The Novice

“The Novice” by Matharu Taran published by  Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group is a fantasy novel set in a world of magic, fear, and war where one commoner discovers, by accident his ability to ”summon” demons, a rare and valued power in his world. The cover of the book is intriguing and has the illustration of a teenage warrior. The warrior has a sword strapped to his back and his face is half hidden by the hood of his heavy brown coat. ‘The Novice’ is the first book in the thrilling series called ‘The Summoner’. The series revolves around the adventures and deeds of  Fletcher and the plot is like an incarnate spider web, weaved together extremely smoothly and yet filled with jarring plot twists. The cover shows our heroine standing tall with swords at her back and death in her eyes which goes well with her new status as King’s Champion.

The series revolves around the adventures and deeds of  Fletcher and the plot is like an incarnate spider web, weaved together extremely smoothly and yet filled with jarring plot twists.It starts with Fletcher in his small village called “Pelt” where we are introduced to his arch-enemy, a spoilt rich kid named Didric. The enmity leads to a fight when an old soldier refuses to sell Dedric a book about the ‘battlemages’ and is then seen talking to Fletcher. However, Fletcher and his friend win and as a token of gratitude, Fletcher is given demon but due to his enmity with Dedric he has to leave Pelt, as a fugitive with only the gifts his adopted father has been able to give him and a little money. He makes it to the city and after an attack by some unsavory characters, he is rescued by one who teaches “summoners” how to control their powers, so that maybe able to gain the status of battlemages and join the war against “orcs”. Then he befriends a dwarf, along with the other commoners and after a bit of initial strife, Fletcher also becomes a friend to the lone elf in the academy. Then the friends train hard for the end of the year tournament but a rivalry with the nobles, an accident, plots against dwarves and elves and much more keeps getting in their way. The book is a series of twists and reveals one after the other.

Othello and Sylva develop as characters just as Fletcher does as they the three face obstacles and plots together along with their other friends. Fletcher turns from a lowly blacksmith’s adopted son to a determined person who always tried to help his friends and uses his intelligence to get himself places. Arcturus is another character who plays a major role, a teacher who always looks out for Fletcher and thinks of him as family. Other characters include the nobles who usually look down on everything and others teachers like Captain Lovett who always helps her students and Rook, a biased man who favors nobility and tried to pull commoners, dwarves, and elves down.

The side characters too are extremely well developed in most cases and the writing style simply flows. The scenes are vivid and realistic, especially the fighting scenes in the tournament which are vividly described and you can almost feel, taste and smell the same things the characters do. You do not only see things through Fletcher’s eyes, you even feel the way he does. It is almost like walking around in his skin.

Emotionally the book is a roller coaster. The history of this fictional world is extremely well developed and helps charcter development.

Interesting incidents tend to include Fletcher’s fight with Didric when he leaves the Pelt and how his demon responded to him and the memory which his demon Ignatius, named so for his power of breathing fire, shows Fletcher. Captain Lovett’s huge part in the story despite her being unconscious almost the entire time and Fletcher’s mysterious origins never fail to interest the reader.

At a glance the book might not hold any message but on a deeper level it talks about determination and friendship. It talks about mistakes and manipulations and how progress and change are hindered by those who look only for their own gain. It is a tale that teaches one to move on from their mistakes, and help makes the world a better place. It has a message which is vital in the modern world, it says stand up for what is right and it shows how we all have to pay for our follies, despite how far we run and how much we change.

Apart from being an extremely interesting read, the book is an example of exemplary writing and the raw emotions it holds makes it a page turner which will never cease to shock and jar the reader and one of those books which keep you thinking long after you have turned the last page. It is a book that will appeal to anyone who likes to read about mysterious worlds, wars and interesting heroes who start the same as any normal human being and make grievous and sometimes even murderous mistakes but in the end manage to become a better person and help their friends and reach great heights.

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