Millennium’s Rule #1: Thief’s Magic by Trudi Canavan – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, turns his attention to the first book in an all new series from popular fantasy author Trudi Canavan, Thief’s Magic, the first title in her Orbit-published Millenium’s Rule series, focusing on two characters in entirely different worlds.
“My first Trudi Canavan novel is mostly a success. Smart, well written and compelling Thief’s Magic may not be perfect, but it is one of the better Fantasy books you’ll read this year and I can certainly recommend it.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
In a world where an industrial revolution is powered by magic, Tyen, a student of archaeology, discovers a sentient book in an ancient tomb. Vella was once a young sorcerer-maker, until she was transformed into a useful tool by one of the greatest sorcerers of history. Since then she has been gathering information, including a vital clue to the disaster Tyen’s world faces.
Elsewhere, in a land ruled by the priests since a terrible war depleted all but a little magic, Rielle the dyer’s daughter has been taught that to use magic is to steal from the Angels. Yet she knows from her ability to sense the stain it leaves behind that she has a talent for it, and that there are people willing to teach her how to use it, should she ever need to risks the Angels’ wrath.
Further away, a people called the Travelers live their entire lives on the move, trading goods from one world to another. They know that each world has its own store of magic, reducing or increasing a sorcerer’s abilities, so that if one entered a weak world they may be unable to leave it again. Each family maintains a safe trading route passed down through countless generations and modified whenever local strife makes visiting dangerous. But this is not the only knowledge the Travelers store within their stories and songs, collected over millennia spent roaming the universe. They know a great change is due, and that change brings both loss and opportunity.
Trudi Canavan has always been one of those authors who has been high on my to-read list but someone whose work I’ve never actually read. When Thief’s Magic came around as the start of an exciting looking series with lots of potential I leapt at the chance, and was really glad I did, with the focus split between two characters making this a very good read and something that is most likely going to be one of the strongest fantasy titles of the year. It’s certainly got me interested in reading more of Canavan’s work and I’ll be interested to see where she can take the series from here, with the second book Angel of Storms having an expected publication date of August 2015 according to Goodreads. Needless to say, I will be picking that one up for sure based on the strength of this title.
There are several strong things about this book. The world building is done cleverly and imaginatively – not only do we get one fleshed out world with its laws and settings, but two – for the two main characters that are on offer start in entirely different settings and it’s great to see the creative display of Canavan on offer here as the despite the large attention to world building, the pace doesn’t suffer, with the title managing to be a compelling and enthralling read despite this featuring two likable and sympathetic lead characters who you will be able to get behind.
Firstly we have Tyen, who studies Archaeology. In the process of excavating an ancient tomb he stumbles across a book that’s capable of communication with anyone who can touch it, and with the name of Vella – it gives Tyen a narrative that we follow for most of the book. It’s interesting to see how is character grows and develops over the course of the title and how he struggles with his choice to keep Vella a secret. Like all secrets, even the most well kept ones – they’re bound to come out sooner or later.
It isn’t long before we meet Rielle, and the differences between her world and Tyen’s come quickly. Whilst like Tyen, both of them are unfortunately and annoyingly naive in places, her world doesn’t ban magic and its inhabitants can use it freely. It’s interesting to see how this affects her world and the changes from Tyen’s are fascinating to see, which is great but comes at a cost, because the split between the two characters doesn’t always work. Just when you’re beginning to be invested in Tyen’s story the narrative switches to Rielle and then back again to Tyen, which can become frustrating in places especially as there’s no clear connection between the two characters.
However, if you can put that aside, then you’ll find Thief’s Magic a compelling read and hopefully the sequels will build on what this title has fleshed out for us. It’ll be great to return to this setting for sure and I can despite the problems recommend this book based on the strength of its characters and world building.