Chosen by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #4) – Off the Shelf


Chosen by Benedict Jacka Book CoverAnother Great Installment –  4 Stars 

While technically this book was not released within the last two months, I obtained the Audiobook version was just released this of February 17, 2014.  Having read the first two book in the series, I made the choice to move to the audiobook format for the third book.  It turned out to be an excellent idea.  Of course I wanted to then listen to the audio version of Chosen but it was not released at the same time as the printed version.

With this current novel, I believe that Benedict Jacka has firmly entrenched himself with the best of the Urban Fantasy writers.  Alex Verus is no Harry Dresden clone and this is not Paranormal Romance in disguise.  The author sets the series apart with a magic system and social order that is unlike any of its competitors.  Fans of Jim Butcher, Ben Aaronovitch and Larry Corriea should find something in Benedict Jacka’s “Alex Verus” series to interest them.

If you have ever read my reviews, you will know that I believe the first four books in any series tend to follow a pattern.  Obviously, the first book is the intro to the series and if the series is popular and continues we move to second book.  The second book is usually “more of a good thing”.  The second in the series often repeats some plot devices and elements that made the first book so popular.  The third book is the “moment of truth”.  The third book often sets the tone for the series as a whole.  Lesser authors may repeat plot devices and popular elements from the first two books while the long lasting series often change things up for the character and introduce new characters and plot elements.  The fourth book is often the transition book and Chosen falls into this category.  Like many transition books, Chosen portends big changes for the future of the series while occasionally stumbling as the world of the characters is set to change.

Plot summary

After years of living on his own, Alex Verus has fallen into some routines that could almost be considered domestic bliss.  He has created a family with his apprentice Luna and the former dark wizard apprentices Anne and Verrium.  Of course the calm and happiness will not last.  As usual, Verus is forced to face danger on multiple fronts.  Bad decisions from his past come back to haunt him as an aggrieved family member seek revenge for wrongdoings.  His past haunts him further as questions arise regarding the whereabouts of his former master, Richard.  These stories collide as Alex is forced to face his past and confront the darkness within him that he has fought so long to ignore.

The Good

So That’s What Happened!

One of the weakness of the series (in my opinion) has been the lack of character history.  Granted, Alex Verus is meant to be a bit of an enigma but it hurts the character development.  We are finally presented with a storyline that exposes a small portion of Verus’ past.  We learn about his former master and the other apprentices with whom he worked.  I think many fans of the series have been interested in these details.  Most other series would have provided us with some of these details by now but Alex Verus walks his own path.

Oscar for Best Suporting Character Goes To…

The author has done an excellent job of introducing a strong and interesting supporting cast.  Verus has a complicated relationship with another former apprentice of Richard.  We learn much more about Rachael, their shared past and her decent into darkness.  Luna and Verrium continue to develop as interesting characters but the Oscar goes to…..Anne.  The Life Mage and former dark apprentice continues to be the best character introduced the series.  She is full of secrets while sharing a similar past to Alex.  While Alex is developing into an Anti-Hero of sorts, Anne fights to live honestly and with integrity.  Here is to hoping she can continue to play a role in the future novels.

The Bad

Give this Guy a Map

The end of this book makes it clear that some new threats are coming and things are going to change for our hero.  As the book build toward this transition, the character has to go through the obligatory self doubt and self loathing.  While much of this novel moved quickly and the story progressed at high speed, the middle of the novel quickly became bogged down.  As Alex lost his way, the story seemed to grind to a halt and the book lost momentum.  This is the main reason the book lost a star rating.  Fortunately, when Alex gets back on his feet, the story picks up and the stays strong to the end.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was another excellent installment in the series.  Hopefully, in future novels, the author continues to reveal the makings of Alex Verus.  It is beginning to feel as if the secondary characters are more developed than him.  The story seems to have turned a corner and it feels as if Alex will have a true nemesis in future installments.

Audiobook Notes

Again, this is some of the best narrated Urban Fantasy out there.  The characterization, the tone and pacing is superb and lets be honest, narrators with a British accent are the best!  My only complaint was the length of time for the audio release.  While the book was released late August of 2013, the audiobook was not released until February 2014.  There seems to be a trend of audio versions being released concurrently with the book.  Hopefully the next audio release will follow soon after expected September release of the upcoming Hidden.  I now feel attached to audio format.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested.  I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest     5 – Highest

Sex 1.5

There is some sexual tension between characters but the overall content is suitable for all ages

Language 3.5

There is a noticeable increase in the use of adult language.  There is some minor use of the f-word and moderate use of mild obscenities.  As the series has generally used little adult language, it stands out in this novel.

Violence 3

There is a moderate amount of violence in this installment.  There a few confrontations early while the middle of the book seeks to avoid confrontation.  There is a final confrontation that is moderately graphic

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.