The High Lord (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan

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The High Lord (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Natalie Baker
Reviewed by Natalie Baker
Summary: This conclusion to the trilogy basically provides more of the same: a fast-moving plot that doesn't require too much thought to follow, making the annoyingly sparse character development that much more glaring.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 656 Date: October 2007
Publisher: ATOM
ISBN: 978-1905654093

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Sonea is now (for reasons I'm going to be vague about as I'm trying not to spoil the plot of the first two books in the trilogy) studying magic directly under the mysterious and rather shadowy High Lord. From him she learns that Kyralia is under threat of invasion, and from here on has to make several difficult choices as to how she can best help defend her country.

Much of this book, then, is about a war. It's also about more of the same as the first two books: a stuck-in-the-mud magician's guild that can't see further than their own noses; a cunning and resourceful set of thieves, and a villain - or rather villains - that don't seem particularly plausible.

There is a lot of plot. The story moves fast enough that if there's a bit you don't like, it's soon over - again, as with The Novice, there's always plenty happening. However I've either become used to Canavan's writing style or she's just being more obvious, because nothing that happened in this book surprised me, there was far too much flagging up of events to come - most notably the love story, which I found completely superfluous to the plot and generally unnecessary. We continue to learn more about the world that the characters inhabit but again, it's generally not enough, I would still have liked more.

I continue to have a problem with Sonea as a main character. Although she seems less passive in this book, she still fails to come across as particularly proactive, and a lot of her decision-making seems to go down the 'I have no other choice' route. The main character, as the title would suggest, is actually Akkarin, the High Lord of the magicians, who is (and has been throughout the series) a far more intriguing character, although it takes him until the third book to get any kind of character development at all! Still, he gets more than most other characters - of which there are still plenty (most of the magicians continue to be interchangeable, however).

And yet, despite my moaning, I still finished the book quickly and managed to enjoy it, although I can't help feeling that, with a bit more attention to characters, and a slightly less bland writing style - at times, passages that should have been exiting and adrenaline-filled: battle, and a particularly tense trial being two examples, ended up reading like a dusty history book - what is merely a decent book could have ended up being a very, very good one. The learning curve throughout the books is, however, obvious, and as these are re-issues, perhaps her more recent work has improved again.

I can't finish without mentioning the ending, which is less of an ending than a sputtering, juddering halt that leaves all kinds of loose ends; I would expect better of a trilogy. It's all good harmless fun however, and a perfectly reasonable read; just don't expect very much from it. Having finished this trilogy you might like to try one of Canavan's stand-alone novels.

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