The Barnes & Noble Review
Australian fantasy author Trudi Canavan continues her Black Magician trilogy with the sequel to The Magicians' Guild, a novel that introduced readers to Sonea, an orphan girl with remarkable magical abilities. In The Novice, she must battle the malicious -- and potentially deadly -- machinations of the powerful magicians' guild and its evil High Lord.
After surviving a wild adventure that almost killed her, Sonea has finally been accepted as a novice into the prestigious university of the magicians' guild. But Sonea -- who grew up in the slums of the city Imardin -- is a fish out of water at the university, whose students all come from wealthy and powerful families. Even though she is easily the most gifted student, her peers ostracize her and play hurtful pranks on her. In a vast university of hundreds of students and teachers, it seems everyone is against Sonea and is waiting to see her fail.
Meanwhile, Dannyl, a guild ambassador to the distant kingdom of Elyne, is on a secret mission to find out the shadowy history of the enigmatic High Lord, who may very well be behind a series of gruesome murders in Imardin that involve black magic.
Fans of epic fantasy who have already sampled Australian authors like Sara Douglass, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Juliet Marillier, and Ian Irvine should definitely give Canavan a try. The Novice is escapist literature at its very best. Paul Goat Allen
Read an Excerpt
The Black Magician Trilogy Book 2
The Acceptance Ceremony
For a few weeks each summer, the sky over Kyralia cleared to a harsh blue and the sun beat down relentlessly. In the city of Imardin, the streets were dusty and the masts of ships in the Marina writhed behind the heat haze, while men and women retreated to their homes to fan themselves and sip juices or -- in the rougher parts of the slums -- drink copious amounts of bol.
But in the Magicians' Guild of Kyralia these scorching days hailed the approach of an important occasion: the swearing in of the summer intake of novices.
Sonea grimaced and tugged at the collar of her dress. Though she had wanted to wear the same simple, but well-made clothes she had worn while living in the Guild, Rothen had insisted that she needed something fancier for the Acceptance Ceremony.
Rothen chuckled. "Don't worry, Sonea. It will all be over soon and you'll have robes to wear -- and I'm sure you'll get sick of those soon enough."
"I'm not worried," Sonea told him irritably.
His eyes brightened with amusement. "Really? You don't feel even a little nervous?"
"It's not like the Hearing last year. That was wild."
"Wild?" His eyebrows rose. "You are nervous, Sonea. You haven't let that one slip in for weeks."
She gave a small sigh of exasperation. Since the Hearing five months earlier, when Rothen had won the right to be her guardian, he had given her the education that all novices must attain before starting at the University. She could read most of his books without help, and she could write, as Rothen put it, "well enough to get by." Mathematics had been harder to grasp, but the history lessons were fascinating.
During those months, Rothen had corrected her whenever she spoke a word of slum slang, and constantly made her rephrase and repeat herself until she sounded like a lady of a powerful Kyralian House. He warned her that the novices would not be as accepting of her past as he was, and she would only make things worse if she drew attention to her origins every time she spoke. He had used the same argument to persuade her to wear a dress for the Acceptance Ceremony, and though she knew he was right, it did not make her feel any more comfortable.
A circle of carriages came into view as they reached the front of the University. Beside each stood a set of primly dressed servants, all wearing the colors of the House they served. As Rothen appeared they turned and bowed to him.
Sonea stared at the carriages and felt her stomach turn over. She had seen vehicles like this before, but not so many together. Each was made of highly polished wood, carved and painted with intricate designs, and in the center of each door was a square design indicating which House the carriage belonged tothe House incal. She recognized the incals for Paren, Arran, Dillan and Saril, some of the most influential Houses in Imardin.
The sons and daughters of those Houses were going to be her classmates.
At that thought her stomach felt as if it were turning inside out. What would they think of her, the first Kyralian from outside the great Houses to join their ranks for centuries? At the worst they would agree with Fergun, the magician who had tried to prevent her joining the Guild last year. He believed that only the offspring of the Houses should be allowed to learn magic. By imprisoning her friend, Cery, he had blackmailed Sonea into cooperating with his schemes. And those schemes would have proven to the Guild that Kyralians of the lower classes were lacking in morals and not to be trusted with magic.
But Fergun's crime had been discovered, and he had been sent away to a distant fort. It did not seem to Sonea like a particularly severe punishment for threatening to kill her friend, and she could not help wondering if it would deter others from doing something similar.
She hoped that some of the novices would be like Rothen, who didn't care that she had once lived and worked in the slums. Some of the other races that attended the Guild might be more accepting of a girl from the lower classes, too. The Vindo were a friendly people; she had met several in the slums who had traveled to Imardin to work in vineyards and orchards. The Lan, she had been told, did not have lower and higher classes. They lived in tribes and ranked men and women through trials of bravery, cunning and wisdom -- though where that would place her in their society she couldn't guess.
Looking up at Rothen, she thought of all he had done for her and felt a pang of affection and gratitude. Once she would have been horrified to find herself so dependent on, of all people, a magician. She had hated the Guild once, and first used her powers unintentionally when throwing a stone at a magician in anger. Then, as they searched for her, she had been so sure they meant to kill her she had dared to seek the Thieves' help, and they always extracted a high price for such favors.
As her powers grew uncontrollable, the magicians convinced the Thieves to hand her over into their care. Rothen had been her captor and teacher. He had proven to her that magicians -- well, most of them -- were not the cruel, selfish monsters that the slum dwellers believed them to be.
Two guards stood at either side of the open University doors. Their presence was a formality observed only when important visitors were expected at the Guild. They bowed stiffly as Rothen led Sonea into the Entrance Hall.
Though she had seen it a few times before, the hall still amazed her. A thousand impossibly thin filaments of a glass-like substance sprouted from the floor, supporting stairs that spiraled gracefully up to the higher levels ... The Novice
The Black Magician Trilogy Book 2. Copyright © by Trudi Canavan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.