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SPOILER ALERT!

Burned (Benedict Jacka)

Burned - Benedict Jacka

** THIS WILL BASICALLY BE RECAP/OPINION KIND OF "REVIEW" ... SO EVERYTHING WILL BE SPOILER-Y. ABORT IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED **

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The story pretty much opened with a time-clock: Talisid informs Alex that Levistus (and the Council) has sentenced Alex to death, and he will be executed in one week. The death sentence doesn't just apply to Alex but also his three dependents: Luna, Vari, and Anne.

The bulk of this story is Alex trying to find out a way out of it, or at least to save his three friends. Anne and Vari need to find new sponsorship. Luna needs to take her journeyman mage test. And Alex ends up helping the Order of the Star to get a powerful magical relic before his master, Richard Drakh, gets his hand on it -- to prove that Alex has nothing to do with Drakh.

Of course, along the way, Alex finds that another faction is at play and tries to kill him because apparently there is a divination that Alex will have a significant role to Drakh's rise to power.

You know, as I reached the (sort of) cliffhanger ending of "Burned", I felt rather disheartened. I'm not saying that I give up on this series, on the contrary, I thought Jacka's writing has evolved over the years. The story flowed in fast but still in controlled pace... I could feel like I was on the edge of my seat, trying to find out how Alex would get out of this, and got out of his seemingly dark fate.

... only to find out that he really couldn't. In the end, Alex was forced to go back and work for Drakh under the circumstances ... if he wanted to stay alive (or kept his friends alive as well). So what is this?? Does this mean resistance is really futile? That no matter what Alex is trying to do -- being neutral, not joining any of the factions -- he just seals his fate of doom?

I know that Jacka must have a plan for this whole arc but still, I wasn't completely satisfied with how this book ended...