Title/Author: Novice (Summoner #1) by Taran Matharu
Publisher/Date published: Feiwel & Friends, May 5th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: 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.
So there are a lot of elements that reminded me of different book series/tv series/games in Novice, and I think it will get mixed reactions because of that. It didn't bother me in the slightest and just made me have 'awwww' moments!
Like a lot of fantasy heroes, Fletcher starts out as a normal peasant boy, who doesn't really know where exactly he came from, and then he discovers he's actually a magically gifted person. He's been taken in as an infant by a blacksmith, who has raised him as his own and is basically a truly good person. Then he gets his hands on a mage's book and actually summons a demon, which is the CUTEST EVER. I mean, SERIOUSLY. If you've met Ignatius, you will be squeeing over him along with me. He's basically a combination of Pascal (from Tangled) and Mushu (from Mulan, mostly because of firebreathing options) and I WANT ONE OK? He's awesome. You could just read this for Ignatius alone, but the rest of the book was so much fun as well!
I liked Fletcher, I liked that he's openminded about dwarves and elves and is trying to build bridges and turns out to be a true friend to those close to him. I also like that he's got courage. I mean, he dives headfirst into some potentially dangerous situations because he's trying to save someone and when you encounter stuff like this you really don't have a lot of time to consider your options. I also liked that while he's a quick learner when it comes to training as a mage, but not everything comes naturally to him.
I totally loved the worldbuilding! I mean, all the different types of demons and what they and the mages can do and the whole political system is just YES! And also, there's a magical boarding school, which is one of my favourite things to read about if done well. And in The Novice, it is done well.
So there are recognizable themes from Lord of the Rings, with the whole Elves and Dwarves and Orcs thing, but well, it doesn't bother me, cause I kinda consider LOTR a classic when it comes to the genre and we don't blame authors for having similar themes to Jane Austen's in romance novels either. Also, there's the 'gotta catch 'em all' feeling of Pokémon, with even a demon who's called Vulpid and sounds EXACTLY like Vulpix, which I had a LOL moment over with one of my friends who was also reading it. And there's how the connection to the demons reminded me a bit of His Dark Materials. And also, Harry Potter for obvious reasons.
But seriously, none of that mattered to me, or rather, it did in a GOOD way, because I LOVE all these elements and I felt that there was enough originality for me to totally love Novice. I loved Taran Matharu's writing and breezed through this book! It felt like a breath of fresh air, it was just so much fun to read! This is one series that I'm very excited to continue!
Also: can we just focus on the awesomeness that is the cover for a bit? SO PRETTY!
So basically, I'm saying that if you're like me and love yourself some fantasy novel with magical boarding school and ADORABLE creatures, you should definitely pick this up. Like, now.
My rating: 5 stars