Book Review: The High Lord by Trudi Canavan

The High Lord is the third and final instalment in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan.  Having read The Magician’s Guild and The Novice, by the time it came to read the final book in the series I was already hooked and I just knew that I was going to love this one, whatever happened in it.

The High Lord continues on with the story of Sonea.  She is still a novice, studying magic at the university, and yet the secret that she had learned by accident when her powers still threatened to consume her and everyone around her, is now even more relevant, not just to her, but to the whole of Kyralia.  As she does her best to keep this secret and protect those who might be harmed should the secret be revealed, things take an unexpected turn and she finds herself at the centre of it.  The repercussions could be disastrous if word gets out about the secret, but not in the way she had first anticipated.

Intrigue, black magic, love, trust and unwavering loyalty are themes that are dealt with in The High Lord, and twists and turns in the story keep you engaged throughout the entire book. I can honestly say that I felt I was there, with Sonea, as the dramatic events unfolded around her.

By the time I had reached the second half of the book, there was never any question of me putting it down until I had finished reading the whole thing, apart from a few brief pauses where I was consumed with anguish as the end got ever closer.  This is how I personally measure a good book and great series; if I feel traumatised and grief-stricken, knowing that it is or soon will be over, how can I not have enjoyed it?  How can I not think that the author is amazing?

As the book draws to a close, all loose threads are tied up, all questions are answered, and the series is rounded off perfectly.  This book is everything a good fantasy book should be, and more than that, it is everything a final book in a series should be.

This was my favourite book out of the three, by far.  It had the most action, adventure, and heroics than the other books, but be warned, there is sadness also.  I was a little dismayed with the ending but I can see why it ended the way it did.  Not much of a criticism, I suppose, but I do feel terrible for voicing it.  I just wished that it had ended differently.  😦  However, that didn’t detract from how well-received the book was, not a bit.

This is the best fantasy book and fantasy series I have read in a long time.  I fell in love with many of the characters instantly, and the descriptions of the places were vivid enough for me to imagine them, to feel as if I too was there.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.


Book Review: The Novice by Trudi Canavan

The Novice is the second book in The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, a series that I am completely immersed in at this moment in time.  They are, quite frankly, a treasure.

The Novice follows on from where The Magician’s Guild left off.  Sonea, the slum dweller who had surprised everyone, including herself, when she discovered she had powerful magic, is now studying at The Magicians’ Guild.  However, not everyone is happy that there is a former slum dweller in their midsts, tainting an institution that has become solely identified with the Houses, the richest inhabitants of Imardin.

This instalment, moves away from where she has come from and instead focuses on her transition into the world of Magicians.  The plot twists and turns as the author shows us glimpses of the world outside of Imardin, introducing new characters and developing those of whom we are already acquainted.

Although in the first book, the villain is only hinted at, in the second we are offered a little more to go on.  However, whether they really are villain or not, and whether their crimes are what we are led to believe, are questions we carry with us into the third and final part of the trilogy.  Canavan’s ability to reveal just enough is no doubt a credit to her as a writer, and why these books are unquestioningly a success.

Bullying, jealousy and prejudice are important themes throughout this book, as is learning how to overcome obstacles in the best possible way, the right way.  It is not hard to empathise with Sonea’s situation and the issues raised are dealt with sympathetically.

Although I enjoyed both books in the series so far, and rated them the same (4 out of 5), I do believe that The Novice was faster paced and had an equal measure of action and intrigue throughout.

To quote how I rounded up the review of book one, for I believe there is not much I can to it:

“This is a great book and I am certain that I will read it again.  The author can spin an engaging narrative, one that ensures that if the reader has to put the book down, it is begrudged.”

I really enjoyed The Novice. As the sequel to The Magician’s Guild, this book was fast-paced, the character and story development, engaging…a real page-turner. I could not put this down and will be starting the final book in the series immediately. I am so happy to have come across these books and this author. Great stuff.

4 out of 5

(My Goodreads review of The Novice by Trudi Canavan)

Book Review: The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan

The Magician’s Guild is the first book in The Black Magician Trilogy.  I stumbled across the entire trilogy by accident at a book sale, and I must say that I haven’t been able to put these books down since I picked them up.  In fact, I am already half way through the second book in the series, but thought I had better review the first one before I get any further!

The story is set around a young girl named Sonea.  She is what is referred to as a ‘dwell’; an inhabitant of the slums of Imardin.  They are the poorest of the poor, and the rest of the city believe them all to be thieves and criminals.

Every year, the magicians from the Guild purge the streets of the city clean, doing their best to remove as many of these dwells as possible.  Each year, they are met by groups of young dwells, who frustrated by the way they are treated, do their best to hinder the purge.

When the story begins, Sonea finds herself caught up in this act of defiance.  There is nothing that these dwells can do to prevent the purge from going ahead; there is nothing they can do harm the magicians, or even make them think twice about what it is they are doing.  All they can do is create a little disruption and throw a few stones.

Although Sonea doesn’t want to participate, and she has been instructed by her aunt and uncle to avoid it at all costs, Sonea, like many of the dwells, is feeling desperately frustrated by the way the poor of Imardin are treated.  That very morning, as part of the purge, her family is evicted from an overcrowded slum dwelling, and understandably Sonea is angry.  As she throws her own stone at the magicians, her anger and emotions flow over.  Although she expects nothing to happen, only that her stone will bounce of the shield the magicians use to protect themselves, something extraordinary happens.  The stone passes through the shield and strikes one of the magicians on the head.  He is subsequently rendered unconscious.  This can only mean one thing, something that alarms the magicians greatly; Sonea, a dwell, possesses magic.

This one small act, precipitates a city-wide manhunt.  Sonea goes into hiding, but there are only a handful of people she can trust to help keep her safe.  As the net closes around her, the magic that she has somehow unleashed within herself, becomes uncontrollable.  The magicians say they can help her, but can she trust them?  She has never seen or heard that they have ever helped a dwell before, so why should they want to help her now?  And yet, if she doesn’t accept their help, the power within her that she has no control over, might destroy the very people she loves.

The Magician’s Guild is a refreshing fantasy book.  There are no monsters or demons here, only a young girl, who is as confused as everyone else as to why she is all of sudden in possession of powerful magic, magic she can’t control and doesn’t understand.    Issues of class divide and social status are explored, as are issues of turning your back on where you have come from in order to truly understand and accept who you are.  Friendships are tested, opinions challenged and questions of trust and loyalty are asked.

This is a great book and I am certain that I will read it again.  The author can spin an engaging narrative, one that ensures that if the reader has to put the book down, it is begrudged.

I really enjoyed The Magicians’ Guild, the characters were engaging, the setting felt authentic and the storyline kept me interested until the very last page. I am certainly looking forward to reading book #2 in the series.

4 out 5 stars

(My Goodreads review of The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan)