***This review contains spoilers***
I’m not sure what is going on with Trudi Canavan, she has written some really good series in the past, I really enjoyed the Age of Five series and the Black Magician series, but her newer series, this one and the Traitor Spy series, are not very good. The latest of her writing is this book and to me it is her worst book so far (The Magician’s Apprentice is not too far behind this one). I had really high expectations for this book, I assumed her last trilogy wasn’t that good because she was writing in the same world as the Black Magician trilogy and it was a minor story that got fleshed out more than it should have. I hoped with this series being in a new world, and with the really cool cover art, that this book would go back to the quality of writing she had in her older series, but I was quite disappointed. I purchased this book in hardcover because I thought it was going to be good, but I know I won’t be doing that for the rest of the series (if I both reading it)
This book is written in two POVs, Tyen is a male student in a school for teaching magic while Rielle is a female in a male dominated society where only a select few are allowed to use magic. I found that even with the flaws in the Tyen’s story it was the much better story and I was always disappointed when the story switched over to Rielle. The writing in Rielle’s story was better writing to me but I found her entire story to be such a waste of time.
In Tyen’s storyline the school that he is going to does not seem like much of a school, the story never shows any of the teaching that goes on, it only shows the students and one professor on an expedition where they are robbing graves to increase the wealth of the school. With the students basically being slave labor and not receiving anything for the work that the do during the expedition. It was during one of these expeditions that Tyen finds a magic book, that used to be a person, and the conflict of his story is created. He wants to keep the book and learn from it where the school wants to destroy it because of its abilities. I enjoyed the interactions that Tyen had with the book and really wished they would have fleshed that out more, including deeper explanations on the magic in the world. The major problem I had with this story was in the author’s writing, she has some major problems with subtlety and foreshadowing. Either things are so insanely obvious that there is no point of even reading or the complete opposite, the events that occur don’t make any sense with how the story or character is being portrayed or with very little detail in the story telling that I’m not even sure what is happening. There were a few places I had to re-read several times to even understand what had just happened.
I found the Rielle POV to be the better written of the two stories but I found the actual story to be such a huge waste of time. To me it seems like the entire story is written to introduce us to the Angel, who we only see for a few pages and then he is gone. The entire storyline seems to be written to force Rielle to be punished (again some not very subtle foreshadowing makes this obvious from the beginning) and to drive her to meeting the angel. This would be okay if they provided some good explanations/history on how the society became the way it was, but that is lacking in this story and it makes me not care about anyone in this story line. As we see early on Rielle has the ability to do magic but her society forces her to be unable to use it in an acceptable way which drives her to an inevitable confrontation with the priesthood. Along the way she falls in love and runs away with someone her family does not approve of and this drives her, in her mind, her to have no other choice but to use her magic. The church catches her and sends her off to be punished where we finally meet the Angel, whom I assume is going to be a much bigger part of the series now. I’m not sure what plans the author has for Rielle but I feel like she could drop out of the story completely and I would not care in the slightest nor would it seem to affect the overall story.
The other thing I found pretty disappointing in this book was the magic, for a book that calls out the magic in its title I expected there to be more explanation of magic and its uses. Also Trudi Canavan’s other books had very elaborate magic systems with a lot of explanations on how they worked. This was completely lacking in this book, from what I understand of the magic in this book is that you can speed up or slow down the particles of the world (to warm them up and create fire or make it really cold) and that the magic is an intrinsic part of the world with the power of the user coming from how far away they can pull the magic from (the farther you can Reach the more power you can gather and the more powerful you are). There are offhanded remarks about being able to heal which isn’t really explained and there is an in depth explanation on how you can world hop but I found that to be quite confusing on how it actually made you change planets and how you used it to go to specific planets.
All in all I thought this book could have been half as long, with Rielle’s story being completely cut out, and been a much better story. At this point I don’t know if I will continue with the series (I probably will because of my history with the author), but I know I won’t be purchasing any more of her books.