Science fiction and fantasy
The High Lord
by Trudi Canavan
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.
If you like this, try:A Sorcerers Treason (Isavalta Trilogy) by Sarah Zettel
An outcast lighthouse keeper takes on a new role in a different world in Sarah Zettel's first fantasy novel.
Review © Ros Jackson
More about Trudi Canavan