Magicians' Guild: Book One of the Black Magician Trilogy
Written by: Trudi Cavanan
Published by: Eos
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
Imagine living in a city where the powerful and elite make the rules and decide who’s fit to life where. Imagine that these elite few command an army of magicians to do their bidding and enforce their laws. Now imagine that you just made enemies out of these magicians. In The Magicians’ Guild, Trudi Canavan delves into a world of magic, politics and social caste systems. The book follows Sonea, a young resident of the mythical city of Imardin. Sonea once led a rebellious life, until her aunt and uncle moved from the slums of the city into the Inner City where most “civilized" people lived. Unfortunately, their stay did not last long, and within a couple of years, the family of three was forced out of the Inner City and back into the slums via the Purge—a yearly cleansing of the “unwanted elements” from the Inner City. The Purges were carried out by the magicians, stoic, centurions who kept the peace at the behest of their King.
Enraged that her family had been uprooted, Sonea finds comfort in her old band of friends, chief among them, a Thief-in-the-making named Cery. Together they hurl stones and other objects at the magicians to get out their frustrations. The stones were not meant to hit the magicians, as they employed protective shields around them during the Purge, and no one expected that any stones would breech the shield. But one did; the one thrown by Sonea.
It didn’t take long for her—and everyone else—to figure out that Sonea had done the impossible, she’d manifested magical abilities—something that was not supposed to happen to anyone outside of the Houses, and certainly not to a slum-living Dwell like her. Magic was for the elite, the pureblood, and the sophisticated. They’d been bred and monitored and trained for centuries and in that time, there has never been a magic-user outside of the Houses—until Sonea.
Sonea’s life became one of running, hiding and seeking favors to keep her away from the magicians who quickly posted a reward for her capture and relentlessly chased her across the slums. She believed they wanted her dead for striking one of their own, they claimed they only wanted to train her, to keep her from doing harm to herself or others. But when her attempt to tap into her powers lets loose a raw torrent of magical energy, Sonea’s choices are taken from her. Now, among the enemies she’d been reared to hate, cut off from her family and friends, can Sonea learn to tame her newfound abilities, trust her new allies, and find a way back to the life she had before?
Books like Magicians’ Guild, are the reason why I love fantasy stories so much. They offer an interesting, thought-provoking plot that goes beyond just people throwing magical spells around, and manage to get the reader to feel for the character with seemingly no effort at all. The politics, the subplots, the rift between the magicians and how they are perceived, all weave together to form a greater, page-turning story that I will definitely follow into the next book. I recommend anyone to do the same.