March Update, Continued

A break from the usual Ask Lunas for a second real-world update!

So as you may or may not know, depending which country you’re reading this in, the UK is currently in lockdown, with most businesses closed and social distancing measures in place.  The government’s banned all public gatherings and asked everyone to leave their house as infrequently as possible.  It doesn’t affect my work directly but it does make various family-related things more difficult.  

Aside from the inconvenience, everything’s fine in our household so far.  Let me know how things are going for you guys!

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March Update

Various bits and pieces of news for the month!

The big announcement (from my point of view) is that I’ve started work on Alex Verus #12.  First page is done, which is generally one of the hardest bits.  It’s also in all likelihood the last time I’ll ever be able to say that – I won’t be starting any more Alex Verus novels after this.  Odd feeling.  I’m aiming to finish by around the end of the year, so fingers crossed that I make it.  

We also finally have confirmed release dates for the book before!  Alex Verus #11, Forged, will be coming out on November 24th 2020 in the US.  UK release date should be about a week later, on December 1st, but I haven’t been able to get firm confirmation on that (haven’t heard from my publisher, so I have to pull the date off Amazon).  Still, it’s a safe bet that it’ll be somewhere around early December.  

And that’s about it from an Alex Verus point of view (obviously there are a few other things happening in world news).  Hope you’re all doing okay, and I’ll keep you up to date with anything I hear!

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Ask Luna #156

From: Bryan

1. Was Fate magic naturally occurring in mages and for whatever reason people stopped being born with it or was it created into Fateweavers and other imbued items?

2. Do you think Fate magic is a hybrid of divination and chance magic? It seems like Alex is sensing/rising chance through the Fateweaver and better directing it with his divination if that makes sense, so do you this is a hybrid or is it just advanced chance magic and Alex’s divination just happens to have a similar power set?

3. Have you ever heard of humans using Wish magic by themselves or can they only do so with the Jinn? If it is the latter do you think Fate magic originated in another magical creature and mages created fateweavers to harness it?

4. Do you why some Chance mages would want to be on the Light Council when they are not wanted? Is it just for the same reasons most mages join the Light Council power and prestige or do you think it could be the Light Council wanting to keep a tabs on all magic types even the ones they mistrust and a few Chance Mages are willing to fulfill that role?

1. No clue, honestly.

2. No, I get the feeling it’s much closer to my own chance magic. The ‘sensing’ part is Alex’s divination, and that’s why he can use it a lot more effectively than other people could.

3. It’s jinn-only as far as I know.

4. Uh . . . as far as I know, they don’t. I’ve never heard of any chance mages campaigning for Council status. Universalist mages are pretty rare on the Council, I think.

From: Michael

So what are Alexe’s limitations on his power now? Isn’t he basically omniscient now?

In the confrontation with Sarque he made a zero chance event happen, basically only because it was physically possible.

What’s technically stopping him from taking a look at Levistus potential futures and pick one in which he has a stroke or heart attack?

A stroke is a pure chance event with no outside factors (there are contributing risk factors but they only heighten or lower probability), and we have seen him manipulate events that he himself isn’t involved at all.

There is a host of life-threatening happenstance that are more or less chance related that he can basically flip on his opponents at any time.

Stroke, cancer mutations, pulled muscles, burst veins, the beginnings of an aneurysm. At this point, any of his opponents are just a few minutes with the Fateweaver away from being on the course for terminal illness if not immediate death.

Have we met? Because there was this guy who came into the shop a while ago and kept talking for like an hour about using magic to cause strokes, and you sound a LOT like him.

Anyway, I don’t actually think it works that way, but I’m not enough of an expert on the nuts and bolts of how the fateweaver works. Just from my own magic, I kind of doubt that giving someone a stroke is that easy. If I curse someone, it usually acts through stuff in the environment.

Also, I tried hinting this at the time, but your fascination with giving people strokes and cancer and heart attacks is kind of creepy.

From: Jarik

Dear Luna, I don’t know how much you about Alex’ fateweaver (perhaps you can ask him), but I have two questions:
First, how could he disarm those bombs whenthe chance was intially 0%?
Second, why didn’t he give Richard a heart attack or an aneurysm the same way?

With kind regards and the best wishes for your future,
Jarik

Dude, SERIOUSLY. GO AWAY.

From: Liam

Why is it that mantis Golems have laser weapons but Council security forces don’t? It seems like it would be a serious advantage to have against hostile mages.
Have you ever heard of a force/space hybrid mage? If so, do you think that they could do that implosion attack that Vitus used in Fountain Reach?
How are mantis golems created?
I heard that one of the guardians of the Vault was a guardian Dracoform. Could you explain to me what that is?
Thank you very much for answering these questions.

Mantis golems are mindless slaves, Council security aren’t. Yes, if they could miniaturise those energy projectors and give them to Council security, it’d make them a lot more effective. But are you sure the Council WANTS their security guards to be really good at killing mages?

Never heard of a force/space hybrid, no. I think that particular spell was one he might have specially researched, because I’ve never seen anyone else use it. A lot of master mages have secret tricks like that.

Dracoforms are like lesser dragons. They look like true dragons, but they’ve got nothing else in common with them.

From: Lucas

Hey Luna just have a few questions. Do you know how British and French Mages get along? Do they have the same grudging respect/heartily disdain like the normal citizens do with each other?

On another note are mages from different countries like the United States or Germany different from the ones in Great Britain? Do they have different attitudes towards adepts, are Dark Mages less vicious or more so, are they more internationally focused etc….

British and French mages do seem to have trouble getting on. I can kind of see why – the time I’ve met French apprentices/journeymen, they’re harder to talk to. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, the culture is just different – you’re expecting things they don’t do, they’re expecting things you don’t know they want.

And all the different countries have their own quirks, yeah. Like in Italy, novices seem to get treated much better, but getting journeyman rank is supposed to be a nightmare.

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Taken On Sale

Book 3 of the Alex Verus series, Taken, will be on sale for $1.99 via a BookBub promo starting the weekend after this one.  

The promotion’s supposed to run from March 15th to March 29th, and the discount will last throughout that time.  (Realistically if you’re interested enough to read this, you probably own Taken already, but I figure it’s worth giving you all a heads up just in case.)

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Ask Luna #155

Okay, let’s see if we can get anywhere with this backlog . . .

From: Bryan

Okay so it seems Richard went to another world to develop new ways of getting power a lot of it having to do with Jinn but the main question is where he went and why would he need to go this specific place. The only thing I could come up with was a place with advanced magic and away from prying eyes, and the perfect place would be Syriathis the old capital of the Light Council before the Dark Wars that Abrithirax mentioned. The old council had access to advanced magic, which was supplied in part by magical creatures some of which had to been the Jinn and Richard could have used that as a starting point for his research. Now I believe an old Ask Luna said that Alata was a world that connected to other worlds and perhaps he used that from Syriathis to come back to our world. Unless he used the jinn he had already although I think he would need something more powerful but in any event do you think this is a plausible theory as to where he was for ten years?

On a side note were Alata and Syriathis connected kinda of like a city to a world or was Syriathis on our world only kinda of like a shadow realm that connected the two?

I have no idea. Sorry. This sort of stuff is way outside my ballpark, and anything I say is basically just going to be a wild guess.

From: Sara

So apparently, Richard has a fan club that is interested in his dating life, others want to become volunteer slaves for Vihaela, and there is a segment of the fandom that wants Morden to be Alex’s “daddy”. Now I am sure you are confused/freaked out by this as I am, but that lead me to wonder if in mage/adept society there are people who are for lack of a better word, “fans” of Drakh’s cabal kinda of like how serial killers or mass shooters get them in real life.

Yes, it’s absolutely a thing, and when I found out about it my thought processes went through pretty much the same lines that yours did. I used to think it was totally insane, until I did some poking around on the Internet and discovered that serial killers in prison get actual marriage proposals. So now I still think it’s insane, but insane in a more literal way, as in ‘yes, these people really are that nuts’.

I think maybe these people just have really uneventful lives or something, and never have to deal with this sort of stuff for real? That’s the only explanation I can think of that makes any sense.  Or at least the only explanation that I want to believe makes sense, because the alternatives are much worse.

From: Ian

Hey Luna just have a few questions about mage society.

1. Do you know what time period the Precursor mages lived in? Was it prehistory, two thousand years ago, or were there multiple Precursor’s societies over a large period of time kinda of like how we call people in antiquity Ancient Greece/Rome?

2. Have you ever heard of Dark Mages forming their own Council? I can’t imagine they would last long but it would be interesting to see if Dark Mages could form institutions.

3. Have your heard of any instances of elemental mages hiding their magic type? In the Light Council is it even possible to hide your type since their is a public examination? So couldn’t you go through the records and discover if Levistus is a mind/time or whatever mage?

4. I doubt that this is happening now nor in the foreseeable future but I heard that there were Dark Apprentices who took classes in the apprentice program with you, what was that like? I only ask because why would Dark Mages want to learn from the Light Council, I get associations but wouldn’t it make them look weak to other Dark Mages if they went to the Council for instruction? Plus I can’t imagine someone like Onyx listening to a teacher in a controlled setting unless Dark Apprentices are less volatile before they become full Dark Mages.

Okay, look, I’ve been trying to be diplomatic about this, but these emails are just getting too long. I think I’m going to have to put some sort of cut-off limit on these things – 4 or more questions in one email is way too much, especially when they’re vague multi-part ones about topics I don’t know much about.

1. No.

2. No.

3. Yes.

4. This is a decent question but my eyes are glazing over at this point, so I’m going to have to pass. Sorry.

From: John Dee

Hey Luna, thanks for responding to my question.

I’m curious as to why Richard invited Crystal into his organization. Isn’t she being hunted by Dark mages for murdering their apprentices for her ritual? Then, wouldn’t those Dark mages take umbrage – to say the least – with Richard protecting her? His organization is plagued with a lot of infighting. I would have thought that Richard would want to avoid triggering that particular headache.

Also, just how strong is Crystal, anyway? She seems competent, but not on the same level as Abithriax or Levistus, or a master mage. Crystal doesn’t seem to be powerful enough for the trouble she’d bring, including her obsession with Anne getting in the way of Richard’s plans, but that’s my two cents.

I keep on getting questions along the lines of ‘why did Richard do this?’ and my first reaction is always to say ‘I dunno, why don’t you ask him?’. I generally bite my tongue because I’m afraid someone might actually take me seriously.

Anyway . . . yeah, as you’ve probably guessed, I do not in fact know the details about Richard’s recruitment decisions. Presumably he’s got his reasons.

From: Wesley

1. Why do you think Richard waited so long to get Anne? Why didn’t he just leak to the Light Council that she was the one responsible for the Prison Break or just have her openly declare she was on his side? Not that I hoped he would mind you, but was there some other reason that he wanted Alex and Anne on the Council for so long?

2. Do you know why Levistus is so adamantly opposed to Richard and Morden? Alex mentioned that he was just as against them as Sal Sarque was, and I can’t see why he would be. Levistus seems to have more in common with them than he does with the Light Council being just as ruthless and addicted to power. Is there something more to this, or is it as Morden says he just does not want new competition?

3. Did Caldera get promoted after she turned in Alex? Not that I want anything good to happen to her, but I keep noticing she keeps showing up where Alex is. Do you think Alex’s enemies are using her to get to him?

1. Hey, look, another question about Richard’s motives that I have no idea how to answer.

2. He’s the arch-Council-supporting Light mage, they’re Dark mages. They’re like oil and water, they’d never, ever get on.

3. I really don’t care what rank Caldera is.

From: Charles

1. Do you know why there are so many Independents Mages when they don’t have an apprentice program like the Light Council does? I get why they would be more numerous than Dark Mages since they tend to be inherently self destructive but having more numbers than both Light and Dark Mages seems odd. Are they less skilled than average Light or Dark Mages or am I missing something?

2. Do you know what other countries who have Dark Mages on their Light Council? Not looking for specifics but is it limited to less powerful countries such as South America or Eastern Europe, wealthier countries such as the United States and Germany or is it done but a case by case basis?

3. I heard that there were apparently neutral factions in the Gate Rune War, who were not affiliated with the Light Council or Dark Mages ,do you know any details about why this was? I only bring this up because since Spire is supposed to represent Independents on the Senior Council, do you think the reason for this is because the Light Council was too controlling over other mages in the past and this is a way of pacifying them to prevent future revolts?

4. Did Alex ever talk about what kind of issues that Dark Mages came to discuss with him when he was on the Light Council? Did Alex ever try to help them, or do you think they were just needling him for being on the Light Council?

Too many questions! Seriously, I went back and counted and you asked me eight freaking things!

1. Do you have any idea how much work it takes to become a Light mage?

2. I am not doing a survey of every country in the whole bloody world. Why do you even need to know this stuff?

3. No.

4. Not much, no.

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Computer Shortage

Computer has been in the shop being repaired for most of this week, so no full post today.  (It turns out that having your left shift key broken when that’s the key you’ve learnt to use for capitalisation is REALLY annoying.)  Ask Luna returns next week.

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One Step Closer

First-round edits on Alex Verus #11, Forged, are done!  The first-round edits are the ones where all the significant changes to the book get made.  In this case there weren’t any  really significant changes, meaning that I was able to finish and send the manuscript off to my publishers in good time.  There’ll still be copy-edits and stuff to do, but for the most part, Forged is now in the can, which means I can focus on the final book in the series, Alex Verus #12.  

Current goal that I’m aiming for is to plan out the first section of #12 over the next few weeks and start writing it by next month, with an eye to having it finished by the end of the year so that we can do publication in 2021.  I’ll keep you updated in my regular Friday posts as and when I have news.  

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Ask Luna #154

From: Kevin

1. Do you think the Shireen in Rachel’s head is somehow a jinn or a jinn related creature? I only ask because you think Rachel would have some jinn abilities even minor ones but apparently she just got the harvest induced insanity. I almost thought Richard was using it to control her but as recent events has shown he did not, so do you the jinn is weakened and Shireen somehow got connected to it?

2. Why would killing Onyx be of that much consequence? No one seemed to care that much about him since his mansion was intact unlike the other Dark Mages, Morden hadn’t reclaimed it, and Onyx seemed to have only adepts and one other Dark mage on his side. Was Onyx more connected than it appeared or is it something else?

3. Do you think Alex/the Fateweaver can work on jinn or wish magic in general? For some reason it seems like it is designed to counter wish magic, perhaps that is the reason they were created to use against the Jinn. Now that Alex took out Richard’s dreamstone perhaps he can do the same with his jinn whatever class it is with his fate magic.

1. Pretty sure she and the jinn are separate. And I wouldn’t be so sure that Rachel hasn’t got any jinn abilities. She seems to be able to pull off a lot of stuff that more powerful mages can’t.

2. Killing anyone has consequences, especially someone important. This isn’t Skyrim, you can’t just stab someone to death and expect nothing to change.

3. Uh . . . maybe? Not sure how I’d be expected to know that one.

From: Charles

1. What has the Light Council Reaction been to Alex getting the fateweaver? Do they think he works for Richard or are they aware he is his own agent? Does Richard know that Alex has the fateweaver as well?

2. Has Alex let the mage world know Richard is a diviner?

3. Do you think Alex with the fateweaver is stronger than Richard with his jinn? Obviously Richard is very dangerous but do you think Alex has an edge on him with magical/imbued items?

4. Do you think Richard has an imbued item that lets him control his jinn or is it just his own will and/or ritual/charm/binding magic?

1. They don’t know, and for obvious reasons he hasn’t gone out of his way to tell them.

2. No.

3. I dunno, Google the odds on the betting markets.

4. Maybe.

From: Kevin

1. Do you think regular gating is connected to Elsewhere?

2. Arachne mentioned that Elsewhere could be used for combat, how would that work? Is this only in Elsewhere or could it transition to our reality?

3. How you found a new use for the cube after it completed it’s function for the fateweaver? Can imbued items in general change or evolve from it’s original function?

1. Not really, no.

2. No clue.

3. Not yet.

From: John Jones

Does anyone else read or pronounce Alex’s last name as “Versus?” Like Alex Versus [Insert problem/enemy making life hard for him that day/week months].

Yeah, apparently it was a really common thing. It seemed to really annoy him as well – I got his name wrong once in the early days and it got a definite eye-roll. I think it particularly gets on his nerves because it’s one of those things that our more clueless customers would ask him at the store. “Alex versus who?” Now that I’ve had people calling me “Vester”, I’m starting to know how he felt.

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Slay the Spire

In this week’s news, I managed to beat Slay the Spire on Ascension 20 with all four characters in a single win streak, one after the other in release order.  

. . . 

Okay, okay, so it’s got nothing to do with Alex Verus.  But I uploaded the screenshots anyway, because being an author’s a lonely job and I don’t have anyone else to tell.  

In news that you guys are much more likely to care about, I’ve received my first-round edits for Book #11, Forged, and started work on them.  The good news is that the edits are VERY light – apparently my editors were really happy with this one and asked for almost no changes from the first draft.  This means that once I’m done (which will take hardly any time at all – I should be finished inside of a week) I’ll be able to get started on planning out Alex Verus #12 that much sooner.  

Release date for Forged is still (hopefully) winter of this year, and I’m aiming to finish Alex Verus #12 by then as well.  As soon as I have a firm release date, I’ll let you guys know.

 

 

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Ask Luna #153

Okay, scrolling down the list, we’ve got a whole ton of long multi-part questions this week, so these answers are going to have to be pretty short.

From: Kevin

1. I noticed that Richard retinue that Anne mentioned (until she took care of Crystal good riddance) seems to have two to three elementalists, one to two living mages if you count Vihaela and one universalist now that we know Richard is a diviner, which was exactly like Alex’s usual strike team when he was on the Council. Alex already used his own weaknesses to trick Richard into destroying his dreamstone are there any habits or traits that Alex can also exploit? Perhaps Richard’s bond with the jinn is similar to Alex’s fateweaver, that the more you use it the more it eats up your lifespan? I know Anne says that he has a body of someone in his thirties but like Arachne says power has a price.

2. Can Alex block Richard’s divination shrouding now that he has the fateweaver? Or can he develop divination skills that can stop that from happening now that he knows about it?

3. Is the fateweaver weaker or stronger or the same it has always been now that is seperated from the wand of Abithriax? Apparently the mind magic is gone but for some reason it seems more fluid than before if that makes sense?

4. Alex seems to be the perfect wielder of a fateweaver since he can predict a future before deciding it which seems to be the best mage type for it. My question is do you know how well if would work for other types of magic? I can’t imagine they would be able to use it as well unless the fateweaver can give them some form of divination? Is that the main reason why the users didn’t last so long?

1. Maybe?

2. Not really sure, honestly.

3. I’m not really sure how we’d test that.

4. No clue.

From: Adrian

Hey Luna hope you and the gang are holding up okay and I hope things work out, I know it seems like the world is dark place, but it is not all doom and gloom think of all of the good times you guys all have had and what kind of awesome people you became. Sorry if that was sappy just wanted to let you know that you have people thinking of you and who wish you nothing but the best.

Now to not waste your time I have a few questions.

1. Kinda of a minor and strange question but is Hermes on speaking terms with Alex? After everything that happened I would hope Hermes would still be his friendly self.

2. Remember when Rachel said that Alex has killed more people than most Dark Mages in their entire lives, something that Richard also said when he tried to get Alex to join him for the last time? I didn’t know why they would say something so similar because I don’t Richard talks to Rachel that much but then I noticed that they both had a jinn connection, although Richard seems to have gotten the better end of the deal. My question is do you think there is for lack of a better word spiritual connection between them that lets Rachel pick up on Richard’s thoughts? I get the feeling Richard wanted to control her as a prototype for the jinn with Anne but maybe like with him messing with Alex he underestimated the side effects of the process. What do you think?

3. What was up with that nonsense about Alex having 80 percent less enemies if he joined up with Richard? I can’t see how anyone on the Light Council lead by Levistus, not to mention Rachel or Onyx would have stopped going after Alex, I mean maybe Sagash, Crystal, and Jagadev, might and I mean might have left you all alone, but even
without Richard, Alex and Anne were handling them relatively okay. I know Richard is really dangerous but man I didn’t think he was that arrogant or delusional.

Thanks, I do appreciate it.

1. He is, actually. He seems a little bit more wary than he used to be, but he’s not actively avoiding him or anything. He doesn’t wake Alex up begging for breakfast any more, though.

2. That’s an odd thought. Maybe? Richard does seem to keep really close tabs on Rachel. But it could just be because they’ve spent a lot of time together. Not hard to imagine Rachel picking up on something Richard once said and acting like it was her idea.

3. No clue. You’d have to ask him.

From: Warren

Okay so do you know how Richard and Morden with only about 20 to 50 Dark Mages could/are taking on the entire British Light Council? I know they are incompetent but in sheer numbers they have about 200 Keepers, not to mention the retinue’s/security of every Light Council faction. I mean if they had their coalition in the hundreds sure I could see them giving trouble unless the war is more of an insurgency but even then I don’t see how they could do that much damage. Is Drakh’s cabal really that formidable or is there something else I am missing?

Short answer is adepts. Alex and I did our best to convince them not to, but an awful lot of adepts joined up with Richard and Morden. It’s kind of an obviously terrible idea, but I guess for some of them it felt like they didn’t have much to lose, and I do kind of know the feeling.

The adepts bulked up Richard’s numbers to the point where he was a serious threat. They couldn’t do much on their own, but with Richard’s mages leading them, that’s another story. It also kept the Keepers busy chasing down and interrogating every adept in Britain to see if they were working for Richard, and as you can probably guess, that didn’t do relations between adepts and the Council any good at all.

From: Timothy

1. Do you know if water magic has any other combat applications than disintegration magic? Can they do anything else aside from combat I don’t think I have seen them do much else but then again we have only seen Deleo and she might not be the best example all things considering.

2. Have you heard of a posion/acid magic type, or would they fall under life/death/ or water magic?

3. Have you heard or seen of any other types of dreamstones, such as do different abilities have different colors, aside from the violet or purple we have seen like red, blue, green etc…

1. Yeah, they can do hydroblast attacks and use water pressure to cut or punch through things. Disintegration is their big nasty spell though.

2. There isn’t a poison type. Mages aren’t Pokemon.

3. Given that I didn’t even know dreamstones existed before then, no, I haven’t seen any others. I don’t think they’re colour-coded, either.

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