Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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
The Novice is the first installment in Taran Matharu's Summoner Trilogy. The Novice features 15-year old Fletcher Wulf, who as a baby, was orphaned and dropped off at the gates of Pelt. Master Berdon's heart was big enough to take a chance on the boy with unknown origins and a desire to prove himself. Fletcher tries hard to keep his head down, while working hard and saving enough money so that he can purchase a made from scratch jacket he can use for hunting.
He is constantly teased and bullied, yet he keeps a quiet persona even when facing backlash by the noble born. But, after an old soldier comes to Pelt with a story about demons and summoners and orcs, Fletcher uses the book to unexpectedly summon a very rare demon (Salamander) who he will later call Ignatius. Caught between a rock and a hard place thanks to his demon attacking his nemesis, Fletcher flees and ends up at Vocan's Academy thanks to the quick thinking of Captain Arcturus, an instructor at the school.
Taran's world is not unlike that of the Lord of the Rings. There are humans, orcs, dwarves, elves, goblins, and gremlins. Humans are under constant attack by the Orc's and are looking for alliances with the other races not at war with them. Humans in turn, use summoners and demons to hold back the tide of Orcs and their allies the gremlins. Humans and Orcs have been at war for 2,000 years, and now, dwarfs and elves are being allowed to train in the halls of Vocan's. Fletcher is about as far from being a racist, or a bigot as you can get.
He befriends dwarf Othello and his family, and later elf Sylva even though she has her own people to think about. Novice is a very entertaining story and I adore Fletcher. This is a world that is intentionally separated into commoners, and noble born. Yet, commoners down back down from proving themselves just as skillful as the nobles. There is a bit of darkness to the story as well. There has to be when you are taking first year students and shoving them out to fight to save the country.
After learning that he has the ability to summon, and excels at other areas as well, Fletcher knows that if he can win the yearly tournament, he will pretty much have it made. Life at Vocan isn't necessarily easy. Fletcher finds that he has entered a world where family feuds, underhanded alliances, and just straight up racism by humans against Dwarves, is the norm. Fletcher is not one to bang his chest and yell ME TARZAN, and you bow to me now! He has a very interesting demon in Ignatius who sticks with him through the good times and the bad, and friends who will watch his back.
Novice was such an entertaining read, that I quickly gobbled it up and moved onto the sequel called The Inquisition. Naturally, there are reasons for my jumping from one book to the other. The first reason is that Taran just tore my heart out and tossed it into the fire. Second, he left Fletcher is such a bad spot, that you have to wonder why on earth he would make him suffer so badly. Even though I waited a year to read this book, I am glad that I did. You tend to remember more when you hope from book to book in a series.
Up next: The Inquisition