Let me start out by saying I have a difficult relationship with Trudi Canavan’s books. I feel like they have their ups and downs. Because even though I loved the Black Magician series, I really struggled through the first one. And even though I’ve enjoyed most of her other books, I was bored stiff in Thief’s Magic. So I entered this book with trepidation, wondering if it was gonna be hit or miss. In the end, it turned out to be slap bang in the middle: not terrible, but not great either.
First off, I’ll admit it had a solid plot and had decent world-building. That being said, it felt pretty samey- because it wasn’t anything I hadn’t seen before. Especially from Canavan. Because let’s face it, after a while you get used to a writer’s style- especially when you’ve read 8 of their other books.
And this book was true to Canavan’s form in every way. The style of magic involved the usual: mind reading powers, telepathy, passing on memories etc. The villains: dark and mysterious foreigners. The main character: the perfect hero with unbelievable powers, the special snowflake in a position of privilege, who somehow saves the day (just like Sonea). It’s nothing I haven’t seen before- especially from Canavan. This repetition wouldn’t have been such a bad thing- as I said, this formula clearly works for me, cos I already like a lot of Canavan’s work.
But in this case, I just couldn’t connect to the main character. Auraya just didn’t feel real. Not only do I not buy her devotion to the gods, I don’t buy her wishy washy tolerance of Dreamwalkers (it came across as patronising, a bit like saying “oh I think you’re going to hell, but that’s a-okay with me- I’m only judging you an acceptable amount”). The flaw in her characterisation was mainly due to the fact we don’t get to see her develop into a priestess, we don’t get to see her struggle, and I didn’t feel like she really developed at all (except to get even more powerful and Special-with-a-capital-S). Honestly, she wouldn’t have been able to carry the plot on her own.
It was a relief, then, that there were so many excellent tertiary characters. If not for them the book would have fallen flat. Emerahl, Leiard, Tryss- all of them were wonderful, intriguing and had complex. I simply loved reading about them and would eagerly wait for Auraya to bugger off so I could enjoy their stories.
Above all, however, what will keep me reading this series is the intriguing backstory to the war of the gods and the demise of the Dreamweavers. It may not be riveting- yet– but I’m certainly intrigued. Needless to say, Canavan’s discussion of free will and religion has a lot of promise- I won’t be giving up on the series just yet. I guess I will have to wait and see.
The Rating: 3/5 bananas
Have you read any of Canavan’s work? What do you think of it? And what do you think about author’s getting samey- have you had this problem before?