Science fiction and fantasy
by Trudi Canavan
In the city of Imardin there's a murderer loose, and he is leaving signs of black magic in his wake. Lorlen, Rothen and Sonea are struggling to conceal what they know about the High Lord, Akkarin. Akkarin seems ruthless, but there are hints that he is not as evil as they have come to fear. In The Novice the mysteries of his past and his motivation begin to unravel.
We don't see much of Cery, Sonea's friend from the slums who was her admirer and protector in The Magician's Guild. She is ruthlessly bullied by Regin, ostracised by her classmates, and distanced from Rothen. So no matter how powerful her magic or how studious she is, she is always isolated and vulnerable.
The Novice is intricate and engaging, a coming of age fantasy which takes a sharp and sometimes brutal look at prejudice. Akkarin is an intriguing and subtly drawn villain, whereas Regin's relentless malevolence is like a force of nature.
The world Trudi Canavan has created is not unlike our own, with its class wars and murderous homophobia. Hints of romance and frissons of sexual tension run through this book, but it is never overly sentimental and romantic themes do not dominate the story. This is serious fantasy, escapist yet thoughtful, with a character-driven narrative that skilfully draws the reader in with intriguing details that make it believable and absorbing.
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Review © Ros Jackson
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