The Magician’s Guild by Trudi Canavan is the first in the Black Magician’s Trilogy, although trilogy is perhaps the wrong word, since after the publication of the three, Canavan published a prequel and then a subsequent standalone novel. Regardless of the time frame, The Magician’s Guild is the one readers will want to take on first.
Canavan creates a wonderful fantasy world devoid of the usual high-fantasy clichés, in other words: no farmboy of destiny. What you do have is a rich, full-bodied reading experience with deep characters and believable conflicts. There are elements of the world with which any experienced fantasy reader will be familiar: guilds, a University for magic, lords and ladies, thieves and slums, but never once did I feel I was on too-familiar ground.
The story follows Sonea, a girl from the slums with emerging magical powers in a world where only children from wealthy families are tested for ability. One day her powers emerge publicly in a way the Magicians Guild cannot ignore, and they begin to hunt her down. Aided by the Thieves’ Guild Sonea goes on the run, while her uncontrolled magical abilities begin to put everyone she loves in danger.
Resolutions of the individual books in the series were satisfying, so readers will be happy about that, although a short epilogue at the ends of Books 1 and 2 will hint at future conflicts. I dislike books with too much of a cliff-hanger between novels, so this structure was welcome indeed.
As soon as I finished The Magician’s Guild, I was eager to move on to Books 2 and 3: The Novice and The High Lord. All three have proved to be an easy read with many unexpected twists and turns, an entertaining magical adventure with deep and believable characters.
Overall rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Book Review by India Drummond
Reprinted with permission