While ‘The High Lord’ is not my favourite of the trilogy, as the concluding part it is a brilliant book. There are times that I’m disappointed by the conclusion of a trilogy, but ‘The Black Magician’ trilogy ends superbly. The build-up of the sinister story behind the High Lord’s activities in ‘The Magicians’ Guild’ and ‘The Novice’ come to fruition in a spectacular fashion.
Canavan great skill in this trilogy is that she has built up over two books a character, The High Lord, who you really do not sympathise with in the slightest, until Canavan actually reveals his back story and the reasons for why he is doing everything he has been to Sonea and her friends. It is all very much to protect them from their own naivety about how safe their world really is from the dangers posed to them by Black Magic.
The way in which magic is treated by the author throughout the entire series is another one of the reason why I love the books so much. In Tolkien and Brooks, magic is quite a limiting power, and in some cases is not even considered to be magic by those that use it. In the ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, Galadriel is confused by Frodo referring to her powers as magic; to her it is simply just part of her existence. In Canavan’s world magic has connections to healing, science and to battle.
I first read the books as a teenager, and it was a much more diverse creation than I had ever encountered in fantasy before. It is still an inspiration for me as a writer now, and as a reader all the different ways in which magic is utilised is fascinating, especially the differences in social attitudes towards how magic is expected to be used by different social classes.
For Sonea, healing is the very best use of magic, as it is something that is actually beneficial for people. She also appreciates the way in which magic can be used to make stunning architecture. These types of magic are the ones that are utilised the most by the upper classes because they can afford to pay for it and expect the magician’s guild to be there at their beck and call. Making healing available for all though is something that Sonea is determined to see happen. Exploring the ways in magic can be beautiful and can be beneficial for all contrasts and compliments all the horrid ways in which magic can be used as well.
The problems and prejudices that Sonea faces throughout the books comes to a head in the third book, because everyone needs to band together in order to protect themselves from the threats that the High Lord had been trying to protect them from for years. The fact though that the High Lord and Sonea have been exiled from the Magician’s Guild only adds to the tension in the book, and Canavan’s masterful way of irritating the reader with stubborn characters who refuse to listen to reason is skilled. There is nothing more satisfying than the moments when you get to shout ‘I told you so’ at a book, and Trudi Canavan’s ‘The Black Magician’ series has plenty of those.
I couldn’t recommend them more, because they do provoke such strong emotional reactions in the reader, purely because you care about the characters she has created and can be lured so easily into her world that you can escape ours for a bit. There might be the odd uncomfortable topic found there that reflects the harsh reality of our world, but if a book is too sugar-coated you actually find you can’t believe it.