Tag Archives: knowledge

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

Kirstein, Rosemary: Steerswoman

The Steerswoman's roadI have one complaint about the series – Where is the next book????? My goodness, this series was riveting. Kirstein needs to keep on writing – well, actually, in all selfishness, I need her to keep on writing. I think this was my third read-through and I was still captured by the writing and held prisoner until the end.


Rosemary Kirstein Steerswoman’Road is an omnibus containing The Steerswoman and The Outskirter’s Secret. In it Kirstein tells the story of the friendship between Rowan, the Steerswoman, and Bel, the Outskirter. Rowan and Bel meet right at the beginning while they are both about their own business. Bel has been travelling with other Outskirters and Rowan has been investigating strange blue jewels that are neither cut nor dug up.

Steerswoman are men and women who travel around the land asking questions and answering them. One must tell the true answer to any question and the Steerswomen must also do so. If one refuses to answer a Steerswoman, they can ban you. That means that no matter what the question you ask is, they will not answer it. Strange rule, but as knowledge is their whole purpose perhaps not.

Rowan’s questions about the jewels seem to have stirred up interest from the wrong parties. Thankfully, she and Bel have decided to travel together for a while because the next day brings an attack. From that point on there is tension, action, betrayal, discovery, friendships and travel. In fact, Rowan’s search for the truth of these blue jewels brings her into the Outskirts.

The Outskirter is about this part of her journey of discovery, and The Outskirter is just as exciting as The Steerswoman. The Outskirters are nomads who live at the border of where people can actually survive. Every day for them is about destroying and seeding the land so humans can live there. Steerswomen are unfamiliar territory to the Outskirters, yet Rowan manages to gain their trust and help them in her own way. The importance of her work becomes clearer and clearer as the role of the wizards in the attacks on Rowan begins to make a strange sort of sense. Rowan is also beginning to realize that perhaps wizards aren’t quite as wizardly as she had thought.

We as readers should have started realizing this long ago. What does not make sense to Rowan and the regular citizens of both the Outskirts and the Inland does to us. This is a science fiction series that to begin with might seem to be a fantasy one. Quite a few science fiction books are like that. The meeting between different sorts of technologic knowledge can, after all, make it seem like magic is afoot. Pressing a button on the wall to make light in the ceiling is pretty magical if you ask me – and I know how it all happens.

The Lost SteersmanTHE LOST STEERSMAN (2003) – 2004 Locus Science Fiction Award Nominee

Rowan and Bel have parted ways (on friendly terms). Bel is in the Outskirts spreading the bad news, and Rowan has ended up at the Annex in the town of Alameth looking for more information about Slado and the wizards. The Annex is a mess. Mira, the last Steerswoman living there, had not cared one whit about her duties. She was tired of being a Steerswoman and left everything a mess when she died. Now Rowan has to try to find desperately needed information in this chaos. On top of that the townspeople have problems accepting Rowan because she is so different from Mira.

When Rowan meets Janus, a Steersman who resigned the job and was considered lost, she is happy and confused. He was one of her oldest friends and Rowan finds the ban on him difficult in their conversations. After a while, Rowan begins to suspect that things are quite complicated with Janus.

The Lost Steersman is every bit as suspenseful as The Steerswoman’s Road. Kirstein keeps the standard of her writing amazingly high. It goes against the grain, but I think I’m going to put her along with Pratchett. Their styles are completely different. However, they both manage to involve me as a reader in some very serious topics with skills beyond anything I could aspire to.

The Language of Power THE LANGUAGE OF POWER (2004) – 2005 Locus Science Fiction Award Nominee

Rowan and Bel are once again together in their adventures. The Outskirts have been warned and Rowan is finally beginning to get somewhere in her search for the answers to Slade. All roads lead to Rome, it is said. In the Inlands, all roads seem to lead to Donner. To Donner Rowan and Bel go and there they unexpectedly meet Will – our lovable wanna-be apprentice – from the first book.

Will is on the run from Corvus, trying to hide in Donner and looking for revenge on the wizards. Rowan and Bel are overjoyed at meeting their old friend and seek to help him in his quest. But, as would be expected from an adventure novel, things never turn out as one would wish. Will is surprised at Rowan’s grasp of “magic”. Because he knows so much more about science than she, he tends to be a bit overbearing with her. Just because she doesn’t have the background Will has, certainly does not mean that she is without the ability to infer and deduce. After all, her whole life has been about the quest for knowledge – a true addict.

Unfortunately the next book in this series has not come out yet. Aaaargh. Please, Kirstein! We need the next installment! I love the intelligence and wit of Rosemary Kirstein. She actually expects me as a reader to think and doesn’t divert my attention with loads of sex and violence. Sex and violence can be fun, but this is sooooo much more thrilling.