Title: The Novice
Author: Taran Matharu
Series: Summoner #1
Publication: 5th May 2015 by Hachette Children’s Group
Genre: Fantasy, Teen + YA
Around the Year in 52 Books – An author’s debut novel.
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.
As I read this book, Mark Twain’s famous quote kept running through my mind.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.” – Mark Twain
This book is a mash up of lots of popular ideas, some not really changed at all, added to the interesting, but ultimately not unique, story.
Orphan and blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. He travels to the Adept Military Academy, a school, to learn more about the art of summoning. He is put through training with commoners and nobility, and newly accepted elves and dwarves. They are told that they will be put in a competition against second year students and the winner will receive a promotion in the military.
The demons are essentially Pokemon. Some of the descriptions and names even remind me of Pokemon – but this is probably because they’re both based on mythological creatures rather than blatant stealing eg. Pheonix, Hydra and Hippogriff all come from mythology, hense the links to other series such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. The demons all have skills and can level up. Like Pokemon, they are separate entities to the summoner and can be controlled.
The part where I got frustrated was with the elves, dwarves and orcs. They were stereotypical of their fantasy-races and it was like reading The Hobbit film. The dwarves did the mining and rode on the back of boars. The elves were agile, graceful and rode on the back of giant elks and used bows and arrows. The orcs were the enemies and there was even a large, albino orc with red eyes.
Add on that Fletcher’s an orphan, we all know his parentage will be someone important. Of course the nobility are mean because all rich people must be horrible, only commoners are nice people. A competition against second years and nobility, who have had years of extra practice, I wonder who’s going to win… groan.
I’m sure this author will achieve and write fantastic things in the future but this book was like reading fanfic rather than any original ideas.