ARC Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu

May 5, 2015 Review 26 ★★★

ARC Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu
The Novice by Taran Matharu
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Hatchette
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 368
Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Series: Summoner #1
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Enter an immersive fantasy world where one boy's ability to summon demons will change the fate of an empire ... Book 1 in the epic SUMMONER trilogy from Wattpad sensation Taran Matharu.

Fletcher was nothing more than a humble blacksmith's apprentice, when a chance encounter leads to the discovery that he has the ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, he must travel with his demon to the Vocans Academy, where the gifted are trained in the art of summoning.

The academy will put Fletcher through a gauntlet of gruelling lessons, training him as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire's war against the savage orcs. Rubbing shoulders with the children of the most powerful nobles in the land, Fletcher must tread carefully. The power hungry Forsyth twins lurk in the shadows, plotting to further their family's interests. Then there is Sylva, an elf who will do anything she can to forge an alliance between her people and Hominum, even if it means betraying her friends. Othello is the first ever dwarf at the academy, and his people have long been oppressed by Hominum's rulers, which provokes tension amongst those he studies alongside

Fletcher will find himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with nothing but his demon Ignatius to help him. As the pieces on the board manoeuvre for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands ...

I received this book for free from the source listed above in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

bec (2)

When I first saw THE NOVICE on various people’s blogs I knew I had to read it, based just on the cover alone. Then I read the summary and wanted it even more.  THE NOVICE ended up being exactly what I expected: a  fun, short fantasy featuring elves, dwarves, magic, orcs, and DEMON COMPANIONS.

The writing of THE NOVICE is reminiscent of middle grade novels. Not terribly complicated sentences or descriptions that are very easy to understand. It’s simple but it flows really well and is so, so easy to read. It reminded me of THE FALSE PRINCE (but less twisty) or THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL (but the characters weren’t quite as well developed). Despite the writing style the characters are fifteen (I often thought they were younger) and there’s quite a bit of violence described in decent detail so I’m confused about the target audience for it (maybe young YA??).

A lot of the novel is spent following Fletcher as he studies at the Vocans Academy to become a battlemage. There’s a fight here and there but overall THE NOVICE  isn’t terribly fast paced. I didn’t mind this though. I was more than happy enough to learn about the demons and the world. There are themes of oppression and the fight for equality (the dwarves and elves are thought of as sub human) which weren’t explored as fully or as well as in some other books I’ve read. Things picked up in the last part, when the tournament was held, but that’s about it. I am hoping for some more action and suspense in the sequel.

Another thing that could have been developed further was the characters. They’re interesting enough, but still felt like cardboard cut outs that didn’t really go through much development. I had issues with the nobles in particular. Every single one is written to be snobby and a horrible person, and the couple that seemed somewhat decent were only mentioned once or twice which was a big shame. It would have been nice to see some of them be different and prove to the commoners that they weren’t all terrible people.

Overall, THE NOVICE was a really nice, fun fantasy. The writing style was simple and easy to read. Everything flowed fairly well and the story progressed quickly. I loved reading about the demons and the world, but wasn’t such a fan of the bland characters. Even so I definitely plan on picking up the sequel when it comes out because I have a feeling a lot of the things I wanted in THE NOVICE might start developing then. I’d recommend THE NOVICE to people looking for a nice, short, simple fantasy to pass the time.

Rating Report
Overall: 3.1

26 Responses to “ARC Review: The Novice by Taran Matharu”

    • Bec

      The demon companions are so cute and interesting! I wish we’d gotten more of them. Hopefully we get more of them (and a faster plot and things) in the next book :)

  1. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    Yup, this one sounds right up my alley too, as soon as I started seeing it around, I knew I had to read it. I especially like that it’s short and an easy read since I have the need for that from time to time – especially after reading an epic fantasy or two ;) Hopefully the character development will step up a notch in the sequel(s) though!
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…ARC Review: The Wrath & The Dawn

    • Bec

      It was a bit strange readng a short fantasy! It’d be a nice break book between some of the bigger fantasies.

  2. Joy // Joyousreads

    I was looking forward to reading this one, but after reading your review, not so much. I don’t know if I can get into something that reads like MG. And I don’t really know why I wanted to read it in the first place. I mean, I’m not into fantasy to begin with. Lol. I think the cover got to me. Lol.
    Joy // Joyousreads recently posted…[519]: Galgorithm by Aaron Karo

    • Bec

      Yeah it was more MG than I was expecting :/ I might have liked it even more if it was darker/more YAish. Still, it wasn’t bad. And that cover is awesome, who can blame us for being drawn to it.

  3. Andreea

    Great review! The cover is really gorgeous, I agree. And the story sounds fun. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  4. Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind

    Hmm… it’s interesting to see your point of view especially since I just finished reading a rave review of The Novice. They mentioned it was an easy read too, but not that it felt like it was geared more towards young YA or even felt the characters were young. The development of characters is probably one of the most important aspects of a book so that’s a problem… I don’t like typical behavior with all characters too like with the nobles. I just think there is more to a person’s personality or back story that would need to be explored. Thanks for your thoughts Bec (:
    Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind recently posted…Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson

    • Bec

      I can see why that other person may have liked it. There were just things that annoyed me (like the bland characters), but other than that it was really enjoyable.

  5. Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes

    Demon companions? Sign me up. But it reads slightly younger? Hmmm, that’s not technically a bad thing, as it means the reading pace will probably be quick, but… I’m interested to pick this book up. It sounds fairly interesting, though the lack of character development is putting me off because characters are so important to me. Great review, Bec!
    Mallory @ The Leaning Tower of Tomes recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday — Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

  6. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    This seemed a bit youngish for my taste so I didn’t go out of my way to request a copy. While it sounded interesting, I just knew it wasn’t for me. I’m glad it wasn’t a disappointment, though, even though it read like a middle grade.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…Review: Out of Control

    • Bec

      I’ve read some really good middle grade novels so it wasn’t much of a turn off for me, but I did think that with the characters being 15 it would read like it was for a slightly older audience.

    • Bec

      The cover is awesome! And semi-accurate too. The story was pretty original overall, I’m just really sad about the characters. They had such potential.

      Thanks :D

    • Bec

      Not being horrible is a great plus XD It is a really good book to pass the time if you’re bored without much else to do.

      Thanks :)

    • Bec

      The writing was younger and more simplstic than I was expecting which was a massive shame. I hope my review didn’t completely destroy your excitement about it. You never know, you may love it!

    • Bec

      The False Prince had some good twists! I need to continue that series. This was… not as good, but still not completely horrible. It’s hard to describe haha.

  7. Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger

    I like the idea of an adventurous but easy to read fantasy. Not something that happens often for me. I doubt I’ll ever read this, but it is fun to hear your thoughts! I like the idea of a world with elves. Especially if they’re shorter than me ;)
    Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger recently posted…Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss

    • Bec

      It is a really cool world! The elves, unfortunately were tall. But the dwarves on the other hand were tiny (or maybe I just had LOTR on my mind and misinterpreted all the things haha)

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