Book Review: The Novice by Trudi Canavan



Imardin is a city of dark intrigues and deadly politics, where those who wield magic wield power.  Into this established order has blundered a young street-girl with extraordinary magical gifts.  Adopted by the Magician’s Guild, her life is changed forever – but for better or for worse?

Sonea knew that she’d face a tough time training within the Magician’s Guild but she little realised the level of animosity she would face from her fellow novices.  The sons and daughters of the most powerful families in the realm, her classmates seem determined to see her fail – at whatever cost.  But in accepting the protection of the Guild’s High Lord, Sonea may have embraced a far bleaker fate.  For High Lord Akkarin harbours a secret that is far darker than his magician’s robes.  

If you have ever been bullied, and want to read a good fantasy novel that deals with it in a shockingly realistic way, ‘The Novice’ is the book for you.  This is the second instalment in the Black Magician Trilogy, and follows on from ‘The Magician’s Guild’.  ‘The Novice’ follows Sonea as she enters into her studies and has to deal with a lot of nasty, stomach churning bullying.  After each attack I could nearly feel how worn-out she was from the bullies.  It also follows Lord Dannyl after he is appointed Second Ambassador to Elyne and his travels around the Allied lands investigating ancient magic with the scholar Tayend.   The impact of bullying on both Sonea in the present, and Dannyl in the past is a major theme, as is acceptance.  As you read certain revelations are made, which I won’t spoil here.  However, I will say that most fantasy books that I have read tend to brush over homo-sexuality so it was refreshing to read about it here, in-depth and involving main characters.

At the end of ‘The Magician’s Guild’ it was revealed that High Lord Akkarin practices forbidden Black Magic, and that really no-one who is in on the secret knows how to deal with it.  This is the story-arch of the series, and of course it is the main conflict of the book.  Between the bullying at school, and dealing with the High Lord, Sonea is in hell.  I really felt for her, because it was just so cruel.  I really hated Akkarin for some of the stunts he pulled.  The situation just kept getting worse and worse, until the end, but I’m not going to spoil that either.

‘The Novice’ was an exciting book to read.  I engaged with what was going on, and like I said earlier I just really emphasised with the characters, especially Sonea. It was a real step up from ‘The Magician’s Guild’ and I appreciated that.  I loved this book.  I can’t really say anything bad about it, other than that the first hundred pages are a bit too much of a summary of the first book for my liking.  The end is a total cliff-hanger, and I picked up the next book – ‘The High Lord’- very soon after putting this one down.


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