A race against time


Trudi Canavan The Magicians’ Guild Orbit 2010

I began with the prequel to The Black Magician Trilogy as I hoped this would be a good introduction. Now I’ve finished the first in the trilogy proper (which first appeared in 2001) I’m starting to get a handle on both the attractions and drawbacks of Trudi Canavan’s fantasy books, her writing style and the world she has created.

The interest centres on a young girl Sonea, who accidentally comes upon her magical potential after a confrontation with magicians. The story is largely taken up with her attempts to evade capture by these same magicians of Imardin, a city clearly inspired by the geographical siting of Melbourne in Australia. It becomes clear that unless she is found by the magicians she is likely to be consumed by her magical powers, and it becomes a race against time to avoid the catastrophic release of all her magic.

Trudi Canavan’s concept of magic is ingenious, and the creation of the several jeopardies that provide the impetus for the story is clever. She’s created interesting characters for Sonea to react with and against, and by the end of the story I did want to find out the consequences of the twist in the tale that must surely follow in the sequels.

However, much as it’s clear that she has fallen in love with her created world and hopes that we have too, towards the end there is a sense that there is too much talk, ruminations as Sonea and others consider all the alternatives that may result from any particular action and the character traits of friends and enemies. This, like the prequel, is very much a ‘talky’ novel, and at times I would welcome more action and less discussion. It’s not that talk is bad, far from it, but when every sympathetic character’s every possible motivation is seriously considered and weighed by every other sympathetic character it becomes a bit wearing. And we never do find out the point of view of any of the less than sympathetic individuals.


4 thoughts on “A race against time

  1. You will be seeing now that a warning should have been put out against starting the series by reading the prequel. In this case, not a good idea. I think that may, partly, be why the discussions pall. One already knows much of what they are skating around the fringes of.

    1. Oh, I didn’t mind having the hindsight first (if you see what I mean). She wrote the prequel subsequent to the trilogy, didn’t she? But I do like reading series in chronological order rather than in publication order; it’s a foible of mine, probably due to me being of little brain and unable to cope with anything more complicated than time’s arrow.

      1. I feel the same way, normally, but in this case it turns out that the action in the ‘prequel’ is a separate tale which prematurely reveals some of the mysteries featured in the trilogy. Particularly the ‘higher magic’.

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