Alex Verus Alternate Ending 1: Total Victory

(This is part 4 of an 8-part series on the ending of the Alex Verus novels.  The master post with links to all the other parts is here.)

The world of the Alex Verus setting isn’t fair.  There are massive disparities in power and privilege between the members of magical society, and those on the top don’t much care about the people on the bottom.  The good guys don’t always win and the bad guys don’t always lose.  Alex and his friends try to do the right thing, but they’re operating with very limited resources and it’s often all they can do to protect themselves.  

A lot of readers were hoping that the ending would change all this.  They wanted Alex to stop ending up with mixed victories and win a total victory, and use that to become some kind of transformative figure who would reform magical society into something fair and just.  

So what would that look like?  

Well, in this scenario, Alex doesn’t withdraw into exile at the end of Risen.  Instead, he takes advantage of his new abilities to take possession of one of the recently-emptied seats on the Senior Council.  

Being a member of the Senior Council makes Alex pretty safe in terms of personal immunity, and as a voting member, it also means that he can influence Council policy going forward.  Things wouldn’t get transformed overnight, but there would be gradual, subtle shifts towards better treatment for non-mages, a reconciliation between mages and adepts, etc.

But we did say this was the TOTAL victory ending.  So why not go all the way?

Let’s say that Alex doesn’t just join the Senior Council, he gains control of it, using some combination of appointing people who’ll do as he say, blackmailing existing members with the information he can access via November, or just using straightforward “do-this-or-else” coercion.  From this point on, between his personal and political power, Alex is pretty much free to do whatever he wants.  He can chase down and either exile or kill off his Light and Dark enemies, reform the Council, order that from now on adepts and apprentices will have equal legal rights to mages . . . the whole nine yards.  

What all this does is transform the overall shape of the series.  At the time, most of the Alex Verus books featured him struggling just to survive, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, we can look back and see each book as a step in his gradual rise to power.  The whole series becomes an ascent where Alex goes from underdog to overlord. 

We could go into more details as to what Alex does with his new power, but it isn’t really important.  The point is:  Alex wins.  What he does from that point on is entirely up to him.

The end.

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4 Responses to Alex Verus Alternate Ending 1: Total Victory

  1. I think I’m probably glad on balance this wasn’t the chosen ending. It seems like one of those moments whereby the hero would have lived just long enough to have seen himself become the bad guy, and not even realised he’d been doing that. He still wrestles with that in the active series but has a clear moment whereby he finds himself at that crossroads. Intriguing possibility though.

  2. B. says:

    I guess I would not have been satisfied with this Total Victory ending.
    After all the struggles not only to save those close to him, but also not to become like Richard, it would have felt a bit like a defeat.
    He might not be entirely like Richard in this version (who did it all for personal power), rather more like Levistus, but that’s not really better, is it?

  3. Adam says:

    The beautiful thing about the way that the series was written is that it was clear the story would end as a zero-sum game, to the benefit of upholding what I believe were two central themes:

    1. What am I willing to sacrifice to achieve my goals?

    2. What are my limits, and are they beyond my opponent’s?

    These were questions that everyone was asking themselves throughout the series, with Alex seeking the answers harder than any other character. Done right (and they were), it’s a story about perseverance, loyalty, and facing tall odds to do what you think is right. You can build a pretty good story around those themes, but the ending has to double down on it. And it did.

    To me, “total victory” would have been either a disservice to those two themes, or a remarkable start to a “hero-turned-villain” story, in which the next set of books would have been a story where Luna has to stop Alex after becoming the next Drach/Leviskis. I picture it being kind of an Ozymandias-type trope.

  4. Sonya says:

    Interesting. I actually believed the societal change ending would have required Versus to die as a martyr and Luna would be the one who leads the adepts to help form a more just society.

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