I received this book for free from author review pitch in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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 loved the beginning where we see how Fletcher lives and how he came to be. It gave me a sense of where he was coming from and what point in his life we’re about to take part in. The writing is excellently detailed especially when Taran describes a setting and scene. It felt like I was dropped into that world. Even though this is a young adult novel, I thought the setting and the experiences were more targeted towards a middle grade audience. He talks more like a twelve year old child than a teenager.
Tons of similarities to the Lord of the Rings, Golden Compass, Ender’s Game, and Pokemon, The Novice isn’t bringing anything new to the fantasy genre. I was hoping for a whole new world world filled with new creatures and races, but it felt too similar to other books I have read. Orcs, dwarves, elves, humans? Sound familiar? Also the Demon companionship was too similar to the Daemons in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The writing is good, but it’s also weakened by the modern dialogue and the lack of a central story.
I kept trying to wonder what the plot was..Was it Fletcher trying to prove himself to his adoptive father? Was it him beating the school bullies? Was it winning the tournaments? I liked it, but I had trouble getting into it and promptly stopped reading to pick up another book in the meantime. It doesn’t have that stickiness quality that other fantasy books bring. When you’re wanting to know what happens next and you definitely don’t want to stop reading but you have to because it’s so late into the night. This didn’t have it. I couldn’t remember how many times I stopped reading it so I extended my reading duration by a week when I can usually finish a book within two days or so. Maybe it had something to do with the tiny tiny font size?
What is the setting supposed to be? They have guns, but are also living in a renaissance like world? I didn’t understand it. Was it a modern setting or was it something earlier? There were too many holes and not enough story to fill it in.
Overall, I think this is a good start, but I needed something to keep me glued to the pages and the biggest thing that was lacking was a major story-line. Hopefully things will be answered in the next book if I’m still interested in it, I might still pick it up.