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The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan

The Magician’s Apprentice by Trudi Canavan
Book Name: The Magician's Apprentice
Author: Trudi Canavan
Publisher(s): Orbit
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / eBook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: February 23, 2009

It was Trudi Canavan that got me into fantasy around 6 years ago. Previously I was more of an action/crime fan, but Trudi Canavan converted me with her Black Magician Trilogy. The books introduced me to characters that I connected with on levels I had not done so in other books and the story telling was so action packed, so emotional and just generally exciting that I couldn’t put them down. When I finished them, I literally felt lost and sad that I had come to the end of something so great.

The Magician’s Apprentice is Trudi Canavan’s first stand-alone novel set in Kyralia (the same world as the trilogy I mentioned above). I was excited about this one, because although it is set in the past, it is still Kyralia – the world Trudi Canavan taught me to love.

The story focuses on Tessia, an average girl that lives in a small, out of the way village with her father, the village healer. Tessia serves somewhat as her father’s apprentice – all be it unofficially due to women being seen more useful as wives and have an inferior status.

The book begins shortly after the war against the Sachakan. Although things have now calmed down enough that an official from Sachakan can travel throughout Kyralia and visit a number of cities that they were not so long ago fighting against – hostile feelings remain. In addition, the Sachakan still practice Black Magic and still consider themselves superior to the Kyralians. The Sachakan official is visiting the Kyralian Lord Dakon when we first meet him. Lord Dakon is basically in charge of looking after a small geographical area that is relatively close to the boarders of Sachakan.

If Sachakan ever decided to go to war with Kyralia again, it is likely his villages would be some of the first to perish. He therefore reluctantly treats his ‘guest’ well and offers his hospitality. Whilst there however, the Sachakan beats one of his own slaves half to death. Lord Dakon asks Tessia’s father to help revive the slave and it is while Tessia is checking on the slave’s progress that the story really gets going. Tessia is approached by the Sachakan, who tries to force himself upon her. Seen as an inferior race and being a woman – The Sachakan expects Tessia to simply take his approach and accept it. Tessia is scared to death and has no options to escape. The feelings dwell up inside her and the explosion of fear inside her body manifest themselves in forceful magic – so much so, it basically incinerates a room and sends the Sachakan running. Having always considered herself to grow up as her father’s apprentice, things have now changed.

As in the previous books – the majority of Kyralians that experience magical powers become magicians. These books being so early on in the timeline though there are not yet schools or anything like that – magicians have roles in society. Tessia is taken on as Lord Dakon’s apprentice, and as a result has a lot of responsibility and also, having relatively poor roots, a lot of negativity towards her. She has to compete with Lord Dakon’s other apprentice, her mother’s displeasure and her father’s reluctance to allow her to help with his work. Tessia is not too keen on magic and in fact wishes to continue with healing. It is only as she begins to learn that perhaps the two can work together (healing and magic) that she starts to take interest.

Lord Dakon is alerted that a number of the Sachakan Magicians that have been outcast from the main land are looking to break into Kyralia and take land from them. Having lost power and status in their homeland, they see Kyralia as an easy target and think taking the country on their own is possible. Lord Dakon needs to recruit as many other Lords as possible, whilst at the same time training Tessia. Tessia is of course entering a war with literally weeks of training and it is her journey through this war that we follow.

– – –

Now, a lot of reviews have complained that the book is too much like book one of Black Magicians Trilogy. And honestly, they are probably right. I actually read those books about 6 years ago now, so to be honest it didn’t affect me too much – but if you read this straight after the original series, perhaps you would be left scratching your head wondering if they had been written on the same template.

However, although the general poor girl gets thrust into a powerful faction theme is there – it is there right away and the actual building of the storyline is very different than the trilogy. The story is more about the development of Tessia’s powers and how she bends them to learn healing magic. We follow Tessia with the desire to find out how on earth an already battered Kyralia would survive an attack from such a powerful force of enemies and what kind of role Tessia could have.

Those who have read Trudi Canavan’s works before will be impressed with how her style has developed. The characters are all as real and as loveable as ever. Trudi’s characters tend to be of the ‘whiter than white’ variety. They are good people that do good things and we really care about them and want them to succeed. Something else she does well is battle scenes. Very few authors can write a battle scene of such complexity and beauty as Trudi Canavan does. She lays out a battle and describes the magical strikes in such a life-like fashion that you can truly get involved with them and you feel the tension there.

Also, there is that typical romance throughout the book, which we find with most of Canavan’s writing. I think at heart Trudi is a very lighthearted woman who quite likes her beautiful women hidden behind a lack of status type story lines. I think she enjoys taking these women that are hidden from power and transforming them into desirable women with great respect and this is a prime example of how it should be done.

The problems I had with the book however are fairly obvious ones. Firstly, the theme running so closely to the original trilogy means it has to lose some points. Although it didn’t overly bother me, I know some people on other blogs said they felt as if they were cheated here. Secondly, the ending killed the book for me. At the end of the book, we basically find out that this book has been a set up for the next trilogy – that is not a spoiler – it is fairly obvious from early on in the book if you know the title of the next series. Anyway, what this means is the book has had to finish answering a number of questions without leaving any cliffhangers (although a few questions). That is fine with me, but what absolutely destroyed my love of this book was the epilogue. I had just invested a week into these characters and this story… I then get told in three pages, “After this story – he/she died, he/she died, he/she was put in prison, he/she had this happen to her… The End.”

I was left with a real anti-climax. The book finished how I expected it…great. Why do I need to know what happened to these people? Why not leave it open to interpretation? Why not save it for another book in the future? I can’t comprehend the reasoning for that other than the set up for the next trilogy, but then again, why not just bring up those points in the next trilogy? I was sat thinking ‘oh…’ at the end and I want to be feeling wow and thinking ‘what happened next?’ It in fact makes me wonder if this book was meant to be a trilogy and was then ended early as maybe she felt it was running too close to the originals? I really don’t know…

All that being said the book is very good and it does make me want to read the new series Traitor Spy set in the same world. I just wish the ending wasn’t so rushed. As a result, I have to dock some points and say – Please Trudi, make it up to me in the next series. I want to give you a 4 or a 5 next time!


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