Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Novice

by Trudi Canavan


The second installment of The Black Magician Trilogy examines the theme of prejudice. As a girl from the slums, Sonea has few friends in the Guild and encounters more than her fair share of discrimination. A lot of people want her to fail, and they set out to sabotage her at every turn. In the closed environment of the Guild she has to deal with some intense bullying.

Meanwhile Dannyl is abroad on "ambassadorial duties", secretly following in Akkarin's footsteps. He has to contend with the dangers of the sea, as well as facing other kinds of prejudice. Meanwhile his companion, Tayend, has secrets of his own to keep.

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.

Book Details

Year: 2002

Categories: Books

    Female Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Trudi Canavan


bob     4th December, 2006 16:53pm

i think that it has a mixed filing about the book when you read it becuase there is trecury and love at the same time and it i wonderful so thanks you for writhing the book

John     26th September, 2007 17:14pm

The thing I found challenging about the book was the exploration of the gay feelings of one of the characters. Reading as a parent of teenage boys who want to read this book, I was concerned whether I wanted them to know what is revealed. On balance after reading it though, I think it's a sensitive portrayal of someone realising he is gay. I don't see it as promoting homosexuality but I am sure it will help some boys to understand themselves.

By the way, this is only a small theme in the book and doesn't get in the way of the exciting storyline.