Taken by Benedict Jacka
Official Summary: “This time last year, I could go weeks without seeing another mage. In mage society I was an unknown and, all in all, that was how I liked it. It’s hard to say what changed. Whatever it was, I got involved in the magical world again and started getting myself a reputation.
Alex Verus’s insights into the future used to be the best-kept secret in London. Now, with the aid of his apprentice, Luna, his unique investigative talents are all the rage. He just has to be careful about picking his employers, because everyone—even the beautiful woman who practically begs him to run security for a prestigious tournament—has motives that can be hard to predict. And Alex doesn’t do unpredictable.
But his latest gig just might be impossible. Apprentices have been vanishing without a trace—and someone on the Council could be involved. Alex has no evidence, no witnesses, and no suspects. All he knows is that someone is keeping tabs on him. And after assassins target Luna’s classmate, Alex sees that he doesn’t know the half of it—and that he could be the next to disappear.”
Book 3 in Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series, Taken, once again picks up a short time after the events of the previous book. Alex continues to occupy a position of some celebrity amongst mages due to his recent successes and remains deeply suspicious of most other mages. This suspicion leads him to turn down a potentially lucrative job at the very beginning of the book, but he does, ultimately, agree to help the Council out once again. This assignment brings Verus back in contact with several characters from previous books while also introducing new elements of the Council’s bureaucracy, particularly the way that apprentices fit into the magical hierarchy. While the book may leave some who are new to the series a bit confused about Verus’ past activities, it does a good job of adding depth to his world for loyal fans of the series.
NOTE: MINOR SPOILERS FOR EARLIER ALEX VERUS BOOKS BELOW
The book opens with Verus being approached for two jobs. One, which he quickly turns down, is serving as security at the upcoming apprentice dueling competition. The other puts him once again under the employ of the Council, which needs him to investigate, and stop, a series of apprentice disappearances. With Luna newly a part of the apprentice program, Verus is well situated to learn more about the apprentices who have disappeared and to bring an end to this troubling trend, but in his typical fashion it isn’t long before he is drawn into additional mysteries that might just put him on the wrong side of powerful mages once again.
Jacka has done a great job of fleshing out the world of Alex Verus of the past three books in this series. While I noted in my review of the first book that some elements of the world would feel familiar to Urban Fantasy fans, Jacka has added many unique details since that first book which make his take on a magical society distinct from others I have read. This book adds a lot of additional detail to the history of this society, how magic itself works and who practices magic besides mages, including both adepts and non-human magical creatures. Those who read a lot of Urban Fantasy series will be impressed with the originality of many of these details and the degree of thought that has clearly gone into the book.
While this description might make it seem as though the book is mostly an infodump, there is plenty of action to go with all of this information. Jacka has created several fight sequences worthy of the best action movie and has sprinkled them throughout the book to keep the excitement level high throughout. Taken continues to build on the momentum of the previous two books and I think that fans will be even more impressed with Alex Verus by its conclusion. This book makes enough references to the previous Alex Verus books that I would not recommend it as a starting point for the series, but I would highly recommend going back and reading all of the books. Jacka has already announced that he is working on book 4, so you’ll want to be caught up before that one is released!
Readalike: If you are new to the series, start with Fated, the first book in the series. For series in a similar vein, try the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (start with Storm Front) or the Sandman Slim series by Richard Kadrey.