Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Magician's Guild; Trudi Canavan

I think I’m late getting on the Trudi Canavan bandwagon. If you’re not already aboard, you’re missing a great storyteller. The Magician’s Guild is the first novel in Ms. Canavan’s Black Magician’s Trilogy. The second book is The Novice and the third is The High Lord both of which are available. Her newest title is __________ out in hardcover, I believe. Just a minor little rant here. I borrowed this via interlibrary loan. After I read it I requested the other two titles. They could only find one. The third one. I mean, really? What use is reading only the first and the third book in a three book series? I ended up buying the second one, so now I own only one of the set. Annoying! Yes, I’m a little OCD about my books. Why do you ask?

Imardin is a socially stratified citystate, ruled by King Merin. Most of the citizenry are nonmagical folks of every class. Dwells are ordinary everyday folk, thieves control the underground (both literally & criminally) and crafters are skilled laborers. You have House and Rogue magicians, who, once they are identified, seem to be automatically elevated into the highest class. Only the aristocracy, known as aristos, can become magicians. They’re the crème de la crème. Then you have your vagrants, society’s dregs. Homeless, jobless, uneducated & without prospects, they live in dread of being caught in the annual purge. What’s that you ask? Why, it’s when the magicians drive as many of the vagrants out of the city as they can.

Sonea is a teenage vagrant and former street gang member whose family aspires to become crafters. Parted from her friends by her family’s financial needs, she comes across some of her former pals during what turns out to be a purge. In an effort to warn her friends Sonea is caught up and her future becomes dire in the blink of an eye. For Sonea is a natural born magician, something that the Magicians haven’t seen in many many years and some thought didn’t exist at all. For a slum dweller to be a very powerful magician? Unheard of, and for some, unwelcome.

Sonea is traumatized and afraid of what is happening to her. She doesn’t know who to trust or where to turn. Her friend Ceryni (Cery) takes her under his wing. Together they embark on a whirlwind, frightening tour of the seamier side of Imardin in an effort to hide her from the magicians. The magicians of the Guild are looking for Sonea because untrained Magicians can cause great harm to the populace and the city if they don’t learn to control their gift. So the magicians want to get to Sonea before she..explodes, sort of. To either help her learn to control her gift or to bind her gift in such a way that she can never use it. Sonea and Cery don’t know any of this, though . Cery’s father was Thief and Sonea’s family are slum dwellers. Neither of them trust Magicians or Aristos at all.

That’s the basic set up: girl with strong and powerful gift tries to evade the (mostly male) Guild authorities. The end third or so of the book sets up internecine strife within the guild and potentially within Imardin. The book isn’t told in first person, but is primarily from Sonea’s point of view spliced in with one or two of the magicians who are looking for her.

I have to say that my first reaction to this book, other than “Wow, this is fantastic, I have to order to the rest of these” was “this is what I wish Sarah Monette’s book Melusine , link to my review here, was more like.” I can’t quite fully explain that impression except to say that I wish Felix’s personality was more similar to Sonea’s, that he was less damaged or that Mildmay was the protagonist. This book also had echoes of Sharon Shinn’s Thirteen Houses series. Anyhow, I recommend The Magician’s Guild for anyone who likes character centered fantasy with strong female protagonists. I already have the nest two books in the trilogy.

Cover image found on TRudi Canavan's website, link in title above.


Anonymous said...

This sounds good - great review! I enjoyed looking around your blog. I will be back : )

Susan said...

Thanks for the review! I'm updating my blogroll and came over to visit, and voila! here is a new book for my TBR pile to does sound really good, and I enjoyed Melusine, so I'm eager to try this one. I like my fantasy with strong female protagonists!

Bookwormom said...

Hi bookjourney! Thanks for stopping by and looking around. I really like Trudi Canavan & look forward to reading the rest of her backstock.

Good Morning Susan! I too need to do some work on my blog. The sooner the better, TBH. TMG isn't as dark as Melusine, IMO and Sonea as a lead will be fascinating as the series goes on.

Happy Reading, Ladies. Thanks for stopping by.