The Novice by Taran Matharu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.
I've been looking forward to reading The Novice for a while and it mostly lived up to my expectations. I loved getting to know Fletcher, Sylva, and Othello. Fletcher ends up being pretty brilliant in this book. I loved the ideas he came up with for the tournament. This is a pretty standard mage school type book with tension between the students of different races (humans, elves, and dwarves) as well as between the upper and lower classes, with some of the nobles being predictably snooty and mean. However, I was pleased that the book didn't always follow the predictable path. There were a few times I thought the story was going to be predictable and it wasn't.
The thing I liked best about this book were the pet demons that the mages had. From cute little mites that could spy on people to powerful griffons and golems, they were all interesting. I also enjoyed reading the guide about them at the end of the book. The ending was a bit frustrating and it left me really wanting to know what happens next, so I'll definitely be reading more.
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