Published: 04 March 2010 by Orbit Books
Format: Paperback, 592 pages
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The most important attribute of a magician is knowledge. Without it his strength is useless.’ The magician’s eyes flickered to Sonea, ‘Even if his powers surface of their own accord, he will soon be dead if he does not gain the knowledge of how to control them.
Sonea knows the other novices in the Magicians’ Guild all come from powerful families, but she also knows she can turn to Rothen and Dannyl for help when she needs it. That is, until someone starts spreading malicious rumours about her — and Akkarin, The High Lord, steps in.
Promoted to Guild Ambassador, Lord Dannyl leaves for the Elyne court. His first order from Administrator Lorlen is to resume, in secret, High Lord Akkarin’s long-abandoned research into ancient magical knowledge. Not knowing the true reason for his journey, Dannyl is soon facing unexpected dangers.
Meanwhile, Sonea has almost forgotten the High Lord’s dark secret, but keeping the truth hidden may be a grave mistake.
The Novice follows immediately from The Magician’s Guild with Sonea’s acceptance into the ranks of the Guild. She struggles to find her place among the other novices who are sourced from the influential Houses of Imardin. One student in particular, Regin, takes exception to Sonea’s skills in magic and attempts to have her expelled. The level of bullying in the book was surprising but realistic in nature – it was shielded from teachers and encouraged by other novices. I felt Sonea’s pain keenly and understand her desire to remain anonymous and unwillingness to seek the help of teachers who also judge her on her background.
The promotion of Lord Dannyl to Second Guild Ambassador to Elyne allows the reader to experience other cultures in Canavan’s world. The people Dannyl meets are many and varied, and I found the depiction of other cities very interesting. I looked forward to the chapters narrated by him because of the insight he had into the politics of the Guild, and his musings helped me understand Sonea’s experiences even though Dannyl wasn’t physically with her. The Ambassador’s personal journey and realisation of self was also a wonderful addition to the plot that I enjoyed reading.
The characterisation in this novel is much more engaging than in the previous book, with all the characters gaining depth and growing well throughout the story. I found it refreshing that there are no purely good or evil characters, but humans driven by political and personal motivations. Administrator Lorlen, with his complicated relationship with the ‘villain’ of the story, is one of the most interesting characters to read, and his unique views and captivating journey keep the reader hanging on until the end of the book.
This was a great book, and in some ways an improvement on the previous novel in the series. If you like fantasy, I suggest Trudi Canavan as her books are exquisitely detailed and thrilling to read. She makes it very hard to leave Sonea’s world, so I suggest you have the third book of the trilogy handy when you are reading The Novice.