Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus often refers to himself as a not particularly powerful mage in a world where many mages, particularly battlemages, could easily clean his clock in a lethal manner. Why then is he still alive?
Because his magic gift is seeing potential futures. Review and some SPOILERS after the cut.
As the title suggests, Alex gets drawn into a web of mystery involving apprentices who are disappearing without a trace, or, you know, Taken. Liam Neeson understands that one.
Apprentices disappearing without a trace comes at a bad time, since a whole lot of them are going to be a big mage tournament in the old mansion of Fountain Reach. Lots of things keep pointing Alex and his apprentice Luna in that direction. First Alex turns down an offer from the current owner to act as extra security. Second, a rakshasa living in London asks him to go…sort of…to keep an eye on his two apprentices. Rakshasas don’t tend to like humans or mages, and Alex’s giant spider friend Arachne has already warned Alex about that guy. And a Dark Mage Alex had a bad encounter with also seems to want Alex to go.
You don’t need to read the future to see how this one is going.
Alex, with a growing group of younger tag-alongs, finds things going badly when the Dark Mage’s own underling isn’t trying to kill him. Plus, someone a lot less careful than whoever is taking the apprentices is hunting down Anne, a life mage the rakshasa sent along. This second force is not in the least bit concerned with nice things like subtly. A thrilling highway chase involving magic and teleporting constructs may be the book’s highlight.
That said, this one seemed a bit short and ended in a rather pat manner. I think Jacka could have done with expanding a few ideas in his climax. Things don’t exactly look easy for Alex, but they shouldn’t end too quickly. I’m giving this one seven out of ten curse whips.