Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Novice

Title: The Novice
Author: Trudi Canavan
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2002
Series: The Black Magician Trilogy (Book 2)
Next in Series: The High Lord

Sonea has defied the odds and been accepted into the guild, but her troubles are hardly at an end. She’s been accepted as a member, but none of the other novices accept her as an equal. Putting up with bullies, endless studies and teachers who over look her, Sonea has a lot on her plate. But neither Sonea nor her guardian has felt safe since the guild Administrator preformed a truth read on her and discovered that the High Lord of the guild practices forbidden black magic. To make matters worse, there seems to be a serial murder running round Imardin. To the few who discovered the High Lord’s illegal knowledge, he is the main suspect due to the ritualistic nature of the murders. But what will Sonea do when the High Lord demands her as his novice?

The Magician’s Guild laid a great foundation for the rules of magic in the Kyralian society, the Novice really elaborates on it, making everything from light globes to force strikes seem plausible. While going to class with Sonea was fascinating from that standpoint, it was trying to constantly read about Regin’s consistent pranks on her. His bullying is creative, but after a while even his creativity makes me wish Sonea would fight back! Too often she passively takes it and says nothing. Strength and fighting your own battles is something, but not to the point of being a doormat.

For me, the real excitement of this book really Dannyl and his travels. We finally see the land around the city of Imardin and run around all the Allied Lands searching for ancient magic. Dannyl and his assistant’s experiences in the mountains between Elyne and Sachaka will thrill even the most tired reader. From ancient libraries to far off temples, his passages never fail to please, although occasionally the cultures he visits do cause you to shudder. I was also pleased to notice that Kyralia is in the southern hemisphere of its world. If you pay attention to the small details, Ms. Canavan will surprise you!

The murders are a great example of this, and add a delicious taste of mystery to a novel that would otherwise fall completely into the fantasy genre. Though they don’t seem to serve much purpose, all of the tiny facts of these crimes are incredibly vital to the story later, which really made me realize the complex scope of planning that had gone into these books long before any were published.

Perhaps the oddest thing about this novel, however, is how the High Lord, while only a minor character, really becomes the best fleshed out person in the trilogy. Everyone’s thoughts focus around him, his crimes and what could have motivated him to break his vows. Through their eyes, their thoughts and fears, the High Lord becomes at once a terrible figure; one of intrigue and cruelty but also of pity.

My Thoughts:
Again, I thought that there were parts of the novel which were dragged out longer than they needed to be, such as the bullying that Sonea goes through. However, the rest of it was so fascinating that I could easily overlook it. This book really left me wanting to know more and worried for the characters I had come to love.

Favorite Scene:
I liked Sonea’s wandering around the University, but the most interesting for me was Dannyl’s discovery of the Room of Ultimate Judgment.

Who this book is best for:
High schoolers or adults who want a nice romp through the dirty parts of the city and then an interesting bit of politics will enjoy this book.

Violence: 3 of 5, for descriptions of those murdered

Stars: 3 of 5

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