Hooray! I always look forward to the next book in the Alex Verus series, so obviously I read this pretty damn close to release. Now, fair warning, there will be many spoilers for previous books in this. Can't be avoided. So I recommend if you've not read any of them, start with the first.
On with a little summary of where we're up to. Verus has taken up a seat on the junior council, following Morden's arrest, having previously acted as his aide. Of course, even though he was coerced into acting as Morden's aide by Richard Drakh, that doesn't mean that the rest of the council are particularly happy about his aspirations. So he's got a few political enemies to deal with.
Along with that, he's still got his personal nemesis in the form of Richard, who is running his shadowy plans in the background, to an as-yet unknown end. And finally there's a rather closer problem, in the form of Anne, who he's finally allowed to act as his aide, but for whom his ongoing feelings are getting more complex. Especially with the fear that she might still be linked to a tricksy djinn.
The major strength of these books has always been Jacka's determination to dig through the politics of the magical world, and that's on full show in this volume. Verus' place in the inner circle of the magical council has brought him closer than ever before to the troubles and tribulations of the higher echelons of the hierarchy, and the tangled webs they have to weave are great fun.
As always, it's a speedy book, with Jacka's sneaky tendency to end every chapter on a cliffhanger that doesn't half make you want to keep reading. It starts with a cool cold open following Verus' chasing down of one of the artefacts stolen from the vault in the previous book, and bashes through a collection of different disasters, to a climax that's surprisingly personal.
There is a slight problem with this in that at this point, it's getting a bit byzantine. There are gambits piled on gambits, and I'm beginning to suspect I need a flowchart to keep track of all of the different alliances. Weakness and a strength this. It's nice to have the different enemies of earlier books occasionally turn into allies over long periods of time, and Verus' slow improvement into a divining badass is neat.
Bashed through it in a very small number of hours, and I suspect it's convinced me to go back to the others in the series in order to gain a better understanding of the troubles that are going on.
If you've read this far, there's no way you're not reading this one.