Hello Internet. Welcome back for Review #26. This particular book is something lent to me by a friend of mine who deserves to be appreciated for his taste in books. And thanks to him, I now have a new review!
Readers of this blog must realise I can be very negative when the opportunity presents itself. I can (and do quite often) go on long and detailed rants about what really makes a book terrible enough to warrant my undeservedly important attention, and this allows me to both vent my spleen and pick up on some very important facts about writing which some authors fail to notice (much to my despair). But every once in a while (Sturgeon’s Law dictates about 10% of the time), I find something which is truly worth the time and effort expended by me to read it. These kind of books can be either absorbed through one’s eyes, akin to inhaling air into one’s lungs, or fought with to ensure that every single word commits itself to my long-term memory. And this book is one of the latter.
This book has a map in the first few pages. Two of them. And, as a long-term reader may know, this is something which I fangirl (yes, that specific part of me is feminine) over every time I see it. It tells me something about the style of fantasy this particular book is. One where the world-building and mythos of the setting is of utmost importance. One where the reason behind why the country is poor is as important as the effects of said poverty. One where politics are twisted and delicate, and where wars are fought for reasons which are justified. The same style Tolkien used, the same style Rothfuss used, the same style George RR Martin used… You understand it’s not a new genre. Yet opening this book makes me feel like I haven’t read one of these in a long time. Too long.
These types of books, however overly used and clichéd, laid the foundation of my acceptance for most writing worlds. I was already very open to discovering new worlds through the written word, but it wasn’t until I read Tolkien’s The Hobbit (*ding*; 12) that I really first felt thrown into a world which was uniquely alien to my own experiences, and this has opened my eyes to many a different series which I would normally find too heavy for my liking. Space Opera was now something I could revel in, instead of just chewing on and working my way through. Large, universe-spanning works like the House of Suns book by Alistair Reynolds, or even the webcomic Homestuck became more manageable. And The Magician’s Apprentice (*ding*; 13) reminds me of these exploits with a smile, as it is cut from the same cloth as these greats.
One of the greatest things a novel can do is fill you with nostalgia for other novels. They make you look back on the things you’ve read with a smile. However, it is also the worst thing which a novel can do, as you get caught up in your own memories and fail to appreciate the very novel you are reading as a great one. Which I can’t claim I haven’t done with this novel. Which is sad, as it is a great novel it its own right.
The Magician’s Apprentice was published in 2009 by Orbit Books. It can be found on Amazon here.
Yours: J.M. Pear