I am a sucker for science fiction. And women writing science fiction. But this time, Crossword made me a sucker of a different sort when it located Trudi Canavan along with Asimov and Douglas Adams.
The Black Magician trilogy is a fantasy action novel - the main character is Sonea, a slum girl who accidentally discovers she has magical powers. There is the big bad Guild which does not allow outsiders to learn magic. Sonea is however rescued and protected by the Thieves until eventually she manages to become a student at the Guild itself.
Like being an outsider and treated with derision by her classmates is not trouble enough, Sonea further complicates life by having once seen Akkarin, The High Lord, the leader of the Guild, practice black magic which is forbidden by strict rules. To prevent her from repeating the secret, The High Lord blackmails and threatens Sonea into secrecy.
How Sonea discovers that The High Lord is in fact on the side of good and how she finds herself is the rest of the book. For a detailed synopsis, go here.
There are various cliches at work throughout the book - the standard division between the haves (the Magicians' Guild) and the have nots (the slum dwellers), the misuse of power (the yearly purging of the slum dwellers by the magicians being one example), the unlikely hero (Sonea who herself is a poor, impoverished slum girl until she realizes she can breach magical defences), the anti establishment members working with and finally learning the ways of the establishment (Cery, Sonea).
And of course, the hero, who starts with being misunderstood and evil but is revealed as a figure of superhuman good, who sacrifices himself to save his country. A predictable conclusion to a plot that meandered along without any surprises.
Characterization is not the author's strong point either. For example, Sonea could have been made into a far more powerful character rather than the hero -worshiping, gush, gush character she turns into as she falls in love with Akkarin.
Overall, the third part of the trilogy (there is also a prequel and a sequel to it) is disappointing. Its a page turner if you like light fantasy reading - leave your brain in your other head though.
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