Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Magician's Guild - by Trudi Canavan

The first installement in The Black Magician trilogy, this is Trudi Canavan's first novel. Here's a short synopsis…
Each year, just before Winter sets in, Imardin's king orders the magician's guild to purge the city streets of vagrants and other undesirables. The magicians gather behind an impenetrable shield and herd the unfortunate poor towards the city gates and expel them.

This year however, they are in for a shock. A young girl, furious with rage at the magicians for their treatment of her friends and family, hurls a stone at the magic shield and, to everyone's amazement, it passes through and strikes a magician down.

The purge is abandoned as the guild focus all their attempts at capturing the girl as an untrained magician poses an enormous threat to the city. Without the proper training, her powers will soon escalate beyond her control and unleash forces that could easily destroy the entire city.

The theory on magicians here is that, while magical powers can develop naturally, it's very unusual and they normally need to be "turned" on by another magician. Obviously this means that the guild only really ever looks for budding magical talent among the ruling class families and the poorer inhabitants and never given the chance to join.

Untrained magicians cannot control the powers they have within them and, if allowed to build up, these forces could easily destroy huge areas of the city. So, the main plot of the The Magician's Guild is for the magicians to find the girl and train her to control her powers before the inevitable catastrophe occurs. Trouble is, she hates magicians and all they stand for and will do anything to avoid being found.

As a first novel it's not bad and, while it's enjoyable enough, that fact shows throughout the story. The story lacks any real depth, character development is minimal, the plot is extremely predictable and the dialogue very stilted. I get the impression that Ms. Canavan has done a bit of Dungeons and Dragons playing as it comes close to such an adventure - all surface, single-layer action and no deep storyline. There is a little hint of a darker story in there but we don't get to see much of it here - perhaps the second novel will be a bit more gripping.

Don't let all that put you off though as younger readers will probably find it quite satisfying. If all you fancy is something simple for a change instead of the normally over 800 page jobs with more sub-plots going than you can cope with, it'll do the job nicely.

ISBN: 1-84149-313-9
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy
My Rating: 6/10

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