The Novice by Trudi Canavan (The Black Magician Trilogy: Book 2)

Book 2 of The Black Magicians Trilogy continues the light reading style from Book 1. It is written at a fast pace, and oozes intensity. The storyline is extremely enjoyable, with a good amount of progression, intrigue and mystery. It is perhaps the least ambitious of the trilogy, but the flow is probably the best. Book 3 is the brilliant reward for completing Book 2.

By the end of the book I had really grown familiar with the setting for this book; the Magicians Guild, the learning environment and base for the novices. I have rarely become so familiar with a setting in a book before. It was extremely comforting, and a testament to Trudi Canavan's excellent writing style. 

I found it endearing that magicians greet each other so politely. It was a charming feature to take away from this book.

It was a little disappointing that a recurring theme in relation to another novice was repeated so frequently. It was an understandable theme, but it became just a tad tiresome.

As in Book 1, storylines jump mid-chapter, which may appeal to some readers, for the intensity, but not others, for continuity.

Overall this book scores highly for the lightness of reading, and the intensity of the story. You can relax, and let the brilliantly imagined and described setting enchant you.
Mark Perfect, 8.2/10

‘The Novice’ is the 2nd book in ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’. The reader does not need to have read the first novel, because the important information is in some early conversations. Obviously, if you did read it you would have a greater understanding of the characters.

The story again follows Sonea, this time as she starts her first year at the Magicians Guild – a school for magicians. Sonea is the first student to be from the slums and not one of the high born Houses. This causes the other students to bully her, and try constantly to get her into trouble. One student, Regin, makes it his mission to get her expelled, and spends all his free time tormenting her. The book follows how Sonea copes with the brutal bullying, including studying harder and making friends with the librarian.

Everybody who reads this book will feel Sonea’s pain at being constantly bullied. It is very well described, and her character always seems to have a quiet dignity. Her reactions are believable, and she really grows as a person throughout the novel. The other characters shine too, from Rothien, her guardian, to the High Lord, the black magician of the title. There are lots of inter-magician politics. This means that half the novel concentrates on Dannyl and his ambassadorial trip to foreign lands. Though interesting, sometimes the action moves from Sonea to a boring bit about Dannyl, and that can be frustrating for the reader.

‘The Novice’ is a traditional magic school story with added realism and very real danger. The novel is an easy read, and at times can be very enthralling.

The second book in Trudi Canavan’s The Black Magician trilogy continues on from the first flawlessly, almost as if there should not have been a break. Sonea has decided that staying at the Guild is in the best interests of all she cares about, and is not entirely as distrustful of magic as she had been starting out in book one.

As such, she begins her studies as a novice in the Guild University. Subsequently, Sonea’s storyline is very much a similar story to that of Harry Potter. The magician from a lowly station, with great power, suffers the ill attentions of the class king, despite her best attempts to remain anonymous.

While sometimes a story that mirrors another can be a detriment to the second, in this case it is not so. Trudi Canavan has a better grasp of storytelling and writing ability than Rowling does, and makes Sonea’s journey through her classes all the more interesting. She does not fall for creating a character that is flawless in every regard, but simply allows the well established upper class distaste for “dwells” carry the antagonism.

Moreso, within the confrontations and conflagrations that stem from the combatant lower and upper class relationship, Canavan allows herself to introduce the reader to the finer details of the magic of her world. This is all the more interesting upon having read the prequel, The Magician’s Apprentice, where what is “now” has changed so very much from what was “then”.

While the story does follow on almost immediately from book one to two, one major change is apparent. Cery’s perspective is dropped entirely in favour of Lord Dannyl and Administrator Lorlen. As you will find out in the third book, there is reason for this, but it is not even necessary to have that information at hand, as Canavan writes these two characters so wonderfully.

It takes a skilled hand to surprise not only the reader, but the character as well, and in Lord Dannyl’s storyline, that is exactly what happens, and only serves to surprise and entertain the reader even more.

As for Administrator Lorlen, his unique perspective and relationship to the stories theoretical “bad guy” is a captivating read, and every time we deviate from his point of view you crave to return.

This was my favourite of the books, and I’m halfway through the third and final instalment of the trilogy. The series is a definite must for anyone who likes good fantasy, and would be especially good for any children or nephews and nieces that wanted to get into fantasy. Not too hard, but in no way a “children’s book” to put them off. If you are not reading Trudi Canavan, you are definitely missing out.
Joshua S Hill

8/10 If you are not reading Trudi Canavan, you are definitely missing out.

Reviews by and Angela and Mark Perfect

3 positive reader review(s) for The Novice

The Novice reader reviews

from Sweden

Canvan is at her best when exploring her characters' place in the world that she has created. In the first book, the main pleasure was to see the Sonea's and Rothen's viewpoints clashing and the rich and complex relationships between the guild and its people that is was a symptom of. However, Canavan makes a big mistake in keepin Sonea as the protagonist in the second book, as she is a very passive character (as we saw in the first book when she was passed around like a sack of potatoes and the men around her did all the plotting), and since Canavan doesn't seem to knowwhat do do with her - she sticks Sonea i a cartoonish bully plot that is the main focus in the book and consists of the same scenes and plot points over and over again. The overarching plot isn't much better. There is a significant development about halfway through the book, but all it does is to paralyze the characters, and the rest of it is some 300 pages of telling us that they are helpless. I did say that Canavan's strengh is exploring her characters's place in the world, and it surfaces here too occasionally. Dannyl's journey is not only the only part of the story with a sense of progression, but it is also where we get the most developent and a greater understanding of how Canavan's world works. It's not all good - Lonmar is obviously put there as a racist islamist expy to make Kyralia look better, and from what we learn of Kyralia it's nowhere near so different that it warrants the outrage of Kyralians (Lonmar may have corporeal punishment by law, but considering that Kyralian women are denied access to the guild in favor for arranged marriage and that a queer person can be the downfall of their entire house, violence and even murder of these groups has to be epidemic) But even so, it is compelling. Dannyl's way of coping with what he went through in his youth is not only built up very well, washing away most of my frustrations with the character in a single sentence, but it as breathtaking. It's exactly what most kids in that situation would have done, and many readers will feel that gut punch on a very personal level. This is what the book should have been about. Unfortunately, it rarely gets more than a page or two in between the stagnant main plots of the story, and after all open and frank discussions leading up to the reveal, Dannyl is rushed back into the main plot, and any reference to what happened are so coy that it is impossible to tell what the reveal led to, and that is especially frustrating since it leaves one of the most important parts of the storyline ambiguous. At best, this will keep developing in the next book. At worst, the point made in this storyline is going to be negated if these coy little hints is all we're going to get.
7/10 ()

from America

I thought this was a very good sequel to The Magician's Guild, but I think it's brilliance is overshadowed by the magnificence of the third and final book in the Black Magician trilogy, The High Lord. But I enjoyed the whole trilogy very much so... but the High Lord was by far my favourite!!! I congratulate Trudi Canavan on her amazing trilogy!
9/10 ()

from Davao

The Novice: A Review The Novice is the second book of The Black Magician trilogy by the International Bestselling Author Trudi Canavan. It chronicles the trials and triumphs of Sonea, a former slum thief, as she enters the University of magicians whose novices are all members of the wealthy Houses of Kyralia. Regin, a typical bully, unable to accept the fact that a mere slum girl is able to attend the prestigious Guild, makes it his life's mission to turn Sonea's stay in the University a complete hell. Meanwhile, Dannyl, who is appointed as Second Ambassador, undertakes the task to resume the High Lord's abandoned research into ancient magic. So the story is told in two alternating views: inside the Guild with Sonea, and into the wider world of the Allied Lands and Sachaka with Dannyl. The first chapter alone draws me in, and I can hardly put the book down. Canavan immediately builds up the tension between Sonea and the rest of the novices, and scatters clues to shed some light on the mystery that is the High Lord himself. The theme is your usual good versus evil, with some hints of “shadiness” that is only partly revealed towards the end. The pacing is handled very well. I don't feel it to be too fast, nor excruciatingly slow. However, there are definitely some scenes that are irrelevant and would have made the pace favorably fast had they been deleted. Canavan's style is easy to read. So this book will most likely appeal to many. The dialogs don't feel rushed, nor needlessly awkward---they are very real, as real as the bodily expressions of the characters that deliver them. While the setting has potential to be great, I believe Canavan still has to harness her skills in “world-building.” Her descriptions of Kyralia are well enough that the country could almost literally jump off the pages. However, her meager descriptions of the other countries, most notably Lonmar, make me feel as though she got bored writing them. As usual, I can be very forgiving so long as the characters are fleshed out nicely. And in this regard, Canavan succeeds admirably. I feel for Sonea as she struggles to cope with her growing powers, all the while trying to dodge Regin's bullying and keeping a “safe” distance from the High Lord Akkarin. Her venture into the uncharted territory of romance provides a lighter tone to the book. And Canavan renders it with precision and minimalism that it doesn't teeter on the verge of mawkishness. To those of you who disliked the two-dimensional portrayal of Akkarin in the first book, fret not, for he is as three-dimensional as Sonea and Regin are in this book. A word of caution, though, to those who feel uncomfortable reading about homosexuality... there is a little of that here. But Canavan weaves it with careful subtlety. No kissing; no any form of amorous physical contact---just a simple declara­tion that one man loves another man... Canavan presents a lot of “opposites” that make me better understand and appreciate the lands and their people. The conservative Kyralia and Lonmar and the decadent Elyne. Even how one race views what is right/appropriate and what's not makes each of them real. Canavan speaks truth, and she lets that show in her characters' fallibility. The last chapter is ---not surprisingly--- satisfying. There's no better way to end the conflict than that. Sonea shines in that very moment not because she is far stronger than nearly everyone else, but primarily because she recognizes her weakness and her strength, and works her best to turn every opportunity to her advantage. And I'd like to note that her last “gesture” of parting at Regin only proves how noble she really is. I recommend this to all readers of fantasy. And make sure that when you do read this novel, you have the third book beside you. Trust me on this: the ending would make you desperately want to grab the sequel.
9/10 ()

from Sweden

The best book in the "The Black Magician Trilogy". One of few fantasy series I have ever reread - twice!
10/10 ()

8.6/10 from 5 reviews

All Trudi Canavan Reviews