Review of THE MAGICIAN'S GUILD by Trudi Canavan (see her website)
THE BLACK MAGICIAN TRILOGY: BOOK ONE
Eos, January 2004
The Magicians are insular, arrogant, and they do the king's bidding. Since the king demands that they clear out the slums on a regular basis, they aren't much liked among the 'Dwells' as those who live in the slums are called--but the Dwells can't do much about it. The magicians' shields are proof against all of the stones and all of the hatred the Dwells send their way. At least they should be. Everything changes when Sonea, a girl, throws a rock that gets through the shields. The only way that's possible is with magic, and the Guild does not allow magic outside of its own control.
Magician Rothen was there when Sonea threw the stone. He knows something the girl may not--untrained, her power will grow out of control. She'll be a danger both to herself and to the entire city. Bringing her into the guild, inviting her to be one of them, is the only option. Finding her, though, will be a problem--especially after Sonea's friend, Cery, puts her in touch with the Thieves Guild. The thieves have ambitions beyond controlling the sewers under the city--with a magician under their control, they'll have a voice in how the city is run.
Sonea is torn. Like all Dwells, she has little use for the magicians. Yet she can sense her power becoming ever-more dangerous. Placing herself in the power of the thieves is hardly a desirable situation, either. Yet, can she trust the magicians when they claim they won't hurt her? They've certainly hurt a number of the dwells over the years--and all of their talk about healing and the good they do is simply talk when it comes to the ordinary people. Nobody she knows can afford a magician's healing.
Author Trudy Canavan creates an intriguing fantasy world and magic system. Rothen and his protoge, Dannyl, make compelling characters and Sonea can't help be sympathetic with her desire to help her friends and to return to her family. Overall, THE MAGICIAN'S GUILD had a feeling of setup. Throughout the novel, Sonea reacts to events rather than creating them. Her desires are negative--essentially to be left alone--rather than positive. While Rothen is likable, he is oblivious to the dangers around him--both from the odious Fergun, and the far greater danger that confronts the Magicians (a danger that Sonea discovers by fortuitous accident).
Fantasy fans who love being emersed in a world and learning about its people will definitely want to grab GUILD. If you're looking for character-driven action, you may want to start with the second book in this series.
Too generous? Too stingy. Or did I miss the whole point? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the best letters I get so let me know if I can use your name.
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