on 25 June 2004
"It is said, in Imardin, that the wind has a soul, and that it wails through the narrow city streets because it is grieved by what it finds there..." Canavan starts her novel with that sentence, and it just gets better.
There have been loads of fantasy books written about young people growing up not knowing they are mages/magicians/witches and suddenly finding out. And who are a danger because they don't know how to control the magic... sound familiar? Well, this is another one. But don't let that put you off, because Trudi Canavan can write. She can write very well indeed. Her world is well developed, her characters well-rounded, and the story line is gripping. Likeable characters, except for a really unlikeable well-drawn villain. Put simply: it is a great read.
I haven't given it five stars because I reserve that for books that offer me something new and mind-blowing as well as good writing, but don't let that put you off. This book is superb and well-worth the buy. I suspect this writer is going to go a long, long way as she explores the opportunities open to her as a writer of fantasy - this after all, is her first book.
on 14 December 2004
This is an easy read: I went through the entire book in an evening, and almost picked up the second book and started reading until I realised it was almost 1am. It's paced well and doesn't have too many annoying fantasy clichés. The characters are likeable, and there's plenty going on to keep them interesting.
It could have done with a few thousand less words on Sonea hiding from the Guild though. It wasn't *quite* boring me, but I could see boredom looming on the horizon, and breathed a sigh of relief when it was over. There's also a couple of the places where the point of view switches abruptly between two people mid-scene, which is confusing until you stop, go back, and realise what happened.
on 1 December 2003
I bought this book purely by chance whilst waiting for a flight home from Melbourne. Being an avid fantasy reader I have read a lot of debut novels and been disapointed that the plot and characters are often weak and trudge along. What a lovely surprise to find that Ms Canavan drops you straight into a world fully formed and ready to be explored. After only brief introductions the reader is hurled into a world of strong characters, intrigue, discovery and an edge-of-seat plot that keeps you reading and eager for more. To anybody looking for a good read with characters you will love and hate I recomend this book without reservation. I only wish that I had been brave enough to buy all three books of this trilogy at the same time as they are not yet available here in UK and now I will have to wait to find out how things develop.
on 5 May 2006
Ok, some people have really beat up on this series (sadly, for all of the right reasons). But don't let this put you off.
This is a story that has great potential and the author works hard to reach this, but problem is that you really feel like kicking the editor for not pushing the author hard enough.
It takes three books to develop a story that could have been told in two with a bit of tight editing and THEN turned into a trilogy by pushing the authors skills a little more.
Don't be put off, this is worth a read but her next series, "Priestess Of The White" shows a lot more experience of character developement and better editorial control than this.
on 11 September 2006
Make no mistake - this book is aimed at the "young adult" segment of the market. Trudi Canavan is not trying to write a complex, multilayered and multifaceted character study set against a backdrop of a magical world, she's trying to write an adventure book.
And at this she succeeds. One of the book's few faults is that it perhaps tries to be a little too cute at times, but that can be forgiven and is sure to please a younger (or young-at-heat) reader. Sonea, the heroine, is a very likeable young rogue from the slums, and interestingly spends most of the book fighting her own prejudices as opposed to some Evil, which makes for a change of pace from more formulaic fantasy stories. Unfortunately, the narrator gives the reader both sides of the story - what the magicians are really like, and what Sonea *thinks* they are like - which on occasion makes Sonea's frantic attempts to stay away from them seem simply pig-headed rather than driven by genuine misconception on her part.
Ms Canavan should also be praised for her gentle introduction of the villain of the book, who is revealed only gradually and doesn't show his colours unequivocally until near the end. Although his demise is somewhat sudden and a bit of a deus ex machina moment, which feels disappointing.
What is perhaps lacking in the book is a more thorough look at the character's motivations - for many of the wizard characters, their reasons for helping or hindering Sonea are far from clear, they just Do What They Do. But then, as said, this book was never meant to be a character study; most of the supporting characters exist to make the story move along more than anything else.
The story is sufficiently unformulaic to be interesting, and for younger readers it provides a much clearer link to the 'real' world than many fantasy books do (the basic motivation behind the character's actions are simple emotions that readers can identify with, rather than grand schemes to Rule the World or obtain some Magical Item). Adults may smirk at the occasionally simple narrative, but I nonetheless found it a very enjoyable read, light and entertaining, and couldn't wait to pick up the next in the series ("The Novice") to find out what happens next to Sonea.
The Magician's Guild is refreshing in that it's not about a reluctant male hero's quest to save the world. Instead, Trudi Canavan presents us with a spirited female lead who discovers that she has magic, which puts her in a social dilemma.
Should she accept her powers and join the "snobbish" magicians who are hated by ordinary people? Or should she stay ordinary but risk destroying those she loves with her uncontrolled magic?
The Magician's Guild is an enjoyable, easy read. Trudi Canavan's flowing narrative style will keep you turning the pages until the end. Though not as good a writer as Robert Jordan or Robin Hobbs (yet), Canavan keeps your interest with her likeable characters and familiar situations that readers will relate to. Themes such as social class divisions, friendships and betrayals, finding your true identity and figuring out where you truly belong are explored.
The books comes to a satisfying ending but readers are left in no doubt that this volume merely sets the scene for The Novice and The High Lord, the next two books in The Black Magician Trilogy.
on 8 July 2004
The plot, girl finds out she can perform magic all the usual stuff like controling her powers and running from the law. However in this story, magic is controled by the powerful and is very political, but she is poor and non-important, the idea that such a person is capable of magic could have major political effects..... In terms of plots and the twists and turns it is a very nice story, it tries to touch on many different settings/scenarios so it has a bit of everything for everyone, the only downside is that in my oppinion the ending was changed to allow continuation into the other books, ie im not sure that when the author started writing, she was expecting to write a trilogy. thankfuly though this means its not like the lord of the rings, the first book deals with introductions, the second plot development, the third the final ending, okay i havnt read the other books yet but the first book kept me interested enough to write my first review and secondly to place preorders for the next two books, (a wait of upto 9 months)
on 7 April 2006
The novel started out reasonably well, but the author lacked the skill or experience to sustain the pace. The reader is soon mired down in a tediously predictable and unimaginative story that doesn't really go anywhere for the duration of the book - or the series, for that matter. Even worse is the pseudo-modern dialogue between the characters that does little to establish an evocative fantasy milieu, leaving the reader struggling to connect with a sense of place or time. This is a bland world, with no vibrancy, depth or sense of history.
On a more positive note, there's a sense of a stronger story buried within struggling to emerge. Maybe the author will one day find the voice with which to tell it.
on 4 July 2005
An interesting read and not a bad book. It is well written with some decent characters but is very much Book 1 of 3 and as a result not a lot happens. I guess once you are prepared for the pacing this is not a problem but if high octane is your fuel of choice then you should read something else. There are a few minor problems with the plot itself ( the purge for a start is never really explained )but otherwise it is a well developed world with the plot containing enough suggestions of later revelations to keep you turning the page. Overall a nice comfy read without any danger of blowing your mind.
on 27 May 2007
Having seen a few glowing reviews of this book, and slightly intrigued by the simplistic nature of the cover, I decided to buy it. Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed. The language is simplistic and fragmented at best, and at other times Trudi Canavan's writing style seems oddly strained, as if she is trying to force too long words into strangely structured sentences. It is almost as if she has gone a bit over the top with the microsoft word 'similes' tool, using it on every word she plausibly can. As a result, the book is a lumpy, unabsorbing read, which doesn't seem to keep to a uniform pace. Canavan seems to be trying to get deep inside charcters heads at some points, and then skimming over the surface just pages after. She tries to keep the action up to a maximum, skipping from one attempted 'exciting' scene to another, and so making the book more and more shallow.
The minor characters all seem to be there for the benefit of Sonea, (the main character), and they lack emotional depth, and also the illusion of a life 'outside of the book', I feel no connection to any of them, as they are all at some level, the same. The author has made the speak all the same way (not as in accent, but as in how they say things, if you get my meaning). They have all got the same basic character, and a few of them seem merely stereotypical. Also the book seems to be set on far too small a scale, as the main characters seem to find things far too convenient.
As a student of English however, I have noticed Trudi Canavan's largest short-coming - something that my teacher has been trying to hammer into my head- make the reader feel, not think. If Sonea is scared, let us feel her fear, instead of just saying 'Sonea was scared', say 'she began to shake'... whatever.
Frankly, I am sure I don't know how on Earth she became so succesful, with such a fundamentally simple book.