Science fiction and fantasy
The Magician's Apprentice
by Trudi Canavan
Yet the country of Kyralia is positively liberal compared with Sachaka, where slavery is practised. When a magician from Sachaka passes through the village, Tessia learns just how much worse things can be in that country. She also discovers her own magical powers, which instantly change her life and alter her position in society.
However, war is coming. Some disaffected Sachakan magicians intend to invade Kyralia, hoping to gain land and power that they can't hope to own in their native land. Tessia barely has any time for her training before she is thrust into the front line of a battle for her country.
When it comes to the moral and social message behind The Magician's Apprentice, Trudi Canavan is taking aim at some big and easy targets. There's a sense of injustice at the wrongs done to various characters in this story. But what is more interesting than this is the resourcefulness they show in dealing with intolerable situations, or alternatively the way some of them are so trapped by their own attitudes and fears that they will never be free.
Stara is returning to visit her father in Sachaka in order to help him with the family trade. It's a huge culture shock for her to get used to a country where women are undervalued and where slavery is everywhere. It's a system that binds everyone in some way, even those who are supposed to be free men.
Canavan draws the reader straight into her world with likeable characters and tense situations. It's engaging because the author has a good eye for detail, especially when it comes to the way people react to extreme events. Caught up in the chaos and violence of a magical war, Canavan keeps her characters believable by never allowing them to be unaffected by what happens.
There's a touch of romance brewing, but from early on in the novel it seems quite predictable. So although the characters who are involved are intriguing, there's not much fire in their relationship. The ending also seems to lack the kind of emotional impact that would make this story stand out. It's not bad. The plot comes together in a way that makes sense and doesn't leave readers hanging. It just doesn't measure up to the heady intensity of the author's earlier books.
If you like this, try:The Usurper's Crown by Sarah Zettel
The second novel in the Isavalta series is a prequel which takes the daughter of a fishing family into a realm of magic, treachery and scheming royals.
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel goes on a journey to rescue her father, even if it means she has to walk through the gates of death itself.
Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh
The first novel in the Quickening series finds a young general given a strange gift by a woman condemned for witchcraft.
Review © Ros Jackson
More about Trudi Canavan