Trudi Canavan – "The Magicians’ Guild: The Black Magician Trilogy 1"

11 Nov

GENRE: Fantasy
PUBLISHED: EOS Books, 2004

The back blurb:
“This year, like every other, the magicians of Imardin gather to purge the city of undesireables. Cloaked in the protection of their sorcery, they move with no fear of the vagrants and miscreants who despise them and their work – until one enraged girl, barely more than a child, hurls a stone at the hated invaders … and effortlessly penetrates their magical shield.
What the Magicians’ Guild has long dreaded has finally come to pass. There is someone outside their ranks who possesses a raw power beyond imagining, an untrained mage who must be found and schooled before she destroys herself and her city with a force she cannot yet control.”

The Magicians’ Guild is (as far as I know) Trudi Canavan’s debut novel. There are two possibilities why I begin my comments with this: it is a debut and it doesn’t show, or it is a debut and it shows. Here it is the later mostly.

First, there are the standard characters types: magicians, thieves, a nobody with strong magical abilities (why do I think RPG?). The main character is a girl, but otherwise the characterization corresponds to what you would expect of the character types. It’s a standard story, too: the nobody, the girl, joins the Magicians Guild after she resisted that for some time with the help of the thieves. This summary corresponds to the novel’s two-part structure: the first part tells about the girls actions to escape the Magician Guild with the help of the thieves and the magicians actions to find her; the second part is about her being in the custody of the magicians and coming to terms with the question “Do I want to be a magician or not?” and a blackmail plot naturally concerning her.

Second, the pacing is off. This is mostly true of the first part, which seems to consist of one flight after another from one hiding place to another by the girl so that the magicians don’t get her, and the magicians musings how to get the girl. For nearly 200 pages nothing more happens than trying to get the girl. You know that she will be caught in the end, so soon this gets rather boring and uninteresting. In all these pages there is just one “adventure” after another and they don’t add something new after some time, making them seem redundant. I think that is why I was reminded of a teenager writing this part. The second part is better. All in all there are some things that could be left out or told in a more direct way, but then it wouldn’t be a novel any longer.

One question bothered my: how old is the girl? I really can’t say for sure. Sometimes I thought she must be a teenager (14-16), there is talk about love(ers). Then I got the impression that she is hardly ten years old – not because of what she did but because of what other people said to her. It just seemed strange to talk to a teenager that way.

Trudi Canavan’s The Magicians’ Guild is a typical debut novel. And it’s a typical fantasy novel. It reads more like an introduction to the real story told in the later volumes than a story on its own. What happens is a bit thin to stand on its own. The novel ends with a “cliffhanger”, so there is sure an incentive to read the next volume. But this also adds to the feeling that all that happened before the end was just a long introduction and for the most parts unnecessary.

I’m not sure if I’ll get the next one. I have some rather clear notions about what’ll happen, and I’m pretty sure who’ll be the girl’s love interest in the end. But despite all that, the feeling that I was interrupted in reading a story is still there.


Would I recommend this novel? Probably.

Would I read this novel again? Probably not.

Grade: 3 / 5


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