I honestly felt like The Novice was nibbling heavily from all the famous Epic Fantasy classics. Eh, I know, “originality” doesn’t really exist anymore. (It’s all been done, peoples!) But I’m positive there’s always something new you can bring to the table. ALWAYS. And, on top of being cliche, the writing was not brilliant.
BUT! Goodreads tells me, quite firmly, that I’m the minority here! Everyone else is slapping 4 and 5 stars on this book. So! As I always say: if the blurb and premise appeal?! READ IT. (Then come back and discuss it with me, because that’d be terrifically fun.) By the way the cover is gorgeous. I’m in love.
THINGS I FELT WERE TOO OBVIOUSLY “BORROWED” FROM OTHER BOOKS:
- Orcs…specifically the Pale Orc. Isn’t this Tolkien’s thing? Apparently “orcs” must not be coined by him and free for anyone to use…but it just surprised me. Tolkien is a HUGE shadow to frolic under.
- A trio starring: an Elf, a Dwarf, and a Man. OH HELLO TOLKIEN (again). The only deviation is that the elf in their trio is a girl, but I’m sure her locks couldn’t rival Legolas’ anyway.
- Demons. I mean, demons are everywhere and that’s fine and cool…but these ones were SO INCREDIBLY like The Golden Compass‘s version. They basically perched on one’s shoulder in animal form and were equally cute and formidable.
The premise was great, but the execution? Not so much. I was looking forward to a sword-smacking-bow-wielding-demon-growling adventure! But, um, nothing interesting happens in the first 50-pages. We just get to observe the wee lad Fletcher (who uses a bow and ‘scuse me but isn’t that a little too in-your-face?!) get smacked around by the local bully. Good thing Fletcher is “Sir Perfecter Than Thou”. I’m not kidding. His flaw is being too nice. THAT’S NOT A FLAW. I like real characters, with frustrations, quirks, and personality. This book…didn’t really have it.
Plus Fletcher speaks like he just popped out of finishing-school. He’s supposedly raised by a blacksmith and has been taught “basic lettering”. Oh ha ha haaa.
Well, I SAY, good sir. Would you like some posh tea with that inquiry?
But it’s okay! He drops into speaking like an average teenager when he goes to school. To, you know, get an education.
Speaking of talking…I feel odd when a book is supposedly “old-style fantasy” but uses modern speech. I’m not asking for Tolkien long soliloquies! I’m asking for logic. This book uses phrases like “sucker punch” and “OK” and “seriously now”. Which felt so…wrong. There are pistols, so maybe it’s got a Renaissance-vibe, but still — those modern phrases threw me out of the story every. single. time. IT JUST DIDN’T FIT.
And, truthfully? I was bored. None of the characters had personalities. They just DID and ACTED and WERE, but I longed for a spark of life in these pages. Or, you know, wit. Or even interesting food. ANYTHING REALLY. I was so open for something dazzling and…NADA. I had a rough time with this one, okay?!
If you like fantastical adventures in the mood of Rangers Apprentice and The Amulet of Samarkand (minus the humour), with heavy Tolkien and The Golden Compass influences, then definitely give this book a try! There’s action, friendship, schools-of-magic, unlikely heroes and adventure. Also, for kicks, there completely idiotic adults and brainless bullies.
There is boredom if you like interesting characters. OKAY I’LL BE QUIET NOW. It is pretty to look at, so that’s something.
Thank you Hachette AU for the review-copy! The Novice by Taran Matharu was published May 5th, 2015!
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.
okay, so the search for “originality” is like trapping the easter bunny, BUT STILL. do you believe every book should offer something new to the table? (whether in plot or style or voice etc.) or do you think that’s completely unrealistic? have you read The Novice? is it on your TBR?? THOUGHTS?