The Novice: Book Two of the Black Magician Trilogy
Written by: Trudi Canavan
Published by: Eos
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
A short while back I picked up a book by Trudi Canavan called, The Magician’s Guild and was blown away by the intricacy and creativity of Canavan’s fictitious world. So it was no big surprise that I chose to go back to the Canavan well for another good story with which to read and review. As soon as I had a moment, I picked up the sequel, The Novice, and delved right into the world I’d enjoyed so much the first time around.
In The Novice, Canavan once again centers the story around Sonea, a young girl from the slums of Kyralia who was discovered to have an innate and powerful talent for magic—something that has not occurred outside the major Houses in centuries. She was inducted into the Guild and promised training to be a magician among children of her peers. It was a life changing decision, but one that she had resolved to and eventually looked forward to, because it would allow her the opportunity to prove that ‘lower class’ citizens could also be magicians and learn to Heal at the same time, a talent that she hoped to bring back to her slums.
But hopes and dreams do not always match up to reality. For one she is, in the eyes of both students and magicians, a slum girl whose very presence is a taint on the prestige and honor of the Houses. One novice in particular, Regin, makes it his personal mission to turn all the other students against her. Under his instructions other students attack her, drain her magic and torment her at every turn, making her learning nearly impossible and her days in the Guild worse than anything she’d ever faced in the slums.
If that were her only dilemma, Sonea’s problems at the Guild might not have seemed so severe, but having seen the High Lord Akkarin practicing forbidden black magic, Sonea and her mentor Lord Rothen must conspire to keep their knowledge from the High Lord while Administrator Lorlen attempts to find proof of the High Lord’s treason. Since Akkarin is the most powerful magician the Guild has ever known, Lorlen is convinced that a direct confrontation would force Akkarin to literally tear the Guild apart.
Dealing with the constant torment of her jealous peers is not in any way made easier when High Lord Akkarin, suddenly takes an interest in her and demands that he take over as her personal guardian.
There’s an equally interesting and engaging side story involving another magician, Lord Dannyl who is unknowingly recruited to retrace the steps Lord Akkarin made on a journey that is believed to had made available to him the knowledge of black magic. Dannyl’s own ambassadorial duties clash with his curiosity for gossip, and when a secret that he thought long buried comes to the forefront of his mind, not only his mission but his standing in the Guild could be permanently jeopardized.
Overall, this book was fantastic. I would dare to say that it was even better than the first book and left me hungry to read the third. I was amazed and impressed by Canavan’s portrayal of the Guild, its rules, its customs, and the customs of the cultures abroad to which Dannyl had to travel. Every culture had its own flavor to it, and it was painted with expert precision—and without the need to make the other ‘races’ ogres or gnomes or anything like that. I truly felt for Sonea and her situation, and winced as I read the torment that Regin inflicted upon her. He is Malfoy from Harry Potter only meaner, smarter and with much more than just two stupid goons backing him up.
Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone and I very much look forward to reading more from Trudi Canavan, who is quickly becoming my new favorite fantasy writer.