Review: Chosen (Alex Verus #4) by Benedict Jacka


Rating: 9.5/10

Synopsis

I don’t publicly advertise that I’m a mage, but I don’t exactly hide it either, and one of the odd things I’ve learnt over the years is just how much you can get away with if you’re blatant enough. Hide something behind smoke and mirrors and make people work to find it, and they’ll tear the place down looking for what’s there.

Alex Verus is a diviner who can see probable futures—a talent that’s gotten him out of many a tough scrape. But this time, he may be in over his head. Alex was once apprenticed to a Dark mage, and in his service he did a lot of things he isn’t proud of.

As rumors swirl that his old master is coming back, Alex comes face to face with his misdeeds in the form of a young adept whose only goal is to get revenge. Alex has changed his life for the better, but he’s afraid of what his friends—including his apprentice, Luna—will think of his past. But if they’re going to put themselves at risk, they need to know exactly what kind of man they’re fighting for…

Review

“When you spend all your time lonely and miserable, it’s really easy to start hating everyone who has what you don’t.”

Before this book, I looked at the Alex Verus series as a solid, entertaining series that was good enough to want to continue, but not at the level of excellence that I could name it as one of my favorites. If the series continues at the quality of this book or better however, I think I can safely say that will change rapidly.

I want to give a quick shoutout to the narrator, Gildart Jackson. I actually wasn’t the biggest fan of his narration 3 books in, but I felt that he really stepped up his game in Chosen and subtley fixed some issues that I had with character voices. Very well done!

Chosen was easily the best book in the Alex Verus series so far. Jacka really came into his own with this 4th entry and has finally gotten away from the shadow of The Dresden Files. Within these pages we finally get to see the complex and dark nature of Alex’s past that was hinted at so much throughout the first three books. We also get quite a bit of cool worldbuilding, relationship development, intense and creative action sequences, as well as quite a few meaningful moments that really pulled at my heart strings.

The events of this story were often focused on the themes of justice, revenge, and the weight of taking a life. Alex’s past has come back to haunt him and it’s gonna take all that he has to survive. I really loved that we got to see these themes at work, especially because the author didn’t try to give you the answers. He simply poses the questions through his characters and lets the reader decide how they feel and what they believe. Part of what made this book so meaningful and deep for me was the fact that Alex knew that there were no easy answers to his questions. There were no black and white solutions to his problems. He ends up doing what Alex does best, making the best he can of the awful and unenviable situations he finds himself in.

This was a very emotional story. Whether Alex was running for his life, confronting an enemy, or having board game night with friends, every page was infused with a vulnerability that we hadn’t seen from Alex in the first 3 books. We get to see his natural progression and growth as he is confronted with the sins of his past and being unable to do what he usually does, run, ignore, and hope they just go away. These events caused Alex to have deeper and more meaningful friendships with Luna, Variam, and Anne. I loved the development of these relationships. The friendship of Alex with Luna and Anne individually as well as all four as a group were especially impactful.

“…one of the odd things I’ve learnt over the years is just how much you can get away with if you’re blatant enough. Hide something behind smoke and mirrors and make people work to find it, and they’ll tear the place down looking for what’s there.”

This was a pretty fast paced plot. Alex was being hunted for most of this book so there was always an edge of danger to every interacion. There were many high stakes fights and new ways to use magic that were not seen yet. This tale had me fully engaged.

It was really cool to see some unique worldbuilding in this one that I really did not see coming. That part of the story was actually a huge part of what started to differentiate this series from The Dresden Files world for me. I can’t talk about details because of spoilers, but suffice it to say I am very intrigued and can’t wait to learn more!

Chosen is an excellent continuation of the Alex Verus series. If magical mayhem, likable characters, excellent character development, and the past coming back to haunt the present sound good to you, read this book!

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