Four selfless sorcery apprentices find their resolve tested in Sauvain’s (Collegium Sorcerorum: Thaddeus of Beewicke, 2011, etc.) third installment of his epic-fantasy series.
An opening series of letters, mostly romantic in nature, serves to refresh readers’ memories about the central characters, their love lives and the major storylines of the previous two books. Fourteen-year-old Thaddeus and his friends, Anders, Rolland and Zoarr, receive a disturbing letter that informs them that Thaddeus’ current love, Ethne, has died and that he’s a father, as a prophecy had foretold. His mourning period, however, is short lived, as another girl, Marsia, awaits him at the college. While there, Thaddeus and his friends realize that sorcery teacher Master Perditus is planning to open a portal that will unleash a world of demons led by Morag. Meanwhile, due to Perditus’ spell, the Collegium and its inhabitants are turning into stone. Master Silvestrus, featured in a less prominent role here, later advises Thaddeus to embark on a quest to break the Red Dragon’s curse and save Magistrate Pontius’ village from economic collapse. On his quest, Thaddeus encounters Osiric, a valiant blind eagle, who stands by him during his mission. Unlike in the previous novels, Thaddeus has most of the heroic adventures; Anders, Rolland and Zoarr, and their love interests, Nannsi, Sonnia and Molly O’ the Willows, are mostly relegated to minor roles. Sauvain’s greatest strength is the development of his main characters, particularly Thaddeus. Fans will relish Thaddeus’ internal conflicts, high-risk adventures and evolution into a true leader. However, Sauvain’s selection of character names is at times a bit suspect; for example, he names the mapmaker of the Collegium Cartographus, and a one-fingered, lunatic hermit Digitus. That said, the dialogue between Thaddeus and Digitus provides ideal comic relief.
A well-developed addition to Sauvain’s ongoing fantasy tale.