The Magician's Apprentice by Trudi Canavan (The Black Magician Trilogy)

8/10 Both captivating and easy to understand.

This stand-alone book is linked to - and precedes - The Black Magician Trilogy but was actually published a significant time after it. Seemingly more confidently written than the trilogy, it has a stronger adventure element, and arguably the most lively and adult-themed interplay between characters.

Although the book was imaginative, entertaining and unpredictable there are far fewer sub-storylines present than in The Black Magician Trilogy. If readers are keen on such layers in the story, they may be a little disappointed in this book, especially considering its length of nearly 700 pages.

The lack of sub-storylines was not a great issue for me, more the general theme of the story itself.  The confrontational, battle-orientated, slightly dark themes are my least favourite aspects of fantasy writing, and these themes are the primary focus of the book. Many readers will enjoy this however! I just felt the more subtle, enchanting, and occasionally cheerful world of apprentices and magicians was too often missing.
That said, the book provides a marvellous background to the Black Magician Trilogy, and I feel it is a must read book, for those who have already read the trilogy. A word of major caution though: I read this book AFTER The Black Magician Trilogy (supposedly the wrong way around!). I actually felt this is the best order to read them in, because a reader without prior knowledge of The Black Magician Trilogy would struggle to appreciate the historical context and significance of the topics in this book.

This book remains a very strong contender for readers who are looking for a light, magic/battle orientated story. There are pluses and minuses compared to the The Black Magician Trilogy, the major plus being the lively interplay between characters. If you are looking to get the most out of the trilogy and this one-off book I would seriously recommend reading the trilogy first to gain maximum enjoyment. Happy reading everyone.
Mark Perfect, 8.2/10

I find myself more and more encountering books to review that are invariably part of a series. Whether it be a trilogy or a Feist-ian epic, it varies. The point remains, I find myself suckered into reading all the books.

And I believe that that is a telling review of the books that I read. That, when finishing one book, I am desirous to read the rest.

Naturally, this is exactly what happened with Trudi Canavan’s ‘The Magician’s Apprentice.’ But more than just another book in a series, this book serves as prequel to the highly acclaimed ‘Black Magician Trilogy.’

An interview with Trudi Canavan will soon be making its way onto the website, and I have had the great pleasure of talking briefly with Trudi already. Thankfully, for my own (library’s) sake and, hopefully, for her, Trudi provided me with the trilogy which spawned this fantastic prequel. I am nothing short of eager to continue reading this world that she has introduced me too.

The book is set several hundred years prior to the original trilogy, and from the opening page entices the reader into the universe as a whole. Two quotes from a ‘Lord Danny’, who I am assured is a character figuring in the original trilogy, immediately provides a linkage to the trilogy. For those who have read the trilogy, it serves as a bridge; for those of us who haven’t, it only served to heighten the excitement of what we would learn in the book, and upon completion, heighten the desire to continue reading stories from the universe.

The story, primarily, concerns young Tessia, daughter to the local village healer and an avid practitioner of the art herself. However she soon finds herself in an uncomfortable situation which leads to the discovery she is a natural born magician.

From there, weaving perspectives between her master and her fellow apprentice, we begin the story that will create the world Trudi had already written in. As the story progresses and we learn more about our three main characters, their world takes a shift; the beginnings of war come to the village they come from.

Trudi Canavan – on the whole – manages a beautiful tapestry of perspectives. From the invading leader, his slave, to our original trio of magician and apprentice’s, the story takes shape, switching POV as necessary. Rarely do you find yourself disappointed with a character swap.

Only with the introduction of Stara, a native from the invading country, does the story seem to clash at logger heads. Stara’s story is only tangentially attached to the main storyline, and it is only when you reach the end of the book that we are left assuming there is a link to the trilogy. For all I know this is a wonderful information drop to fans of the original series, but for those who are entering her world for the first time, Canavan’s introduction of Stara is disjointing.

That being said, there is almost nothing else that can be said against the book. Canavan writes in a way that is both captivating and easy to understand, never letting the reader submerge beneath a word tsunami. The characters are immediately likeable, and only the oft-used “misunderstanding male/female” trope provides a detractor.

From the end of the first third of the book, right up until writing this review, I am eagerly awaiting entering the original trilogy to see where the information I have acquired matches up. The Magician’s Apprentice is a novel for anyone looking for a beautifully written fantasy story.
Joshua S Hill, 8.5/10

Reviews by and Joshua S Hill

1 positive reader review(s) for The Magician's Apprentice

The Magician's Apprentice reader reviews

from Sweden

Warning: I would recommend you to start at The Magicians Guild. Regarding Black Magic - I was a bit hesitant to read this series when I first saw them on the shelf. Yes, Black Magic is evil magic! But that creeping feeling is an integrated part of the reading experience.
10/10 ()

9.2/10 from 2 reviews