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Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Novice by Taran Matharu

The Novice by Taran Matharu

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: High Fantasy
Hardcover: 350 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release date: May 5, 2015

Series:  The Summoner, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

In this New York Times-bestselling novel full of action and adventure, a blacksmith's apprentice can summon demons. But can he win a war?
Fletcher is working as a blacksmith's apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning.
Along with nobles and commoners, Fletcher endures grueling lessons that will prepare him to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire's war against the savage Orcs. But sinister forces infect new friendships and rivalries grow. With no one but Ignatius by his side, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of the Empire is in his hands. . . .
The Novice by Taran Matharu is book one in the Summoner trilogy, a stunning epic fantasy that started on Wattpad, and garnered over six million views on the site. The paperback edition contains an interview with the author, a special sneak peek of the sequel, The Inquisition, and more.

I've barely been able to keep this book in at my library, and recently got the chance to see why. It is perfect for a middle grade read, especially reluctant reader boys who like fantasy (finished all the John Flanagan series perhaps?), and is also great for those who like Pokemon or other gaming addicts. Young fans of Harry Potter or other 'magic school' books might also like trying this book as you can see Rowling's influence as well as influences of Tolkien in the orcs, elves, dwarves, etc. This series also follows a lot of the traditional fantasy tropes, what with having a mentor, going on a quest/journey, being a hero, fighting against a Dark Lord... However, despite having no few parallels, it still carries its own unique flavor with having summoners who possess certain levels of 'fulfilment' and can thusly control different types of demonic creatures. (Don't read demons as in demons and angels; read demons as magical creatures of the ether.) I found it, while not possessing extensive worldbuilding or levels to the fantasy (not a bad thing for younger readers), still quite enjoyable, engaging, and creative.

Fletcher is an interesting character, if somewhat of a Chosen One. What I liked best is how he befriends the dwarf and the elf, despite the society's tensions going on with dwarves and elves. Fletcher is an outsider and has been all his life, on account of being an orphan, and so he identifies with the other outsiders much easier, making him kind and empathetic to their feelings. He also stands up to bullying and other nastiness for himself and for others, making him a pretty good role model for younger readers. The addition of the dwarf and the elf also adds elements of diversity to the book, which is always great especially when treated as separate characters/identities rather than just as a race. Matharu does a good job of this, and we'll see this develop.

I also really liked the creatures and wish we could have learned more about them in general, as well as the types of magical learning. Still, we'll see more of this in book two, along with my most hated part of the book...

The cliffhanger at the end! No spoilers, but it just abruptly ends! Like this review. Book 2 review coming soon.

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

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