Name: The Novice
Author: Trudi Canavan
Number of Pages: 592 (Hardback)
Published: October 6th 2005 by Atom
Sonea knew the other novices in the Magicians’ Guild all came from noble families and that, as a former slum-dweller, she could expect to be treated as an outsider, but she little realised the level of animosity she would face from her fellow students. – from Goodreads
The Novice returns to the world of the Magicians’ Guild, where Sonea, under the guardianship of Lord Rothen, her friend and mentor from book 1, starts to attend classes in order to master her powers.
Her origins alone are enough to ensure she attracts attention. Add to this that not all novices have a guardian and that’s another reason for people to take interest in her, and it isn’t always positive interest.
Sonea becomes the target of a group of bullies led by Regin. As his relentless tormenting continued and he gathered a peer group around him, I kept marveling at the way Sonea never lost her temper to the extent that she hit him with a full blast of her powers, turning him into a rat or something.
That didn’t happen, and so she endured his attentions for the majority of the book, hounded by increasingly large groups who unleash their magic on her without fear of reprisals.
Needless to say this eventually leads to a showdown between the two of them that was worth the wait. (I do still half wish she’d just unleashed her power on him though, but understand why she didn’t).
There’s great deal more going on in this book too, and that made it really enjoyable.
There’s the mysterious High Lord, Akkarin, and the issue of whether or not he is using black magic, and if so, why? Only a select few know of this, and they are tasked with keeping the secret while deciding how best to approach the issue without forcing Akkarin into a confrontation which he would undoubtedly win.
I find Akkarin quite intriguing, and I think there’s more to all this, which will hopefully be revealed in later books.
He also becomes more of a central figure during this book as he takes over Sonea’s guardianship, forcing her into his company more often, staying at his residence and taking meals with him, much to her dislike and distrust.
Elsewhere, a series of strange murders have been committed, and suspicion falls on Akkarin from some quarters.
Then there’s Lord Dannyl, who has been appointed as Second Ambassador to Elyne and leaves the Guild to undertake this new role. Well, that’s the official story anyway. Administrator Lorlen has actually sent Dannyl to retrace the route taken by Akkarin ten years previously, when he went in search of information about ancient magic, because they’re trying to find out exactly what Akkarin is up to. Dannyl doesn’t actually know the reasons behind his mission, but undertakes the search willingly anyway. Great libraries, old tombs and many discoveries await Dannyl and his assistant Tayend.
Oh, and Rothen’s son Dorrien arrives to visit and becomes a good friend (possibly more?) to Sonea, and helps her to learn some valuable skills. He’s a great new character, and I hope he makes a return.
In terms of old characters, we don’t see much at all of Sonea’s friend Cery in this tale. He visits her briefly, but doesn’t feature beyond that, so maybe he’ll return in book 3 as well.
I flew through The Novice, and enjoyed it more than The Magicians’ Guild, which I thought took a while to get going. I’m looking forward to starting The High Lord, in which I hope it will be revealed there’s more to Akkarin than simply a black magician. And after a fairly spectacular end to The Novice I’m looking forward to see just how powerful Sonea really is, and the path she will choose to take in using these powers.