Ask Luna #100

A double-length Ask Luna today. It’s a weird thought that I’ve been doing this for a hundred episodes. Back when I started, it was because Alex couldn’t be bothered to handle the Arcana Emporium email account and got me to do it instead. Since then we’ve gone from me working at the Arcana Emporium, to there not being an Arcana Emporium, to how things are today. Feels strange, looking back on it. Wonder if I’ll still be doing this by the time it gets to 200.

From: Eric Fluellen

Hello, how are you doing I was wondering as I’m reading through your books I sometimes get the feeling that this entire series has already happened, as though Alex is telling his memoir to a reporter of some sort, would comment please.

No, the books are more like an ongoing journal. Usually there’s a gap of a couple of years between the events and you reading them. So there’s no guarantee of a happy ending if that’s what you’re asking. We don’t know what’s going to happen any more than you do.

From: Interested

Hello Luna

In a previous “Ask Luna” post, I think you indicated that the maker needs to put a carrier or container spell on the item that is used to capture the magical attribute, after which the maker will “pay” (for want of a better word) another mage who has expertise in the desired type of magic to insert the require spell. So, for example, in order to create his “falling ring” Alex has the carrier spell embedded into a ring so a spell could be triggered, when the ring is broken. He would then arrange for an air mage to insert the required air hardening spell that would slow the fall. Is that correct?

Can all mages cast them, irrespective of the mage’s family or type? And are there any mages that specialize in these carrier spells and creating items, such as an alchemist mage or is that just a rumor in the non-magic community?

On a separate note, can a living being be imbued with magic, or is it only possible to imbue inanimate objects by giving them life (or at least a will) of their own? I asked this question because of your curse. It seems to me that that old witch in Italy imbued the curse directly into your family’s genetic code so that it flows down through the family line and triggered in the youngest girl in each generation.

If so, what is keeping a psychotic nut-jobs like Levistus from imbuing all his henchmen with their own magical skills? (After all, he could read their mind to see if they are turning against him, so the risk should be minimal and an army of adepts would be useful for a killer like him).
If not, how did your family “acquire” of your chance magic abilities.

First question: yeah, that’s more or less how it works, though it’s a lot easier if the mage who’s providing the carrier spell is the same person as the mage who’s casting. Item imbuing’s considered a generalist spell, so in theory all mages can learn it. In practice not all can, and not all the ones that can learn it are good enough or motivated enough, so it’s only a minority of mages that make this stuff. And yes, they’ve very much got an alchemist vibe. There’s a whole magical economy based around making these things and trading/selling them.

Second question: that’s a lot dicier. Imbuing living creatures with magic is tricky and treads really close to a bunch of activities that are considered illegal under the Concord, so it’s not the kind of thing you get taught in class. There are various more and less feasible ways to do it, but most of them are secret and from what Alex has mentioned they tend to have major drawbacks. My particular curse is . . . well let’s just say ’unusual’ and leave it at that.

Funnily enough, it’s actually easier to imbue a spell into a construct than a person, which is probably why we keep running into ones with funky abilities.

From: Mollie Jackson

Hi Luna,
I am interested in how far you guys have gotten with building living quarters in your shadow realm?

Is it possible to tell me what will be the colors of Alex’s formal robes?

Alex has got a full-blown house now. I’ve got one of those big marquee style tents. The weather’s pretty warm so it doesn’t need heating.

Alex seems to like dark colours for his robes, usually black, though in practice since Arachne’s always the one who makes them she’s the one who makes the call.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

Hi Luna/Journeyman Vesta.

Has Alex made mention that the type of magic or magic items that Richard Drakh used to protect himself with when killing the Crusader strike team at the Council Vaults bore a strong resemblance to the way the Monkey’s Paw protected Martin from bullets and magic and the way the Fateweaver allowed Alex to avoid any magical strikes that were thrown at him?

Yet when Richard wasn’t expecting any violence Alex was able to hit Richard in the face. Though after that first punch Alex hit nothing but air. It’s like Richard has found lower powered; and perhaps less dangerous to the user, versions of the two imbued items I mentioned above.

Yet these items appear to have a limitation. Richard must focus his attention on using them. They don’t appear to work automatically. Makes me wonder if Richard’s magical protection have any other limits or drawbacks.

Yeah, you’re not the only one who’s noticed. The evasion is harder to pin down since there are a lot of spells that can produce a similar effect, but I’m pretty sure the monkey’s paw similarity is not a coincidence, which implies a whole bunch of things.

And you’re right, all items like that have limitations. Gathering enough information to figure out exactly what they are is dangerous though. It’s not like this is an azimuth duel where you can just hang out by the piste and watch.

From: Jim

From: Hi Luna,

I have been rethinking how Anne got put through the ringer as attached to Alex and the consequences with the Djinn.

Now, it is clear that there was a plan put in place by Richard. But it is not clear to me that Morden could have influenced the Senior Council to get Anne so blacklisted.

What this implies is that there is another Senior Council Member that is secretly part of Richard’s plans. And this player is likely part of the Crusader faction.

Now, of course

Now of course what?

This is something we’ve talked about as well. We’ve pretty much agreed that it couldn’t have been Levistus that got Anne blacklisted back then, and that it must have been either Morden or Richard. Figuring out how they did it is hard, though. Alex tried looking but the records as to why the decision was made seem to have been ‘lost’ for some strange reason.

Best-case scenario is that Morden or Richard bribed or blackmailed someone further down the Light bureaucracy to get Anne’s application rejected. Worst-case is what you describe.

From: Kate Gowers

Hi again Luna!

Ages ago (2016, I think), you kindly explained what happens to mages (and adepts) who feel that being a mage and being involved with mage society just isn’t worth it (they simply stop practising magic and may even lose the ability to do so).

As a sort of continuation of that question, are there mages that remain mages yet also do ‘normal’ jobs – you know, data planner, milkman, politician (hmmm, that would explain a lot about Boris Johnson, but I digress)? I know Alex had his shop but most mages we met are either dark mages (and usually unhinged) or light, powerful mages on the council (also usually unhinged – I’m seeing a pattern here).

I would guess (though this is purely a guess) that it would be easier to both be a mage and run a semi-normal life as an independent (much as Alex did, though admittedly Alex’s shop was magic related). Is this common or even possible? Could my boss/train driver/partner (I refuse to call a 57 year old man my ‘boyfriend), head of the agency I work for actually be a practicing or dormant mage?

Yup, there are plenty of mages who do regular jobs, and yup, most of them are independents. It’s actually pretty common among independent mages. Of course, there still aren’t very many mages in the country, so odds of your milkman just happening to be a fire mage with a very unusual hobby are on the low side, but they’re definitely out there. Dr Shirland (that mind mage that Alex took Anne and Vari to) is a psychologist, for example.

The mages who do that sort of thing are usually the kind who like to keep a low profile, so it’s pretty common for neither the Council nor any other Dark mages to know they exist. So no-one knows exactly how many of them there are. They just live out their lives completely separate from magical society, busy with their jobs and their families and their friends and all the things that normal people spend their time on. It’s not the worst way to live.

From: Scott

Are there pictures available of the various characters/monsters?

Sure, try here.

From: Svetli

Hi, its me again. I was wondering, since last time you answered me, you said that Independent mages are treated better than the Dark by the Light mages. But how do Dark mages view Independent ones? Do they treat them the same as Light mages?

Dark mages actually respect independent mages a fair bit. The way they see it, independent mages are at least making their own decisions and living their own lives, which puts them a step up from Light mages. In fact, a lot of Dark mages kind of see themselves as a subgroup within independent mages anyway. Of course, none of that stops them from preying on independent mages if the independent happens to have something they want, so yeah, it’s questionable how much that respect is really worth.  

And that’s it for the hundredth entry.  See you for number 101!

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Was planning a big Ask Luna for this week, but it got delayed by various RL issues.  

Double-length Ask Luna next Friday instead.

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February Update

Various bits and pieces of news for this week:  

• Alex Verus #9, Marked, is creeping steadily along towards publication.  It’s currently at the proof stage, being looked over by proofreaders.  Release date remains July 5th 2018.  As usual, I’ll put up the first chapter a little ahead of time, in May or June, and I’m planning to do a Reddit AMA around the date of release.

• Most of my attention right now is on Alex Verus #10, which is moving along nicely.  I’ve just finished the first section, which assuming the book doesn’t run especially long, puts it at 20% completion or so.  Hoping to turn in the first draft before the release of Marked, assuming we don’t hit any major roadblocks.  

• And a review of Fated on Fantasy Literature.  I tend to lose track of reviews these days, but I try to link to them if I see an interesting one, so feel free to let me know if you guys have one you’d like linked to here!

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Something different today!  An artist by the name of Gergana Hristova has done some fanart of the Alex Verus series – I came across it while browsing her review of the series on Goodreads, and loved the drawings, so asked her if I could post them here.  Take a look!

The images are also at the review (along with some funny comic strip reactions) and you can see more of Gergana’s art at her tumblr.

Alex with the relic from Fated.

Alex again.

Alex and Onyx.



Cinder, Anne, and Sonder.

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Ask Luna #99

From: Malachi

Are certain mage hybrids impossible?
Like a hybrid between a Fire & Ice mage or a Diviner & Probability mage?

I don’t know if they’re actually impossible, but there are lots of combos that I’ve never ever heard of. Those two would be some of them. I get the feeling that the personality traits to be one rather than the other might be so contradictory that you’d never get both together.

From: Craig Belcher

Hello Luna,
Did Alex build a mansion or cottage in The Hollow shadow realm? It would be the ultimate safe house. That is until the dryad emerges from her cocoon.

‘Mansion’ is overselling it a bit. It’s more like a pre-fab hut. He’s expanding it though. I have a little den as well, but I prefer my flat.

From: Hazel

Hey Luna, thanks for asking my questions. I have a few more for you if you don’t mind.
You said magic sort of shows itself when you go through puberty, does that mean girls get their magic earlier then boys? I know that it varies from person to person but the average of girls start earlier than boys. Does this mean that girls get apprenticed earlier or is it generally after you have finished school?
Does Vari and Anne know about Martin wishing for Alex’s magic?
If Martin had kept Alex’s magic, how do you imagine Alex reacting?
At that point in time I mean, Alex has grown quite fair mile since then. If Alex had lost his magic but stayed alive, do you think he would have ever gotten it back? Alex once said that if you really want your magic to go away, it will with time. Does it work the other way around? Do you think Alex could live without his magic?
Does Vari have a mage name?
If not money, what do Liaisons and Keepers get paid? Why do they stay at their jobs? Is it for power?

Girls tend to start showing their magic slightly earlier, yeah, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on average apprentice age for whatever reason.

We’ve told Anne and Vari the general story, though I wasn’t too specific on the details. I’m pretty sure Alex doesn’t want to revisit those particular memories and I don’t think I came out of the whole business looking all that great either.

I’m pretty sure that losing his magic would have left Alex dead, crazy, or both, so I don’t have many answers for you as far as that goes.

Yup, Vari has a mage name.

Liaisons and Keepers get paid a salary, yeah, though I doubt it’s a big motivator. Why they stay in their jobs . . . well, they enjoy it, presumably, and the power’s probably part of that. But there’s also perks. You get a lot of side benefits from being part of the Council’s enforcement divisions, and some of those benefits are the kind that you can’t buy with cash.

From: Bruce Donohue

Hello Luna,
I don’t know if anyone else thought about this theory or not but I will let it fly anyway…

After re-reading all the books and all the little hints here and there, my theory is that Richard is Alex’s real Father.

Oh please god no.

From: Eric Fluellen

Hello, how are you doing I was wondering as I’m reading through your books I sometimes get the feeling that this entire series has already happened, as though Alex is telling his memoir to a reporter of some sort, would comment please.

No, you guys hear about stuff as it happens, though there’s a time lag of a couple years or so. If the stories ever stop it probably means something bad’s happened.

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New Year News

And I’m back!  A few bits of news to catch up on now that I’m back in the country.  

First, Bound has been nominated for the RT Awards, under Urban Fantasy Worldbuilding. I don’t think I’ve ever been nominated for an award before, and the RT ones are fairly big, so this is pretty cool.  

Second, the proofs for Marked have been scheduled for the end of the month.  Once that’s done the book will be locked in ready for its July release date.  

Book #10’s still underway – it’s going slower than I’d like, but it’s making progress.  Hoping to have it finished by the summer.  

And finally, we have a US cover for Marked to go along with the UK one!  Here it is:

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from everyone in the Alex Verus world!

I’m out of the country at present, and won’t be returning until a couple of weeks into January.  Posts will resume on the 19th.  

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Merry Christmas!

Wow, looking at the URL, I just realised that this is the fifth time I’ve made a post like this.  It’s been a busy five years.  Hope your Christmas goes well, and I’ll see you after the holidays!

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Copy-Edits Again

Just finishing up the copy-edits for book #9, Marked.  They’re close to done at the time of writing, so by the time you read this, they might very well be complete.  Copy-edits are the last point at which I make significant changes to the book:  once they’re done, the version I send back to my publisher is 99% identical to the version you’ll have in your hands when it finally comes out.  (If you’re curious as to what copy-edits are, I wrote about it here.)

Copy-edits take a while to do, but fortunately they’re relatively easy work and much less stressful than writing or rewriting.  I’ve enjoyed doing them this time – it’s been fun to read back through Marked and see the changes.  I think you guys should enjoy reading this one once it comes out!  

Release date for Marked is July 5th 2018 in the US and UK.

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Ask Luna #98

From: Fade

Why is Alex so vehemently against the title of Dark Mage? Every time somebody labels him with it, he denies it vehemently, but it seems to me that Alex does abide by the principles pretty extensively, determined to live his life my his own terms rather than those that anybody (the council) would impose on him. I understand that he has had a lot of negative experiences at the hands of Dark Mages, but isn’t the over all philosophy to maintain the freedom to direct one’s own life? Alex once criticized Talisid for the mentality: Light mages good, Dark mages bad! But it seems that Alex draws the same sorts of lines, at least on the dark side of the fence.

Probably because he rejected the whole Dark philosophy in a big way personally and so doesn’t like getting associated with it. Though he does seem to be getting less vehement about it than he used to. Either he’s changed his mind or he’s just tired of repeating it. Your guess is as good as mine as to which.

From: Hazel

Hey, Luna. I was wondering if Alex has ever mentioned his mum? I know it took a long time to even get to his dad, who we know is still alive, but maybe he talked about her?

I know she’s still alive, but I don’t know much more than that. I think he said something about her not being English, but that’s about it. I got the impression that his relationship with her might be even worse than with his dad if anything. Still, not like I’m in any position to throw stones as far as that goes.

From: Malachi

Why did the Light Council(or just a sect of them) devote so much time and resources towards trying to kill Alex?
Sure, he was legally supposed to be executed. But isn’t he kind of a low priority target if he’s somewhere really far away?
I don’t know; Just seemed like a waste of resources that could be put towards actual pressing threats.

How the hell are we supposed to know? You think death squads show up at your front door with an audit or something? “Hi, Miss Mancuso, we’re here to execute you, please take a look at this cost accounting for our time and sign the receipt.” Whoever was behind it, it was obviously a high enough priority for them.

From: Malachi

Are certain mage hybrids impossible?
Like a hybrid between a Fire & Ice mage or a Diviner & Probability mage?

Well, the Council seems to think so anyway. There are a bunch of magic types that supposedly can’t be mixed, and yes, fire and ice are among them. But then, some fire mages can lower temperature as well as raise it, so I’ve got the feeling some of those ‘impossible’ hybrids might only be ‘impossible’ for very specific definitions.

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