Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The High Lord

by Trudi Canavan


The final instalment of the Black Magician trilogy sees Sonea leading a double life. To the world she is the High Lord Akkarin's favourite, holding a position of considerable privilege for a novice magician. But unknown to most of the rest of the Guild she is a hostage, and she is convinced that Akkarin is breaking the Guild's most fundamental laws by practising forbidden black magic.

Meanwhile Dannyl, the Guild ambassador, is abroad investigating a group of rogue magicians. The High Lord wants him to win their trust by exposing secrets about his own personal life. Dannyl has to decide whether capturing the rebels and saving them from themselves is worth the risk to his reputation.

The unexplained murders continue in the city of Imardin, and they are getting harder to explain away. This is a problem for Cery, who has risen to a high rank in the city's criminal underworld. Tracking the killers and disposing of the evidence has become his job. Whilst Cery tries to keep order in the slums, he comes into contact with Savara. She's a foreigner who claims to be hunting the murderers as well, but there's more to her than it first appears.

The High Lord is a fast-paced novel that builds up to a crescendo of tension and conflict. There are no spare words: every passage fizzes with excitement. What starts out as a subtle thread of romance grows into easily the most intense relationship of the whole trilogy. Trudi Canavan is a very skilled author, and she makes the experiences of her characters seem almost real enough to touch. As a result, the Black Magician trilogy offers some outstanding escapism. It really is fabulously moving.

The theme of class struggle has always been central to the trilogy, and it's never far from the surface in The High Lord either. This is expanded on when we learn of the culture of masters and slaves in Sachaka. This is a novel which illustrates the difficulty of stepping outside the master and slave relationship and choosing to be neither ruler nor ruled. The Guild magicians ultimately have to choose between wielding power, no matter how much it may conflict with their principles, or having none.

The ending may not be to everyone's taste. Although I can't be too specific about it without giving away the plot, this reviewer was overcome with a sudden urge to hurl the book across the room. That's probably also a backhanded tribute to the power of Canavan's writing, because I wouldn't have felt that way about a badly-written book.

However, apart from the last few pages, The High Lord is an unmitigated pleasure to read. It's a believable fantasy with compelling and engaging characters and a moral message that's considered without being overpowering.

Book Details

Year: 2003

Categories: Books

    Female Protagonist  

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Trudi Canavan


continuety?     1st October, 2006 22:02pm

i found this series brought modern ideas and social issues to the traditional fantasy tale. More than that, it was an highly entertaining read. However, i thought i proved poorly edited. Many ideas were brought up yet, never followed through and character development seemed to come in sudden leaps. What troubled me most was the introduction of the possibilty to use the magic in buildings, and this idea never amounting to anything.