Ninth in an ongoing series. I have every respect for Mr Jacka. Sustaining this length of series is a marvelous achievement, especially to keep characters developing. This time Alex is sitting on the Junior Council (as a Dark Mage) in Morden's place while Morden is in jail awaiting trial/punishment. No one quite knows what Morden is up to. It's certainly not like him to sit back and wait to be executed, but whatever it is has left Alex once more in the shit. It seems that half the council wants him dead and the others are only keeping him around because he's being useful, reclaiming some of the missing imbued items that were stolen in the last book. Assassination attempts are a regular occurrence. Alex is beginning to realise that if he's going to protect his friends he needs to a) play the council game and b) acquire more power. Is he beginning to want power for power's sake? Are there elements of Dark Magery he's gravitating towards? Dark is not necessarily evil… but there's a fine line between the two. Alex is also finally admitting to himself what we've known for several books… his feelings for Anne. About time Mr. Verus. These books are a buy on sight for me. My only problem is that now I've caught up with the latest, I have to wait for Number Ten. Highly recommended, but start at the beginning.