PW review for Hidden

We’re coming into the run-up for the September 2nd release of Hidden, and as is now traditional, the first review’ll be the Publishers Weekly one.  (Note: the review contains lots of spoilers, so I won’t post it here.  You can read it at the link, but consider yourself warned!)

I’ll post up the first chapter for Hidden some time this month, probably in a couple of weeks or so.  More reviews, news, etc as I get it!

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One By One

Well, Alex Verus #6 has been sent.  The final word count ended up being around 94,000 words, very similar to the previous volumes.

Now that the first draft’s done, I get a short (but much-needed) holiday.  Generally, the sequence is first draft -> initial edit -> copy edit -> proof read -> publication.  However, I can’t get started on the initial edit until I hear back from my editors at Orbit and Ace, which means that I’ve got a period of a few weeks while I wait for them to get back to me.  Some authors work on other books or short stories in this time, but frankly, right now, I don’t think I’d be up to writing anything very much.  To get this book in on time I spent the last three weeks doing pretty much nothing but writing and editing, and my energy reserves are low.

Still, the first draft is finished, which means the hardest part of the job is done.  Over the next few months my editors will give the book a look over, then it’ll get shuttled back to me to respond.  The same thing’ll repeat (on a decreasing scale) with the copy-edit and the proofread stage.  And finally, in 12 months or so, Alex Verus #6 will be published, by which time I’ll probably have forgotten about it since I’ll be working on the next book and trying to hit that deadline instead.  Still, this is where it starts, more or less. I mean, in a way, the book begins when I start writing it, but it always feels to me as though the book hasn’t really started down the road to publication until I send it off to the publishers.

This book’s been quite a headache to write – more so than Hidden and MUCH more so than Chosen.  Still, now that it’s done, I’m reasonably happy with it, and everyone who’s read the first draft seems to like the thing.  I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to see if you guys do too!

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And done.

First draft of Alex Verus #6 is finished.

To make the deadline, I spent yesterday editing the book all the way through from start to finish.  I’m going to go collapse for a while now.

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Almost There

Yeah, I know, I said I’d do an Ask Luna for this week, but I’ve been spending all of my time working away on Alex Verus #6.  Deadline is Monday, let’s see if I make it . . .

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Bits and Pieces

Some miscellaneous news for this week:

• Alex Verus #6 is into its final stages.  Word count is just shy of 90,000, which is about the average for one of my Verus books, but this one might end up running a little longer than usual.  In that case, I’ll end up missing the deadline – but eh, if it’s late, it’s late.  A week or two doesn’t make that much difference in the long run.

• The Nine Worlds tracks are starting to go up.  I’m planning to be there (it’s on 8-10th August, which should be safely past my deadline date) although I don’t yet know which events I’ll be doing – hopefully I’ll know nearer to the time!

Hidden’s release date is getting closer.  It’ll be out on September 2nd, and this time it’ll be released on the same day in the US and the UK instead of the Americans getting it a week early.  I’ll put up the first chapter some time in July in the Extracts section.

• Oh, and apparently there’s a World Cup on.  I have to admit, I’m vaguely curious about how England does.  I’m writing this on Thursday afternoon, so it’s entirely possible that by the time this gets posted the English team will have been effectively knocked out, but you never know . . .

Next week I’ve got a few more Ask Luna questions to post, and after that we’ll see how the deadline’s gone!

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Still More Reprints

Another set of reprint copies of Fated, Cursed, and Taken in the mail today.  When the current book’s proving hard work, it’s nice to have the encouragement!

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Ask Luna #30

From: shadewalker

Hello luna

I notice a trend in questions of specifically an absence of a trend nobody asks you questions about you so i plan to remedy this

1. how does your day start
2. what lessons do you get at mage school also what lessons do you get from alex
3. did you ever get back at that mage who cheap shotted you at the tournament
4. have you gotten in any trouble with that dick levistus

well i hope these ques won’t be too troublesom

Nowadays my schedule changes from day to day, but it’s fairly steady from week to week. I have a weekly/fortnightly rota of classes in the mornings and afternoons – they change sometimes as people get moved around or as one class finishes and a new one starts. I think it’s kind of like the schedules university students have, though I never went to college so I don’t know for sure. I go duelling two or three times a week (evenings, usually) and I fit in lessons with Alex around the rest of my schedule. Tuesdays I work at the shop. At the moment I have early starts three days a week, and I get to sleep in the other four. Not too bad.

And the answers to the last two questions are no, not exactly, and yes.

From: BlackMass

hey luna just some ques about elementals
1. how come alex hasn’t summoned starbreeze
2. where do elementals come from earth or another plane of existence
3. do they have a hierarchy like kings and queens
4. alex says starbreeze was dumb but are all elementals dumb
5. do some elemnent mage go to elementals to learn how to use their powers better

1. Focus got broken. I don’t think he’s found a workaround yet.
2. No idea.
3. No idea.
4. Mostly, yeah, though there are stories of some special ones that are quite smart.
5. In the legends, yeah. It’s kind of a ‘raised by wolves’ thing. I don’t think anyone does it nowadays.

From: blade saint

just wondering some thing
1. what was talsid up to in russia
2. has levistus made any moves against alex
3. what is the tiger man’s name again and why are his palms backwards
4. is alex’s shop magically in anyway besided all the magically items
5. and finally who owned alex’s shop before him

Do you really need to come up with a new name for yourself with each message?

From: Solo

Hi Luna,
Alex once mentioned that there were more powerful diviners than him. Helikaon was one. And he said there weren’t many different abilities a diviner could use, like pathwalking etc. Could you list all of them, or maybe just all the big and major ones? Thanks, Solo

As I understand it, diviners have one big trick (seeing into the future) and a lot of little ones. It’s just that the big one is really big, and you can use it in a lot of different ways. The two main things Alex does are pathwalking (following one particular future a long way) and precognition (wide-angle scanning of lots of different short-term futures), but that adds up to a lot. There was an Encyclopaedia series on it a while back, you can read it here.

From: Tom

Hi Luna.
I have a couple of questiosn. 1. Is magic the basis for all myths/legends? Like were the Greeks and Egyptians aware of it, and so there mythology is based on it? And were there any mages that were in great positions of power in the normal world? Like Abraham Lincoln or Gandhi? Thanks

Some myths/legends definitely come from things that mages or magical creatures have done. Not all, though, and even the ones that were true originally have had a really major Chinese Whispers effect happen to them over the years. You do NOT want to know what mermen/mermaids really look like – the Disney version was not even close.

As far as I know, there haven’t been many national leaders who were mages (or if they were, they were good at hiding it). I think mages tend to prefer a ‘power behind the throne’ setup.

From: John D.

Dear Luna,

I was reading one of your earlier posts, where someone had forgotten an r in “friction” and typed “fiction mage.” That got me thinking, however – what is the most esoteric field of magic you’ve heard of in your time as an apprentice? And would it be possible for someone to be a fiction mage – somehow bringing entities or objects out of fictional works and into reality?

Also, forgive me if this has been answered at some point, but what does one have to do to “graduate” from apprentice to full mage in the eyes of the governing body of Light mages?

Finally, are there any connections you know of between Light mages and mortal governments? Nothing so sinister as Mind Masters running Parliament members (hopefully), but some kind of covert back channel between the bodies that govern mages and regular governments to smooth over issues that arise from problems arising from magic?

Thanks, and my best to you, Alex, and Arachne!

Weirdest field of magic . . . that’s a hard one. There are supposed to be some branches of fate magic where you can make predictions that are guaranteed to come true. That’s always seemed pretty strange to me, I’ve no idea how that could work. Never heard of a fiction mage, though.

To graduate from apprentice to mage (at least as far as the Council is concerned) you have to pass your journeyman tests. It’s something I’m been thinking about a lot more lately. It’s not like it’s going to be tomorrow, but it’s getting closer . . .

And yeah, those sort of back-room deals are pretty much exactly how it works.

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Conventions this August

Just because a few people have asked – no, I’m probably not going to be at Loncon (Worldcon) this August.  On the plus side, I should be at Nine Worlds.

Work on Alex Verus #6 is taking up all of my time at the moment.  Provisional deadline for the first draft is June 30th.  I’m still hoping to make it, but it’ll be close!

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Ask Luna #29

From: Tom

Hi Luna, two quick questions. Who do both you and Alex think are the most dangerous and the strongest mages? And also what do you think is the coolest/best mage discipline? Thanks for the help.

There are a lot. Pretty much anyone who’s at master level is someone you really don’t want to pick a fight with. Beyond a certain point it doesn’t really matter who the strongest is – they can all squish you, they just do it in different ways.

As for which magic type’s the coolest, sound and fire are both pretty fun.

From: Raef13

Dear Luna
Thanks for doing this for us. I have some questions if you can answer me?

Okay, this is ludicrously long. I’m answering this one line by line.

Do councils/Darks in other countries have issues with other mages popping into their countries, like when Alex went to Arizona, and mess with adepts. Is it like poaching?

Yes, and yes.

Can death or life magic effect corpses (ie zombies)?


If a time mage was strong enough to shift someone or something out of a timeline what would that be like is it just destroyed or is it’s past destroyed too ( being forgotten by the universe)

Not a clue.

Can matter mages change what a thing is made of? (Are they where alchemists come from?)

Yes, with limits.

Do mages ever get involved in normal’s wars. Their wards may be strong but not even an envelopment focus based ward could stop demolition and I doubt they could hold up against a bomb. I would want either payback or to make them stop if someone blew up my house.

They’re not supposed to, but it still happens. It’s one of the things the Councils try to stop.

Can Alex do subconscious scanning when he’s asleep? Like those people who train themselves to wake up and reflexively do stuff when they aren’t even fully conscious yet?

You’ll have to ask him.

Are there any mages who do large scale things like controlling the weather in say a 5 square km area?


Have you noticed that Dark ideals are very similar to the Sith from star wars? Do you think maybe George Lucas is an adept that’s just tired of the Dark’s and trying to get back at them in his own way?

I suppose that would explain Anakin in the prequels.

Do Elementalist/Living mages have a certain degree of immunity to their own element?

Usually, assuming they take the time to learn it.

Are independent mages very rare? How are they thought of by the two factions?

No, they’re actually more common than Dark and Light mages put together.

Is magesight a requirement for magehood? Are there any mage masters without it?


Since you are a forced (cursed) adept and not a natural are you still a sensitive or are you just an insensitive with the ability to bend chance based off your emotions?

Mind your own business.

Can Alex make foci? What would their ability be?

Getting bored now.

Can a mage become a recognized as a master without going through the apprentice program or being a chosen? Is this what Alex did?
If you want to ward a place/object do you have to have different mages do the spells or can any mage craft the various wards?
Is the limit to the amount of magic a mage can do physical or mental?
Or is it based on something else all together? Or is there no limit?

. . . and I’ll skip the last few.

From: Josh

Hi Luna,
Two quick questions. First, has Alex ever fought another diviner, and how did it work? And what type of magic was the fateweaver using?

I think he went up against another diviner at least once, but it was a long time before he met me and I’ve never heard the full story. From what I can figure out, diviners try not to get into direct fights with each other in the first place. There aren’t many of them, so they have a kind of professional courtesy thing going on.

The fateweaver used fate/destiny magic. It’s kind of the mirror type to divination.

From: Josh

Sorry once again for not putting this in one message. What type of magic was Lee’s tracking ability?

We went over it afterwards, and our best guess was that it was life, a vaguer and very long-distance variant on Anne’s lifesight. She didn’t sense anything the times she was with him, but given that it’s a passive ability you wouldn’t really expect anything to show.  It could have been a few other types as well, but the fact that he seemed to need to get close to someone and get a good look before he could ‘lock on’ later seems to point to living magic of some kind.

From: Josh

Oh god, I’m really sorry, I just keep thinking of these after I post.
Do sound mages only control sound, or all vibrations in general.
Does Harvesting someone simply make you stronger, or does it give you use of their type of magic?
Are there some magic types that will never form hybrids? In the same vein, are there cross-family mages, like an air mage who can also use chance magic?

With sound mages, it blurs over. I think they tend to see sound and vibration as being different aspects of the same thing, though they usually specialise in the first.

It’s hard to get details about Harvesting, but I’ve heard stories of both. Alex thinks it’s usually the first – you get more raw power, but you don’t get access to a new type – but it’s not like he’s actually tried it. Although given what it does, you’d expect that it would change your magic type somehow.

And yes, you do get cross-family hybrids, but they’re much rarer. You tend to only get them between two types that have some sort of thematic link.

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Fated – UK Audio Release

Okay!  So for this week we’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

So, as some of you may remember, the Alex Verus novels were released in audio format in the US by Tantor a few months back.  One of the questions I’ve been getting since then is “when are they coming out in the UK?”

Well, the good news is that Fated is being released in the UK in audio format on 2nd September!  This is the same date as the release of book #5 in the Alex Verus series, Hidden.  The UK audio will be the same recording as the American Tantor edition, read by the same reader, Gildart Jackson.  You can listen to a sample of it here on SoundCloud.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that, as the eagle-eyed among you may have already spotted, the release date is for Fated, not the Alex Verus novels as a group.  The reason for this is that while Fated is getting a UK audio release, Cursed, Taken, Chosen, and Hidden aren’t, at least not as yet.  So this means that while you’ll be able to listen to Fated, you won’t be able to listen to any of the ones that come after.  This is obviously less than ideal, given that the whole idea of a series like this one is that people who like the first book will hopefully read the others.  Unfortunately, since my UK publishers have the audio rights, it’s their decision and not mine.

I’ve asked when Cursed/Taken/etc are likely to be getting their own UK audio releases, but haven’t gotten any very definite answer.  Best guess is that my publishers are planning to wait and see what the sales of the Fated audio edition are like first.  Unfortunately, given the delay times in the publishing business, this means there’s likely to be a significant wait.

But, on the positive side, one’s better than none, and those of you who’ve been emailing asking for a UK audio edition have got something to look forward to at least.  I’ll keep working on getting audio editions of the rest of the books in the series published in this country as well, and when I have any news I’ll post it up here.  Until then, watch this space!

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