The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan

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The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Natalie Baker
Reviewed by Natalie Baker
Summary: Two stories in one, really: Sonea trains as a magician, and the investigations into the High Lord continue. A decent story let down by poor characterisation. Only buy if you've read and liked the first book.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 592 Date: August 2007
Publisher: ATOM
ISBN: 978-1905654116

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Sonea has agreed to join the Guild and train as a magician. However, as a dwell from the Slums, she is out of place amongst the other Novices from the noble houses, and has to deal not only with being severely bullied, but also with gaining the attention of some people within the Guild she could really rather do without - such as the High Lord, an extremely powerful magician, suspected however by some in the Guild of using black magic. One of the magicians, Dannyl, while on an ambassadorial mission, takes the chance to retrace the High Lord's footsteps and discover just what he was doing, many years ago.

This is the second book in the Black Magician trilogy, and if you discount the fact that it ends with an epilogue blatantly designed to act as a cliffhanger for the third book, it is perfectly readable as a standalone without having read the first book. I would recommend starting with the first book, however, because this second book deals with two almost entirely separate plotlines, which is rather frustrating, although I soon found I came to prefer the secondary plotline - that of Dannyl's travels and explorations - to the primary one of Sonea's education at the Guild.

My problem was this: Trudi Canavan has written a reasonably intriguing story in an interesting world, however the world is insufficiently explained, and the characterisation is incredibly dull - Sonea is one of the more passive characters I have come across in a long time. She does very little in this book, which is a disappointment (and in some contrast to her actions in the first book, although there she still suffers sometimes from being, to be honest, boring). It really irked me that a potentially strong female character mostly just sat around shrugging and accepting her fate - perhaps it is realistic, but it is not particularly interesting! Many of the characters are extremely one-dimensional and stereotypical - and interchangeable, there are many, many characters in this book, but I was forever getting all the teachers mixed up; they all seemed the same. I was also hard-pushed to tell whether the High Lord, set up as the villain of the trilogy, is meant to be a grey character with questions raised as to whether he is really bad after all - or whether that is merely insufficient character development making him seem so grey! Dannyl probably gets the most development, although I didn't find much new in his story, again it was all very surface level and basic. The world she has created also suffers from the same underdevelopment, although at times it does become very intriguing, which makes life as a reader a little frustrating, again.

Despite the criticisms, I found the book a fast-paced read; it's perfectly readable, and despite, or perhaps because of, the annoyances, I did find myself picking the first book in the trilogy up from the library to compare - there's more action in that one, and perhaps a little more in the way of characterisation as well. If you think this might be your sort of thing - if you prefer plot to characterisation, that is - I'd recommend starting with the first book.

This is fantasy-lite, not that there's anything wrong with that, it was a good book to read in the summer sun (when it turned up!) without having to invest much thought or effort. However, if you like to get your teeth into something a bit more solid, and with characters that actually do and feel something - and particularly strong female characters - there are many, many fantasy books out there that fulfil, such as Glenda Larke's Heart of the Mirage and Ursula K LeGuin's Voices.

Buy The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan at

Buy The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Novice (Black Magician Trilogy) by Trudi Canavan at


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