Ask Luna #102

From: Harlow

Now that you’ve learned to kind of control your curse more, can you drive? Have you ever wanted to try and get your license? Are gas prices as ridiculous as they are over here (I’m from Canada)?

Are you a cat person or dog person?

In theory I could learn to drive now, yeah, but there are about fifty things I’d rather be doing than taking lessons. I suppose I might get around to it some day when things aren’t so crazy. Oh, and petrol prices are probably worse, if anything, plus we get the fun of London traffic and the congestion charge.

Cats are pretty nice, but I prefer dogs.

From: Justin


Alex seems like an idiot. He keeps making the same mistakes over and over, and it is getting hard to root for him. Also, Drakh better have a damn good reason not to kill him.

Drakh ‘better have a good reason’? What are you going to do if he doesn’t, go knock on his door and complain? As for who you’re rooting for, from what I’ve heard from you so far, I don’t think you’re the best qualified to be making judgements about other people’s brainpower.

From: Henesys

Hi Luna!

1. What’s Onyx doing now that Morden’s in jail?

2. Alex mentioned that some masters have multiple chosen over the course of many years. If there can be more than one, what does a chosen do? How are they different from regular apprentices?

1. Onyx has set up his own personal cabal, which has attracted some of the most unpleasant Dark mages and adepts I’ve ever heard of, and he’s generally trying to cause trouble and doing a good job of it. Only consolation is that he seems to be as much of a pain in the neck for Richard as he is for everyone else.

2. A Chosen’s basically what Dark apprentices get promoted to. Sort of like a senior apprentice who’s also assumed to be the mage’s heir. If they’re an apprentice then there’s still a question mark hanging over them, but once they get the Chosen title it means the mage is committing to them in a big way.

From: Claudia

Hi Luna,
It’s great to see you as a mage and I like your mage name Vesta. I was wondering.. how good your control over your chance curse is actually. Du you think it’s good enough to seriously consider having some shared intimate moments? You know, it seems to me quite difficult, kind of a juxtaposition, to let go while still controlling the curse. Or is Arachne the one helping you out?

Best wishes C

Yes, this is something I’ve thought about, no, I’m not going into details on the Internet. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Arachne has helped me out regarding my curse from time to time, but I don’t like to get too dependent on it. I want the control to come from me.

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Ask Luna #101

From: Nicholas

I was just wondering if mind magic can be used for real-time communication when talking to someone when you don’t have a language in common or a translator around, like can you mimic someones ability to speak mandarin or something if you really needed to or can you combo mind reading with mind enhancement magic and jury-rig an understanding of the language. Also are there focuses for language translation?

Mind mages do have a way to talk to someone if they don’t have a shared language. I don’t understand exactly how it works, but it has something to do with fundamentals of communication and using shared ideas rather than words. I’ve never heard of that spell being used in a focus though, probably because it’s too complicated – focuses and one-shots work best for really simple spells of the ‘point and pull the trigger’ type.

From: Blackmass

this a hard question for me to ask but if Alex had asked you to help him with “dealing” with The Nightstalkers would you have agreed? Do you think in battle like that you could’ve actually killed them?

That’s . . . a hard one, and it’s one where my answer’s different now from what it would have been. Back then, if he’d have asked, I’d have said yes. I saw things as a lot more black and white back then, and I had a lot of aggression to work out. But Alex didn’t ask me, and with hindsight, I’m glad. I’ve been through a lot of fights by now, and I guess one way or another I’ve been involved in a few deaths, but I’ve never actually gone in and just cold-bloodedly used my curse to kill someone, and I think it’s better that way. I’m happier knowing that I’ve never gone over that line.

I’ve become a lot warier about violence and use of force in general over the last few years. Back when I was starting out I saw it as ‘wow, I can do all this stuff, look how awesome I am’. But the more fights you go through, the more you realise how bad the consequences are and how arbitrary it all is. Honestly, I think I prefer running a shop.

From: Jay

Hi Luna,

Do you (or Alex) think you were set up to get the key to the fateweaver relic? I think you went to the house where you found it twice and it was only there the second time. Seemed fishy to me. If you do think it was a set up, maybe to draw Alex back into mage politics, who do you suspect? My money is on Morden. Thanks and good luck with everything!

I’ve wondered sometimes, yeah. It’s one of those things that’s so far back now that it’d be really hard to dig it up again, but it does make you think. If it was someone like Morden, he’d have been playing a super long game.

From: Hazel

Hey Luna! Thanks for taking time to answer my questions, I appreciate it.
How come the mundane have never noticed what’s going on? Or even clued in the tiniest bit? Are the Keepers Of The Cloak that good?
Is the magic trait genetic?
What is the likelihood that Alex’s father is a diviner as well? Could Alex tell if his Father had magic?
How can you tell if others have magic? Is it a sense of a sort or just a general knowing?
What do they do with mages who develop mental disorders or addiction issues?
How come there aren’t more fire mages in the fire-fighter business? Is it hard to get a job as a mage or does the council not let mages get jobs?
Thanks for answering my questions Luna!

Normals don’t notice magic stuff because they’ve got a kind of mental block about it. If they can explain it without magic, they will. The Order of the Cloak do quite a lot of work, but it’s more a matter of smoothing things over.

Magic’s partially genetic. The child of two mages/adepts is a lot more likely to be a mage or an adept themselves, but most mages and adepts come from parents with no magical ability at all.

Alex’s father being a diviner . . . ha! No chance in hell.

You can’t actually tell if someone else can use magic, not easily. It’s like if someone knows how to play a musical instrument – there might be a few clues, but they’re subtle, so until they actually pick it up and start using it, you just have to guess.

Mages with mental disorders/addictions are a menace. The Order of the Star deal with them, and they’re not gentle about it.

And most mages don’t get jobs in the firefighting business because regular firemen are pretty good at it already. Yeah, a fire mage could do it better, but it’d be a matter of two minutes versus ten minutes. It’s one area where technology’s mostly caught up.

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Russian Edition!

So I expect almost none of you will remember this, but a year and a half ago I wrote a post announcing that the Alex Verus novels were going to have a Russian edition.  Just got a package in the mail, and the first copies are finally here!  Here’s what they look like.

I have to say, I really like the cover art.  They must have some good artists over there.  I’ve had various foreign translations of my books, but I think Russia is the furthest afield we’ve gone yet.  

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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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