Review: The Novice, Taran Matharu

June 17, 2015 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: The Novice, Taran MatharuThe Novice by Taran Matharu
Series: Summoner #1
Published by Hachette on May 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 398
Source: Netgalley
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository

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.


four-stars – An enjoyable YA fantasy involving demon summoners in a Tolkien-esque world. What’s not to like?

Fletcher is an apprentice blacksmith. One day, he is given a strange old book by a passing salesman and suddenly discovers a hidden power. It’s a common trope, and in this case it’s the ability to summon demons while in a graveyard in the middle of the night (as you do).

He travels to the Summoner academy to learn to summon and make use of his demons. It’s quite Hogwarty there, but with a more militaristic feel to it, since there’s currently a war going on against the Orcs, and the teachers have been called in from the front lines for the term.

A war against orcs and goblins, involving elves, dwarves and humans? Sounds a lot like… Well,  like every Tolkien-inspired fantasy out there, but with the demon summoning it really felt a lot like a World of Warcraft fan fiction to me, which is really not a bad thing at all. I actually really enjoyed the Demonology aspects and thought Fletcher’s Imp Salamander sounded adorable!

There were a few things that struck me as weird about the Academy and the story, though. I found the end examination quite baffling: the students, after only one year’s worth of training, are forced to fight each other to earn their commissions. The battles in this book are often quite brutal and the students end up in the hospital often. I also couldn’t understand why so many of the adults were out to get Fletcher.

The Novice is billed as a Young Adult fantasy and does have teenaged characters in it, but the writing style makes it feel younger, almost a middle-grade level. I think a younger crowd would be more than happy to devour this book, as well as a teen (or older) audience. I really enjoyed reading it, but wow, that cliffhanger at the end wasn’t great. I’ll be reading on to find out what happened, though!

Anni lives in Brisbane, Australia with her young family. She loves everything fantasy and science fiction and believes sleep is really very underrated.

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