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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French edition!

I don’t think I’ve made an announcement about this yet, but the Alex Verus series will be released in a French translation this year!  Here’s a look at the covers.


Fated, Cursed, and Taken, will be released in in their French edition this June.  

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Three Months to Marked

Well, it’s getting to that time of year again.  The ninth book in the Alex Verus series, Marked, should be released about three months from now, on July 3rd.  

I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA on r/fantasy within a week or so of the release date, and as usual I’ll put up the first chapter a month or two in advance.  More details closer to the time!

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All Caught Up

I’m actually caught up on Ask Luna questions.  It’s been so long since that happened, I can’t remember when it was.

Still working on Alex Verus #10, but in the meantime I’ve started to think about the next book (or series of books) I’ll write.  The end of the Alex Verus series isn’t close, but this is the first time I’ve seriously thought about it.

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Ask Luna #103

From: Andy deal

Now that some time has passed what has alex found that he can do with the dreamstones. Or his in particular. And it sounds like they might have different qualities depending on the stone hence alex ‘s pick of the one less geared towards compulsion. what are the strong points of his crystal. Very curious about this new avenue of magic. Thanks so much.

Alex has mostly been working on the communication aspects of his dreamstone, I think. He can use it to talk to any of us now at pretty much any range. The Elsewhere abilities are a bit murkier. The top-level ability is supposed to be to enter Elsewhere physically, but I don’t think he’s actually tried it yet, since Arachne has warned him that it’s horrendously dangerous.

From: Jack

Hi, Mage Vesta. I was wondering if you could grant a request/answer a few questions?

1/ We haven’t had an encyclopaedia article in almost four years! Could we get one? Maybe one on Illusion magic, or plant/nature magic, or a series on Adepts.
2/How true is the myth of Arachne and Athena in regards to the huge spider we all know and love?
3/I’m not sure if you’ve answered this before, but can Adepts use focus items? Although they are limited in their breadth of power, I would’ve thought they could channel their energy into a focus.
4/In the recounts of your ‘adventures’ with Alex, for lack of a better term, have you met any other magical creatures we don’t know about? Could you give us a little information on the most common magical creatures native to the British Isles?

All the best,

Jack

1. Honestly, I’ve been kind of enjoying not having to hit the study books any more. I guess I could look one up . . .

2. Good question. My guess is that it’s one of those things that was based on a true story but which has gotten changed a lot over the years. The obvious way to find out would be to ask her, but Arachne doesn’t seem at all keen on talking about her past. I’ve got a feeling there’s something going on there, but she doesn’t make it easy to find out what.

3. Most can’t. I can. I don’t know if that’s because I’m more powerful than average, but I think it’s more to do with practice and opportunity. I spent a lot of time around Alex and his shop, which meant I got to spend a lot of time trying out different focus items and fiddling around with them. It did take a lot of trial and error, though.

4. I’m not sure if there are very many common ones any more. The ones that are numerous enough that you’re likely to ever see more than one are the ones like blink foxes, that can blend into the background and stay out of trouble.

From: toniaraem

Hi Luna,
I was wondering, can life mages heal animals and plants? If yes, do they need special training for things like that?

Yes, they can, and apparently it’s pretty easy. According to Anne the basic techniques for healing a dog or a cat are exactly the same as the ones you’d use for healing a human. It only gets difficult once you try to work on ones with really different physiologies (so you might need some pointers to figure out how to do reptiles, for instance).

From: Jim

Hi Luna,

I have two things I wanted to address.

First back to my last missive, your point that there was some bribery possible to get Anne to remain under a threat of death. I thought a lot about this and see it in two steps. First, Alex and all his dependents were put on the list. This required one of 4 people to create the threat. The way out for yourself (as an example) but not Anne required a separate effort. If Levistus was only concerned with Alex, then why put the dependents under the threat of death at all. Again, this points to influence at the start of the process as well as the end. If we assume that Levistus did not talk directly to Morden about this, then somebody probably suggested it. Some Light Mage who knows Alex and has some influence. I am thinking directly here about Lyle. If there is a go between, he seems perfect for the role.

Second, I was thinking a lot about the Light Council and its view of everyone else. And it seems to me to be prototypically British – having a distinct and clear class system that people can not escape. I am wondering if the shape of relationships between particularly Adepts and Mages in other countries is different, based around the culture of those countries.

It’s . . . possible. I don’t like thinking about this stuff because it makes me paranoid, but it could have happened, yeah. It’s so hard to figure out who to blame with stuff like this, though, just because there are so many mages out there who’d be willing to do it. It’s one thing to keep track of enemies, but once you expand that to ‘anyone who can be pushed around or bribed’ then it feels like that’s half the Council.

As for the second . . . well, I’m afraid that the mage/adept/everyone else class distinction is pretty much exactly the same in every other part of the world that I’ve been to. The conventions are different and the flavour is different, but I don’t know a single country where adepts don’t get treated differently to mages.

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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

Luna,

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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Placeholder

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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