Midweek memory: The Black Magician Trilogy

Firstly please forgive any typos/errors/sloppiness. I’m quite hungover writing this.

Even though I’ve had basically nothing to do since I’ve finished my degree, I haven’t been able to read my extra book for this week – partly because it’s on Kindle app and I loaned my tablet away…if all goes to plan, that should be up this weekend. Instead, it’s time for the second instalment of the Midweek memory.

magicians guildThe Black Magician Trilogy was one of my absolute favourite fantasy series growing up. There are three in this trilogy (The Magician’s Guild, The Novice and The High Lord), as well as a standalone prequel (The Magician’s Apprentice) and a sequel trilogy, which I haven’t managed to read yet. Trudi Canavan has also written an unrelated trilogy called The Age of Five, and has just started a new series I am excited to read. It was on discovering this new series that I decided to write this blog post.


Our story is set in Imardin, Kyralia. Each year the magicians come out into the city to ‘purge’ the streets of the city’s poor, pushing them back to the slums. Even though the magicians are protected by a magical shield, the ‘dwells’ (slum dwellers) pelt them with rocks, which bounce off. That is, until Sonea throws a rock that pierces straight through and slams into the heads of one of the magicians, knocking him down.

The magicians, fearing a rogue magician, try to hunt Sonea down. Sonea has no idea how she made the rock fly through, but gradually her newfound powers start to get out of control, accidentally causing fires when she gets upset. Eventually her powers start to get so out of control that her friends can barely look after her, and the magicians find her, and teach her how to control these powers.

Because her powers were not ‘released’ the way others’ had to be, Sonea’s magic is incredibly strong. It is very rare for a natural magician to emerge, and very rare for a dwell to be allowed to enter the magician’s guild which is usually exclusive to the children of aristocrats. The second novel in the series follows her time as a ‘novice’, a training magician.

Things I liked

The story. It’s exciting and engaging while not being heavy-handed fantasy writing. The world is well-constructed, with class politics and likeable, relatable characters from all classes and backgrounds, as well as bad ones. The characters are three-dimensional rather than just a collection of character traits, which is a trap many YA fantasy authors fall into, in my opinion.

The characters, as always. This is one of those series, every character has me going ‘you’re my favourite’, ‘you’re my favourite’, ‘no, wait, you’re my favourite’. Lots of love for these characters.

The relationships. They don’t always do what you expect. I’ll leave it at that.

The progression of the story, Sonea’s development as a character through difficult and challenging circumstances.

Things I didn’t like

At the time there was nothing. I’ve read these books many times, but on re-reading them a couple of years ago I did find (and I and our most recent guest-poster have discussed this) that the writing style feels a bit young now. Bearing in mind this is a series meant for, probably, ages 10-16, the writing style is certainly appropriate for the age group. However, it did make it a quick and easy re-read, despite the books being about 500 pages long at the shorter end. If you feel like reading these as an adult, it has to be for the story, the characters, the relationships – everything I mentioned in the section above.

Should I read this?

If you’re looking for another Game of Thrones while you wait for the next book, this series probably isn’t for you. However, if you want an engaging story with relatable characters and a welcoming fantasy world, this might be up your alley. Plus there are already seven books in this world, what more could you want to pass the time?

black magician trilogy


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The Book Depository

You can buy the book here: http://www.bookdepository.com/Magicians-Guild-Trudi-Canavan/9781841499604/?a_aid=SpidersLibrary

Because I am trying not to use Amazon in my own half-arsed protest-y way, I’d like to recommend to people that they check out The Book Depository, which is a great, user-friendly site with affordable books ranging from brand new releases to classics, and in many different editions at less-than brand new prices. As I am now officially an affiliate of The Book Depository, I gain a small commission if you use my affiliate link to buy books! Please do check it out, even if you don’t buy anything right now.