Book Review: Fallen

Title: Fallen
Author: Benedict Jacka
Genre: Fantasy

What’s it about: Alex Verus, the divination mage, is doing everything he can to protect Anne from being discovered by the Light Council for her involvement in the attack on San Vittore, a prison in which a powerful Dark Mage by the name of Morden, was kept. And for a little while, he manages to keep everyone off the tail, but Caldera, his former friend and a Council Keeper, figures out that it is Anne he is trying to protect.

In the effort to save their lives, Alex loses Arachne, who weaves magic to keep the Keeper at bay, and gets swept up by a Dragon. Anne and Alex then get captured by Caldera and the Keeper force, who then face an assault by Richard Drakh, Alex’s former master, and his group of Dark Mages. As a result, Alex and Anne get kidnapped by Drakh and his group, after which Richard comes to Alex with a proposal–he has to break Anne in order for her to let in the Jinn that had bonded with her, as he needs it for his assault agains the Light Council. Alex declines the offer, and Crystal takes control of his mind. He watches as Crystal controls him, and hurts Anne, the person he loves, forcing the Dark part of Anne to come to the front. In a moment of protection, Dark Anne destroys Alex’s body signals with his right arm, which is dead tissue.

Alex manages to escape from Drakh’s building, and heads to the Hollow, a shadow realm he shared with Anne, Luna, and Variam. Together with Luna and Variam, they hatch a plan to go for the Fateweaver, which currently sits in Onyx’s Mansion. While Luna and Variam scout Onyx’s mansion, Alex hops around the world, evading the Keeper forces, and faces Caldera one more time. He outwits her again, and heads to Onyx’s Mansion.

Luna, Variam, Alex and another guy, Kyle, work together to get to the fateweaver, and Luna begins to open it, when they get attacked by Onyx, Pyre and a bunch of thuggish adepts. Alex calls in Starbreeze, an elemental air spirit, who takes Luna, Variam, and Kyle out of the mansion, while Alex goes through the door into the bubble realm holding the fateweaver. He faces Abrathix, who refuses to give him the power, and returns into the fateweaver. So Alex takes Abrathix into Elsewhere, and there they battle against each other, evenly matched, until Alex finally attacks Abrathix’s spirit within the Fateweaver. Once Abrathix is gone, Alex links the fateweaver with his shoulder, turning it into his right arm, since it had disintegrated in Elsewhere.

Alex then returns back to Onyx’s Mansion, and kills all of the adepts, as well as Pyre, and Onyx in the Mansion. His divination allows him to see all of the possible choices that someone will make, but the Fateweaver gives him an additional ability–to choose one possible choice and make it reality. This ability keeps him ahead of all of the attacks, giving him an edge in a fight. Once he’s done, Variam, Luna and Kyle show up, and take him back home.

That evening, Alex enters Elsewhere and seeks out Cinder first to talk. Then he seeks out Rachel/Deleo and thanks her for her honesty with him, after which he tells her that he’s going to go to Richard to ask for a position, and that he will be promoted over her, even though she’s Richard’s chosen. That pisses her off, and she starts trying to disintegrate him within her own dream, but he’s able to stay one step ahead of her.

The next day, he hears from Chalice about another person he was searching for–Meredith, an enchantress who is hiding in Argentina. He goes to visit her, and has a chat, telling her what exactly he needs her for. She tries to run the minute he’s gone, so he puts a bracelet on her to make sure that she doesn’t run. He returns to England, and waits for Richard to attack, but in the meantime, he visits Anne in Elsewhere, and they talk–She tells him that she can’t control the Jinn because Richard does, and tells him that the only way she can get her will back is if he destroys Richard’s dreamstone.

Sure enough, Richard attacks Sal Sarque’s fortress, while the Keeper forces are busy with a training camp run by Morden to train adepts. Alex and Meredith infiltrate the fortress, where they find Richard and Sal Sarque, the Senior Council member, in a stalemate. In a twist of events, Alex gets Rachel to destroy the dreamstone, freeing Anne from Richard’s hold, and ending Richard’s reign.

Back at the Hollow, Karyos comes out of her cocoon, and asks for Anne, to which Luna and Alex tell her that she’s gone. Alex later finds Anne in Arachne’s old lair, and watches as she puts on the dress that Arachne made for her. They then go their separate ways.

My Verdict: Wow. This book is a bunch of twists and turns that I truly did not expect. I didn’t think Alex would change himself in such a drastic way, and thought that maybe he’d stay the same person he always was, fighting against Richard in his usual way. But on the other hand, I’ve been rooting for Alex to always come out on top no matter what, because I think that he means well. He wants to protect people, and he understands things in a different way.

One of the most glaring themes of this book is that you can’t keep doing things the same way but expect a different outcome. And while most of us won’t have such a drastic life story as Alex, everyone needs to make changes to reach their goals. Perhaps that change is quitting your job to pursue a passion project or take care of a loved one. Maybe it’s the desire to leave behind a place or a community that you no longer feel you are a part of. Either way, the one thing that holds everyone back is fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of becoming someone you don’t want to be.

But what if..what if it’s fear of becoming something that you already are? When Alex faces Abrathix, he realizes the one thing that he’s always feared was becoming a ruthless person. But he also realizes that like Anne, he has a dark side of himself that makes him ruthless when he needs to be. And so he embraces that, which leads to a bigger success for him over his enemies.

And the other point that Alex brings home, is that you always return to your roots. You chase a world halfway away, but life is a cycle and oftentimes you find yourself back where you started. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re back to square one, or negatively impacted, in that you start again. It’s the cycle where you leave something you’ve known because you weren’t comfortable with it or didn’t like it. You then changed and learned, before returning to it again, with a completely different perspective, and perhaps an acceptance or understanding of it. Alex walked away from the Dark Mage society, and fought against it, before ultimately understanding his nature–the part that is ruthless–is what drew him to being a Dark Mage. It gives him the power that is so often sought in Dark Mage society and it is ultimately where he finds himself again. He’s not comfortable with it, especially with how he will be viewed by his friends and the Light Mage society, but he’s accepted it’s part of his story.

Either way, this book is really a mind bender because you find out Richard’s magic type, which is something I suspected for a while now, and you realize that it’s exactly why he’s been able to stay one step ahead of Alex. It in turn means that Richard has affected Alex in a way that Alex did not expect, which worries me that this is a part of a bigger game run by Richard.

And now, we won’t know the rest of the story as the next installment of the book is not coming out until September 2020. So until the, peace out with the Alex Verus series.

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