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Publisher's Summary

Sonea is caught up in a confrontation between the hated Guild magicians and the angry youth of the slums. To her dismay, she discovers that she possesses the same powers as the reviled magicians. To avoid capture, she must seek protection from the city's feared underworld, The Thieves. In return, she must use her powers for them, but her magic never seems to do quite what she intends it to.
©2004 Trudi Canavan; (P)2004 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

Critic Reviews

"The first part of the Black Magician Trilogy, this captivating tale has already been hailed by critics as a 'must for lovers of good fantasy'." (Marie Claire)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

The book is like a wooden roller coaster...

This book is like a wooden roller coaster ride. It starts out slow: Some people complain that it is boring while others just enjoy the view. However, like the wooden roller coaster, once you crest the first and tallest hill things really pick up.

I set this book down twice and I'm glad I picked it up the third time. I started listening to it at night when I was trying to fall asleep, and at first it was great for that...

Other reviews have mentioned the 'monotone voice' of the reader. This reader uses a very monotone voice as the 'narrator voice'.

This reader uses many voices for the different characters (and you can recognize which character speaks by the voice the reader uses!) as the characters are introduced into the book. There is more narration at the start of the book, setting things up, than the rest of the book.

My Personal; About This Book:

Each night I would find the beginning of the last chapter I could remember hearing and start there, and listen again until I fell asleep...

... In the early chapters I fell asleep pretty quickly (not 'because' of the book, but the sound of someone reading muffled other sounds, and the images I formed in my head helped me to forget about stuff I had to do the next day or other worries I had)...

... However, about the third or fourth night I found the book was keeping me awake. I had to stop listening to it at night because I found myself staying awake to find out what happened 'next'!

The book had me cheering for 'both sides' of 'the conflict'.
Review Wrap Up:

I can understand why some people gave it a low rating, and if you just don't like slow starts then don't buy this book.

If you don't mind enjoying the scenery and just going with the flow, understanding that things will be explained later, then this is a good book.

I couldn't put the second book down and I'm reading the third book right now.

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathy
  • Goldsboro, NC, USA
  • 07-28-09

kept my attention!

I hesitated to get this book because of the review about the narrator, but I read Magician's Apprentice (new hardcover) first, like it, and decided to try the audio book. I am enjoying it very much, and the narrator seems fine to me. The harsher voice (described by another reader as a smoker's voice) reminds me somewhat of Jim Dale-though he is in a category by himself!- the book is certainly worth reading, and I intend to get the rest of the series.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Like it

I enjoyed this book very much. If you like reading fantasy, or magic I think you will like this book. I hope to listen or read the next one.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeffrey
  • Carpinteria, CA, USA
  • 04-22-08

This might become something ...

I listen to Fantasy and SciFi, nothing but for about three years now. I'd like to think I've developed an ear for a good story in the making. This sounds like a good story. I think the author lays quite a few plot threads and if she can keep them together this will be a great series. Narrator does an excellent job, which may mask some of what the book lacks in depth but I do recommend this book for Fantasy listeners.

20 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Tustin, CA, USA
  • 08-27-09

Ok nothing special

It took me several hours to try and get into this book. I was about to ditch it and rate it a one. But after about a 1/3 of the way through finally I became interested. I don't remember much of the earlier chapters because it was hard to grab your attention and the narration was average early on.

Basically here is how I rate this book...
- The story is pretty basic and classic. Won't get into details as to spoil it here. But you've heard this story before.
- The narration is hard to follow until you get used to the narrator. I found it way to easy to drift away from listening early on. He does a nice job with some of the voices later in the book but his standard narration voice is thick with accent and mono-toned.
- The book would make a better movie than a book and I do think it would be a good movie. It's basically written like a screen play more than a novel. By that I mean it takes the entire book for me to get behind the characters and there is little extensive description of the scenes and more description like the author is telling actors what to do and where they are to go.
- Having said that, after making it through the first 5 hours somewhat painfully and distracted... I did finally get into it and want to follow it to the end and see what happens even though I was pretty sure I knew.

Over all it's average with some rather low parts but towards the end some nice characters that will maybe get you to buy the next book.

Hope this helps.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Slow Start to a Great Series

Listen to this book to get to the others in the series. Books 2 and 3 are very interesting and suspenseful. You won't be sorry with your listening investment in book 1. This first book starts off a little slow, but 2/3 of the way in you'll be hooked on the whole series.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Good after it got going

I was first put off by the reader's voice (like a heavy cigarette smoker's) but I got used to it, and actually liked it eventually. Same with the book. I couldn't get into it at first. It seemed like a kid's book, which surprised me, there were some obvious grammar mistakes, and it was too long for the amount of story. Where are the editors nowadays?

Having said that, I am glad I stuck with it since I got totally hooked later on, esp. when the story dealt more with the magicians and their world. A fun adventure! I am downloading the next book right now.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Garry
  • Pembroke Pines, Florida, United States
  • 03-18-09

Great trilogy

worth the time and money spent it keep me going on all three books. wish they had more.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • M. Gould
  • Philadelphia suburbs USA
  • 01-18-09

Narrator ruins story

This is the first time I've written a review and I own many audiobooks,

I have repeatedly tried to "get into" this book but monotone drone with not enough change and richness keeps losing me.

The story line sounds interesting but I can't evaluate due to reading. This is a sad waste.

A different narrator might make something of story.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

great story of growth

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recomend this to friends because of the way Canavan shows misunderstanding, struggles, challenges, friendship, blackmail and much much more.

Any additional comments?

I would recomend this book to anyone who wants to see personal growth, understanding, and trusting both the criminal underworld and later magicians

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Brighton UK Customer
  • 08-16-09

Good book - shame about the narrator

I believe this audiobook is let down by the narrator, Richard Aspel. His timing is poor, he uses inappropriate emphasis on sentences and his odd accents distract from the story rather than adding to it.

The book itself is fun and interesting. Some points were repeated too often and I found myself thinking: "yes, I realised that was important the first 5 times it was mentioned". However, the pace of the book picks up in the final third and I am very interested to find out how the lead character, Sonea, develops in the next book.

Thank you Trudi :)

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Miss
  • 07-22-13

Fantastic book - terrible narrator

What did you like best about this story?

Fantastic story - all of the books by trudi canavan have captivated and held my attention through reading and re-reading!

What didn’t you like about Richard Aspel’s performance?

If you don't mind heavy breathing and continuous gulping you will like this audio book - when listening I find the heaving breathing and the additional mouth noises incredible irritating to a fantastic story

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

For the story yes but with a different narrator

Any additional comments?

With a female lead character a female narrator would be better and one who was not so annoying in the recording - a male narrator like Stephen fry would not produce so many irritating additional noises in the recording - I wish the audio book was one I could enjoy as many times as harry potter - the story should allow all the books to be - but the choice of narrator is very poor

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sparks
  • 09-17-11

Awful narrator

This is the first audio book that I have had to stop listening to because the narrator aggravated me so much,
I will buy the books and read them instead

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • TeaPartyPrincess
  • 08-30-13

Worst Narrator Ever

I love the Black Magician's Trilogy. I've read it (and all other Trudi Canavan books) countless times. So when I had a lot of walking-to-work coming up I thought that rather than read the series again, I'd listen to it, and so downloaded The Magician's Guild.

What a mistake. Don't bother with this.

The narrator has a voice like a petulant, spoilt brat and I couldn't stand her whining.

That I even "listened" to a whole hour of this boils down to the fact that I left the room and watched the news to escape the awful sound.

This was my first Audible purchase and it put me off so much that I deactivated my account as soon as I could get back online. I've only just come back now after a friend convinced me that not all books were so terrible as this one.

But this audio book was a waste of time and money for me.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Steffiwinkle
  • 03-19-15

Awesome story - bad narrating

Would you consider the audio edition of The Magician's Guild to be better than the print version?

I would definitely not, the books are very well written, and whilst some people think that the beginning of this first book is slow, I don't think that it is so slow that it puts anyone off. It sets the scene and has some very good character development. I have the paper version of these books, and downloaded the audio as I have started listening to stories to send me to sleep... though it is almost hard to sleep listening to these as the stories are sooo good!! Personally, I prefer reading as I can then give the characters my own voices and personality parts, I was not a fan of how they were portrayed in this audio book.

What did you like best about this story?

In the written version, Sonea. In the narrated by Richard Aspel version - I will say the whole story, despite how much i disliked the narrator. I found it very difficult to appreciate the weird voices that Richard put on, especially his version of Sonea which I found very annoying. She is supposed to be a proud, brave young girl and Richard voiced her as a pathetic weakling which i found awful!

Any additional comments?

As annoying as I found Richard Aspel, I have downloaded the second book in the series 'The Novice' and will also get the third. This series is one of my favourite sets of books and I refuse to let the narrator put me off! I hope there is a different narrator for the 'Age of The Five' books as by then it may have become too much, and I don't want to risk Richard Aspel ruining Auraya for me too!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Emily
  • 06-22-10

Fantastic Fantasy

I love fantasy, and the level of detail Canavan puts into Sonea's world is brilliant.

It is beautifully written, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it after having read it back at the start of high school!

Anyone who likes Rowling, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis' Narnia and Gaiman will appreciate this series!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Adam Buckley
  • 03-02-09

Brilliant Story....

however the guy reading it pauses for around 4 seconds at the end of every sentence it makes it so hard to listen too! I've been making my way through the Terry Goodkind books and so far they have been brilliant and I fancied something new. Ive read the book and loved it, but this is unlistenable

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Miss JA Seagrave
  • 03-08-15

Great story, narrator takes some getting used to

Would you consider the audio edition of The Magician's Guild to be better than the print version?

No, print books are always best but audio is good for while doing other stuff.

What three words best describe Richard Aspel’s performance?

Takes some getting used to

Any additional comments?

Narrators voice is annoying , he uses corny accents for the characters and the accents he uses are inconsistent (particularly between books in the trilogy) meaning he takes a while to get used to.

Book itself is excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr
  • 02-26-09

Great Audio Book

I really enjoyed this audio book and I'm not really a fan of the Genre. It takes a little while to warm to the story but stick at it as very soon you'll be enthralled. The second book is possibly even better, and I?m really looking forward to when audible to have the 3rd unabridged book in the trilogy.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cheryl
  • 04-16-11

A book suitable for adults and children

This is a great fantasy/sc fi book, which is suitable for all ages. The narrator was brilliant....he helped me to visualize the individual characters. The story is about Sonea who has magic but doesn't realise it. When she accidently uses it, the Magicians Guild start to look for her, and suddenly she becomes the most wanted person in town. I highly recommend this especially to younger is a great start into this genre.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful