“Learning about Magic, social frictions, history, and secrets.”
It has been a long time since I last revisited Canavan’s Black Magician trilogy. When I think of this trilogy I remember the strength and potency of the second novel. The Novice is engagingly written, follows multiple narrative strands and has twists and turns which even after all this time whet the appetite.
This instalment of Sonea’s journey to becoming a Magician is concentrated firmly on her experiences in the Magicians Guild and her education. This is an overwhelming task for the slum girl who’s Magical talents developed naturally. Previously unable to read and write, her absorption and patience with magical theory is not the problem however, it is her peers. Regin is determined to torment her, being a talented rising Magician himself but with a cruel streak and perhaps also driven by jealousy. But Sonea’s struggle through her education is to be expected, as she is the first person outside of the Houses to ever be accepted by the Guild for training. Her greatest challenge is not Magic itself, but to overcome this rejection and become accepted by her peers as an equal.
But that’s not all.
More interesting that Sonea’s education and the social politics between her and her classmates are Dannyl’s travels. Dannyl leaves the Guild under the new role of Ambassador, as well as fulfilling his duties to his new job he has been instructed in a secret task. He is to research into the travels taken by the High Lord, Akkarin, years before his appointment to the head of the Guild. The truth of why Dannyl is doing this, is hidden from him, however he travels to Elyne to carry out his research. He finds Elyne to be a very different society to the conservative Imardin. Among its flamboyance and liberal social behaviours he meets a young Librarian, Tayend, who agrees to help him in his research. Tayend also instigates revelations in Dannyl that surprise even him.
But… that’s not all.
Administrator Lorlen is plagued with a personal struggle. A secret about High Lord Akkarin, Lorlen’s oldest and greatest friend, has been revealed to him and it is making him ill. Lorlen is determined to gather information and potentially gain the upper hand sends Dannyl on his mission to Elyne, but is both tormented with guilt and fear. Akkarin is unaware of Lorlen’s knowledge, and unmatched in strength Lorlen fears for the safety of the other Guild Magicians and Imardin. The city seems safe, until strange and unusual murders in the slums catch Lorlen’s attention and he fears the worst is coming.
But… there is still more… but you’ll have to read it.
This is a fantasy book that gathers really good narrative strands together. I enjoyed it immensely more than The Magicians Guild. The Magicians Guild is a very strong starting point to Sonea’s story, however the Novice reveals complexities about Kyralia that are absent from the first novel. It focuses more on social politics, Magic itself, and the history of Kyralia. However it does this with a very careful eye on balance, this is not a heavy book, it is rich in its complexities and interesting but very easy and engaging to read. This novel never feels like a labour.
I can’t tell you the last time I read these books, I remember details about them at best, but without a doubt they are confirming more and more that they have stood up very well to my previous opinions of them. As I said in my introduction, the Novice is the most potent of the three I remember, however I am looking forward to rediscovering the High Lord. I would without a doubt read these again and recommend them to anyone who would like an easy route into fantasy or anyone who is already familiar with the genre.