Benedict Jacka’s ‘Veiled’, the sixth novel in the Alex Verus series more than makes up for my disappointment with the previous installment ‘Hidden‘. The thing that I absolutely love about the Alex Verus books is that with each installment Benedict Jacka comes up with a new angle to look at the magical world he has created; it is that innovation and development that I really love, because there is nothing I hate more in a fantasy series than being bored. Even with ‘Hidden’ I wasn’t bored, even if I wasn’t as enthused with it has I had been with the first four books.
‘Veiled’ though opens up a whole new can of worms for Benedict Jacka to explore. Like ‘Chosen‘ this is one of those books I was hoping that Jacka was going to write at some point. ‘Chosen’ was about Alex’s past and about how that has made him into the character that I have come to love. ‘Veiled’ is about the present and about the future developments of his world, because this one is about the politics of the magical world.
From the very beginning of the series, it has been hinted at throughout the books that the politics of the Council and the various factions that exist can be very complicated. However, because Alex was an outsider it has never really been vital to know more about the complexity of the Council’s politics. ‘Veiled’ is all about that politics and the beginnings to develop it as part of the series. It has given ‘Veiled’ the much needed boost in innovation that I found a bit lacking in ‘Hidden’.
And it is utterly brilliant.
The Alex Verus books can be characterised as being a quick-paced urban fantasy thriller and ‘Veiled’ is no different. It is a page turner in every sense of the word, and very nearly kept me up far later than it should have done one night because I didn’t want to put it down to do something as trivial as sleep.
From the very first book ‘Fated‘, Alex has had to struggle as an independent while the events around him were manipulated by the various Light and Dark factions. He has pretty much had to survive on his own, usually only just and only because his divination and his loyal friends have been able to help him survive. In ‘Veiled’ though Alex Verus is no longer as independent as he once was; he’s now part of the Keepers, a police-like force that upholds the Concord and answers to the Council.
In previous books it has been hinted at that the Keeper’s aren’t quite like the police force we would know; the complexity of the magical law means that they don’t just go after criminals who say commit murder or kidnap people. It very much depends on who was killed, why and whether there was a faction of the Council that want to pursue the criminal or whether even under magical law they are even deemed to have done something wrong at all.
In ‘Hidden’ Anne Walker disappearance wasn’t really the concern of the Keepers, who didn’t fully commit to finding her even when attempts at linking her disappearance to a known and wanted criminal would have made it their priority. Alex has no choice but save Anne himself, which leads him to seeing his old master again.
In ‘Veiled’ though in order to try and help protect himself and his friends from his old master, Alex joins the Keepers and is thrown head-first into the complicated politics of the magical world, where he no longer can go ahead and do what is right if those aren’t his orders. He also has to contend with the fact that as an ex-Dark Mage not everyone trusts him, because to them ‘once a Dark always a Dark.
So when he’s given a small seemingly unimportant job to go and investigate, and then finds himself right in the middle of the trouble and a massive political battleground, Alex has to watch his back, because not only does he have to follow orders (which he struggles with when he disagrees with them) he also has to contend with the possibility that his own colleagues might get ordered to kill him in order to keep him quiet.
You might also like my other reviews of Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus Series