Published: 04 March 2010 by Orbit Books
Format: Paperback, 480 pages
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The old magician paused. ‘If this young woman is a natural, we should expect her to be more powerful than our average novice, possibly even more powerful than the average magician.’
Each year, the magicians of Imardin gather together to purge the city streets of vagrants and miscreants. Masters of the disciplines of magic, they know that no ordinary lowlife can oppose them. But their protective shield is not as impenetrable as they think.
Sonea, angry, frustrated and outraged by the treatment of her family and friends, throws a stone at the shield, putting all her rage behind it. She is amazed when it sails unrestricted through the barrier and knocks a magician unconscious.
The Guild’s worst fear has been realised. There is an untrained magician loose in Imardin who must be found before her uncontrolled powers can destroy herself and the city.
This is a light, entertaining book that I enjoyed reading. The action takes place mainly in the slums of Kyralia and the Magician’s Guild, both of which were wonderfully realised. While there wasn’t a strong sense of place in the book because only the two of these places was described in any great detail, the slums and Guild allowed a contrast to be established between the low and high status societies in the city. This was pivotal to the plot of the book, so I was not disappointed at the lack of detail about the world external to the two places.
In contrast, I found the pace of the story to be entirely too slow. Sonea’s attempts to evade the Guild as they searched for her were gripping at first, but quickly became monotonous as it dragged on. Just as I began to think that perhaps Canavan was taking us in direction where Sonea would not be captured at all, it became clear that she would die without the assistance of the Guild. I felt the search for her could have been confined to a few chapters without taking anything away from the plot. The pace picked up once she was found by the magicians, and I enjoyed seeing her slowly open up to the Magicians and allow them to help her.
The characters were engaging but cliched, developing very little thought the novel. Sonea was a good heroine, if a little annoying because of her stubbornness concerning her generalised beliefs about magicians. In turn, many of the magicians, who are leaders in society, believed in stereotypes of the street dwellers without ever interacting with one. My favourite character is Lord Dannyl, easily the most interesting character because of his willingness to co-operate with the Guild of Thieves to find Sonea. Sonea’s introduction into the Guild allows the factions and alliances within the society to be revealed and this gave depth to the otherwise superficial world of the Magician’s Guild.
An entertaining novel which establishes Canavan as a talented storyteller, The Magician’s Guild will appeal to YA readers as well those who enjoy high fantasy. Although it is clear that this book is setting up the rest of the series, the trilogy shows a lot of promise, and now that most of the world-building is out of the way, I look forward to reading about Sonea’s time as a Novice of the Magician’s Guild.