The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan, Book 1 in the Dark Magician Trilogy, wasn’t actually a bad read. The plot and such were all fine (though the writing was occasionally lacking) but didn’t manage to be great.
The premise of the book is solid: girl discovers she can use magic, chase ensues by guild to capture and teach her, a misunderstanding sullies relationships, but everything turns out sort of okay. After reading, I couldn’t say I didn’t like the book, I just felt it wasn’t anything special. As you can guess by my short synopsis, the book follows a generic pattern you could apply to a lot of books, and though this isn’t the same as all them word-for-word, it remains a little flat as though the writer (who I know is popular) has followed set guidelines. The world building is a greater aspect of the book, and I found myself rather interested in the politics of these people and their “traditions”. The only little problem I had with it was how Sonea- our protagonist- started using magic so easily before it all went downhill.
Characters in the book were commendable, if a little black and white. The ‘good guy’ Rothen seemed faultless, while the ‘bad guy’ Fergun was your average slick, petty criminal. I sort of felt that only Sonea was a truly grey character that I couldn’t predict: everyone else was too honourable or had their own loyalties that made them predictable. Maybe I’m getting on as a reader so I’m starting to notice all the signs, but I felt myself making usually correct presumptions about people. However, despite my pouting, there is obvious room for Canavan to expand on these characters because we know they have secrets which could be less than innocent. If so, all the characterisation is fine. Sonea herself actually comments that she’s good at reading people and- with a magic user’s fine senses- perhaps it is unsurprising that we can guess what’ll happen.
The writing was good (third person omniscient, in case you’re interested) but sometimes I completely zoned out when reading something. I’d say this was because the sentence seemed unrelated to the rest of what was happening, but I’m not so sure. I think just running through the story one more time may have alleviated some of this.
The Magician’s Guild is actually quite a good book, if you’re into books about magic and fantasy worlds with a messed up class system. I read it all in one solid sitting and it wasn’t short so I was very much engaged and desperate to see what would happen. In fact, I’m going out to buy the rest of the trilogy before the week is over; it was that good. The mystery set-up- such what exactly the High Lord does and questions about what magic she’ll learn and how she’ll shape the world she lives in- mean that I engage myself with the book when the writing doesn’t do that for me. I’m interested to see how everything will play out and though I have suspicions, I wonder how they’ll actually come into being.
As a huge fantasy and magic fan, I wasn’t disappointed and I’m glad to see good, readable books in this genre being released. There’s a lot of paranormal fantasy coming out recently that’s just not my thing, and a lot of contemporary fantasy I read seems lacking. This book actually gives some hope for better and more things to come.
To cut it a little short, the best way to sum up my feelings for this books is that it is good, just not remarkable. If she’d made a little more engaging (not detached) I might have liked it even more.