Series: Summoner, Book 1
Author: Taran Matharu
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Told: Third Person (Fletcher), Past Tense
Content Rating: Teen (violence, some language)
Format Read: ARC (Bibliopunkk)
Find On: Goodreads
Purchase On: Amazon | B&N | 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.
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In a Sentence: A mashup of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings that, as long as you don't mind the stark similarities, I found rather entertaining.
Cover: The cover cannot go unmentioned because it is an accurate representation - coat, demon, weapons, marks. I have never appreciated a cover more!
Setting: A fantasy world with elves, dwarves, orcs, and demons that can be summoned and harnessed from another world. While it smacked of Lord of the Rings because of the fantasy characters and basic universe structure, each race had a few unique qualities that I hadn't come across before. I even liked the dwarves, which has never happened.
Story: This story began like most high fantasies for me, which is to say I had a rather hard time getting into it. I actually almost gave up a few chapters in, but decided to stick with it and soldiered through. I was soon rewarded, but in the familiar form of Harry Potter as orphan Fletcher, suddenly discovering he has powers, ends up enrolled in a school of magic. Around the same time, the world soon came into focus as one not unlike that of Lord of the Rings, relationships strained between the humans, dwarves, and elves, and all struggling against the vicious orcs. I will admit that at first the similarities were a little too stark, and even after I accepted them they continued to nag at me throughout the book. But since I hadn't read either of the popular series in such a long time (and missed Harry Potter something fierce), I eventually found the similar story and characters a passable substitute and let myself be entertained.
Characters: The cast was made up of an interesting and unique bunch of characters, even as they reminded me of similar characters from Harry Potter. Fletcher was fiercely loyal to his friends and his beliefs, and once he made up his mind about both there was little that could change it. He fought with his whole heart and never considered easier, more tempting paths - he did what he thought was right and never looked back. He was like every strong hero before him and yet not quite like any one in particular, and I found him worth following and rooting for no matter what.
Romantic Relationship: There was no romance, which I found highly refreshing - not every YA has to have romance, although most seem to feel the need to add it whether it quite fits or not. I'm sure we'll get some romance in future books, though.
Writing: A little more dense than I usually like, but probably a lot less dense than normal high fantasies. The description was easy to picture and the movement relatively easy to follow.
Conclusion: Similarities to popular fantasy series aside, I found this an entertaining read and recommend it for fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings (and possibly Percy Jackson) that are looking for a similar fix and don't mind how close it gets. This is the first in a trilogy, and after the cliffhanger ending I'll be interested in continuing Fletcher's magical adventures in the next book, The Inquisition (May 2016).
For Fans Of: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson