So this is my first review and although I’ve read a lot of books in this category that I would like to review I will start with one that I just finished today and that is The Novice: The Summoner Trilogy Book 1 by Taran Matharu. This book was set perfectly for me because it had all the aspects of a mythical kingdom of old that I desire in a book: the constant of war between humans and another prominent species (in this case the orcs), the mystery and wonder of summoners and spell crafting to common people such as Fletcher and the interaction of various prominent species, with Orcs, Elves, Dwarves and Humans being historically very popular choices. Matharu also does a great job inserting a wide variety of interesting monsters and mythical creatures, demons he calls them, and making them minor characters as individuals that still play a large part in the story.
The one element of the setting that surprised me was the fact that humans have such a huge advantage over all the other species. They defeated the Orcs thousands of years before the story takes place and are clearly superior in fighting force and intelligence, so they have been destroying Orc lands to expand their own; Elves were once their allies but now they are engaged in a political war that the humans clearly own and the advantage of the humans in obvious in the fact that the one major elvish figure in the story is their first Summoner in centuries; and last the Dwarves who, were once the first peoples to inhabit Corcillum and now control the most powerful weapon wielded by the common man, guns, yet they live beneath the heal of the humans and are highly discriminated against and forced to live in disgrace because of decades old transgressions.
The story is based around a young orphan named Fletcher who grows up in the small northern town of Pelt. He is a young resourceful boy raised by the blacksmith that found him as a baby and raised him as his own son. Yet, he has no aspirations for himself beside what he can achieve at his station of blacksmiths apprentice and is downtrodden by the immoral characters of Pelt with little resistance, only the hope of subtle retribution.
Fletchers whole story is changed however when a seasoned soldier comes to Pelt to sell his spoils from the Orc Front and gifts Fletcher with the book of a fallen summoner from the front lines. Fletcher covets the book but quickly finds out it has even more meaning than he could have imagined when he summons a demon, discovering he himself is a summoner and at the same time banishing himself from Pelt and branding himself a fugitive.
He travels to the Adept Military Academy in the heart of Hominum Empire with his new demon Ignatius and is enrolled to become a summoner trainee, to enter into the army as soon as he proves himself. There he discovers his soon to be closest friends in the form of a wiser than his years and trustworthy Dwarf named Othello and an Elf named Sylva who starts out as an untrustworthy diplomat for the scheming elves but quickly turns into the smart and driven capstone for this interspecies trio. Together they will break the bond of species and rise through the ranks as summoners to all be hailed as the highest of their class and prove themselves to be far greater contenders than anyone would have though for a fugitive and two ‘inferior species’.