Taken (Alex Verus book 3) by Benedict Jacka (book review).

Apprentice mages have been going missing and when the Council can’t find them, Alex Verus is called in to help. Almost immediately, he receives an anonymous note telling him to go to Fountain Reach, location of the prestigious White Stone Tournament, but surely it can’t be that simple? Encountering ancient beasts, dark mages and secretive apprentices, Alex’s investigations take him into danger once again. With the help of his apprentice, Luna, and the time mage Sonder, Alex must solve the mystery, stay alive and keep those around him safe. Just another day at the office…

‘Taken’ by Benedict Jacka is the third in the ‘Alex Verus’ series of books. At the start of the series, I was unconvinced but with each book, the style has improved, the characters have grown and the world has become more developed. This is definitely my favourite so far and I feel that it has gained an independence from other urban fantasy novels that I thought was initially lacking.

With each book, Jacka introduces us to new characters and new types of magic, as well as maintaining and developing the core characters. In ‘Taken’, we’re introduced to the idea of life magic – being able to heal and also to drain life, powerful and very frightening in the wrong hands. It’s well-conceived and neatly integrated into plot so it doesn’t feel like the information is just being forced in for the sake of it. Again, a little more is revealed about each of the recurring characters, with the details about Arachne and other ancient creatures particularly interesting. The new characters are also good and developed to a much greater depth than in the two earlier books in the series. I have hopes that one or two of them might return in the next book as I think there is some potential there and some intriguing questions left unanswered about Anne and Variam, Luna’s fellow apprentices.

The plot itself is fast-paced and really carries you along. ‘Taken’ isn’t a lengthy book at 319 pages and it is a fairly quick read – an afternoon should easily see you through to the end. Although it is a quick read, it is a book you can really get engrossed in, continually reading ‘just one more chapter’ until suddenly you find yourself at the end. There is plenty of action, a good dose of sinister villainy and enough light-hearted and humorous moments to make it a thoroughly entertaining read.

‘Taken’ is easily the best ‘Alex Verus’ book so far and despite my lack of conviction about books one and two, I’m now hooked and can’t wait for the next installment.

Vinca Russell

November 2012


(pub: Orbit. 319 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-356-50026-3)

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