Canavan, Trudi: The Novice (The Black Magician II) (2004)

The Novice - 6 different covers
Cover art by:
Top right: Les Petersen
Bottom right: Steve Stone
Bottom centre: Matt Stawicki

Once again Trudi Canavan has shown that she has the ability to reach audiences all over the world. The Novice has been published in three English dialects and 12 other languages. The Black Magician trilogy is a serial. You are going to have to begin with The Magician’s Guild to make sense of The Novice.

As with The Magician’s Guild, I was my son’s audiobook. This time the experience as an out-loud-reader was much smoother. Whereas The Magician’s Guild has awkward phrasing for an out-loud-reader, The Novice flowed as it ought. Being the one who was read to was an enjoyable experience for my son.

Story 1

Breaking out of an abusive relationships is a challenge. In some cases the victim never does while in others some kind of catalyst comes along that makes freedom possible. Before that time, though, pain, confusion, humiliation and helplessness are feelings the victim is dragged through time and again.

Sonea being bullied by Regin and his compatriots (fellow novices) is such an abusive relationship. Regin’s venture into physical and mental violence begins during the first year and follows Sonea into The Novice. One would have thought that Sonea gaining the guardianship of the High Lord would prevent him from being cruel, but no. Regin soon discovers that Sonea is afraid to tell the High Lord what is going on and takes that as encouragement to increase the intensity of his bullying.

Bully lust is a strange thing. I’ve often wondered what makes an abuser tick. Growing up I never understood why the other kids felt it appropriate to tease and harass me. As an adult I think I can see what the attraction is. Power seems to be orgasmic to some people. Being able to get others to go along with what you are doing probably increases that feeling. Regin certainly seems to be getting off on what he is doing to Sonea.

Like a lot of people being abused, Sonea is afraid to tell those in authority about the bullying. She is afraid that matters will get worse. Sonea sees that the episodes that happen in class do not bring about punishment for Regin and I imagine that would make her hesitation even more intense. Class-differences between the victim and the abuser probably made it even more difficult for Sonea to open up about what was going on. After all, what could she – a slum-dweller – hope to achieve with reporting the abuse when the rest of the magically inclined people at the university were of the upper classes.

In- and out-groups. We and them thinking. I think this is one of the most frightening thing I find about humans. When I read some of the comments that are written on some of the sites on the net, I am confused by how others bully writers in the most cruel manner by dehumanising the blog’s author. Regin’s treatment of Sonea is a prime example of how one person makes another person a “them” and thereby setting his behavior at – “not at fault”.

All it takes is one person. One person to make it all bearable. Sometimes one person to help you see the light. One person. You will meet him in The Novice. That one person with the ability to think outside the box. The one who dares think of “them” as human too.

Story 2

Dannyl’s experience with The Thieves has made him prime candidate as Guild Ambassador. I’ll bet he never saw that one coming. Dannyl is one of those people I just could not help but like. His behavior and attitude is clearly colored by the treatment Fergun put him through while they were both novices. Surviving abuse gives us a perspective on life that we would not have otherwise. If circumstances allow, that understanding can be put to good use. Both Dannyl’s behavior and his attitudes have been challenged and continue to be challenged during his adventures in Elyne. His friendship with Tayend shows his strength and the pain of the past he still carries around on his back.

The Novice was fun. Painful at times when old memories were triggered, but fun.


  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; A fmt edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841493147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841493145
  • Amazon

My review of The Magician’s Guild

3 thoughts on “Canavan, Trudi: The Novice (The Black Magician II) (2004)”

  1. Really thought-provoking discussion. Thanks.

    “Bully lust is a strange thing. I’ve often wondered what makes an abuser tick. Growing up I never understood why the other kids felt it appropriate to tease and harass me. As an adult I think I can see what the attraction is. Power seems to be orgasmic to some people.”

    I think that’s true. In addition, the bully can feel superior to everyone else. So you get a couple of very strong draws.


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