Please join us in welcoming author Benedict Jacka here today to Dark Faerie Tales. The second book in his Alex Verus urban fantasy series, Cursed, recently hit shelves in May. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Thanks to Ace Books, you also have a chance to win a copy of Cursed. As always, details are listed at the end of the post. Make sure you follow the rules to be entered into the contest!
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.
Want to read more from Benedict Jacka?
Life Expectancy in the Magical World
Alex Verus’ world is a dangerous place. Although mages have access to wealth and power that most can only dream of, it comes with a high level of risk, and it’s extremely common for mages – especially young mages – to suffer unpleasant fates. This risk isn’t evenly distributed, though, and some mages have a much, much easier time of it than others.
The best indicator of how safe, pleasant, and long-lasting a mage’s life is going to be is which tradition he’s brought up in. Here’s an overview of the different backgrounds mages can come from, in rough order from best to worst. Most mages find this information interesting, but of limited practical use – if you’re trying to figure out how to survive, “be born privileged” isn’t much help.
Light: The minority of mages lucky enough to be born into the Light tradition have a relatively easy time of it. Either they’re the children of mages with Council connections, or they’re fortunate enough to catch the eye of a Light mage at a young age. Light apprentices are generally sheltered and protected through their early life, and have little contact with those who’d be a threat to them. They have to play politics and follow the rules, but these are fairly minor issues compared to what others have to deal with.
Independent: Independent mages vary enormously, so being recruited by an independent mage is something of a crap shoot. Some are kind and responsible, while others are just as bad as the worst Dark mage. In general mages raised in the independent tradition tend to be less privileged than Light mages, but safer than Dark ones, and they’re usually closer to mundane society than the other traditions. Either way, an independent-raised mage does at least get the benefits of having a master.
Dark: Apprentices recruited into the Dark tradition can expect an interesting life, if not necessarily a long one. Dark training methods are definitely not family-friendly and are frequently harsh, painful, and dangerous. To make things worse, many Dark mages have a habit of recruiting multiple apprentices, letting their apprentices know that only one of them is allowed to graduate, then stepping back and letting their apprentices cut their own numbers down via natural selection. On the other hand Dark mages do tend to get a lot of personal freedom, and those who survive the training process usually end up notably tougher and more capable than other mages.
Orphan: Mages raised without a master or tradition are known as Orphans. Being an Orphan really, really sucks. Orphans have absolutely no rights under the Concord, meaning that Dark, independent, and even Light mages are free to hurt, capture, or enslave them with no legal consequences at all. Some Orphans get more or less willingly impressed into one of the traditions and find their way into magical society that way. Others just have to make it on their own. Orphans who make it all the way into their mid-twenties tend to be very self-sufficient, but the attrition rate is high.
Once a mage has reached journeyman status (the equivalent of adulthood in the magical world) their life gets easier. It’s not that being an adult mage gives you any kind of immunity to the various magical threats out there, but by the time you reach that point you’ve tended to develop at least some ability to look after yourself, which is usually enough to make said threats look for easier and younger targets.
From this point on, a mage’s life expectancy depends on the lifestyle they choose to lead. Mages who stay out of politics, avoid pissing off other mages, and pursue a quiet lifestyle generally live long, safe, and comfortable lives. It’s not all that difficult to drop off the radar of magical society, and once you do odds are you won’t meet other mages unless you do something to draw their attention. Most independent mages end up living like this.
Mages who decide to involve themselves in the magical world have a busier time of it. Both Light and Dark politics are equally dangerous in their ways, and mages who get caught up with it usually lead eventful lives. Some do it out of love of power, some do it out of dedication for a cause, and some just don’t get any choice in the matter.
This giveaway is provided by Ace Books
One winner will receive a copy of Cursed by Benedict Jacka
Available on May 29, 2012 from Penguin/Ace Books
About the Book:
Things are going well for Alex Verus. He’s on moderately good terms with the Council, Luna’s settling in as his apprentice, and nobody has tried to kill him in weeks.
But when a mysterious woman bursts into his shop one night with a construct assassin on her tail, he’s thrown into the middle of a plot to revive a long-forbidden ritual for draining the power from living creatures. Alex’s old enemies Cinder and Deleo are after the secret, as well as a Council mage named Belthas and a mercenary named Garrick; at least one of them is trying to get Alex killed, and unfortunately for Alex he doesn’t know which. And finally, Luna’s found a boyfriend.
In between dodging assassination attempts and trying to keep Luna in one piece, Alex needs to figure out who’s really playing who – and whose side he should be on. He can see the future, but knowing who to trust is something else.
Click HERE to read an excerpt
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