Magic in the Alex Verus setting is derived from connection. A mage is someone who has an affinity with one particular aspect of the world around them: they perceive that aspect more clearly and deeply than other people and over time they can learn to affect and control it. The aspect that a mage can control is known as their magic type, and tends to fall into one of three broad families. Elemental magic covers the basic building blocks of the physical world, living magic governs the bodies and minds of living beings, and universal magic is the domain of broad abstract concepts.
A mage only has power over one type of magic. There are air mages, and fire mages, and life mages, and mind mages, and chance mages, and time mages, but there are no “all of the above” mages. Mages are specialists, not generalists: while they can gain access to other types of magic through items or allies, their own type of magic is always highly limited. Within that limited area, though, they’re formidable.
The type of magic a mage can use is based on what kind of person they are – their nature, character, and soul. You could say that their magic is an expression of their inner self, but it's just as true to say that their magic is their inner self. A mage's personality determines the kind of magic they can use, not vice versa – there's no way to use fire magic without having the general personality of a fire mage. Just as there are an infinite variety of personalities, there are an infinite variety of magic types: the magic of one fire mage will work differently to that of another, and they’ll be able to use a different set of spells.
While mages dominate the magical world, they aren’t the only ones in it. Beneath mages on the magical power rankings are adepts, magic-users who can only use one particular type of magic in one very specific way. Adepts are much more common than mages, outnumbering them by nearly ten to one, but while they have the power of a mage they don’t have their versatility, and as a result adepts tend to be treated as second-class members of magical society.
In addition to mages and adepts, there’s a much larger group of people who can sense magic but can’t use it. These people are known as sensitives, and they exist on the borderline between the magical and mundane worlds. And then there are the normals, who make up somewhere around 99% of the population. If you’re human but you’re not a mage, an adept, or a sensitive, then that makes you a normal. Normals not only can’t sense magic, they have a strong mental disinclination to believe in it, and given any situation that could have a magical and a non-magical explanation they’ll believe the non-magical one.
There are non-humans in the magical world too – elementals, magical beasts, pegasi, unicorns, rakshasas, barghests, and many others. They were more numerous in the past, but as humans have multiplied and spread the number of magical creatures has fallen. Nowadays, free and independent magical creatures are rare: most have been driven into other worlds, hunted to extinction, or enslaved. Those that survive are typically powerful, well-hidden, or both.
In the absence of any challengers, magical society is ruled by mages. The largest and most well-established group are the Light Council, who function as a magical government. Their ancient rivals are the Dark mages, chaotic and poorly organised, but individually more dangerous. In the past there have been wars, but at present the two sides share an uneasy truce under the treaty known as the Concord. The Concord forbids violence between Light and Dark, but doesn’t do much to protect everyone else, and for independent mages, apprentices, and adepts, the magical world is a dangerous place.
Benedict Jacka's acclaimed Alex Verus series continues with Cursed.
Since his second sight made him infamous for defeating powerful dark mages, Alex has been keeping his head down. But now he's discovered the resurgence of a forbidden ritual. Someone is harvesting the life-force of magical creatures—destroying them in the process. And draining humans is next on the agenda. Hired to investigate, Alex realizes that not everyone on the Council wants him delving any deeper. Struggling to distinguish ally from enemy, he finds himself the target of those who would risk their own sanity for power...
About the Author:
Benedict Jacka became a writer almost by accident, when at nineteen he sat in his school library and started a story in the back of an exercise book. Since then he's studied philosophy at Cambridge, lived in China, and worked as everything from civil servant to bouncer to teacher before returning to London to take up law.
As part of the Cursed Release Tour, we have a copy of Cursed up for grabs! You won't want to miss this! US only.
1. Be a follower of this blog
2. Fill out the form below