book review

Review: The Novice (Summoner #1)

Taran Matharu - The Novice

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.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.

I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine all the fantasy books you’ve read and stick it all in one book. That is pretty much what this book is. It has pretty much all the fantasy tropes imaginable in it and, while tropes aren’t a bad thing, too many of them doesn’t usually go well. And that’s exactly what happened with this book.

The Novice isn’t a bad book, it’s just not particularly new or exciting. If you haven’t read that much fantasy then I’ll happily recommend this book because I think it’s a good introduction to the genre (seeing as it has literally everything in it). However, if you’ve read a decent amount of fantasy in your life, then this book doesn’t really offer anything new. It’s your classic “Boy is an orphan, boy discovers he has magic, boy goes to magic school” with some orcs and demons thrown in. (Yes, I know that’s the summary for Harry Potter, but Harry Potter had an awesomeness that this book doesn’t have).

There were things I liked about the book. There was always plenty going on, and it definitely kept me reading. Although I felt like I’d seen it all before, I did find it quite hard to stop reading. The characters were nice as well. Yes, Fletcher was your typical hero who was pretty good at everything and everybody loved him (and he has the most cliche name for an archer), but I thought the side characters were interesting and I’d quite happily read about them. The world itself was pretty cool too. It was one of the things I liked most and I did think the politics going on were very interesting.

The thing that let this book down was the plot. Yes, it kept me reading, but it wasn’t particularly new or exciting. Now that I’m writing this review, it wasn’t a particularly memorable plot either. I also felt it was influenced a lot by other books, especially when it came to the demons, which were ridiculously similar to those from The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman.

I was really hoping for more from this book, but sadly it didn’t happen. Don’t let me put you off though – there are a lot of people who love this book (according to goodreads), so if you like a bit of fantasy it’s worth trying out.

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