The Novice: Summoner Book 1 – Taran Matharu
by Trisha Quezada
The Novice is a great introduction to fantasy novels for middle grade readers. It follows the journey of Fletcher, an orphan who summons a rare demon and has to flee his hometown because he seriously injures the son of the most powerful man in town. He runs to the school for Battlemages, determined to learn more about his demon and help his country fight off the orcs that are threatening their borders. Along the way he becomes friends with a dwarf and an elf, and learns lessons of trust, perseverance, betrayal, bullies, and prejudice.
I haven’t read the whole series yet, but I have a feeling it’s in my near future since my son (age 10) LOVES the story. It reminds me of the classic coming of age fantasy stories in The Sword of Shanara or The Belgariad, but written for kids. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a fluffy, happy go lucky story – it’s still set in a time of war; but while there is fighting and bloodshed, it isn’t as dark or detailed as something that’s intended for adult or even young adult audiences. If you’ve got a middle grade kid that loves the story of The Hobbit but can’t handle Tolkien’s writing this book is a perfect introduction to the world of fantasy novels.