ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END.
Prepare yourselves for the dramatic and spectacular conclusion to The Black Magician Trilogy.
The High Lord
(The Black Magician Trilogy, Book 3)
Genre: High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 656 Pages
Date: 4th March 2010 (First Published 2003)
When embarking upon a literary trilogy, one always hopes that the third book will “hit the ball out of the park”, metaphorically speaking; that any remaining unanswered questions from the first two instalments are resolved; that all loose ends are tied up. While some trilogies fail to achieve this, The High Lord most certainly succeeds in this regard. The final instalment of The Black Magician Trilogy is a triumph for author Trudi Canavan in every respect.
Readers who make it this far can be assured that by the time they reach the end of The High Lord, they will be in agreement that Trudi Canavan’s highly acclaimed fantasy trilogy has more than earned all the praise that it has garnered over the last decade.
The story begins a year after the conclusion of The Novice, and heroine, Sonea, is now an accepted and respected presence within the Magicians’ Guild. While her circumstances have improved, Sonea remains very conflicted about High Lord Akkarin. Sonea still harbours memories from the previous year when she had returned home to the High Lord’s residence and witnessed Akkarin using black magic to kill a man. Akkarin had told her that this man was an assassin from the land of Sachaka, sent to kill him; an allegedly regular occurrence.
Sonea doesn’t know if she can believe or trust anything the High Lord tells her, and she has no one to confide in. She is not permitted to engage with her former guardian, Lord Rothen, nor is she certain she can go to Administrator Lorlen as she suspects that he may be the serial killer terrorising the streets of Imardin during the night.
It is not long before Sonea’s trust issues in regard to the High Lord are laid to rest, when Akkarin unexpectedly reveals all to her; the truth about what happened to him during the years he was away from Kyralia; how he came to be a practitioner of black magic; the one man war he has been waging against an ancient adversary since his return to the Magicians’ Guild; and the fact that he has essentially been grooming Sonea to assist him in the struggle—and if necessary—take over if he should be killed.
Akkarin and Sonea’s plans are scuppered rather quickly when—in an unexpected turn of events—the High Lord’s dark secret is exposed. The proverbial you-know-what hits the equally proverbial fan, then the story shifts into top gear and becomes a gripping roller-coaster ride that never slows down.
In terms of its narrative, The High Lord is unquestionably the best instalment of The Black Magician Trilogy. As with The Magicians’ Guild and The Novice, the story is always fast moving and engaging; but unlike its more predictable predecessors, The High Lord is full of surprising twists and turns. Furthermore, even though the book “weighs in” at over 600 pages, it is remarkable just how much Trudi Canavan manages to cram into The High Lord. She imparts a great deal of historical information about Kyralia and the Magicians’ Guild; the past magical conflict between Kyralia and Sachaka; the circumstances that lead to the outlawing of “black” magic throughout the allied lands; and so much more.
Once again Trudi Canavan’s ensemble of characters prove to be a highlight, as they have been all throughout the trilogy.
After playing a relatively minor role during the first two books, Akkarin—as the titular High Lord of the novel—finally takes centre stage, and it is a welcome development as he is consistently the most intriguing figure of the trilogy. In Akkarin, Trudi Canavan has created a compelling, yet tragic character who readers won’t be able to help but be moved by.
The trilogy’s protagonist and heroine, Sonea, at last displays a lot of growth as a character. She really comes into her own over the course of The High Lord, and by the end of the novel Sonea is no longer the same teenage girl first encountered in The Magicians’ Guild, and then in The Novice. She becomes a very capable young woman who shows tremendous courage and determination, as well as demonstrating great initiative and resourcefulness.
Sonea’s close friend Cery also plays a much more prominent part, after having a greatly reduced role during The Novice. He is now an influential figure within The Thieves, and a valued ally of High Lord Akkarin in his struggle to defend Kyralia from the Ichani black magicians of Sachaka. Cery’s loyalty to Sonea meanwhile, remains undimmed, even after the realisation that the two of them will never be more than friends. This acceptance allows him to acquire a love interest of his own to soften the blow.
It is a testament to the strength of Trudi Canavan’s characterisation, that the deaths of several prominent and not so prominent characters really hit home; one death in particular is especially gut-wrenching. Some readers may even be disappointed that the one character they would most like to die, manages to escape death.
In conclusion, there are not enough superlatives available to describe just how good The High Lord really is. It is a fantastically satisfying and epic conclusion to a very enjoyable trilogy. You will laugh, you will be enraged, and you will cry; but you will never forget the memorable journey that is The Black Magician Trilogy.
Telling it like it is. Giving you honest and balanced, spoiler free reviews. Completely devoid of irrational fanboyism, or shameless astroturfing.