Ace Books New York, NY 2012
This book is a promising start to the Alex Verus series. Alex is a mage whose particular talent is ‘diviner’, or more accurately a probability mage. He can see the potential timelines into the future and so make choices to increase the probability of particularly beneficial timeline. He can see disaster coming, if he’s looking, and avoid it.
This series is set in what could be the London of Harry Dresden’s Chicago. I have been a fan of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden for years and Fated is very much in the same vein. The characters share a common history of escaping the clutches of a Dark Mage and walking in that grey area always striving for the light. Both characters are looked down upon by the council of wizards. Both characters have friends in odd and unexpected places. Both characters have ‘mundane’ jobs.
Harry Dresden gets a nod from Alex when he says “I’ve even heard of one guy in Chicago who advertises in the phone book under “Wizard”.” Alex himself runs a magic shop, the New Age/Wiccan variety rather than the David Blaine or David Copperfield type. He has a sometimes assistant who finds actual magical items for him. She suffers under a family curse that affects ‘luck’. The people she gets close to tend to die from horrible accidents.
Diviners are a rare breed among mages. Because they have little combat abilities of their own they tend to be looked down upon as ‘lessor’ by most other mages. However Alex seems to have honed his abilities in unusual and rather useful ways, as well as studying more mundane forms of self defense. When someone in the magical world needs a diviner, and the job is too dangerous or politically messy for anyone more reputable to get involved, there is always Alex.
Like the early Dresden novels, this book stands alone. I appreciate that in a series. I hate waiting for the next installment on a cliffhanger. I want my stories to either end or to sit with the entire series at one go. I’m looking forward to more about Alex but I’m not under a compulsion to get to it right away before I lose the story flow.