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Marked
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Marked
Alex Verus Series, Book 9
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Mage Alex Verus is hanging on by a thread in the ninth urban fantasy novel from the national bestselling author of Burned.

When Mage Alex Verus ends up with a position on the Light Council, no one is happy, least of all him. But Alex is starting to realize that if he wants to protect his friends, he'll need to become a power player himself. His first order of business is to track down dangerous magical items unleashed into the world by Dark Mages.

But when the Council decides they need his help in negotiating with the perpetrators, Alex will have to use all his cunning and magic to strike a deal—and stop the rising tension between the Council, the Dark Mages, and the adept community from turning into a bloodbath.
Mage Alex Verus is hanging on by a thread in the ninth urban fantasy novel from the national bestselling author of Burned.

When Mage Alex Verus ends up with a position on the Light Council, no one is happy, least of all him. But Alex is starting to realize that if he wants to protect his friends, he'll need to become a power player himself. His first order of business is to track down dangerous magical items unleashed into the world by Dark Mages.

But when the Council decides they need his help in negotiating with the perpetrators, Alex will have to use all his cunning and magic to strike a deal—and stop the rising tension between the Council, the Dark Mages, and the adept community from turning into a bloodbath.
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  • From the book chapter 1

    The factory hadn't changed much in five years. The building was the same shade of brownish grey, grime on brick, and the rusted coils of razor wire still gaped atop the walls. From my position on the rooftop I could look down into what had been the car park, and into the windows of the factory itself. There were no signs of movement, but that didn't matter; I knew what was inside. Off to the right, the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf rose into the night, yellow-white pinpoints glittering off the dark waters of the Thames, topped by the double strobe of the pyramid-shaped tower. The hum of a boat's engine blended with the deeper rustle of the waves, all of it merging into the sounds of London.

    It was June, but the night wasn't a warm one. The breeze off the water was keeping the air cool, enough so that my armour was comfortable to wear. My armour is plate and mesh, an imbued item, alive in its own way, and if I focused on it, I could feel its presence, guarded and watchful. There was a second imbued item tucked into my pocket-a dreamstone-and a third hidden in that factory. Of the three, my armour was the only one I was glad for. It might not be the strongest of items, but it was one I'd come to trust, and its reactive mesh had saved my life more than once. It could deflect a knife or bullet, maybe even a spell from a battle-mage.

    Assuming the battle-mage didn't have time to study the armour beforehand and figure out exactly how much power he'd need to pierce it.

    A voice spoke from behind. "Hey."

    "Correct term of address, please," I said absently. Normally I go by Verus to colleagues and Alex to friends. As of eight months ago, I'd picked up a new title.

    The man behind me grimaced, thinking I couldn't see him. He was young, with close-cut hair and a narrow face, and he'd been staring at my back for the past few minutes. His name was Chimaera, and he was the newest and youngest of the three Keepers assigned with me to this job.

    "Councillor," Chimaera said grudgingly. "We going?"

    "Patience," I said. Sergeant Little was due to call, but it wouldn't be for another two to five minutes. So I'd gone up here to admire the view, and to see if Chimaera would make a move. So far he hadn't, but I'd seen flickers of possibilities where he did, enough that I was continuing to stand with my back to him, waiting to see if he'd give in to temptation. I wondered whether Chimaera had volunteered, or whether someone had put him here. I could look into it, if I had the time.

    Standing here made me think of the first time I'd come to this factory. I'd been hunting a barghest, and once it was over I'd met Luna up on this rooftop and warned her that the Keepers who'd been working with us today might be our enemies tomorrow. I'd thought I was experienced; with hindsight, in my own way, I'd been as naive as her. Back then I'd thought of the Council as a single block, something to work with or distrust. But it wasn't a single block: it was a thousand individuals, each with their own motivations and agenda. Trust didn't come into it; you work with the tools you're given.

    My communicator was about to ping, and the short-term futures were quiet. Chimaera wasn't going to try it. Pity. I waited for the voice in my ear to say my name before answering. "Verus."

    "We're ready," Sergeant Little's voice said.

    "On my way," I replied, and turned. "Time to go."

    Chimaera nodded. I could feel his eyes on my back all the way down.

    The men were already assembled when we arrived. There were twenty Council security, armed and armoured, led by a compact, tough-looking man with sharp blue eyes called Sergeant Little. Of the...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 28, 2018
    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. Bureaucracy and personal conflicts render the Light Council of “good” mages ineffective in fighting Richard, and Alex knows that Richard is cannily planning to draw the swarm of unaffiliated magical adepts to his side by orchestrating a bloody confrontation. Nevertheless, while that scheme gathers momentum, Alex follows the Light Council’s orders to negotiate with some of Richard’s accomplices who may be willing to betray him—or may not.
    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. Since much of the action depends on personal treachery and deceit, that’s a serious drawback. 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. Agent: Sophie Hicks, Sophie Hicks Agency.

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Alex Verus Series, Book 9
Benedict Jacka
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