Tag Archives: Trudi Canavan

Book Reaction: The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan


I think that it only makes sense to do a reaction post on the entire trilogy as a whole, because that way I can talk about all the spoilers I want to without, you know, ruining it for anyone else.  That and I’m lazy!

I was sceptical about reading ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’ for several reasons.  I mentioned before that I had tried to read it years ago and couldn’t stick it.  I also did like the covers and thought that (based on the first one-hundred pages and the synopsis of the first book) that it was way too cliché to be any good.  The fact that it is sort-of young adult also didn’t appeal to me.  But my brother kept going on about how good it was, and seeing as at the time I was doing the 50 book challenge, I needed the extra books to keep the numbers going.

At first I wasn’t too keen on ‘The Magician’s Guild’ but I did find it easy to read and when I got to the two-hundred page mark it seemed to really begin to pick up in terms of storyline.  I loved the chapter where Sonea and Cery snuck into the guild, and thought it was a good way to make the reader go wtf? without giving too much away.  I recognised Akkarin immediately and what he was doing didn’t greatly resemble the magic that had been introduced in the book previously.   The Fergun plot was pretty so-so for me.  I thought it was a bit overblown, but by the end of the book I was sufficiently attached to the main characters to want to continue.  That and I loved how Akkarin just walked in and cut the crap when Fergun was lying his way through the hearing:

‘From the accounts given today, we can clearly see that Lord Fergun was the first to recognise Sonea’s abilities’ said Lord Osen ‘Does anybody contest this conclusion?’

‘I do’

It was badass without trying to be badass!

 ‘The Novice’ was a huge step up from the first book.  I loved the series approach to the bullying Sonea undergoes.  After each attack scene I emphasised with her.  As someone who was bullied in the past I know what it feels like to be so worn out that it is hard to keep going.  In the book the attacks by Regin and his friends are very metaphorical for real life bullying, but of course real-life bullying the majority of the time is never that extreme.  I thought Akkarin was so evil in this book too.  I hated his approach to Sonea and found it very hard to see how this guy was going to be the hero of the novels (my brother had revealed that by this point, plus I’d skimmed the last chapter of ‘The High Lord’ so I knew a couple of things) let alone was actually going to be the man Sonea has a relationship with.  He was just cruel.  I think at one point it was mentioned that he was watching it happen and my mouth fell open.  My favourite scene was when Lorlen confronted him over it, despite being in a hideous situation himself.

I mentioned in my review that I also loved the Dannyl storyline.  I haven’t read it in fantasy before (I know there are some well-known books that deal with homosexuality but I haven’t got round to reading them).   Dannyl and Tayend had great chemistry and by the end I was just waiting for Dannyl to come out so that they could be together.  The travels they go on while retracing Akkarin’s footsteps was intriguing.   It made him come across even more evil, because why would he even want to look at that stuff if he was supposed to be good?  The last couple of pages were kind of out of no-where, and left me wanting to start the next book immediately.

‘The High Lord’ completely blew my mind.  So far, it is my favourite book that I’ve read this year.  Akkarin’s back story was completely unexpected to me.  I think it is the best twist in the trilogy, because within a chapter he goes from someone who you can’t see as a good person to the hero of the series.  It just made sense.  During the Hearing that was held to decide what to do with Sonea and Akkarin I could see why the Guild didn’t trust him.   The choices the Guild in the present made were founded on hundreds of years of propaganda and ignorance, and I could see that they weren’t going to change easily.  Sonea deciding to go to Sachaka with Akkarin was really brave, and I also loved the bravery of the Guild in the face of an enemy who was stronger than them.  They thought they were going to fail, and die failing, but they went ahead and defended Imardin despite all that.  I was really upset when Lorlen died – it was just awful.  Then when Akkarin died (even though I knew it was coming) I couldn’t put the book down, but at the same time it was ending.  I finished the book in tears and spent hours online trying to recover without crying anymore tears.

I’m a bit of a sap.  I’m going to end this here, because this post is way too long.


Book Review: The High Lord by Trudi Canavan



In the city of Imardin, where those who wield magic wield power, a young street-girl, adopted by the Magicians’ Guild, finds herself at the centre of a terrible plot that may destroy the entire world…

Sonea has learned much at the Magicians’ Guild and the other novices now treat her with a grudging respect.  But she cannot forget what she witnessed in the High Lord’s underground room – or his warning that the realm’s ancient enemy is growing in power once again.  As Sonea learns more, she begins to doubt her guildmaster’s word.  Could the truth really be as terrifying as Akkarin claims, or is he trying to trick her into assisting in some unspeakable dark scheme?  


When you pick up ‘The High Lord’ after reading the first two instalments, there is only one real question that you want the answer to – can Akkarin be trusted or is he lying about Sachaka?  This book answers that question early on, and then proceeds to bring about the final battle.  I can’t really say much more than what is in the synopsis because ‘The High Lord’ explains so much about what has been going on pre and during the series.

I will say that this was the first book I cried at in a long time (I read it before Me Before You by Jojo Moyes).   The Black Magician Trilogy is really character driven, and this is prominent in ‘The High Lord’.  The overall theme is about choices – those we make ourselves and those that are made for us by others, or by events outside of ourselves.  The choices in ‘The High Lord’ are sometimes stupid, sad or brave and they lead to real consequences.  The ending is unbelievingly bittersweet.  I think it is one of those endings that are hard to forget, because it isn’t quite the happy ending you want for these characters, especially after all the characters have been through.  It just seems so unfair!

This is the hardest review I written to date I think.  I love the book so much I just don’t know what to say about it without spoiling it for someone else.  I think that you’d have to just go read it to understand!    I will say that I knew most of the ending, but it still broke my heart.

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.

Book Review – The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan

Synopsis: Each year the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city streets of vagrants, urchins and miscreants.  Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no one can oppose them.  But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they believe.  

As the mob is herded from the city, a young street girl, furious at the authorities’ treatment of her family and friends, hurls a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it.  To the amazement of all who bear witness, the stone passes unhindered through the barrier and renders a magician unconscious. 

It is an inconceivable act, and the guild’s worst fear has been realised – an untrained magician is loose on the streets.  She must be found, and quickly, before her uncontrolled powers unleash forces that will destroy both her, and the city that is her home. 


Have you ever picked up a book and decided to judge it, not on its actual merits, but on your ideas of a genre you know nothing about?  I have, with this very book.  I regretted it big time, when a few years later my brother read it and said I should give it a try, and I ended up loving it.  I pretty much kicked myself over it, until I reasoned that I hadn’t really explored the fantasy genre the first time, whereas when I read ‘The Magicians’ Guild’ earlier this year I had developed a love for fantasy.

I wasn’t necessarily wrong the first time though.  Close-minded but not wrong.  ‘The Magicians’ Guild’ is a good book.  I really liked it, and I loved the Black Magician Trilogy overall, but… it is not a great advertisement for the rest of the series.  It has a lot of flaws.  It drags a lot at the beginning.  The book itself works more as a set up to the rest of the trilogy, then as part of the overall story.

It is a nice read.  Easy to get into and, once the first part is over you really start to fall in love with the characters.  I was going through a major reading slump (over a years worth of slumpiness) when I decided to give this book a try, and it got me out of it.  I found myself suddenly reading a hundred pages in a sitting! Once Sonea is captured by the guild, and Rothen and Dannyl try to get her to trust them it really picks up.  As a reader, it  became clear these characters were becoming a family.  That pays off in the later books.

I liked that the book dealt with larger themes, such as class and poverty.  It was interesting, because unlike many books that I have read, Sonea never gives up on her ideas on those two subjects.  Where she comes from is a part of her, and just because she is living a new, richer life doesn’t mean that the slums don’t exist anymore.  Magic is not a heal-all here, and I admire that.

‘The Magicians’ Guild’ is one of those books that hints at the great things that are to come, but shows very little of them.  I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get into a new fantasy trilogy.  Emphasis on the trilogy part there.  I think as a standalone this novel is okay, but if you see it as the opener, and then continue to ‘The Novice’ then you will probably enjoy it more.

Overall, I gave it four stars on Goodreads, because it was a throughly enjoyable read, that I compared to eating chocolate because once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.  Just writing this review has me wanting to go re-read the series again, and I’m not a big re-reader!

30 Day Book Challenge: Day Eleven – Book from your favourite author


I don’t believe in favourites.  I don’t have a favourite band or recording artist.  My first couple of posts in this challenge weren’t hard to write-up per se but I did have to consider it.  I’m just not a favourites type of person.  I like what I like, depending on my mood.  I don’t have a list set in stone.

Writers are a hard thing to judge, because you might like one book or series by one, and then hate everything else that they do.  Likewise, how do you judge an author?  Do you take in the overall story, the characters or do you look at the nuts and blots of the text – the way they actually write things.  Should I judge the classics and contemporary books separately?

Anne Rice is probably the best technical writer that I’ve ever read.  Like I said in my last post, the way she writes is amazing.  She just has a magic to her prose that I’ve not encountered before or since in a modern book.

George R. R. Martin writes strong prose, if a bit too much of it, but I love ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ because of the way he incorporates reality into his fantastical story.  I love the way that the books are hard to read because of all the pain and death the characters suffer through.

Anne Bishop is not very strong with prose.  She tends to repeat phrases again and again.  However, with the ‘Black Jewels’ she created really lovable characters.  Complex characters like Daemon Sadi are very rare and are compelling to read.

Trudi Canavan is an interesting writer.  In her first trilogy ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’ her writing style is pretty bad.  The first book said trilogy ‘The Magicians’ Guild’ suffers from too little plot.  It does not do justice to the rest of the series.  Both ‘The Novice’ and ‘The High Lord’ are emotional reads.  The plotting is excellent.  You don’t know who is good and who is bad.  ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ (prequel to the BMT) has better writing, and a complex plot.

In terms of classics I think Gaston Leroux’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is a great read.  The pace, plot and tone are great.  I read the translation though so who knows?

‘The Moonstone’ by Wilkie Collins has a great plot too.  I may be wrong but it was one of the first detective type novels and it is very well written.

Naturally, I think Emily Bronte is great – I listed ‘Wuthering Heights’ as one of my favourite books.  The prose creates the atmosphere that I love.

I have read several plays by Shakespeare.  All of them were good.  He is probably the greatest writer of all time – but academics argue if he even wrote down what we read today.  I love plays like ‘Macbeth’ and ‘The Merchant of Venice’ because even though they are hard to read they have these great conflicts.  As a reader you feel conflicted when you read about Shylock being kicked but wanting a pound of flesh, or as you watch Macbeth spiral from a good man into an awful human being.

I guess the answer for today is not that I have no favourite authors, but that I have too many, and in no particular order.

30 Day Book Challenge – Day Four: Book that makes you cry


Okay, so I will be hard on myself here, because most books make me cry.  I never cry at the telly (and I’ve watched that episode where Buffy’s mother dies fyi) or a movies.  I’m going to pick just one though.

The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

The Black Magician Trilogy follows the story of Sonea (a slum dweller) who finds out that she has magical powers and has to go to the Magician’s Guild and learn how to control them.  I’m not going to go into a long expiation of the series, or The High Lord for that matter, because I intend on reviewing them on this blog soon.  However, I will say that the trilogy, while targeted at young adults, is actually very dark.  The High Lord is an example of that.  I can’t really say what happens here without spoiling it, but I will say that I cried mainly though the entire last part of the book.  The Guild were just so helpless and the fight was both dramatic and appropriate.  The end is a shocker, it really is.  Big characters die in awful ways… I’m going to stop there 🙂