Review and Giveaway

King’s River Life has a review of Marked up, along with a giveaway.  Go check it out!

Book 10 is inching along towards the finish line.  Not much farther to go now.  

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Ask Luna #110

From: Robert L. Mandell

Luna what is the backstory of Talis?

Adept with a really bad reputation. Depending on who you asked, he was either a shady ex-Dark adept or a paid assassin, maybe both. For whatever reason he seemed to hang around London without the Keepers going after him. Alex said he had an arrangement with the Council, which would have explained a lot. Don’t know much about where he came from, and never really wanted to find out. Guy was bad news.

From: James Cage

There are many human and non-human agents at work in your life. Do you have a list that you can share? It would make it easier for me to follow. Thanks!

What am I, your secretary?

From: Gill Wurney

Hi Luna, I was wondering, what does it look like to watch Alex fight from your perspective? he describes a lot of his fighting uses divination, does it look strange to watch a fighter with no missteps or mistakes?

It’s one of those things that looks different depending on how much you know. Back in the early days, I didn’t really notice. Alex just seemed like a good fighter, and that was that. After I’d known him for a bit I started to notice that he never seemed to get hit with things – whenever an attack came in, no matter how fast it was, he never seemed to be there when it landed.

It was only after I took up duelling seriously that I started to realise just how good he was. It’s not obvious because he doesn’t do anything showy or flashy, and half the time all he’s doing is getting out of the way. But if you stop afterwards and think about it, you realise that every time, he’s doing the most efficient thing possible to reduce the threat as quickly as possible. A few times we’ve been in fights together and I’ve been hurt and he hasn’t, and when I go back over it in my head, I realise what I could have done differently. Except he doesn’t need to think it over afterwards, he gets it right the first time.

From: Henrik-DK

Hello Luna,
just enjoyed following your latest adventures (Marked).

I have a quick question related to Alex and his abilities especially related to path-walking and weapons.

Could he not use path-walking to find out when someone would be out in the open, and use his muscle sync to successfully fire a high powered rifle from far away (2+km) to eliminate an enemy? With a shroud no one would even know it was him.

would be an easier way to remove some of those high lv. threats.

It’d work on the low-level ones, not so much on the high-level ones. You have to remember that the really dangerous mages are used to the idea that there are people out there that want to kill them. So they spend a lot of time thinking about how to stop that from happening. So not only are they going to have a defence against a handgun or a rifle, that’s probably the first thing they’re going to have a defence against.

As an example – one of the standard ways to set up a kinetic shield is to put an outer layer around it as a ‘tripwire’. If something breaks through, the shield automatically reinforces with a more powerful layer under the breach. Shoot someone like that with a rifle, and the bullet’s going to bounce off before they even notice they’re being attacked. And that’s assuming they’re going to be standing around where anywhere in line of sight in the first place. You’re not going to find them walking down Oxford Street.

From: Adam

Luna,
Why does everyone think Richard is a Mage? He is (in)famous for using imbued items and not explaining how he is doing things.
More to the point would the wielder of multiple imbued items who hid them be viewed as a mage?
On an unrelated note when is Alex going to admit to himself he is one of the better combat mages in the UK? I bet if you made a list of the people who Alex -wouldn’t- go up against with a reasonable chance of winning (if prepared) it would be surprisingly short…

Everyone assumes Richard’s a mage because he acts like a mage, he presents himself as a mage, and he’s recognised as a mage. I guess in theory you could do what he does with imbued items, but guess what – most imbued item owners ARE mages.

Alex is very good at what he does, but he’s not as strong as you seem to think. In terms of skill, yeah, he’s right up there at the top, but when you’re up against a battle-mage who can shrug off bullets and blast through a concrete wall, skill only gets you so far.

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Getting Closer

Still working away on the first draft of Book 10, Fallen.  It’s getting closer, but not there yet.   

I really want to get this one out there.  It resolves a lot of things that I’ve been setting up in the Alex Verus series for a long, long time, including at least two events that readers have been asking for for ages.  

Still, before that can happen, I need to finish the book.  Back to work . . .

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Ask Luna #109

From: Byron

Hi Mage Vesta!
Did you ever learn at the apprentice program about what exactly happened during the Gate Rune War and why it happened?
P.S you are my favourite person ever, so cool

Thanks!

Yeah, we had a course on it. It was pretty complicated. There were several Dark and neutral factions involved, and then the Council was split on how to deal with things. I think it was only after a few years that everyone settled what side they were on, and once they did the casualties were really high.

From: Dave

Hello Mage Vesta,

I know you tend to get a lot of questions about the odd aspects of magical history, but I had a few about the economy and creation of items I hoped you might be well positioned to answer since you run the Arcana Emporium now.

1. To a prior question you mentioned that while mages can make foci, adepts tend to make most of them due to sheer numbers. Given the fact that adepts tend to be less involved with the magical community, do they tend to use a favor based economy or a money when creating and selling foci and one shot devices?

2. Related to the above question, is item creation primarily still done in the craftsman model, or are there groups that aim to use more of a workshop or factory model to produce a lot of enchanted items?

3. Are there certain types of effects that simply don’t work well for foci or one shots? I notice that the examples in the books tend to be elemental, are effects like healing, shapeshifting, or divination assisted code-breaking not able to be placed in an object or are they simply too troublesome to use to be worth it?

Thank you for your time reading and hopefully answering these questions.

1. Depends on how established and tied in to the magical world they are. The hobbyists and the newbies work for cash, the ones who’ve been at it for longer are more likely to be interested in favours and trades. They still pretty much all use money to some degree, though – I don’t know of any adepts who just skip over the cash economy completely the way mages do.

2. It’s more the craftsman model. It pretty much takes one crafter to produce one item, so there’s not much benefit in trying a factory setup. Some groups do use workshops though.

3. Generally, the more complicated a spell and the more active direction it needs, the less well it’s going to work in item form. The easiest ones to craft are the ones that just go off in an area, like those condensers Alex uses. Break the glass, mist comes out. Very simple. Something like a healing salve is harder, and anything that needs decisions is really hard. The problem is that the person using the spell can’t actually use that type of magic themselves, which means they can’t control it, which means that anything more complicated than ‘point and pull the trigger’ probably isn’t going to work. So there’s no way you’re going to get a one-shot item for shapeshifting or domination, because spells like that have to be adapted to the subject on the fly. If you tried it would probably either do nothing or fail in some really spectacular way.

From: Kotomine

If Alex were to summon a Servant for a Grail War, which one do you think he’d get?

Archer, I would have thought. Seems to fit his personality.

From: Intana

Dear Luna,
What exactly are the abilities of rakshasas? Are they able to cast spells or are they just inherently magical like other creatures?

Illusion, shapeshifting, some kinds of mind control. They were supposed to be pretty dangerous physically too. A lot of the information about them is out of date now, though – it’s not like the Council gets to interview them to find out.

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Ask Luna #108

From: Anton

Mage Vesta,

This is a very long list of questions, Please feel free to break them up and answering them at your leisure and thank you.

Yeah, I’m definitely breaking these up.  

What kind of knife does Alex use? I’ve known a few “knife guys” the can be really finicky about their blades, considering how often Alex uses one, it seems that he would be VERY selective about it (handle, type of metal, grind, etc.)

It’s a knife.  It stabs things.  I’m pretty sure he’s picky about it, yeah, but as far as I’m concerned one pointy piece of metal’s the same as another.  

Are the Crusaders still attempting to get at Alex? 

Yes.

Does the Dreamstone allow Alex to communicate with Hermes?

Should do.

What is Linking? The way Arachne said it made it seem like something rather significant.

Going to have to give me some context there.  

Can you make One Shot Items? Being able to throw a “hex spell” or carry around a “lucky coin” could be REALLY useful.

I’ve thought about it once or twice, but learning how to do that stuff has kind of a high barrier to entry and I’m not sure I want to do X many months/years of work to figure it out.  Maybe once I’m a bit more settled.

Does being a Councilor come with a salary or estates? (does Alex have access to the Mantis Golems)

Nope.  I think they assume that if you’re on the Council you must be rich already.  You get an office, though.

Who makes up the Conclave? Is it the Junior Council?

Can’t remember to be honest.  It’s some Light Council term or other.

Is Alex ever going to make Samaris pay for leading the charge to burn down the shop? 

Would be nice, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Does the Shadow Realm have a weather cycle/water; can you use solar panels there?

Yup.  You’d have to be really into DIY to want to do the work to set it up, though.

How long does it take an elemental mage to make a gate vs Alex with a gate stone (he normally say it take a minute/60secs)

Depends on skill.  It takes Alex maybe 2 minutes.  A good elemental mage could do it in more like one.  A really good one might be able to get it to half that.  Basically it comes down to how many safety measures you’re willing to skip.  Most mages don’t like the idea of being cut in half so they don’t push it very far.

Do you go by Luna Vesta the way Alex calls himself Alex Verus?

I thought about it, but it sounds kind of silly.  Luna or Vesta, not both.  

From: Exejpgwmv

If Sonder trapped you in a spell that slowed down time would your curse be slowed as well?

Sure, why wouldn’t it be?

From: Luna Mancuso

Do you love Alex?

If you’re going to ask me troll questions at least come up with a better name.  

From: Gerald

What mage type is Richard?
Also what type is Levistus?
Also is Alex technically an adept?

I’ve answered these ones something like . . . I don’t even know, maybe eleven or twelve times between them.  I’m bored out of my mind of typing the same thing over and over.  Go do a Google search or something.  

From: Byron

Hi Mage Vesta!

Did you ever learn at the apprentice program about what exactly happened during the Gate Rune War and why it happened? 

P.S you are my favourite person ever, so cool

Nice to have a fan.  

We did learn it.  Or, well, we were supposed to, but I found it really boring, at least the way the Council teaches it.  This Dark faction did this and then the Council debated about what to do and in the meantime the other faction did something else and then the Council debated some more.  Honestly, I got the feeling it could have been a pretty good story, just not the way they told it.  

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Interview at JeanBookNerd

Here’s an interview I did prior to the release of Marked.  

Busy working away on Book #10.  I’m hoping to get the first draft finished by around the end of August.  

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Three Quarters

First draft of Alex Verus #10, Fallen, has passed the 75% mark.  I still need to write the end section and then take the manuscript through the whole editing process, but at the current rate, it’s going to be finished soon!

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Miscellaneous

Reddit AMA is done!  You can read all the answers here.  See you next year!

First draft of Book #10, Fallen, is moving along nicely.  I’m hoping to have it finished within a couple of months.

I’ve learned that there was some mix-up with Barnes & Noble’s promotional placements in the US, and as a result orders got moved around.  I’ve got in touch with my publisher, and they’ve told me that B&N should have copies of Marked within the week.

And finally, one of the posters on r/AlexVerus has written some humorous but fairly accurate summaries of Books #1 through #8.  I found them pretty funny, so if you’re looking for a recap of the story so far before to jumping into Marked, I’d recommend them.  Major spoilers, obviously.

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Reddit AMA finishing up

My Reddit AMA is just ending.  I’ll answer questions for the next few hours, then pack it in.  Thanks to those who came along!

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Reddit AMA is live!

I’m doing a Reddit AMA on r/fantasy right now!  If you’ve got any questions or just want to hear my answers about Marked and the Alex Verus series in general, come drop by!

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