Book Review: The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan

The Magician’s Apprentice is the prequel to The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A perfect prequel for fans of The Black Magician trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed The Magician’s Apprentice especially learning more about the history of this fantasy world and exploring its geography.  The cast of characters is extensive and engaging, and the storyline captivating.  Great stuff!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

In the remote village of Mandryn, Tessia serves as assistant to her father, the village Healer. Her mother would rather she found a husband. But her life is about to take a very unexpected turn.

When the advances of a visiting Sachakan mage get violent, Tessia unconsciously taps unknown reserves of magic to defend herself. Lord Dakon, the local magician, takes Tessia under his wing as an apprentice.

The hours are long and the work arduous, but soon and exciting new world opens up to her. There are fine clothes and servants – and, to Tessia’s delight – regular trips to the great city of Imardin.

However, Tessia is about to discover that her magical gifts bring with them a great deal of responsibility. For a storm is approaching that threatens to tear her world apart.

Favourite Quote

It’s going to come at a cost.  It’s going to change the way we see ourselves…If we justify this, then how much easier will it be to justify worse?  If Kyralians believe a little wrongdoing is excusable for the right reason, what else will we excuse, or assume others will excuse?

(The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan, pg 596)


I have enjoyed all the stories I have read in this world – I’m captivated by the people, places, the world-building, but especially the main characters.  The Black Magician trilogy is one of my favourite fantasy series, and so I was certain I would not only enjoy but love The Magician’s Apprentice.

Not much about the story was predictable – except the romance.  The ending certainly came as a surprise, even though hints are given regarding it, (in this book and others set in the same world).  My favourite chapters focused on Tessia (who reminded me very much of Sonea from The Black Magician books), Dakon and Jayan.  I had more trouble connecting with Stara, but it was interesting to find out how the Traitors began.  The only criticism I have is that I would have liked to have read more about the characters after the war; the ending seemed a little abrupt, given how long was spent on other areas.  Yet, this hardly seems like any criticism at all, and it did not affect my overall enjoyment of story.  I’m probably only complaining because I didn’t want the story to end 😉

There is a lot of story in this one book: war, love, magic, action, adventure, politics, and more.  The cast of characters is also extensive to enable the story to cover more than one country and a number of storylines.

It is a big book – around 700 pages long – and the story is told from a number of different perspectives, which I enjoyed immensely.  I like knowing what is going on elsewhere, but more than that, when there are people from other lands and other cultures, we get to see what is normal for them, and understand why they react and behave in a certain way.  We wouldn’t get this without the bias of perspective if the whole story was told from a single viewpoint.

Whether I would have enjoyed this book as much if I hadn’t already read The Black Magician’s trilogy, I’m not sure.  There  are a number of events and a lot of information in The Magician’s Apprentice which set the foundations for aspects of the original stories, such as higher magic and the Magicians’ Guild.  There are also elements that link in with The Traitor Spy trilogy that comes after The Black Magician books, so there is clearly an aspect of interweaving between the books, which I also enjoy.  I would guess that if this is your first foray into Trudi Canavan’s books set in Kyralia, it might be too heavy on detail for it to be an entertaining, engaging read.  However, if like me you are familiar with the other stories, you will get a lot out of The Magician’s Apprentice.




Book Review: The Ambassadors’ Mission by Trudi Canavan

the-ambassadors-mission-front-coverThe Ambassadors’ Mission is the first book in The Traitor Spy trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

The Traitor Spy Trilogy is the sequel to The Black Magician Trilogy (my reviews for which you can find here: The Magicians’ Guild, The Novice, The High Lord)

Set twenty years after The High Lord and the Ichani invasion, Sonea is now one of two Black Magicians in the Magicians’ Guild.  The Guild is still fearful of black magicians, so by having two, they can each ensure that the other is not getting up to anything they shouldn’t.  And that’s not the only change – Kyralia and the Guild have come quite far since our last visit.

Sonea and Akkarin’s son, Lorkin, has now completed his own studies at the Guild, but struggles a little, living in the shadow of such famous parents, and is feeling restless.  When he hears that Lord Dannyl, his mother’s friend and the former ambassador to Elyne, wants to go to Sachaka and become the new Guild Ambassador to the strange land to the north, Lorkin is determined to become his assistant.  But being Akkarin’s son has consequences, as he comes to discover.

Whilst this is going on, Sonea has problems of her own to deal with back in Imardin.  A “thief hunter” is on the loose in the city, killing off Thieves.  When an old friend is targeted, she is drawn into the hunt for the one responsible, especially because there is a suspicion that they might be a rogue magician…something she knows more than a little about…

As some of you may know if you’ve been around this blog long enough, Trudi Canavan is one of my favourite fantasy authors, which came about upon reading The Black Magician Trilogy. (Which, in my opinion, is one of the best trilogies ever written.)  And, the first book in the sequel trilogy certainly lives up to them.

It was great to catch up with some of the old characters: Sonea, Rothen, Cery and Dannyl, as well as get to know to some new ones: Lorkin, Tyvara and Anyi.  The way the plot has advanced over the twenty years between the series is consistent and believable, and the story flows with ease between the different story threads and points-of-view.

Sachaka is an interesting if harsh country, with customs quite different to those found in Kyralia.  There are no servants employed there, only slaves, something that makes Kyralians understandably uncomfortable.  And magic is quite different there too.

All-in-all, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Ambassadors’ Mission, and look forward to reading book 2 in The Traitor Spy TrilogyThe Rogue.  I would gladly recommend this book to those who enjoy fantasy fiction, but would suggest that they might want to read The Black Magician Trilogy before embarking on this one.

ARC Book Review: Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan (Book #1 of Millennium’s Rule Trilogy)

Recently a dream came true…I received a soon-to-be released book written by one of my favourite authors to review!  Thanks so much to the publisher, Orbit/Little, Brown.

So, Thief’s Magic is the first book in Trudi Canavan’s new series, Millennium’s Rule trilogy, and follows the separate stories of Tyen and Rielle.

Tyen Ironsmelter is a student of archaeology and sorcery at the Academy.  He lives in a world that uses magic as a commodity to power machines, but rumour has it that the magic in this world is running out.  Whilst he is exploring an old tomb, he uncovers a book named Vella, who was once a woman.  But this book is special; she is a magical book. As soon as anyone touches her, she knows everything they know.  However, this discovery has the potential to change his life forever.

Rielle Lazuli lives in a world where magic belongs to the angels.  Only priests, who can perform the cleansing rituals to purify themselves of the taint, are allowed to use magic.  To use magic when it’s not permitted is considered stealing from the angels, and the tainted are pursued until they are caught and then severely punished.  If you can see stain, the tell-tale sign that magic has been used, citizens are supposed to inform the priests because if you can see it, then you possess the potential to work magic.  And Rielle can see it, a fact that she wants kept hidden at all costs.

I loved The Black Magician Trilogy by the same author, and I did wonder whether this book could live up to expectations, but there was no need to worry at all.  Thief’s Magic was quite simply, amazing.  I love Trudi Canavan’s writing style; it is fluid and descriptive without being too heavy, enabling you to get lost in the story.

I enjoyed the fact that magic, it’s uses and the laws that governed it, were different where Tyen and Rielle came from.  The characters were very engaging and they, along with the worlds they inhabited were believably brought to life by the vivid descriptions provided…all-in-all, Thief’s Magic is everything a great fantasy read should be and more!

I highly recommend it to all fans of fantasy fiction, and can’t wait for the next instalment in the Millennium’s Rule trilogy to be released.  What I am not looking forward to, however, is the wait!

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)