Ask Luna #107

From: Fade

Hi Luna, a few questions for you.

1) I’m a bit curious as to how things are going for Alex as a councilor. As a result of the means of his elevation to the position, does he have the same influence as the others? I imagine that the vast majority of the council members, both junior and senior, amassed a great deal of power and influence to even be able to secure themselves a seat. Given that Alex received his seat almost by accident, and thus very likely began with significantly less influence and connections as the others, has being a councilor actually gotten him any pull? I understand Junior members don’t get a vote on council resolutions, so what actual power to junior council members achieve besides the title itself and the perception of being powerful? If perception is the key, does he suffer in it as a result of the nature of his appointment? Or does he benefit from the mystique of having been chosen by Morden (even more infamous now) and surviving the strike team? (If that is common knowledge, which I assume it is given how significant the blow must have been to Sal Sarque’s power base and reputation.)

2) It seems like Alex doesn’t manage to see all that far into the future in a lot of ways that other Diviners manage too. For example, he didn’t see Lyle coming to try and recruit him way back when everyone was trying to get the Fateweaver, while all the other Diviners seemed to know what was coming. I understand that Alex was somewhat removed from the situation, but that also seems to be the standard mode of operation for Diviners in general. Is Alex better at
close range Divination? Can he pick apart immediate futures better than someone like Helikaon? In my head right now I imagine it somewhat like Anne’s magic. Top notch close-up, but challenged at range.

3) Has Arachne explained what Alex might eventually accomplish with the Dreamstone? I believe there was mention of physically stepping into Elsewhere, but what exactly are the benefits of that? Avoiding confrontation? Traveling physically in the real world, like gating
except to people rather than places? I also recall mention of connecting with items. Could Alex potentially wield something like the Bloodsword without going on a murderous rampage?

Finally, given that Sal Sarque seems to be shaping up as an enemy similar to Levistus, I was curious both as to what his magic type is, and how his name is pronounced. Is it like sal-sar-kay? or Sal-Sark? Thanks for your time!

The last one’s the easiest to answer – its ‘sark’. The first three are harder.

1) He has a lot less influence than the others, as you’ve guessed. The others all bought their way on by having a lot of friends and a lot of pull. Alex didn’t inherit Morden’s networks, so he started pretty much from zero. He’s done a decent job working his way up, but he’s got a long way to go. The mystique thing hadn’t occurred to me, but that might explain why none of them have moved against him openly.

2) Pretty much, yeah. Alex is much more of a combat diviner than someone like Helikaon. He’s really good at short-range divination and he’s really good at sorting through futures quickly. He’s decent at path-walking – that’s the medium-range kind where you see what’ll happen over the next few hours. What he’s not so good at is the long-distance stuff. From a few things I’ve heard I get the impression that it might be a lifestyle/personality thing as much as anything else. To be good at that stuff you have to have to be coming from a very controlling, stable sort of place.

3) I’m not sure. Arachne hasn’t told Alex exactly what it does, so that mostly just leaves guesswork, and the times I’ve asked around, no-one’s been very helpful. Half the people will tell you that it’s supposed to be flat-out impossible, and the other half just give you vague warnings that don’t really explain anything. I get the feeling that they don’t actually know much about it, either, which makes me wonder why there’s so much mystery.

From: Fade

Oh hey, I forgot to add one more in addition to my previous questions. Given that Alex is now theoretically the representative of all the Dark Mages in Britain, has his contact with them increased? Do Dark Mages ever come to him with issues to take to the council? Or do they mostly view the idea as a joke? Has their perception of him changed as a result of his position? As a result of his surviving Sally’s strike team? Has Alex been re-classified as a Dark Mage rather than an Independent? For the light mages, he holds a seat that exists for Dark Mages, which would make him Dark. For Dark Mages, he works for Morden and Richard and helped kill a Crusader strike team, which also makes him pretty Dark. What do you think about what Morden said to Alex about him being already a Dark Mage in all but name? Do you think Alex could reconcile his own personal actions with Dark philosophy? If being a Dark Mage is about doing what you want, which is basically what Alex does, and what he wants to do is generally positive, do you think he could tolerate thinking of himself as a Dark Mage once again?

Wow I’ve really rambled on here, that was way more than one more question.

Sorry if I’m asking too much of your time!

I think a handful have tried coming to him with issues and stuff like that. And I do mean a handful. The rest all think it’s a joke. Even the ones that have come are really cautious about it, probably because they don’t want other Dark mages to see them as the kind of guy who has to run to the Council to solve their problems.

As for the Dark mage/Independent mage thing, god knows. That’s something I’m going to have to figure out one of these days, but that philosophy stuff just annoys me so much that I’d rather throw up my hands and let someone else deal with it.

From: Brian

Dear Lina,

Alex told Chalice that the prevailing theory is that Drakh’s magic type is either Enchanter or Mind mage, because he’s a very good manipulator.

Alex also speculated that he might be a Diviner for similar reasons, but didn’t think it was likely because Drakh had a reputation of having killed a lot of mages by himself.

My question is, why haven’t we seen Life mage discussed as a potential magic type?

A life mage’s ability to read physiological indicators for lying could contribute to Drakh’s manipulation talents.

It could explain why he chooses to hide his magic type and rely on items. He wouldn’t have ranged capabilities and mages are typically twitchy about letting a life mage within arms reach. So, he hides his magic type, to make it more likely that he can get close in combat situations.

Additionaly, Anne says his body showed signs of longevity magic. And, when Drakh was masquerading as Archon he seemed to be able to sense Alex spying on him without seeing him.

All of this seems to point pretty strongly to him being a life mage. Is there anything I’m missing that would suggest Drakh definitely isn’t a life mage?

Yes . . . and no. I mean, everything you’ve said is true, and there’s nothing Richard’s done that proves he isn’t a one. And technically, it could explain everything he’s done. But it would still be really, really odd. For one thing, life mages get serious amounts of attention. You can pass as another type of mage if you’re an enchanter or a diviner or something; it’s a lot harder if you’re a life mage.

For another . . . it’s hard to explain, but from everything I’ve heard, he doesn’t really feel like a life mage. There’s just something distinctive about them. Even the ones that are polar opposites in every way you can think of, like Anne and Vihaela, you can sort of see the ways in which they’re similar. Richard doesn’t have that.

From: Exejpgwmv

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

Haven’t tried it, but I’d expect so. My magic doesn’t do anything special as far as time goes.

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Three Week Marked

Marked is a little less than three weeks away!  The release date is July 3rd, which should cover both the paper and Kindle editions as well as the Audible audiobook.  You can find another early review here.  

For those of you who’d like to ask me some questions about the series, I’ll be doing another Reddit AMA one week after the book’s release, on July 10th, on r/fantasy.  Obviously, there are likely to be spoilers, so you might want to hold off on reading it if you haven’t looked at Marked yet, but otherwise, drop by and ask me things!

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Ask Luna #106

From: Child of Amber

I am starting to think Richard is not the Big Bad. I am not even sure he is drown three kittens before breakfast Evil. I am thinking he knows Something is Coming. Something big and implacable and he has been working hard for a long time to head it off. Or maximize his benefit when it comes. But I keep going back to that last scene with Alex and Richard fighting… adjacent (?) to each other. Richard could have ended Alex or left him to die or just stay quiet the whole time. And the tone was not “I am doing this because it is solely to my benefit”. It would certainly help alot to know 1) Richard’s true talents and 2) what is up with those Gateways and whatever is on the other side. I know it is easy for me in a comfy chair to ponder these things while you are at the sharp end of Richard’s attentions, but I wonder what you think of this idea. It would be truly disturbing if it was the Light side trying to bring in Something Old to put down the Dark Mages and we would need to root for Team Richard to prevent the unthinkable.

You’re REALLY optimistic. Yeah, Richard isn’t the drown-kittens-for-fun type. He’s still really bad news for anyone who gets too close. He doesn’t want Alex dead, but I’m pretty sure that’s because he’s got plans for him, not out of the kindness of his heart. I’m not going to say too much about what happened recently, but let’s just say that what he’s done lately hasn’t given us any more reason to like him (or to be less scared of him).

From: Fade

I believe I recall Morden mentioning that most of the Councilors’ business is run through the PA’s, and I was wondering whom Alex dragooned into taking the roll. It would have to be somebody who can take care of themselves in a fight, just in case the Crusaders haven’t given up on torturing information out of the designated Dark Representative’s assistants. Anne maybe? Because she’s already on their shitlist and might therefore not suffering as much increased personal risk as you or Vari? Vari? Because he has the protection of Landis? I figured it’s not you, because you just got a job running your own store.

Good call on your part. Alex tried a couple of noncombatant types, and it didn’t work too well, for pretty much the reasons you guessed. Alex probably would have asked me if I didn’t have the shop, but I just don’t have the time. Besides, I wouldn’t really want to spend 10 hours a day hanging around the War Rooms anyway.

From: Cansky

What do you think about the initial effects of Alex’s dreamstone regarding Anne?

And if you had to guess, what effects did Anne’s dreamstone have on her?

Do you think if Anne and Alex will ever be together?

1. Don’t know what you mean.

2. None, I hope? Bit worrying to think that it might have. Still, she didn’t have it for long.

3. Ask a diviner.

From: Simon

Hi Luna

If at the beginning of the books Alex can only do one type of magic, shouldn’t he be called an adept?

also please don’t die, you’re awesome, if you die I’ll cry DON’T DIE LUNA, PLEASE

Oh, not that question again. I’ve answered it like five times now. Do a Google search on this site or something.

And relax, I’m not going to die anytime soon. If there’s one thing my curse is good at, it’s keeping me safe.

From: BlackMass

is Alex still beholden to Drakh even with his council seat, also do fear the day Richard comes to see you to see the former apprentice of his former apprentice?

Alex doesn’t think he’s beholden anymore. Whether Richard sees it the same way’s another question. So far he hasn’t made any moves.

I’ve yet to actually meet Richard face to face. He doesn’t seem to have taken an interest in me, and honestly, I’m fine with that. I don’t mind hanging out with some types of Dark mages but I’m not stupid.

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PW review for Marked

Continuing in our series of Publisher’s Weekly reviews for my books, here’s the instalment for No. 9.  

The complex ninth novel in Jacka’s outstanding urban fantasy series adds substantially to protagonist Alex Verus’s self-understanding as he prepares for the ultimate showdown with Machiavellian dark mage Richard Drakh, his onetime mentor . . . as he realizes what a long game his enemy is playing, Alex must recognize that his own ambitions may also be dangerous. The story moves briskly along with skillful character development, but by now so much lore from the first eight books has accumulated that even series fans may have to stop to figure out who’s doing what . . . this is not a good place to begin reading the series, but the series itself is very, very good, and once readers have refreshed their memories, they’ll eagerly dive into this installment.

US release date is July 3rd, so only one month to go!  

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Ask Luna #105

From: River

Hello Mage Vesta,

Firstly, while I’m sure you’re dealing with quite a bit as of late, I hope you’ve had at least some time to breathe and relax. Congratulations on your test, I’d be quite curious to hear more of how you completed it. It did not seem particularly enjoyable from an outside perspective.

Secondly, I was curious about something more historic. Have there been, or are there, any prominent/powerful/living dark emotion mages? My personal philosophy leans that way, at least compared to the light side, and it would seem likely for me to be an emotion mage if it’s tied so closely to personality. It’s just a bit off putting to think of my theoretical self as dead upon arrival so to speak. I’m sure Alex has had a good taste of that feeling too. Have you heard of anyone, past or present, like that?

Hope you and yours are doing well, and good luck with continuing to advance your magic.

I didn’t enjoy the test much, no, but to be honest what happened afterwards pretty much drove it all out of my mind. Got out wanting to celebrate and talk all about it, and found out that all of a sudden it didn’t matter any more.

And yeah, there are dark emotion mages, just like every other type, but they tend to make a lot of effort to stay under the radar. I know about maybe half a dozen Dark mages who are supposed to be enchanters, and in every case it’s a mixture of rumours and second-hand news. I’ve no idea which ones are the actual big fish.

From: Faragorn

I’m curious as to how water magic gets a disintegration beam. It is similar to how water can over time erode things, and if so, does the effectiveness vary depending on how resistant the target materials is to water erosion? For example Granite would be highly resistant.

Yup, I think that’s the theory. Anything that’s erosion-resistant is disintegration-resistant, and from what I’ve heard, if you want to make an anti-disintegration item, that’s the kind of material you want. Though a water mage can always just amp up the power, so ‘resistant’ isn’t necessarily going to be enough.

From: May

These are two totally unrelated questions and I am sorry for that. However they have been bugging me.
1) Do you think Alex is depressed?
2) Can Anne see people’s penis sizes?
Sorry for the personal touch, I was just curious. If you don’t want to answer you don’t have to, but thanks anyways.

1) I’m pretty sure he used to be (takes one to know one). He seems a lot happier now. Well, maybe not happy, but he’s a lot more engaged.
2) When it comes to people’s bodies, Anne can see literally everything. Inside, outside, you name it.

From: Arborden

Why hasn’t some enterprising mage made an annuler bullet? It just seems logical from a defense/military standpoint. It would defeat shields, and kill the underlying mage at the same time? Or a bullet laced with a life spell to kill etc, I’m sure they’ve made arrows with like spells in the old days. If the Light council is afraid to let something like that out, I’m sure a Dark Mage would jump at the chance we to make his troops, hirelings etc, deadly to Light Mages.

Someone’s been watching Fate/Zero.

Short answer is that an annuller spell won’t automatically dispel what it touches – it depends on how much power you put into it and how resistant the target is. It’s also possible to harden a spell against annullment effects. You get a whole rock/paper/scissors thing where mages balance the effectiveness of trying to dispel something against trying to bypass it or brute-force their way through.

But they probably wouldn’t use bullets in any case since it’s annoyingly difficult to tie any kind of decent spell into something so small (you run into mass/power limitations). An arrow would work better.

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German cover!

This week, a quick look at the cover for the German edition of Fated!

Das Labyrinth von London von Benedict Jacka

The edition will be published this July 2018 by Random House.  Details here.  

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Marked Chapter 1 Online

The first chapter of the ninth Alex Verus book, Marked, is now online!  You can read it here.  

Marked will be released in the US and UK on July 3rd, 2018.  

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Ask Luna #104

From: Andrew

Hi Luna,
1. We’ve seen mages who have had the goal of turning non-mages into mages via transferring power from magical creatures. Your curse seems to have successfully turned you into a mage. Has there been much interest from the magical community toward studying your curse with a
view of being able to expand the mage population by doing something similar?
2. Do you think the new Councillor Alex Verus will be able to be much of a voice for the rights of apprentices and adepts and magical creatures?
3. There seems to be no female representation on the council. Is there no female mage group that women can join to network together and push for representation?

1. Not really. I get the feeling that they think I’m a ‘second-best’ sort of mage and they want the real thing, though no-one comes out and says it. Personally, I think they like the idea of expanding the mage population a lot more than the reality.

2. He’s trying. Some people listen, but I don’t know how much impression he makes. I know he finds it pretty exhausting – he says it feels like trying to push over a house.

3. There are a few women on the Council (it’s either one Senior and one Junior or one Senior and two Junior – can’t remember which) but not that many. There are a couple of clubs for female Light mages which claim to be pretty much what you describe, but the times I went to check them out I wasn’t impressed.

From: Yasain

Greetings,

I was wondering about mage Traditions, Alex and Talisid briefly discusses a Tradition that existed during the Byzantine era. I was wondering, what are traditions? Do members of a given tradition gain any new kind of magical power or is it simply a social club with similar interests?

A second question, during Bound Archon(presumably Richard) displays some kind of black magic effects. Alex says it doesn’t look like any Darkness or Radiation magic he knows, do you know anything of those kinds of magic? What do they do, which family do they belong to?

I’m sorry if these questions have been asked before, thanks a lot for the taking the time!

-Yasain

I think both of those questions are new ones, actually.

Traditions are sort of a cross between schools and politicial parties – so they’re more like social clubs, but they’ll also tend to have a bunch of research and resources that they’ll keep secret from anyone not in the inner circle. It’s kind of like a label that mage historians stick on after the event.

Darkness, light, and radiation are closely related magic types – the way I was taught it was that they’re all sub-types of radiation magic and darkness and light are more like specialities. They’re classed as universal but they’ve got a bunch of traits that puts them closer to elemental. It’s pretty much light control, so brightening things, darkening things, visual effects, and so on. The more subtle ones go in for invisibility tricks, the more aggressive ones prefer laser beams.

From: Kurt Von Bosse

To Mage Vesta,

I have two questions for you today:

First, we know that Alex was worried that informing the Light Council of Morden’s impending attack against the War Room was exactly what Morden and Richard wanted him to do, but he felt it was the still the best option to take. Now Alex’s fears appears to have been correct, even though Morden and Richard also used well timed rumors and probably set up the adept protest to further mislead the Council as to their true intentions. Does Alex feel that he was used or is he worried that his actions were easily predicted by Morden and Richard? Or, perhaps Alex feels he made the best out of a bad situation by getting the Council to remove the death sentence that sat over his and Anne’s head and has moved on to dealing more pressing issues. I’d like your insight into the matter.

Second, you have a unique perspective of having learned directly from Alex what happened in the Light’s Council’s vault. You also know what the Council allowed to become public knowledge (to the magical community) of that night and you have probably heard from Talisid as well.

I imagine having an entire Crusader strike team wiped-out with no apparent losses to the dark mages who attacked and looted the vault must have created shock waves of fear, recriminations and paranoia within the hierarchy of the British Light Council, but I’m wondering what Council allowed to become public knowledge of that night. Did the Council try to hide their losses in secrets and personnel? I also wonder if this is something that really can be kept secret or if it became an open secret? Perhaps everyone including independent mages and possibly adepts have heard the Light Council took a beating that night even if they don’t know the specifics. What was the Light Council’s public reaction?

The first question . . . well, it wasn’t just Alex’s decision, we all had a say. As far as the Council goes, I think things went about as well as could be expected. I mean, it was a crappy situation, and we came out of it with everyone alive and with the death mark lifted. The thing with Richard and Anne worries me a lot more.

The Council’s official reaction was to claim that Richard had launched a sneak attack and was driven off. Nothing about the casualties, nothing about anything being stolen. The cover-up didn’t work very well – it’s hard to keep something that big under wraps and we’re pretty sure Richard’s agents were spreading word as well, so between one thing and another it didn’t take long before people had a pretty good idea that the Council had come out worse. Eventually the Council put out a more informative statement (still with all the important stuff censored out) but by then it didn’t do much except confirm what people knew anyway.

From: Ryan

Mage Vesta,
Not sure if you have addressed this before, but do you know how the human looking constructs are made? Are the bodies made from scratch, or do they use a human body to start? I’ve always been curious about it, as any mage seems to be able to do it. Thank you for your time. I’ve long been a big fan

They make them from scratch. Dead human bodies aren’t actually very good focuses for the kinds of spells that constructs use, so it’s a lot easier for mages to custom-build them to purpose. If they’re not very good at the hands-on side of the process, they might get another mage to supply the body for them.

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Marked reviewed on RT

Early reviews are starting to come in for Marked, and Romantic Times has named it as one of their Top Picks!

“Benedict Jacka doesn’t waste a moment in this ninth series installment, plunging readers into the ongoing action and lingering intrigue of his increasingly complex Alex Verus series.  Even though the plot races forward at a breakneck pace, this story is also very much about the toll that Verus’s adventures and choices have taken . . . Serious devotees will no doubt savour the intense character developments and leave eager to see all that the future holds.” (Bridget Keown.)

We’re getting towards the two month mark, so I’ll put the first chapter online in two or three weeks.  

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Cursed On Sale


For those of you who don’t have it yet, or who have a friend who might be interested, Cursed is currently on sale!  It’s being promoted by BookBub and will be available for only $1.99.  You can find a list of retailer’s links under the book’s name under the ‘Supernatural Suspense’ category here.  

I’m told that the sale will last until April 22.  

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