Bound by Benedict Jacka

The Blurb On The Back:

Alex Verus can see the future.  But he never thought he’d see this day.

Manoeuvred by forces beyond his control, the probability mage has made a terrible choice: he’s agreed to work for his old master once more.

Richard Drakh, the sadistic dark mage Alex escaped as an apprentice, has him in his clutches again.  And this time, Richard won’t let go so easily. 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s immediately after BURNED.  With Morden’s death threat hanging over their heads, Alex and Anne have no choice but to work for Richard Drakh but his plans for the pair aren’t immediately obvious.  Anne must work as Morden’s liaison to the medical corps while Alex will be Morden’s personal aide and liaison to the Keepers.  As Morden’s number 2, Alex is in charge of discussing deals with the other Council members and quickly makes an enemy of Sal Sarque’s liaison Jarnaff.  Worse, his open role with the Dark mages mean that many Keepers have turned on him, Rachel/Deleo fears that he’s trying to become Richard’s Chosen and is determined to kill him and Talisid wants him to spy on Richard and report back on his plans.

Somehow, Alex must steer a path between all the factions out to kill him while keeping his friends safe and discovering what Richard’s end game is.  Even for a probability mage, that’s a pretty tall order …

The 8th in Benedict Jacka’s ALEX VERUS SERIES is an engrossing, action-packed read where the overall series storylines really come together in a satisfying way and although the fast pace comes at the expense of some character development on Alex’s part (whose emotional constipation when it comes to Anne is irritating) there are so many twists and a killer cliff hanger that I am already desperate for book 9.  The series is at the point where you need to read the preceding books to follow this one but I loved the way the various plot points from earlier on feed into this and especially the clever twist at the end.  The pace is unrelenting and I think at times it’s too fast as I’d have liked a bit more emotional development between Alex and Anne (the lack of a conversation after a significant event didn’t ring true for me) while Alex’s refusal to confront his feelings for her is getting old and the reset on his relationship with the Keepers felt like a step back.  That said there’s so much that’s good here – the character relationships work well (notably Alex and Luna) and have grown organically, the political shades of grey are convincing and varied and Richard is a genuinely interesting antagonist (I have my suspicions about his magic) while the ending promises a really excellent book 9, which I will definitely buy.

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