Bound (Alex Verus novel book 8) by Benedict Jacka (book review).

November 20, 2017 | By | Reply More

To save the lives of his friends, Alex has been forced to make a deal with his own personal devil and agreed to work for his former mMaster, the Dark mage Richard Drakh. Needless to say, this isn’t his idea of fun! Still, it comes with elevation to the rank of full Light mage Keeper, the removal of a death sentence and the chance to spy on Richard and the other Dark mages for the Council, which could earn him a few brownie points. As Alex battles the internal politics and hatred of the Dark and Light mages alike, he must work out who can really be trusted, how to get out of the bargain with Richard, how to save his former friend Rachel and how to stop jumping from one impossible situation to another. Surely there’s a way to stay safe for more than just a few hours at a time, other people seem to manage it…

Jumping straight into the action where ‘Burned’ left off, ‘Bound’ picks up with Alex and Luna about to start working for Richard Drakh. Jacka doesn’t waste any time filling in the back story at this point and, in book 8 of the series, I think that’s perfectly reasonable, so if you’re considering this book but haven’t read the earlier ones, think about starting at the beginning instead. I think it’s worth the time investment.

As I’ve come to expect from the ‘Alex Verus’ books, this was a fast-paced little novel that moved from sub-plot to side-story and back to what you thought was the main plot in the space of a few heartbeats. That could be a confusing thing in the hands of some authors, but Benedict Jacka manages to weave together a whole host of ideas, characters and strands of action that somehow all form one perfectly cohesive whole. It’s like those wooden puzzles you get, where you have to make a cube from 10 different pieces and, only at the end, can you see how it all fits together. I imagine a lot of planning goes into the plots of these books!

What I think is particularly nice in ‘Bound’ is seeing how Alex is finally willing to embrace the mage culture and try to find a place in it where he can be safe and in a stable position, not constantly jumping from one threat to the next and hoping for the best. It’s good to see a character like this maturing and seeing the younger characters step up to fill the roles he used to have. I also liked seeing the developing relationships between Alex and his apprentices, friends and colleagues. It feels like about time the younger characters got to stand on their own two feet a bit more and I appreciated the ways in which Jacka is now taking them in their own directions. The series is growing up nicely.

It was also quite interesting to get views into aspects of magical life that we haven’t yet explored in any great detail in how Dark mages live and work, shadow realms and deep shadow realms, new magical creatures and further insights into the politics of the Light mages and their Council. The Dark mages have always been shown from Alex’s particularly biased viewpoint so getting an insight into them as more human, more balanced characters was great and finally getting to properly meet the person I’d class as the ‘Big Bad’ of this whole series, Richard Drakh, himself, was brilliant. It’s about time he came into the action as more than just a shadowy threat from Alex’s past and he already shows great promise for future books. Clearly powerful, yet with such an air of mystery around how his powers work and what his ultimate aims are, I think there’s a lot more to come from Drakh and I’m keen to see where Jacka takes his storyline next.

‘Bound’ was another great instalment in this series that kept me turning the pages until it was finished. It definitely lived up to expectations and, if you’ve not yet started this series, then what are you waiting for?

Vinca Russell

November 2017

(pub: Orbit. 391 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-356-50719-4)

check out website: www.orbitbooks.net

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