Forged by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus series: Book 11)

Now that we’re close to the end, it finally feels like Alex Verus has found his sense of purpose; in this book his true self is revealed. And it is incredible.

Alex has been faffing around for a while now. Before things started to come together in Book 10, it seemed like either Benedict Jacka or Verus, or both, didn’t really know where they were going. There were some great scenes but overall the stories were more filler than anything else. Placeholders till a decision was made. And let me tell you now, it has been. If Go Big or Go Home was a narrative style, then this book went all in. It is decisiveness and bloodstained resolution from the first page to the last. It is jaw dropping shocks and about bloody times. It is high risk, take a chance choices and electrifying almosts. It is understanding that Drakh was right about Verus all along. But also so very wrong.

If you’ve never read any of these before, under no circumstances start here. The power in this volume is the way it deals with what has come before. To miss that is to miss the heart of what makes this so amazing. Sure, there have been times when I wondered whether the series was going to stick the ending. But Forged = faith restored. And then some.

When you finish a book and wonder how the hell the next one will top it, then you know it’s a phenomenal read. That what follows is the finale in this 12 book series only makes the stakes even higher. But after this, I know that whatever Benedict Jacka does for the finale, it’ll be better than I could have imagined. And I cannot wait.
Emma Davis, 10/10

While I might have missed the publication of Benedict Jacka’s Fallen in 2019, I was subsequently lucky enough to be able to read Fallen and then its follow-up Forged one after another.

In Fallen, everything in Alex Verus’ world had fallen apart: His girlfriend was forced to give in to the power of her resident jinn and own alter-ego, his oldest friend is gone, his efforts to stay unaligned from all magical politics has failed dramatically, and he has been beaten to a pulp. 
His only way forward was a risky gamble to become a powerful magical player, with unknown ramifications.

By the end of the book, we were accompanying a completely reworked Alex Verus, one who had not necessarily given in to his dark side tendencies but who was certainly less tied down by nagging moral quandaries like murder.

While I was a little put off by the way in which it seemed Alex had suddenly thrown out his moral compass, I nevertheless loved the book.

In Forged, I feel as if Alex Verus has not just thrown out his moral compass, but he’s gone to find wherever he threw it so that he could stomp it to pieces. As such, I’m a little confused as to who I’m reading anymore. Is this still Alex Verus? Is he still looking to make the world a better place for the mages stuck in the middle and all the magical creatures? Is he all that, but with a particular enjoyment for murder and mayhem?

Again, as I said in the previous review, “maybe that’s the whole point.” Maybe Benedict Jacka is intentionally writing Alex in a new direct which was never all that new. In both Fallen and Forged Alex has been reminded, and reminded others, that his body count was already pretty high. Now that he’s decided to take what power he needs and ignore the consequences, maybe he’s just revealing that side of his character which was always there, and which he just pushed aside for the sake of appearances.

And if all this is the case, then well done to the author.

I just wonder if that’s the story we’re looking for in 2020?

Make no mistake, Forged is fantastically written – fast-paced, insightful, emotional, and action packed. Some of the decisions made are fascinating, and I can’t wait to see how Caldera responds to the events that unfolded around her. The fight scenes were wonderful, capturing all the foretelling nuance that the author has used so well through the series, while combining that with Alex’s newfound power.

Maybe the most enjoyable part of the book was the relationship with Cinder – and not least of all the hilarious scene between Cinder and Starbreeze. I actually find Cinder one of the most fascinating characters in this whole series, given the fact that he is who he is, unapologetically, but he’s also remarkably likeable, despite his murderous fiery tendencies.

For some, the characters’ focus on the ends justifying the means could be problematic. It is certainly confronting! But, despite all that I have said, I nevertheless find myself relishing the opportunity to be challenged by what I read. Do I agree with all of what Alex does? Not necessarily. Do I understand? Oh, absolutely!

Forged by Benedict Jacka may be the most compelling and challenging book the author has ever written and is certainly a standout of the Alex Verus series. Lacking none of the fast-paced storytelling that has been a hallmark of the series, Forged subtly adds deeper emotional and moral dimensions which only served to increase my enjoyment. And with some of fantasy literature’s most enjoyable characters, I can never get enough of this wonderful series, and I’ll be sad when it finally comes to an end in the next book.
Joshua S Hill, 9/10

10/10 When you finish a book and wonder how the hell the next one will top it, then you know it’s a phenomenal read

Reviews by and Joshua S Hill

1 positive reader review(s) for Forged

Forged reader reviews

from United States

As the penultimate volume in this excellent and long-running series, I'm awfully happy with this entry. Forged has all of the things that made the earlier books so engaging: the moral and ethical complexities, the fantastic examples of magical power, and the continual evolution of who Alex Verus is as a person and mage. This book is about control in a lot of ways. Despite being a diviner and having more than a little insight as to what his options and fate might be, Alex has never wanted to truly take control of things. He's been a reactant, using his powers not to decide on what encounters he will have, but to try and set the terms of those encounters. As he's come to understand more about his place in the broader world and accept the fact that his basic power puts him in the world in ways that he might not always like, but has to deal with, he's also accepted the consequences of that, along with the fact that others are also responsible for their own acts. And now, Alex is taking control of his own life again, stopping reacting and trying to manage the consequences of others decisions, but to make some decisions of his own to get what he wants and needs. His growing sense of control is contrasted nicely by Rachel's continual lack of control and Anne's growing loss of control herself. These are two of the more important people in his life, and their inability to find that level of control (over themselves, over their power, over their environments) in many ways shows Alex that as a person of ability and power he can't simply sit passively back, but instead has to take command of his life in more active ways, even if it means killing people he'd rather leave alone. He's a more dangerous person now than ever before, but at the same time he's someone who has shown over and over that his word is good, and the people that fail the worst against him are the ones who refuse to accept that. Blinded by emotion, preconceived notions, rules or whatever they fail when they go head to head with him in part because he does keep his word and does what he says he will do. The evolution of his relationship with Cinder is a perfect example of this: by keeping his word, he's turned an implacable enemy into a solid ally. They may never actually like each other, but the respect is there. Looking forward to Book 12. A little sad that is likely the end, but it's been a great ride and after this, the wrap-up should be well-worth the ride.
9/10 ()

9.3/10 from 2 reviews

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