Book Review: ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ by Trudi Canavan

Posted: 27 October 2010 in Book reviews
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As I am an avid reader and one who is always searching for new books not known to most the people I know (or who would care), I figure this would be a great way to get out there what I find. I generally can get through a book within a week or so when I have the time and the book is enjoyable. This book took me an eternity to read and only because I was working on my dissertation at the same time and then moving to Thailand. If I had had a normal schedule, I could have finished this book in a matter of days.

For starters, ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ is Trudi Caravan’s later written prequel to her bestselling ‘The Black Magician Trilogy’. It is 699 pages written at different times in the perspectives of Tessia, Jayan, Lord Dakon, Hanara and Stara.

What I love about this is that the story is never dull. Each character is unique, the main characters within whose minds we see as well as the secondary characters who come and go through the natural ebb and flow of their world. Tessia is the apprentice daughter of the local Healer. In a world where woman just do not become healers, her father lets her as there is no one else qualified to help him. All the while her mother is pressing the father to take on one of the village boys so that Tessia can find a career suitable for a woman as well as a wife. Imagine the excitement of her mother when in a botched rape attempt by the arrogant Sachakan mage Takado it is discovered that Tessia is a ‘natural’, a person whose magic develops under natural, and sometimes dangerous, means. Because of her being a ‘natural’, Lord Dakon is required to take her as his apprentice, much to the thinly masked resentment of his current apprentice, Jayan.

Jayan is the typical rich boy. He’s arrogant and looks down on Tessia because of her common origins and because of her OCD obsession with healing. He is very close to becoming a Higher Magician and does not take the divided time of Lord Dakon’s very well. He masks it well enough but not always. It is not until Takado destroys the village while they were away, as well as killing Tessia’s parents, that his heart softens towards her. Throughout the book you are taken on a journey, watching his petty selfishness disappear and be replaced by genuine feelings of concern and sometimes jealousy.

Lord Dakon is the lord of the village and takes on Tessia without question. He is an understanding, humble man who amusingly observes the antics of his two apprentices. He is a peaceful man who begrudgingly takes up the role of leader when his village is destroyed as well as various others on the outskirts of the country. Despite his peaceful demeanour and disgust of war, he is a just man and not one to be taken lightly of. He gives off the impression of being able to see the whole picture while others either have blinders or want to only see certain parts.

Hanara is a source slave owned by Takado. He is temporarily freed when Takado nearly kills him in a fit of rage while visiting Lord Dakon. He is left there as a free man, but doesn’t quite take to it. He begins to enjoy it but can’t get off his mind that Takado will come back for him and it frightens him. As he feared, Takado came back and he went running back to him. He deals with the inner conflict of being loyal to his master and feeling bad for the Kyralians that the Sachakan magicians are killing. He is a good natured man but his loyalty to his master keeps from being his own man.

Stara is a mix of a Sachakan mother and a Elyne mother. Because she grew up with her mother in Elyne, she is not used to the social norms of a Sachakan woman. When she is summoned by her father to come to Sachaka, she is at first very excited at the prospect of getting to know her father but is quickly disgusted to find that he summoned her to marry her off and secure an heir because her brother’s wife cannot. She finds it hard to adjust to life in Sachaka and finds it even harder when it is discovered by her father that she can do magic. When she is married off, it is at least to someone she can learn to love and she soon discovers an underground resistance from the wives of the men her husband associates with. Involving herself in this cause, she finds a purpose for her magic and herself.

There are many other characters that appear in the course of this novel. Too many of course to mention individually. There is Takado, the Sachakan magician that instigates the war; King Errik, the king of Kyralia who in part leads his magician army to victory over Sachaka; and many others who all play significant roles in the shaping of this most excellent novel.

From the beginning to the end, you never want to put it down. As each chapter digs you deeper, you crave to know what happens next. As the story and the characters develop, you feel a part of the drama and hope for Sachaka’s defeat while pining for the loss of friends. It is a superbly written novel with a expertly developed story. The characters are all unique and different. I look forward to absorbing myself within her previous novels and anything else she puts out in the future.

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