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The Black Magician Trilogy (and other Trudi Canavan)



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  #21  
Old June 18th, 2010, 7:04 pm
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

I bought the first book recently and loved it - I thought it was a really easy-to-read, old-fashioned fantasy-adventure novel, and can't wait to read the next two (they should be arriving from Amazon any day now...).

The socio-political issues were all, I thought, very central to the book, most particularly the class-prejudice one. Even though it seemed at first to be fairly run-of-the-mill as far as the class-prejudice went ("nasty rich people being nasty to the poor poor people"), once I'd got further into the book I realised that it was actually attempting to show both sides of the coin: when Rothen and Sonea discussed the issue, and seemed to be feeling across the social gulf between them, strengths and weaknesses were revealed on both sides, and the point was raised that perspectives are very different depending on which side of the argument you are on - Rothen and Dannyl were horrified by the level of poverty when they actually went into the slums, but Sonea equally had to learn that the Magicians weren't necessarily as bad as everything she'd heard about them. No one side had the full story, and each had circulated a certain amount of propaganda amongst itself, which is one of the main reasons, I think, why class boundaries (or any kind of social divide) are so difficult to overcome.

It was also conveyed that rich people can't help being born rich any more than poor people can help being born poor, and that no one should therefore be judged simply on the wealth they were born into (what they do with it is obviously another matter). This is something that I had to point out a million times during political debates in the run up to the general election, because it was really annoying me when people's only objection to David Cameron was "He's so posh! He's so rich! He went to Eton and Cambridge!" So what? That's almost as discriminatory as objecting to a politician on the basis of his skin colour! Object to him on the basis of policies and values, if you want, but he really can't help having been born to rich parents, and you can't naturally assume that he'll automatically be elitist because of this (whether he is or not is another debate), any more than Gordon Brown can help being born Scottish, or that you can assume he would automatically cut taxes for scottish people because of this (...I couldn't think of a real argument...). The same is true of the Dwells and the Magicians in this book.

This reminds me somewhat of "Pride and Prejudice" where Elizabeth is as initially prejudiced against Darcy for being rich as his social circle is against her family for being poor (massive over-simplification, and quite inaccurate, I know...But you know what I mean...). I think this gives a far more realistic and three-dimentional picture than the standard, black-and-white, Robin Hood, poor=moral, rich=immoral ideology that can be found in a lot of stories.

But to be honest, I didn't read the book for the socio-political message - I read it and enjoyed it for the story and the characters (I don't do English any more, so I'm allowed to do this...yay! ). I love Cery - he's so sweet!

I'll come back and give my verdict on the other two once I've read them.


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  #22  
Old July 2nd, 2010, 12:51 am
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

Oh...I don't like double posting...makes me feel like I'm hogging the thread...but my last post was two or three weeks ago...

I've now read the second and third book and absolutely LOVED them!

I've already responded about class prejudice, so I'll talk about homosexuality now, as that was a much more prominent theme in, particularly, the second book. I thought the whole Dannyl/Tayend dynamic was fantastically well-written. I was surprised (and pleased) to find myself crossing my fingers and thinking "please be gay, Dannyl! Please be gay, and get together with Tayend! He's so sweet, and he obviously loves you!" With the exception of Dumbledore/Grindelwald relationship (which, as far as we know, was a one-sided attraction) this is the first realistic gay ship I've come across when reading. (It makes me laugh how, in the name of being open-minded, Harry/Draco shippers can conveniently over-look the fact that Harry and Draco...what's the phrase?...hate each other's guts. . As Richard Dawkins said: "There's a thing called being so open-minded your brains drop out" ). The way that homosexuality was viewed by the different cultures was also highly interesting - the Elynes were obviously far more like most modern Western societies (generally very accepting of homosexuals - though there is of course still a long way to go in the battle for gay rights. The Elynes were probably actually more open-minded than many parts of our society (Fundamentalist Christians pop to mind )) The Lonmar were obviously based on strict Islamic culture - their public execution of homosexuals and the treatment of women for example. As far as views on homosexuality are concerned, the Kyralian views ressembled those of modern Western society 50 or more years ago, when it was actually illegal to be homosexual, and an individual could lose everything - their job, their standing in society, etc - if found "guilty" of this "crime".

When I was thinking about how good it was that an author had successfully embedded a gay relationship in a novel, without it being a flashing neon sign (again, I'm thinking Harry/Draco fan-fics ), I did think of what might be the next hurdle to overcome - there is an increasing emphasis on male homosexuality in literature, but I don't think I've ever read a book that even touches on lesbian relationships. Just a thought .

Quote:
(SweetJerry) Also, as a lesbian, I was naturally delighted to find two gay men in a fantasy series. I do feel that they were a bit lamely described as a couple though. ONE little kiss (I mean REAL kiss) would have been nice. It's not that she's terribly graphic with Sonea and Akkarin, really, but they at least are allowed to have truly couply, sweet moments together, even though they're in bloody Sachaka. Dannyl and Tayend DO have more opportunities, and still their behaviour is just a bit too buddy-like. Don't get me wrong, I do like that they are not stereotypal gay men (after all, why should they?) but they don't have to be that to be gentle. Ah, well.
I thought this as well, but then it occurred to me that Dannyl had, after all, only just come to terms with the fact that he was gay, and considering they were worried about people's reactions to them just hugging they may not have kissed during the time the trilogy covered. I also thought that the omission of lots of physical interaction between the couple was a useful way to highlight the emotional relationship - it's very easy to think that a gay man is a man who "desires other men" in the physical sense, but this definition often goes hand in hand with derogatory opinions of such men. Rarely are the emotional sides of the story told, and I thought this was done very well.

As far as feminism is concerned, there is definitely a lot to interpret from a feminist perspective in this trilogy (made considerably easier by the fact that the main protagonist is female). Sonea is implied to be one of the most naturally powerful magicians, and there seems to be no bias in so far as distribution of power between men and women is concerned, and this is also reflected in the fact that women magicians are allowed to fight alongside the men. The sex ratio is somewhat more skewed among the Thieves, though this is realistic for that particular organisation - not saying it should be like that, but this trilogy can be considered feminist without showing perfectly balanced male:female ratios in every walk of life. Showing skewed sex ratios has equal merit. After all, men can't have babies . I picked up lots of feminist stuff, but can't remember it all - suffice it to say that this struck me as a reasonably feminist novel (as opposed to un-reasonably feminist - AKA man-hating - novels that I tend to avoid ). There were I think more aspects of the societies described which could be considered sexist than the world of Harry Potter, but the writing itself, I think, took on a far more feminist tone than it did in HP (though I don't find HP sexist. I'm not a fan of the ultra-fine tooth comb. ) - it addressed, even if only indirectly, this sexism.

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(Melaska) Kyralia ended the Trilogy, as it began, a deeply homophobic country - there was no cheesy, unbelieveable road-to-Damascus moment when the powers-that-be were didactically made to see the error of their ways. Generally I like the way that she managed to highlight and critique the awful flaws of Kyralia - the homophobia, the unfair distribution of wealth, the sexism - and yet still portray it as a very human society-in-progress, where people can still be likeable even if they have some awful ideological views.
I really like the way you worded that - couldn't have done it better myself .

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(SweetJerry) I loved how she made Sonea a really strong character without making an issue of that ZOMG, she can like totally do EVERYTHING a boy can!
Ditto.

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(Secunda) Has anybody any clue why Akkarin didn´t tell Lorlen of his years in sachaka when the first murders happened? I think akkarin´s explanations are not enough.
Because it would involve revealing that he knew black magic? Because he was ashamed of having been a slave? Those are possible answers I think.

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(Mulluane)The ending made me sad but I admit I'm a sucker for a happy ending. The Black Magician trilogy had a realistic ending, which I admired, but I had wished for it to be different.
I'm a fan of the happy ending too, but I didn't think that this was a sad ending - it was bittersweet, and obviously I was gutted Akkarin died, but then again, Sonea's going to have his baby! Rothen, Dannyl, Tayend and Dorrien all survived (although I was heartbroken when Lorlen died ). I don't know if "realistic" can really be used here "In the real world, the magicians would beat the Sachakans, but incur massive losses in doing so" - um...in the real world there are no magicians...Sorry couldn't help it.

Quote:
(Melaska)I know what you mean - I thought the class prejudice stuff was laid on with a trowel at first, but I liked the way that she used shifting viewpoints to explore this issue - just when she's lulled you into thinking it's going to be a book about the triumph of the loveable downtrodden poor over the spoilt, idle rich, you're made to realise that what you've been reading has been biased from the lower-class characters' viewpoints and that, in their own way, they're just as unfair in their assumptions about the upper-class as the upper-class are in their treatment of the poor.

But, yes, there were some upper-crust pantomime villains and some excruciatingly clicheed salt-of-the-earth cheeky chappy types.
I've only just seen this, and realised that it's a much, much more eloquent and succint way of expressing what I said in my last post.

This has been a far longer post than I intended it to be...and OMG it's almost one o'clock in the morning...go to bed, Jess...


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  #23  
Old September 19th, 2010, 10:58 pm
IMANAWizard  Male.gif IMANAWizard is offline
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

I happened along the prequel first before the series and I got to say I wholly enjoyed it. I'm an avid reader of anything with magic in it but I sometimes switch series before I even finish it. That wasn't the case with the Black Magician series I read the all the books as fast I could get my hands on them, even jumped over to The Age of Five.

As for the fact that there were two gay men in it. It didn't bother me at all. As that wasn't the first book I've read with some gay or lesbian people it didn't bother me at all.


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  #24  
Old December 24th, 2010, 6:32 pm
AurayaBlack  Female.gif AurayaBlack is offline
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

I LOVED the series when I read them. I absolutely gobbled them up, but I found it a lot harder with the Age of Five, and I never actually finished book two. :/


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  #25  
Old January 17th, 2011, 12:04 pm
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

I got The Magician's Apprentice and The Ambassador's Mission for Christmas. I don't think either of them was quite as good as the Black Magician Trilogy (and, although I appear to be in a minority of one on this, I still think The Age of Five trilogy is Canavan's best work to date), but they were still a thumping good read, continued to create a detailed and believable picture of an alternative world and to explore meaty social issues without tupthumping, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next two instalments.

I do think, though, that she's now killed off most of the really compelling characters from the first series and the new ones aren't quite as good, especially Lorkin, who's very bland.


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  #26  
Old January 17th, 2011, 5:07 pm
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

I will be buying the first novel of the trilogy in February. I read the description Amazon and some of the reviews. It looks good. Can't wait to read it.


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  #27  
Old March 21st, 2012, 8:49 pm
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Re: The Black Magician Trilogy

Got The Rogue for my birthday and read it more or less in one sitting. Not enjoying the Traitor Spy trilogy quite as much as the Black Magician, but still enjoying it hugely and there are some good characters introduced in The Rogue.


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