’ll have to rely on borrowing a badge from the Penguin staff to get in.  The whole thing’s been really awkward to deal with, and honestly, it’s left me wondering if this particular convention is worth it.

Anyway, hope to see some of you there!  Work’s going well on Alex Verus #9, and the copyedits for Bound are under way too.  I’ll try to schedule a couple of posts for the next couple of Fridays while I’m in the USA.

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On the Way

First page of the new book is done!

Which just leaves another 149-ish pages to go.  Well, it’s a start.  Actually it’s a bit more than that – the first page is invariably the hardest, so it should be all downhill from here.

In the meantime I’m working on the copyedits for Alex Verus #8, Bound.  All looks good, and everything should be done in time for the book’s release next spring.

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Ask Luna #73

From: Andy deal

Thanks as always for answering questions about Mage society– and here are mine: 1) Alex has powerful allies– why don’t they go on the offensive and try to pick some enemies off, 2) any thoughts on what avenue Alex is pursuing to ratchet up his personal power , and 3) the most powerful mages seem to have powers beyond their specialties, could you elaborate on how they gain them.

In reverse order:

3) If it were common knowledge how you could get those kinds of powers, everyone would have them. Personal research, deals with magical creatures, and unusual magic types are the usual guesses, but the kinds of mages who get those abilities tend to be very interested in not spreading around the details.

2) He had a conversation with Arachne. Amongst other things, he’s said something about some new kind of item, but it’s not one I know about.

1) That is a really, really stupid idea. Literally the only reason we’re still alive is that our enemies have more things to deal with than just us, and you think it’s a good idea to try and start fights with all of them at once?

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna, I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my previous questions. I have some new questions for you today.

These first questions might be more appropriate for Sonder, but I’m guessing that your training as an apprentice must have included some basic history of the Light Council.

So, how old is it? Does its founding date back to Roman Britain? Perhaps the specifics have been lost to time, but were there earlier Light Councils in Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt or Mesopotamia?

My other question is how Mages in the Light Council view ordinary politics. Now I know that Morden’s ascension to Council leadership and Richard Drahk’s reemergence have the Council spooked, but I wonder if under ordinary circumstances most Mages in the Council would even care that there is a new resident at 10 Downing Street? I know there is a faction on the Council that probably does care; the Directors, but I wonder how much influence they actually have or how deep their activities run. Are they secretive about their goals and activities or do they boast of them?

It’s pretty old, and yeah, I think Roman Britain is one of the starting dates given for the British Council. There were some people saying that the real date should be later, because something something continuity, but to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention. The Light Council as a whole is way older, but that gets back into the original mages and the Dark Wars and Alata and stuff like that.

In theory Light mage dealings with British politics are supposed to be secret, but people talk. General impression I get is that they have a lot of influence, but they don’t like to use it unless it relates to mage business, which it usually doesn’t. I don’t think they’d care about a change in the PM, though – I think they mostly get stuff done through the Civil Service, not the parties.

From: Faragorn

You mention in the encyclopaedia that fire mages tend to have weak defenses, particularly against kinetic attacks like bullets. However, Alex muses while under attack that all battle mages anticipate bullets and have a defense against them. How is it they do that? Special purpose items like focuses? Some other method purchased or prepared ahead of time? Vari also mentions that Landis has an oustanding defense, does that include kinetic attacks or just against magic?

There are standard-issue focuses that project a disc-shaped or hemisphere-shaped kinetic shield – the Keepers can requisition them, or you can get one from a crafter. They’re kind of limiting, since it’s hard to do anything else while you’re keeping the shield up, but they beat getting shot. Or you can just wear body armour, though most mages seem to think that’s for plebs.

Landis is a different story. His magic’s powerful enough that he can flat-out vapourise projectiles as they come in. You’d think that would be dump enough heat to set everything around him on fire, but it doesn’t. Variam says that he has his shield modified into some sort of field that pulses in response to an attack, but I don’t know the details. I’m pretty sure most fire mages don’t have that kind of skill, though.

From: Nick stephenson

Is there a way to take away someone’s magic. Not harvest it but to destroy it, like if u want to remove a phycopaths magic

Well, your magic’s a part of who you are, so to take away someone’s magic you have to change that. Which, if you’re doing it against their will, is generally going to have serious enough consequences that there’s not much difference between that and killing them.

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Gearing Up

Well, it’s that time again. I’m at the stage where I’m getting started on Alex Verus #9.

For me, the start of a new first draft is the hardest part by a long way; the first chapter is always the most difficult one. On the plus side, once I do get that first chapter written, it’s all downhill from there, but getting to that point is not easy, mostly because to have done it, I need to have worked out an awful lot of the story already. In the past I used to draw out diagrams to keep track of the story lines, but nowadays I don’t. I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve gotten better and don’t need them anymore, or because the major story’s so complicated now that diagrams wouldn’t actually be all that much help.

It’s looking like I’ll be at NYCC for Friday, October 7th.  More info when I have it.

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Ask Luna #72

From: trillian

Hi Luna and huge congratulations on passing your journeyman tests! How do you see this affecting your relationship with Chalice? Also, how to do you find Chalice and learning from a dark mage that doesn’t seem anything like the other dark mages Alex has encountered (Drakh, Morden etc..)? She comes across as a really interesting character btw and i’d love to know your views on her background, history and the path she may taking with regard to the ongoing dark and light political shenanigans?
Many thanks for taking time to read this and I wish you and Alex all the best in what must be difficult times – stay strong.

So far my new status hasn’t affected it very much and I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, since Chalice (like most Dark mages) really doesn’t care very much what label the Council gives to someone. She’s got her own judgements.

Chalice is . . . well, like you say, interesting. She’s a good teacher, but kind of dispassionate, if that makes sense. She’ll tell you what you need to know, but you’re never quite sure when she’s telling you everything and when she’s just waiting for you to figure things out yourself – she’s a big believer in the ‘burned hand teaches best’ school. As for the path she’ll be taking, I THINK she might be on a similar side to Alex . . . maybe. She’s not on Richard or Morden’s side, and she’s definitely not on Levistus or the Council’s side, so that’s positive. From some of the talks we’ve had I get the feeling there’s a story behind her leaving India and coming here, but she always seems to steer the conversation away whenever I get too close.

Oh, and thanks. I’ve got some ideas for the future, but things are going to be difficult before they get better.

From: Jupiter Flytrap

1. In the earlier books, Morden tells Alex that whatever happens between him and Onyx is their own business and he wasn’t going to stop Onyx from trying to kill him. But when Alex nearly kills Onyx with the fateweaver, Morden never mentions it ever. Does that mean the same applies to his own Chosen? And if so, how does that factor in with the whole “picking a fight with Onyx is like picking a fight with Morden because he’s his Chosen”?

2. Why was Barrayer and Levistus trying to take Alex alive at the end of Burned? Especially after they went through so much trouble to make it legal to kill him

1. Not sure what you’re getting at with the first question, since Onyx is Morden’s Chosen. On one level that means they’re on the same team, and getting into trouble with one is like getting into trouble with the other. But at the same time, Morden isn’t going to step in to help Onyx except in pretty specific circumstances. I dunno, I can sort of understand it, but it’s hard to explain. It’s like, if a Chosen can handle something, then a Dark mage won’t interfere, because he doesn’t need to. But if a Chosen can’t handle something, then a Dark mage wants them to be able to, so there’s a good chance they’ll just leave them to sink or swim. Of course, Dark mages aren’t all the same, but Morden’s whole ‘sort out your own disagreements, guys’ attitude is one I’ve seen more than once.

2. So they could interrogate him, then kill him. They were going to do the second anyway, the first was just a bonus.

From: Jim

Hey Luna,

Has Alex talked to you about the plan he was going to execute when he was “giving himself” to the Light Council after your Journeyman Tests?

He noted that he was going to be able to “cut loose”, but we did not get a chance to see that happened. I was wondering if he gave you any clue what that meant.

I think he was just going to take as many of them down with him as he could. Alex has collected a lot of items over the years, and some of them are the kind you don’t want to use because of the long-term consequences. If he ever decided he didn’t care about long-term consequences, he could do a hell of a lot of damage.

I still need to talk with him about that. Knowing that all that happened because of me is not a good feeling.

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