13 Feb 2011
Review: "Novice" - This sure ain't Hogwarts
Some days ago I reviewed "Magician's Guild" by Trudi Canavan and now the time has come to review "Novice", the sequel to "Magician's Guild". "Novice" begins more or less where Book One of The Black Magician Trilogy left off.
Sonea, a slum girl with great magic powers, has consented to stay at the University for magicians to explore her potential. However, the other students at the University all come from rich and powerful families - the Houses - and Sonea is the odd one out. Having grown up in the slum dwellings among thieves and beggars, she now has to do her best to fit in and leave her past behind her. The other students do not willingly accept her and one of them, the charismatic Regin is determined to make Sonea's life a nightmare.
This is not Sonea's only worry though - Imardin, the capital of Kyralia, where she lives, is a dark city full of power struggles. In the streets of the city people are dying - being murdered - but the police cannot find the murderer or find a motive. At the University, the High Lord Akkarin, the most powerful magician in Kyralia, is hiding a dark secret and to make sure that this secret stays safe, he takes Sonea as hostage in a chilling intrigue for power.
The book also follows Sonea's friend, the magician Dannyl, who travels to the coutry Elyne as an ambassador but who is unknowingly on the hunt for information about the High Lord's past. It is a dangerous game and Sonea's friends are all involved, playing for high stakes.
As one of you wrote in the commentary to my review of "Magician's Guild", "Novice" is better! It is a really great book that had me completely enchanted. The story is dark and full of dangers but there is also room for some well-placed romance and humour. As a reader I came closer and closer to the magicians and to the world of the magical University. Believe me, this place is no Hogwarts. The teachers and students are not particularly friendly to Sonea - with a few exceptions - and most of them are envious of her power. Regin, Sonea's class mate is not only a bully. He is a mean, vicious bully who is not afraid to use violence against his victim and Sonea has to literally fight for peace.
Sonea works great as a main character. She is cool, determined girl who deals with her worries and troubles. Due to things in her past, she finds it hard to trust and make friends but she is easy for the reader to warm to.
I really enjoyed this book. The magic is much darker and more grown-up than in many of the other fantasy books out there on the market. This is far from paranormal romance and all about the way power corrupts the human soul.