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!
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!
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.
From: Mr McB
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
It has been a long, long time, since I last wrote you (#35, #38, #40). It is kind of funny knowing now the things we do, to read the answers from so long ago.
I guess we can by now agree that being a diviner does not mean to be a pacifist. Most might be, but it is the curiosity, that defines their personality and as a result their magic.
Yet, now knowing that Richard is a dark diviner makes the possibility that he “changed” Alex, that he specifically trained him to be combat orientated and that his “punishment” with Tobruk was just more training… very, very likely.
Of course, a Chosen One does not need to have the same magic as their master. And yet… it is interesting to see the stark parallels in how Richard and Alex use their magic in combat, isn’t it? (It’s also a good hint in just how terrifying Alex is unknowingly… I haven’t forgotten the raid and how the other mages looked at him.)
So, we know that Richard trained Alex, put effort into him and yet then let him go without naming him Chosen or even working at all to keep him, really.
Maybe, just maybe… Alex is Richard’s true Chosen One / heir / legacy. His insurance, that something of him remains, just in case he fails with his power grap or jinn magic.
It would… in a strange way make sense. He saves Alex, he keeps him around, but never too close. It would also neatly explain why Morden looks the other way when Onyx got into trouble with Verus.
Saying all that, I see no reason why Richard wouldn’t practise long-term divination and see into the future of those he chooses to train as well.
One has to wonder, how much of Alex is a deliberate product of Richard, shaped through training and magic. (Besides the choice to pick up the fateweaver. Pretty sure, even Richard didn’t see that coming.)
A long letter without a specific question, isn’t it?
So here it is – do you think Alex is the dark heir hidden in the light through his own denial?
I wish you a great week at the shop.
It’s a good question, though I’ve got to admit, it’s not one I like thinking about. Too many uncomfortable places it’d lead to.
I guess it comes to just how committed Richard and Morden are to the whole Dark path thing. If they could turn Alex into the perfect Dark mage, but the first thing he’d do would be get rid of them, would they still do it? Feels like the answer should be no. On the other hand . . . it is kind of where that way of thinking’s going to end up, right?
I’m not sure. Something I’ve been realising lately is that that kind of thing is how other mages are always going to see me. Alex was trained by Richard, I was trained by Alex, and they’re not going to forget it.
From: Will Gurney
Hi Luna, I had a question on elsewhere, if someone created an attack to hurt someone and it was reflected back at them would it still not do nothing or would the fact they expected it to hurt cause it to hurt them?
In Elsewhere? God knows. Probably nothing’d happen except for a lot of flailing around. The more you get used to Elsewhere, the more you realise that attacking just doesn’t work there – yeah, it can make things happen, but they’re never the things you want.
I’m pretty sure you can’t really ‘win’ fights in Elsewhere. The most you hope for is that the other guy will hurt himself trying. But that’ll probably need something cleverer than reflecting an attack.
I doubt that this is happening now nor in the foreseeable future but I heard that there were Dark Apprentices who took classes in the apprentice program with you, what was that like? I only ask because why would Dark Mages want to learn from the Light Council, I get associations but wouldn’t it make them look weak to other Dark Mages if they went to the Council for instruction? Plus I can’t imagine someone like Onyx listening to a teacher in a controlled setting unless Dark Apprentices are less volatile before they become full Dark Mages.
Well, you have to remember that Dark mages are a big group. Yeah, there’s no way in hell someone like Onyx would walk into a classroom, but most Dark mages aren’t Onyx. The ones you get in the apprentice program are the ones who are kinda unusual.
I actually found them a lot of fun. You have no idea just how bored you can get of Light mages after a while. Having someone to talk to who doesn’t worship the Council is a nice change.
What defenses exist against poison? Aside from life mages and perhaps death, can mages neutralize it?
If it’s difficult to neutralize, has Alex considered coating his knife with it?
Life magic, death magic, shapeshifting. Matter and time mages can pull some tricks as well, and there are one-shots that are designed to slow down a poison for long enough to get to a healer.
Alex doesn’t use it because it takes too long, and if you’re in knife fighting range you need something that stops the other guy right now, not in 10 seconds or 10 minutes.
In your opinion, who would have won a fight between Onyx and Belthas? Both were highly skilled battle mages who took Cinder and Rachel on at the same time and won. On the other hand, their personalities and fighting styles are very different.
From what I remember, Belthas was better. Onyx just coasted on raw speed and power. Belthas was just as powerful but with way more skill. It’s what you’d expect, really, he was a lot more experienced.
It’s been a while, so here’s an update on how the books are going!
To get the bad news out of the way first, I’ve caught what seems a lot like the Covid-19 virus. I’m not a hundred percent sure whether that’s actually what it is, since I took the standard test provided by the UK government and it came back negative. On the other hand, the symptoms so far have been:
. . . which match up pretty closely with other people’s accounts. So maybe the test got messed up somehow or it’s a slightly different strain. Who knows. (I don’t usually talk about my health on this blog, but I figure that this one might be of scientific interest to some of the readers out there!)
Anyway, this combined with the previous months of taking care of two small children during lockdown has slowed down my writing a bit.
On the positive side, while it’s slowed down, it’s still making progress. Alex Verus #12 is about 20% of the way through its first draft – this might not sound like much, but I generally find that my worst roadblocks tend to be in the first quarter, so it ought to be all downhill from here. I’m still hoping to get the first draft done by the end of the year, though that might be optimistic.
And of course none of this affects Alex Verus #11, Forged, which is currently with my publishers, edited and proofread and out of my hands. Release dates should be November 24th 2020 in the US and Canada and December 1st 2020 in the UK and the rest of the world. As usual, the audiobook edition is planned to come out at the same time as the paper and ebook ones, and also as usual, I’ll release the first chapter online a month or two in advance.
And finally, for the German readers of Alex Verus, there’s some good news: the books have continued to do very well in their German translation and Blanvalet has contracted to keep publishing the series all the way up to book 8. Chances currently look good that they’ll go all the way up to 12.
And I think that covers everything. More Ask Luna next week!
From: Alicia W.
As Alex has told us, mist cloaks block magical senses and even hide the wearer from mundane senses so long as they’re not wearing it while walking around London in broad daylight. But, despite that, Rachel looked right at Alex several times while he was wearing his mist cloak (RIP).
So, how does she do that? In Chosen, Shireen told Alex that it was because they traveled to Elsewhere together as apprentices, but there’s gotta be more to it than that. I listened to Fated again recently, and what Rachel said to Alex at the top of the Canary Wharf tower really stuck out:
“You’ve had the dreams, haven’t you? I can see them. You haven’t escaped, no one does. It always comes back. I’m the only one who can break it.”
Wait, what? Rachel can see Alex’s dreams? Is she really seeing them or is that just crazy talk?
Shireen always seems to know what’s going on with Alex. She knew what he talked about with Helikaon and Morden even though those were private conversations. Later on, she helped Alex walk through some of Rachel’s memories. I always figured that’s because she has mad skills with Elsewhere.
But what if it’s because Shireen has been taking *Rachel* on tours through Alex’s dreams and memories like she did for Alex?? If that’s true, Rachel & Shireen could have been doing that for years without Alex even realizing it. Not only would that be really f-ing scary (and creepy), it would also explain how Shireen knows so damn much & how Rachel can zero in on Alex like a laser-guided missile.
Okay, Okay. So, maybe I’m overthinking it. If Shireen hasn’t opened up an “Alex Tours” franchise & isn’t leading Rachel on walking tours through Alex’s head, then it’s gotta be that jinn helping her, right?
Have you and Alex ever talked about that? You guys gotta have a theory. I’m dying to know.
Thank you for everything you do! You’re the best!
I always figured that it was either the jinn or some sort of weird Elsewhere connection. Alex said that he and the other apprentices visited Elsewhere a few times together, so maybe something happened there?
Or maybe it’s something else. This kind of thing happens a lot, honestly. Every mage can do stuff you don’t know they can do. Nearly all of them can do at least one thing that their magic type isn’t supposed to be able to do. And pretty often it turns out that they can do things you didn’t even know were possible.
1. Do you know how Landis is so good with his defensive magic since fire mages seem to be offensive oriented? Has Vari picked up any tips and increased his defenses compared to the average fire mage?
2. Is there a Light Council version of Interpol or like in the real world do they fight over who has jurisdiction?
1. He’s just really, really good. It’s what happens when you keep on practising and learning to get better and keep working on it for years and years and years. You find workarounds to things that are supposed to be roadblocks. Vari’s gotten a lot better at defensive magic since Landis started training him.
2. There are supposed to be departments in the Light Council for that, but from how Vari talks, they don’t seem to do a very good job.
Hey Luna I hope you aren’t too annoyed with some of the questions you have limited knowledge about. I think the main reason people are asking you stuff about the Council/Dark Mage politics and mage hybrids is the same reason why people hoard knowledge in general, they like to learn new things and add on to it. Plus I think people are trying to create a bigger Alex Verus Reddit and Wiki and questions like those increase the articles and exposure for the series. Hopefully these questions will dial down know but I think those are the primary reasons why.
But here’s a fun question does Hermes care if also called him Mercury the Roman name of the Trickster god? I think you could get away with it since you follow a similar pattern with your name.
Yeah, I think I get frustrated because a lot of these questions feel like people asking for a crib sheet. They want to know the One True Set Of Rules about how magic works, or the Definite Final Answer to what Richard and Morden were thinking when they did whatever-it-was five years back.
And the problem is, that way of looking at things just seems to work really badly. You never know the whole story about how something works, and you never know exactly what was going on in someone’s head. When you think you do – when you decide you know everything and you can stop listening – well, from what I’ve seen, that’s when you screw up really badly. Seen other people do it, done it myself. The lessons I’ve learned have been more like: keep your eyes open, never think you know everything, learn the big things by putting together lots of small things. I try and tell people that. Never sure how much they listen.
Oh, and I’ve never tried calling Hermes that. Doubt he’d answer to it. I don’t think he cares much about Roman gods.
I recently was reminded that Verus really has a problem with unicorns when my friend read Fated. Do you think we’ll get to see one in the series, or at least learn what the story is?
He just says that the things are little *censoreds*. Aren’t many of them left, so I doubt we’ll ever run into one.
Hey Luna I just have a few follow up questions.
1. So I am feeling very obtuse with the abilities that elemental/life hybrids are supposed to have since they appear to be obvious to everyone else except me. Then I remembered Vihaela and while I thought that was because death and life magic were interconnected death magic is thought to be a form of elemental magic. My question is would other life/elemental hybrid magic work like her magic, with the self-healing and enhanced energy attacks? Sorry if this was obvious I didn’t think energy based magic would work with biological ones if that makes sense.
2. Regarding Rachel and her jinn related abilities is there an obvious example of abilities or stuff she can pull off that more powerful mages can’t? Sorry again if this is another obvious one but I don’t remember Deleo doing anything else then being a powerful elemental mage and acting crazy. Is it more of being in the right place right time and seeing things other mages can’t, or something else?
1. So this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about two questions up. With weird esoteric stuff like that, I’m not going to be thinking about what they’re supposed to do. I’d be watching to see what they CAN do. And the next one I run into might be different. Do you see what I mean?
Sigh. Maybe I just suck at explaining things.
2. Same again. It feels like you want me to point you at one very specific thing and tell you “All other mages ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DO THIS THING EVER, but Deleo can, this is The One Big Difference, now you have the answers and can stop thinking about it”. And it just . . . doesn’t work that way. What it means is that she’s more dangerous. If there’s something that would stop another mage, or beat them in a fight, it’s less likely to work on her, because she’ll find some way to go around it or fight through it. Now how much of that is having a jinn and how much of it is having Harvested someone and how much of it is just being batshit crazy? I dunno. But if you want to go up against these sorts of people, it’s a really bad idea to ever think you know everything about what they can do.
A long time ago – a bit over 8 years, in fact – my first Alex Verus novel came out.
Getting started as a debut author is a dicey business. When Fated came out in 2012, I’d technically been published before (the Ninja books) but those had come out in the mid-2000s, had been in a different genre, and hadn’t been particularly successful, so that really didn’t help. Effectively I was an unknown. And back then, new unknown urban fantasy authors were very common. The Twilight books were still in everyone’s minds, and hundreds of young adult, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance series had sprouted up in their wake.
Unfortunately, by 2012, the urban fantasy tide was receding. Most of the genre’s big success stories (Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs) had been successful a good long while ago, and the newer authors hoping to follow in their footsteps were mostly failing. You couldn’t go a month without some new urban fantasy series being launched, failing to find an audience, and sinking without trace.
So when it turned out Jim Butcher liked Fated enough to give a blurb for it, my publishers grabbed that quote and put it on the cover.
It was a longish blurb, so they were able to quote a different bit from it for the cover of book 2.
And a shorter phrasing for book 3.
By book 4 they’d run out of new material, so had to start recycling.
Looking back on it, it’s hard to say just how much difference that blurb of Jim’s made, but if I had to guess, I’d say: probably a fair bit. Blurbs won’t make a reader finish a book that they think is boring, and they won’t make someone stick with a series . . . but they can make a reader give a book a chance when they otherwise wouldn’t have paid attention to it And when you’re starting out and no-one knows your name, that’s a big help.
Which brings us to Jim Butcher’s new book, coming out this year. Well, there are two, actually, Peace Talks and Battle Ground. Orbit UK just did their cover launch for Battle Ground. It looks like this:
It’s not really the same, of course – Jim doesn’t need any help these days (whereas, starting out, I definitely did). Still, there’s something satisfying about it. In a weird way, more than any of the other successes I’ve had, it makes me feel like I’ve finally arrived.
Looking back over my past posts, I think I missed this cover reveal, so let’s put it up now!
UK release date remains December 1st, 2020.
From: please save Anne!
I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to say that I’m really proud of you, and how you have overcome all the problems you were dealt with.
I have some questions (not about politics, or different magic types, or whether you like Alex), and I will try to make them short, because I know how annoying it is to read 2 page questions.
Okay, way too many of these to do them in one block, so let’s go one by one.
1. Have you kept in touch at all with Anne? She told Alex that you can call her if you want to.
Briefly. It hasn’t gone well.
2. Now that you can control your curse, have you been able to spend time with your family again?
It’s not spending time with them that’s the problem. It’s doing it without them thinking I’m crazy. That’s . . . something I’m still working on.
3. Has it been hard running the shop, given how close you are to Alex now that he’s the most wanted man in Britain?
4. How is Karyos doing?
Oh, that’s at least one thing that’s going well. Fully recovered, and she’s getting her memories back.
5. Have you kept in touch with anyone from the apprenticeship program? What is Celia doing? What about that other girl, Natasha?
Not too much. I stay in touch with one or two, but our lives have gone in really different directions.
6. When Alex first met you he thought you were somewhere between a sensitive and an adept, but you managed to become a Mage! Were you aware of any other adepts/sensitives/normals in the program, or are there any stories of such individuals who were able to pass as powerful mages?
That one’s too long to answer, sorry!
7. Alex has mentioned that most mages discover their powers as teens. Have you ever heard of any stories of mages discovering their powers later in their life?
A few. Not many. It’s usually connected to something really weird happening. Teens is the usual.
8. What happened to Selene? I hope she is doing ok.
Well, last I saw of her she was fine physically, but other than that . . . let’s just say I don’t think her relationship with Kyle is going to last.
Thanks for your time, and I hope to visit the shop one day!
Okay so how do you feel now that you know Richard’s magic type? Must be a relief just because of the fanbase asking you about it nonstop!
Now this is kinda of moot now that we know but in the past was Richard being a death mage in the realm of possibility? He seems to like to hear himself talk like Morden does it’s almost like they are on the same wavelength if that makes sense. Was there anything that disqualified this as a possible type?
It makes a really nice change, yes.
We never thought Richard was a death mage. Death mages tend to make a lot of waves, if you know what I mean – you never hear about a death mage who kept his magic type a secret, it just doesn’t happen. It’s the most blatant out of all the living family magic types. Yeah, he does seem to be close to Morden, but you don’t have to have the same magic type to be friends with someone.
Have you guys ever thought about some of the real reasons Richard chose Alex as an apprentice? I only ask because with the others Richard seemed to be exploiting their egos to get what he wanted, Tobruk being the typical thug type like Onyx and Shireen and Rachel’s resentment at being treated different by mage society because they were women. With Alex it seemed like Richard really wanted him to become stronger and sure it seemed at first Richard was playing him, by ostensibly using Alex’s loneliness and lack of a father figure for his own ends but unlike the others Alex has became a powerful force in his own right even before the Fateweaver. When he turned against him with Katherine, Richard didn’t kill him, and apparently used that as a lesson for Alex to become stronger which he did and killed Tobruk.
Now I know getting inside a mage as twisted as Richard may be self defeating but could it be possible that Richard actually wanted and perhaps still does, Alex as his Chosen/successor? I think a lot of people assumes Richard is this master planner who plays everyone but could it be simply he wants to leave a legacy?
Now that Alex has figured out Richard at least enough to stop being manipulated by him he could use that against Richard, because giving someone three chances indicates to me there is something personal behind it.
I hope this isn’t an exercise in futility just wanted to give you guys a possible opening on the off chance this suggestion could help.
I wouldn’t have thought so before, but a couple of things have happened lately that have made me think twice. Let’s just say that the ‘wanting to leave a legacy’ thing might not be so far off base after all.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s going to succeed at it. But it would explain a few of the weirder things he’s done/said.
This might be outside your area of expertise, but I still want to ask it.
Morden looks like he is somewhere in his 30s, but timeline wise, he’s implied to be a older.
Similarly Helikaon looks like he’s in his 60s, but he flat out says he is 83.
Do you know if mages actually age differently? Or do you suspect they’re consciously seeking out ways to prolong their lifespans?
😉 Or perhaps I’m just reading too much into this.
Life extension magic. There are a lot of ways to do it, but pretty much all of them end up with you looking younger than you are (sometimes much younger). The catch is that most of them have a diminishing returns thing going on, so you have to put in more and more for less and less.
Or so I’m told. Not something I have to think about, thankfully.