cover image Bound


Benedict Jacka. Ace, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-101-98852-7

The outstanding eighth Alex Verus urban fantasy (after Burned) begins with morally grey diviner Alex and his ally, life mage Anne, being forced to do the bidding of Dark mage master Richard Drakh and his crony Morden in their plot to rule the world. Whether the assignments are risky or trivial, all somehow aid the cause of evil. The distinction between the Dark and Light groups of mages has become thoroughly blurred; Alex encounters a Dark mage who delights in torturing children but also battles a pair of Crusader mages from the Light Council who imagine that they have the right to indulge their sadism on Anne. People and concerns from earlier novels are carried forward successfully as Alex tries to figure out what he can and should do with his life. Sustaining interest inside a long story line like this depends on maintaining action, developing characters, and intelligently extrapolating magical possibilities. Jacka is doing a splendid job in all respects, and this volume builds up to a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger climax. (Apr.)