I have to admit, the death of a certain character (SPOILER ALERT: High Lord Akkarin) at the end of the Black Magician trilogy is one fictional death I have yet to get over. So it was bittersweet when I picked up this book, the beginning of a new trilogy in the world of the Black Magician trilogy.
Set twenty years after the Ichani invasion of Kyralia, Dannyl, one of my favourite characters from the Black Magician Trilogy, is trying to write a history of magic and intends to go to Sachaka - a land rife with Black Magicians - to continue his work. Lorkin, the son of Sonea and the late High Lord Akkarin, volunteers to go with him, partly because of a genuine interest in history and partly to escape the Guild to which he's been confined for so long. Sonea, now entitled the Black Magician, is reluctant to let him go, because she fears for his life - Akkarin had been a slave in Sachaka long ago and the Ichani, who invaded Imardin (and who are now dead) still have relatives there who will want to see Lorkin pay for the sins of his parents.
Nevertheless, he goes, and Sonea turns her mind to other problems. There is someone in the city called the Thief Hunter who is killing off thieves left, right and centre. Her hospices are becoming overrun by people addicted to a substance called roet. Cery, her childhood friend, investigates the Thief Hunter after his family are killed and Sonea helps in whatever way she can, though because of her knowledge of Black Magic, her freedom is limited.
While a very interesting story, which I'm sure will get more engaging in the next two books, I didn't find this book as much of a page-turner as the Black Magician trilogy. Perhaps that was because there was a lot more risk, chase, and discovery to make in the Black Magician trilogy, in terms of Sonea discovering her powers and becoming the first slum-dweller to make it into the Guild, traditionally reserved for the higher classes. Still, it was an intriguing plot and nice to greet some old favourite characters again. It will be interesting to see where the next book, The Rogue, takes us.