Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Review: The Fuller's Apprentice

The Fuller's Apprentice The Fuller's Apprentice by Angela Holder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The setting of this book is neither dystopian nor purely utopian, but it is a worthy world: one in which people are generally well-intentioned and helpful, where almost everyone unequivocally condemns violence, where the whole society is built around working at honest trades. There's no ruling class, as such; the guildmasters fill that role, and they rise in their trades rather than being hereditary rulers. Everyone belongs to a guild - not necessarily their parents' guild; though that's often the case, anyone can apprentice to almost any trade that appeals to them.

One of those guilds is the Wizards' Guild, although in D&D terms they're not wizards, but clerics, empowered by the divine Mother. They can heal, open "windows" which allow them to see through time and space within limits (and hence establish the truth of disputed events in court, like having universal CCTV), and move objects with a form of telekinesis. They are unique in being specifically called to their guild by the Mother, rather than choosing it. And each one has a familiar, an animal they must work with and without whom they have no power, in order to keep them humble.

Built upon this background is a well-told, compelling story of a young apprentice fuller who, through his poorly-thought-through typically-early-teenage actions, ends up as an assistant to a journeyman wizard. As the wizard travels round the country districts on a circuit in order to qualify as a master, they encounter bandits and other people who are not fully aligned with the worthy society, as well as natural disasters and other major challenges. In the process, the journeyman's faith is tested, the apprentice learns a lot (including by making significant mistakes, because his good heart and sense of adventure aren't yet sufficiently tempered by wisdom), and important things change for the society as a whole, setting up for the next book to be quite different. Though the society is worthy and most of the characters good-hearted, there's no lack of conflict or challenge here.

While there were a good many apostrophe glitches and a few typos, this is otherwise well-edited, and certainly very capable from a storytelling perspective. I'll be bearing this series in mind when I'm next in the mood for something noblebright.

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