The story has two distinct lines to it. Firstly, that of Sonea who, though she has been accepted into the Guild, is not looked upon kindly by the other novices, or even some of the teachers. Regin is the worst of these, who makes it his life mission to make Sonea's life completely miserable. Worse, he knows she will not say anything unless she has to, because she does not want to risk yet more animosity and her teachers not believing her. Secondly, that of Dannyl. Dannyl was another magician who is quite happy with Sonea's initiation into the Guild. He is sent off as an ambassador to Elyne and, instructed by Lorlen, the Administrator of the Guild, to dig into the Akkarin, the High Lord's past. Dannyl does not know why, but Lorlen clearly wants to find out from where Akkarin discovered the ability to perform black magic.
There is an interesting twist halfway through the book, and one I originally expected to be saved for the third book - Akkarin finds out that Lorlen, Rothen, and Sonea know about his use of black magic and that Lorlen suspects the spate of murders happening in the City are down to Akkarin. As a result, Akkarin removes Sonea from Rothen's guardianship and places her under his own - something which attracts jealousy and more awful pranks from the other novices. Sonea and Rothen are forbidden to speak to one another, as are Lorlen and Rothen.
All is not lost, however. Sonea finds some measure of victory against Regin. After some particularly nasty attacks - twenty novices against Sonea, at one point - Sonea snaps and formally challenges Regin to a battle. This is obviously of some interest to the Guild, to see how the slum girl fares against a boy of the Houses - the nobility of Kyralia. Happily, she wins and proves to everyone - but especially to the Higher Magicians - just how powerful she is, though she herself is not as aware of the true extent of her power as the Higher Magicians.
This all makes for some very interesting questions for the third book. What exactly are the High Lord's plans for Sonea? Surely he won't let her power grow to the point where she can challenge him? Will he tap her power and make himself near-enough invincible? What will happen between Regin and Sonea, as surely we won't see the last of that nasty piece of work.
This book was a brilliant read, and kept me up later than was advisable most nights. It's great when a book does that, though. It was so satisfying, in particular, to read about Sonea's victory against Regin, as he really had been a complete douchebag to her throughout the entire story. I'm really looking forward to the next one. A friend hinted that it's a really brave ending and there are lots of questions that I'm looking forward to being answered.
Until next time!