A well-rounded world

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Trudi Canavan The Novice Orbit 2010

The novice of the title is the young Sonea whom we met in the first volume of this trilogy, The Magicians’ Guild. She has overcome her anxiety about joining the Guild following an exhausting search for her when her burgeoning powers threatened to endanger both herself and the inhabitants of Kyralia’s capital Imardin. Having been reluctantly accepted into the Guild by the magicians she is then subjected to concerted bullying by a cohort of students led by Regin who are persuaded that, as a former inhabitant of the city’s slums, she is fair game for victimisation. But as her magical potential continues to grow a close interest is taken in her by Akkarin, the enigmatic High Lord of the Guild, with consequences that nobody in the Guild could have foreseen; and as the story unfolds the High Lord’s dark secret becomes increasingly obvious to the attentive reader.

A trilogy’s middle novel is potentially difficult in terms of lack of resolution and loose ends. Canavan largely gets round this by having a central theme, namely bullying. Continue reading “A well-rounded world”

A race against time

laboratory

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. Continue reading “A race against time”

Expectations largely met

Morgan le Fay by Anthony Frederick Sandys (1864). Morgan, from Arthurian legend, and Medea, from Greek myth, were both popular with 19th-century artists as the epitome of temptress and sorceress.
Morgan le Fay by Anthony Frederick Sandys (1864).
Morgan, from Arthurian legend, and Medea, from Greek myth, were both popular with 19th-century artists as the epitome of temptress and sorceress.

Trudi Canavan The Magician’s Apprentice
Orbit 2010

I’ve often seen the Trudi Canavan books popping up on the shelves in bookshops and bric-a-brac shops, and, as I have a suspicion of genre fiction that runs in series (it always seems to be a cynical publishing ploy), resolutely avoided them. I finally gave way when two titles literally fell into my hands off the shelves of a charity shop, and opted to first read this, the prequel of the Black Magician trilogy. So, other than knowing it was fantasy, it had no hype to live up to in my mind.

The first thing that struck me is that the author is Australian. That encouraged me, because two other fantasy writers that have impressed me for their world-creation, Garth Nix and Alison Croggon, also happen to be antipodean. But while Nix’s Abhorsen series is set in a marcher country very like the Borders between Scotland and England, and the action in Croggon’s Pellinor books take place on a continent reminiscent of Atlantis, Canavan’s are clearly inspired by the geography of the state of Victoria in Oz: the shape of the coastline and the climate are consistent with a southern hemisphere setting. I found this intriguing, and it promised a different perspective. Continue reading “Expectations largely met”