During the annual Purge - an event in which the Magician's and Guard of Kyralia drive out miscreants and criminals - Sonea, a 'dwell' from the city of Kyralia's slums, discovers something extraordinary about herself. She has amazing potential to do magic. She hurls a stone at the Magicians' barrier and it passes through, knocking unconscious one of the Magicians. Startled at what she has done, and afraid of how the Magicians might respond, she hides with the help of her friends Cery, Harrin and others.
The first half of this book is taken up with a massive manhunt to find Sonea. The Magicians don't want to hurt her - rather, they want to find her so they can examine her powers and teach her how to control them before she becomes a danger to herself and others around her. She does not know this, though - all that she knows and believes of the Magicians are that they are powerful, cold, and uncaring of Kyralia's poor.
Eventually, though, the Magicians do find her, just as she is about to accidentally lay waste to a large part of the city. Rothen, a kind and mature Magician, takes Sonea under his wing and tries to convince her to stay.
Fergun, another Magician, has different plans. He was the one that Sonea knocked out with her accidental missile and consequently wants to humiliate her and arrange for her to be kicked out of the Guild with her powers blocked. He feeds her with charming lies but, when she wants to refuse, he blackmails her, revealing that he has in captivity her friend Cery.
I read this book in a handful of days. It was a really well-written, absorbing read, even with pretty much the first half of the book taken up with the search to find Sonea. During this time, however, we learn a lot about the characters. Canavan has a lot of different characters thrown into the mix here, a lot of whom we quickly become attached to. There are some familiar themes here as well, which all - and especially teenagers - can relate to. Power struggles and accepting those in authority; injustice; misuse of power; but also much more positive aspects such as friendship and loyalty, no matter which side of the law you are on.
I'm really looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy and finding out what happens with the characters, particularly with the development of Rothen and Sonea's relationship as guardian and novice.
Until next time!