Fated is the first book in a series following chance mage, Alex Verus, as he runs a store in Camden Town, London, whilst trying to run from his past and avoid dealing with the magical Council as much as possible. Unfortunately, his skills leave him in high demand and leads to him being offered jobs that appear simple on the surface but is not what it seems.
Recommended to me off the back of having just order Broken Homes, the fourth Ben Aaronovitch book, this book is very much in the same vein of Aaronovitch’s series, set in London and written from the first person point of view. The comedy is in a similar vein to to the Peter Grant novels so it is likely they both have similar or the same audiences.
What’s different though are the styles of magic used in each series. Aaronovitch’s wizards are able to use all types of magic and skills (providing they have learned how to use it!) but Jacka‘s mages are able to use only one type of magic. The main character Alex Verus is a chance mage or seer if you will, able to use divination magic to see the future and it often saves his life. This does not mean the fight scenes are no less thrilling than Aaronovitch’s. I actually believe his scenes are better due to the fact that Verus is not a battle mage so often has to use his cunning rather than his magic to save him when he is in a tight spot. This is not to say that Verus is unable to use magic in battles but rather that Jacka is more inventive due to the limitation he places on Verus so has to give him other means to fight, such as the use of magical items and of elemental spirits.
The concept of Elsewhere is also intriguing, allowing Jacka’s characters to talk even when apart but I do question as to whether Elsewhere could possibly be used to better effect for other purposes.
Jacka’s Fated has a darker edge to it from the outset, unlike Aaronovitch’s, and this actually provides a more intriguing and adult feel to it. This could be down to the fact that Verus is a mercenary of sorts who tries to keep a low profile and is very willing to kill or seriously injure as he has very little of the principles and rules and regulations that curb Grant and Nightingale. The organisation of Jacka’s magical word would indicate that there would be more regulation and limitations to what Verus can do but in actual fact, because all the mages in Jacka’s series (especially the dark mages) seem to be driven by greed and a lust for power, it makes the world more dangerous so leaves more room for different adventures and scrapes for Verus to get involved with.
In general, this novel is a great novel and is highly recommended if you are a Ben Aaronovitch fan or even a Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant) fan as all share very similar themes, comedy and, arguably, character types so would appeal.