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This is a world in which everyone has magic, every person can do some form of spell, from the full on Magic Users that create magical items and study magic full time, to cleaners who use simple spells to help them with their daily tasks. The world is kind of like an old world England, with villages, Lords etc, but prestige is not determined by Magical talent rather than sheer wealth.
The story starts with us being introduced to the Aquirre family, the Father is a powerful Mage, able to craft items of true power, and do other amazing feats of magic. His wife is a world renowned Potion Master, able to craft, brew and generate potions of amazing magical power like no other. In the Magical world, twins are a great gift, making a family extremely powerful, so when the Aquirre family are blessed with triplets, their power and place amongst the Elite is practically guaranteed for generations. That is, right up until Caitlyn, the 3rd of the triplets is found to be a Zero, someone with absolutely NO magical ability at all.
Her two sisters Alana and Bella of course have it, Alana is the standard precocious, horrendous, snobby person absolutely full of herself that you would expect in such a family. Bella is kind of lazy with her magic, knowing that she is the 2nd child.
There are going to be obvious comparisons to Harry Potter here, but this is much better. For starters, Caitlyn doesn’t have all the answers, she has to work for things, she isn't handed them, and Nuttall has actually written his story, rather than re-writing a lot of well-known mythology, and having a fairly predictable story.
Secondly, having the main character with no magic in an entire world of magic users is a lot of fun. Yes, I know, it has been done before (Such as Weis & Hickman’s Darksword Trilogy for example), but this is a fantastically written story.
Nuttall has created a beautiful world for the characters to play in and this story to unfold, and it adds a sensational depth to the book. With the upper class magical element, and the peasantry all wrapped around magic through, rather than money, it creates a unique perspective of things. There are also references to this ancient ‘Empire’ that existed previously that fell, and how knowledge was lost, and those of today are trying to re-create some elements of the new world based on this old Empire. It adds an element of mystery, gives the story some extra depth, and allows Nuttall to add various storylines that provide his story with some actual substance.
The main character herself is brilliant, both for a younger audience (which to be honest, I think this book might be aimed at, but, we’re all big kids at heart), but this is also a great listen for anybody who likes a good fantasy story.
Caitlyn is obviously a troubled girl, struggling in a world where she is not only expected to have the gift of magic, but without it, she may well damage the reputation of her family. And even worse, without it, she becomes the target of everyone who sees her as easy prey. However, she is a wonderful role model as well, in a current real world full of news of bullying, Caitlyn shows that you can stand up for yourself, using your intelligence, courage, and your wits. Without giving too much away, she finds things to counter her ‘disability’ as such, making her creativity and intuitiveness part of the real fascination of this book as she has to deal with not just her sisters, but Judes school of Magic, a place where she should be eaten alive with no magical ability.
There are some other wonderful characters as well, Rose, the commoner who was lucky enough to get into the school and becomes Caitlyn’s friend, Caitlyn’s two sisters obviously, the twins of a rival family, as well as those of Caitlyn’s Dorm. All come together to make this an exceptional book. (I was going to write a ‘magical book’ but it I just couldn’t bring myself to do it…)
Whether you are new to Fantasy or Christopher Nuttall’s work, this is a great place to start.
As for the Narration Saskia Maarleveld has such a beautiful voice it is such a joy to listen to regardless of the story she is telling, so when she has material of this standard, it is a true blessing to get to listen to. Maarleveld captivates with a wonderful array of voices, both male and female, using her exquisite tones to bring life and magic to the characters so you can thoroughly enjoy Nuttall's wonderful story.
This is a perfect match of an outstanding Author and an Exceptional Narrator, and anything this pair does is going to be worth listening to.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This is the 3rd different series by Nuttall featuring a magical society and a strong female lead. While it's not necessarily better than the other series, it is full of its own creativity and characters that make it distinct and in some ways more interesting. It has elements of Sanderson's Mistborn series, as well as Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicles. Good company, indeed.
The narration is first-rate, and I was pleasantly surprised that the book is less predictable than it appears at first. Sure there's a magical school, kids that can be cruel, and occasional duels, but if that's to your liking, you won't be disappointed with this book.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Great story for primary school children. I really liked the story line and the setting. It lacked descriptions in some areas. I felt that Christopher could have allowed me touch the ancient walls and feel the dust or smell a rancid potion. Instead I was always faraway from my characters. Still I will continue to read the series, which may end up being a part our reading list in the classroom.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Fantastic story line and a great story highly recommend can not wait for book 2