Summoner Series: Review
Friends, after finishing the incredible Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu, I wanted to 1) Play Pokemon 2) Since I already beat all the Pokemon games, find the next best mobile app game 3) Cuddle my puppy and wish she had superpowers 4) Cry tears of both joy and sadness. This is the kind of series that was lighthearted at its core, with incredibly endearing characters, and only got better from start to finish. Read on for a spoiler-free review of the entire series! (Yes, spoiler-free reviews can be done!)
When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.
As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.
The Summoner Trilogy consists of three books, the first of which I posted a summary to above:
This series is intended for a younger audience, more of a middle grade to young young adult. Once you consider this, you'll also better appreciate the themes that Matharu so obviously injects into his series. He touches on friendship and loyalty, racism and civil rights, and triumph and strength despite unlikely odds. There are some great parables for younger audiences throughout the three books.
If you're thinking, "Wow! Not only did the titles get more epic, the covers did too!", then I can assure you that your expectations will be met. I ended up rating the first book 3/5 stars, the second book 4/5 stars, and the finale 5/5 stars.
The Novice sets up the world that the Summoner Trilogy takes place in. As such, it introduces many characters very suddenly, and without time for their characters to fully flesh out as Matharu moves his pieces into play. There is an onslaught of new terminology and politics that may be difficult for a new reader to wrap their head around. But the saving grace of The Novice, and what kept me coming back for more was the concept of summoning. Specifically, the art of summoning demons, like Ignatius, the rare Salamander. You will probably draw similarities to Pokemon at the way this concept is described. There are different rarities and levels of demons, and individuals can also increase their summoning power in order to harness stronger demons. It's a really exciting journey to follow. I am a sucker for gamification of anything, and reading this first book felt like that, a game.
The Inquisition is much darker and more serious, with plenty of politics and intrigue to keep the strategist in you satisfied. At times, the politics were a bit convoluted, and the most annoying thing to me was how clearly the good side was "good" and the bad side, "bad." For younger readers, this might not necessarily be a bad thing; like I mentioned earlier, it's a way for Matharu to explain the consequences of your actions, and the strength of friendship and loyalty. Oh and of course, plenty of cute demons up to their adorable demonic antics.
I won't go into The Battlemage with too much detail, because it's the finale of the trilogy after all! But I can say, it did not disappoint. There was equal amounts of fun and humor, with loss and lessons learned. Fletcher was always an underdog, from the first few pages of The Novice, and this last book revisits his roots. I teared with laughter and sadness while reading this last book, and it evoked emotions in me not unlike when I read Charge of the Light Brigade (first stanza below):
Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! "Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
It's this story of hopelessness, where all the odds are stacked against you. A story of brave souls, perhaps foolish- but brave. That kind of hero's story always gets to me, and I think The Battlemage will also strike an emotional chord in readers who enjoy stories of friendship and strong bonds.
I can't praise the progression of the Summoner Trilogy enough! And the fact that Matharu originally wrote the series as part of NaNoWriMo on Wattpad.come is incredible- it shows how achievable becoming a bestselling author can be as long as you have the right idea and the dedication to make it come to life!
I rate the Summoner Series 4/5 stars!