Book: The Novice (The Black Magician Trilogy Book 2) Review

“Black magic hush hush”

Author: Trudi Canavan

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Age: YA+

Released: 4th March 2010 (UK Version)

Sonea is now a part of the Magician’s guild that she tried to run away from in the first book. After developing a good relationsip with her mentor, Rothen, she’s looking forward to learning magic. But being an outsider is never easy, and the other magicians, who have been picked from prestigious Houses, want her out.

Is it really hard to make friends?

Warning! Contains spoilers!

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Most of the novices and teachers have turned against Sonea, due to her background of being a poor dwell in the slums. Regin, the most malicious of the novice’s regularly attacks her in the corridors, and abuses her, until she plucks up the courage to beat him in a format duel.

The Magician’s Guild naturally draws comparisons with Hogwarts for being a place where novices can learn, but Canavan mentioned that her entire trilogy had been completed before Harry Potter had been published. It gives significant age to the writing, but the environment is still lackluster in description and tension.

The conclusion to the bullying unluckily comes at the end of the book, after the repetitive plot-arcs, and the constant panic attacks of being close to the secret black magician.

Akkarin, who is feared by those that know his secret of practicing black magic, takes Sonea as hostage. He has a prominent role in the guild, but the reader will still not get enough information about him.

Alternating chapters of the book follows the adventures of Lord Dannyl. Sent to do ambassadorial duties outside of the guild, Lord Lorlen, and later Rothen, also give him the mission to find out about Akkarin’s past. This is to see where, how and when Akkarin started using black magic.

Apart from being very long-winded, the quest turns out of to be pointless, as Akkarin discovers Dannyl’s intentions near the end of the book, and orders him home. The information isn’t fully collected, and what is researched isn’t worth anything to the reader.

Trudi Canavan’s explanation for this long-spanning arc, is that the mission was defunct from the start, and this is a build-up of the romance between Dannyl and his assistant Tayend.

She may have wanted to spin this story, but Trudi Canavan shies away from the word ‘gay’, and instead uses every long-worded description to describe this relationship.

Let’s be clear that this book is aimed at older teens and adults, and being homosexual isn’t an abstract concept. We could have done without the made-up words and implications.

This romance drags on for the length of the Dannyl’s mission, and ultimately is fruitless. It felt like whilst Trudi Canavan was eager to open magician characteristics, but she wasn’t willing enough to officially make Dannyl and Tayend a couple. They don’t even hold hands, and are content to think themselves in love.

Sonea does manage to elicit some romance from her mentor Lord Rothen’s son, Dorrien. The fumbling moments are brief and Dorrien is soon whisked away into oblivion, with neither Sonea or his own father wishing him around.

It’s shocking when you realise that time been wasted on a worthless quest, and also on two flopping romances.

Various characters that play prominent roles in the first book go missing, which is a major criticism. Sonea’s best friend Cery and the Thief Faren, are not mentioned again within this volume.

Another gripe I had, was with the US cover, featuring a flame-licked horse with wings. That scene doesn’t appear in the book at all. Canavan has mentioned that it was her publisher’s decision to initially have a dragon on the cover. Not wanting to delude people into buying a dragon-book, because dragons don’t appear in the book, she had the design changed to a winged horse on fire.

Which makes perfect sense, of course.

Overall, while the setting described in the first book improves, it’s still a drag. Each character is indistinguishable, and suffers from a generic filter. Character and environment descriptions are stilted and hazy.

The plot-points may have been interesting once, but after being bloated to the length of this 600 page novel, they become indistinct. Lord Dannyl’s chapters suffer the most, but Sonea’s chapters are repetitive and inconclusive.

It’s interesting to see how this story will lead onwards, and if Canavan can finish the trilogy with some excitement.

Rated – 3/5 Repetitive plots and dull character actions let down the story.

Read the review for the next book in the series!

Read the review for the previous book in the series!

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