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The Novice by Taran Matharu ARC {3.5 Stars}

The Novice by Taran Matharu is the first in a new young adult fantasy series staring magic, dwarves, elves, a white orc uniting the other orcs, and demons that magic users can collect and battle with! I can’t help but describe The Novice as a combination of Harry Potter (magic school), Pokemon (catch the critters!), and World of Warcraft (all the fantasy races!). The Novice started a little slow and reads pretty young for young adult, but is a light and fast fantasy if you are in the mood to have fun.

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Novice from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Novice by Taran Matharu ARC {3.5 Stars}

The Novice by Taran Matharu (Summoner #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 398 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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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.

3.5 Stars


  • You can just make out one of the magical “demons” on the cover on Fletcher’s left shoulder. Demons come in apparently endless varieties and pretty much all of the typical fantasy critters are represented from crazy cat things to little bugs to lizards that can breathe fire! If you’re a fan of fantasy animals, The Novice is for you. Now I’m just waiting for the collectible action figures to start showing up ;-).
  • I don’t read a lot of fantasy with all the traditional fantasy races anymore, so The Novice was a fun bit of nostalgia to encounter dwarves and elves and orcs again. I really did feel like I was back playing WoW at times, ha.
  • The Novice really shines in the friendship department. Fletcher makes new friends pretty quickly and establishes himself as a friend that can be counted on. The strength of his friendships becomes really important to the plot, which is always nice to see.
  • If you are looking for a fun and light summer read, The Novice is perfect. I read it in a day once I actually got into it, and never found myself bored or distracted. It’s like popcorn :D.
  • I put a lot of weight into plot twists that actually surprise me, so I was happy when The Novice didn’t perfectly follow the plot I anticipated and threw in a few twists despite its lighter tone.


  • A lot of information is explained in The Novice via dialogue to the point that it felt pretty stiff and artificial. How many teens are going to start reciting a textbook to their new friends?
  • The Novice covers an entire school year despite its size and does so generally through time slips that came off as a bit strange to me. All of a sudden a month would pass by when I wasn’t anticipating it and I would have to play catch up mentally.
  • The dwarves in The Novice have cultural aspects clearly borrowed from Islam where the women wear head scarves to hide their face to all but their family in order to marry for love instead of physical attraction. It seemed really awkward to me that this fantasy race had such a clear pull from a religion.
  • I’m really not a fan of modern phrases being used in fantasy that is supposed to take place before electricity in a different world, so I was thrown out of the story a few times by teen slang phrases that just didn’t fit.
  • Let’s be honest here, The Novice does not have a very original setting with very typical dwarves, elves and orcs and a freaking white orc organizing the feuding orcish tribes. Oh and of course humans must save the day because we’re awesome. I just get bored with this sort of over-used fantasy world these days.


The Novice is a fast and light fantasy, perfect for summer reading. If you like the idea of capturing fantasy critters ala Pokemon, you’ll love the demons! Don’t be surprised if it takes a little bit to get into the beginning of The Novice, but once you get to the magic school, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 The Novice by Taran Matharu

© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I have an eARC of this book and I’m looking forward to reading it as soon as I’m done with exams. I can’t believe that I hadn’t noticed the demon on Fletcher’s shoulder until you mentioned it.
    Hellen recently posted…Top Ten tv ThrillersMy Profile

    • I totally didn’t see it until I read about the little guy and then looked at the cover again, haha!

  2. Judging by what you said and my preference for books, I will both really enjoy it (friendships and fun and light) and find it infuriating (humans having to save the day). Anyhow, I am looking forward to this book – hopefully I’ll get a chance to read it soon.
    Amy @ Pages of Starlight recently posted…Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Beach ReadsMy Profile

    • Oh no, that’s the worst combination since you want to finish but keep getting annoyed! I hope that you don’t get too annoyed D:

  3. I’m still excited to read this, I love Pokemon so maybe that will be a little something fun while I read this :)

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