20 July 2011

The Ambassador's Mission - Trudi Canavan

The first book in Trudi Canavan's Traitor Spy Trilogy was full of new and exciting possibilities. Not only do we start a full 20 years after the original Black Magician Trilogy, but we also have knowledge of past events such as the beginning of the Apprentices as well as the Sachakan war to guide us through and keep us interested, as many of these things are referenced in the book.

One possible failing for this book is that you have to read the previous series and the prequel before it to be able to comprehend what is going on and who the characters are. There are plenty of references to previous events as well as dead characters and other things that will not be understood without the other books, such as the idea of a magicians guild.

However, if you have done this, the book makes for some excellent and rather interesting reading that has a completely separate plot from the other series and the prequel. I find that most sequels tend to hang off the back of the first series like a wet fish, and therefore was quite happy to find that this one did not.
Trudi Canavan truly knows her world and the characters inside it. She always manages to paint it with such acute detail. Concepts such as her idea of how magic works are easy to understand, and in this book, she goes so far as to deal with drug addiction as well as her original ideas of slavery.

I particularly like the way that the author comments on our lives in her books. One of the plot lines in this book is about the underground dealings of an addictive substance called 'rot'. One point is that the addiction cannot be healed away by magic, leaving the magicians vulnerable. This is an obvious take on addictive substances like cigarettes, weed and other drugs and it is clear to see where the author stands. It is interesting to see how the subject is written about as well as seeing the links to reality - this world doesn't seem to be so different from our own.

As always Trudi's characters are well thought through and multifaceted. You don't often get bored as there are plenty of things to find out about the new ones, and the original ones still have a few surprises in store for us.

I thought I might have a problem with the book, as it includes Sonea (the main character from the Black Magician series) in 20 years, and she has a child. However, since the child was grown up, this wasn't so much of a problem for me. In fact, I rather enjoyed getting to know Lorkin and following him on his adventure.

Overall, this book is an 8/10. I'm afraid it just doesn't live up to her other series (The Age of the Five), which I found truly breathtaking and so well thought out.