Title: The Novice
Author: Trudi Canavan
Edition/Pages: Kindle Edition
Short & Sweet Synopsis: Sonea must deal with school bullies, whilst also handling a complicated and dangerous (and secret) political situation in the Magician’s Guild.
Before reading: Check out my review of book 1, The Magician’s Guild.
The very first thing I did after finishing book one of The Black Magician Trilogy was pick up my Kindle and purchase book two, because it was after 10 p.m. and all of the bookstores were closed. And I needed to know what happened. Immediately. This is that kind of series. It’s the kind where you stay up all night reading, because there is just no acceptable place to put the book down. And in this series, happily enough, the books only continue to improve.
Although the first book in this series was a solid work of fantasy, and Canavan successfully created a believable and intriguing world, The Novice takes it to a whole new level. In this book, Canavan starts to develop some very interesting social commentaries. In a side story starring one of the lesser main characters from The Magician’s Guild, she leads us through the various Allied Lands, making observations along the way. In one, she shows us a woman being publicly executed for becoming involved with a man she was not married to, in the style of law favored by the ancient religion of the region. Other comments were also made, making me connect the two even more, but the whole thing could make me think of only one thing: the stories we hear on the evening news about women being stoned in the streets of Iran, or another Muslim country of your choice (not commenting on the validity of these stories — just that they exist). A second, more prominent storyline deals with gay rights. Our side-main character has struggled with rumors concerning his sexuality since adolescence, and what proof of them would do to his career. He would become a social outcast in his own country. In others he would be killed. And in the country to which he is sent on an ambassadorial mission…he would be accepted. Canavan does a wonderful job of using his travels to shine light on a certain few subjects that make many people squirm. I think she did an excellent job of finding a way to intertwine these comments into the novel in a believable way; part of me can’t help but wonder, though, was this entire storyline a way for her to make her opinions known, or is there some other purpose to it? That still remains to be seen in book three.
And I suppose if I gave that many words to a side story, I should also mention our heroine, Sonea. At the start of this book she is beginning classes at the Guild, and much of the novel revolves around petty school pranks and bullying that make the poor girl’s life a miserable existence. Additionally, she has learned a dark secret about a powerful man (revealed in book one), and her life becomes ever more revolved around protecting it. Not only her life, but the lives of those she loves – and many more besides – depend on this not getting out.
I will end this review as I ended the last one: the second I finished this book, my first action was to open the Kindle Store and buy the third and final novel in the series. I immediately started reading, and so far the third book promises to be just as enjoyable as the last two. I shall report back next with further information. Until then, happy readings!