Tag Archives: Trudi Canavan

Canavan, Trudy: The High Lord (The Black Magician III) (2010)

The High Lord - 7 covers
Top left: French cover
Top 2 left: French cover
Top 2 right: Cover art by Matt Stawicki
Top right: Turkish cover
Bottom left: Indonesian cover
Bottom center: Cover art by Les Petersen
Bottom right: Russian cover

My son and I recently finished reading The Black Magician trilogy together. What he discovered is that sometimes favourite characters die. He felt that was kind of cruel of Canavan. It is one thing when the bad guys die, but good guys (especially ones you really like)? Oh, well. It is unlikely this is the last time he experiences this. Despite that, he really enjoyed himself during our adventure. As did I.

The High Lord answers all our questions about why Akkarin uses black magic. It also shows us that the powers that be sometimes make long-term decisions that are seemingly wise at the time but turn out to be bad for future generations. Accidental deaths can cause a lot of trouble down the road.

I’m still impressed with Sonea. I think that growing up rich and powerful blinds you to the reality that most people live under. Peggy McIntosh discusses this phenomenon in her White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack. Sonea growing up in the slums has made her aware of the harsher sides of life and made her more open to the possibility that status quo must change. Even Rothen and Dannyl, who are open-minded for wizards, fail to understand exactly how privileged they are.

My dad grew up under extremely difficult conditions. His mom was a paranoid schizophrenic and his dad disappeared after he had enjoyed German hospitality in prison camp. Torture got the better of him and alcohol was used to self-medicate. That left my dad as the responsible person at home from a very young age. His mom did her best, but, you know, being a paranoid schizophrenic without access to medication does not help in creating stability for your children. My mom’s childhood sucked as well. Her dad was an alcoholic and her mom worked her tail off to provide for them. When my mom has told me what it was like to drag a drunk dad up three stairs to get him inside the apartment – after he had pretty much spent his earnings on booze – well, I wonder how she made it????

But that childhood made them into pretty awesome people who have always been concerned with the greater good. They turned what could have made them bitter into something that helps others each and every day (even when they are now ancient =) ). Like Sonea, not all of their decisions have been wise. But like Sonea, what they have done is try to be true to the motto of “not doing unto others what you would not like to have them do unto you”.

Sonea grew up without her parents but was fortunate enough to get to live with her aunt and uncle. This is probably what saved her (and the rest of the city). Her hunger, poverty, the Purge, being bullied by the other novices and being suspected of everything “bad” by the adult wizards did not stop her from being true to her own values. Sonea’s situation is in no way unique in the world (except for the magic that is). Poverty, war, captivity, orphanhood and homelessness are all part of the lives of a huge amount of children and adults. That people are actually able to rise above their experiences and make the world a better place is amazing. Yet people do it all the time – just like my parents have. Which is why I find Sonea utterly believable. Her decisions regarding Akkarin seem inevitable and sensible considering the kind of person she is.

Sonea and The High Lord_by_ceara_finn24-d27a8o2
Picture photoshopped by Lauren Kelly Small

Tayend is my other favorite person of this story. He is our lad from Elyne. While homosexuality was not accepted in Elyne, homosexuals were not persecuted. Unlike Dannyl’s experience in Kyralia. Being a fan of the underdog, I would have thought that Dannyl would be the one to appeal the most to me. But Tayend has an innocence about himself that seems true. When that innocence is challenged, as it is in The Novice, Tayend rises to the occasion. He is loyal to Dannyl, in love with Dannyl and willing to avoid meeting with Dannyl if that is what it takes to protect him from the wrath of the magician’s guild. I wish I could have gotten to know him better.

Cery is back and this time he finds himself with a mysterious customer who seems willing to help him find whatever Sachakans arrive at Imardin. She turns out to be different from what he had originally thought, and that causes friction. But Savara still manages to be of assistance to Cery when he needs her help most. Who to trust or who not to trust when you are a Thief, that is the question.

Reading The Black Magician trilogy with my son was my third time through the series and I still had fun and learned new things about myself and the world.

In The High Lord Trudy Canavan gifted me with really fun words to read. During part of the book she had used the words Sachaka, Akkarin and Takan a lot. My mouth was having so much fun saying those sounds. Sometimes it is really awesome to be an autist (aspergian).


  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 1841499625
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841499628

My review of:

  1. The Magician’s Guild
  2. The Novice


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

Canavan, Trudi: The Magician’s Guild (Black Magician I) (2001)

Magician's Guild - 6 different covers
Various artists for the 6 different covers:
Les Petersen: bottom centre
Steve Stone: top centre
Matt Stawicki: top right

As far as I can tell, The Magician’s Guild has been published in 3 different English dialects and 15 other languages. That is impressive.

My son and I read the UK version of the The Magician’s Guild. As the reader I worked a bit harder with The Magician’s Guild than I have on my last few audio-jobs for my son. As the readee, my son seemed pleased with my job.

Sonea is somewhere around the age of 17 when we meet her. Her mom is dead and her dad has run off. Thankfully, she had her sister’s mother (Jonea) and Jonea’s husband who stepped in to take care of Sonea. They were part of the dwell society and at the point that Sonea’s mother died they lived in the slums. In the time since they managed to make their way into the Outer Circle of Imardin. There the three lived and worked out of a one room flat. Things were looking up for them. Then life did what life does and hit them in the face.

Before the threesome had moved behind the walls of the Outer City The city of Imardin - Trudi Canavan - Magician's GuildSonea was running with one of the gangs (Harrin’s gang) and had learned to pick pockets and steal. Several of the kids in Harrin’s gang are homeless kids who look upon the gang as their home. One of Sonea’s best friends, Cery, is such a kid. His father was killed by the Thieves for breaking trust with them.

Harrin, Cery and Sonea are one half of the equation of The Magician’s Guild. They bring in people to help them, but in essence the story is about them – and especially about Sonea.

The other half, of course, is about the Magician’s Guild. They have the food, the wealth, the king’s approval and magic. Like most privileged people the magicians are comfortable with status quo and reluctant to share their goods with “less worthy people”.

Compared with the rest of the world I am probably somewhere in the top 20% when it comes to privileges (in spite of being a woman). Being a woman lowers me somewhat but this is what I have going for me: I am of Norse blood living in Norway. I have a college degree and am married to a man who has a university degree. He is well-paid. I am not – due to health issues. We live in a country that assures that all of its citizens have free health-care, free education and are assisted if they should fall on hard times. Our home isn’t stylish or up-to-date but it is largish and warm during the winter. We always have plenty to eat. In other words, we have lucked out in the lottery of life.

What this means for me, is that I have to make some kind of effort to keep the other 80% in mind. Then I have to make even more of an effort to try to be of constructive assistance. It would be much more comfortable to pretend that the other 80% did not exist and that I had no responsiblity for the lives of other people on this planet of ours. But I know life is all about luck, nothing more. So I don’t have a choice.

The Magicians are at the point where they are going to be made aware of the dwells as something more than cockroaches to be stepped on once a  year during the Purge. Sonea is the tool to make it so. Discovering that there is one among the dwells whose powers are so strong that these powers have manifested all by themselves is going to change the opinion of some of the Magicians, frighten others and cement the prejudices of the rest.

Good luck, Sonea! You are going to need both it and loads of hard work to even begin to make an imprint in the sceptical attitudes of most of the magicians of the Guild.


Phantastik Award

Winner: Gilde der schwarzen Magier 1: Die Rebellin
Bester internationaler Roman 2007