Elaine is an orphan girl who has grown up in a world where magical ability brings power. Her limited talent was enough to ensure a magical training but she’s very inexperienced and was lucky to get a position working in the Great Library. Now, the Grand Sorcerer – the most powerful magician of them all – is dying, although initially that makes little difference to Elaine; she certainly doesn’t have the power to compete for higher status in the Golden City. But all that changes when she triggers a magical trap and ends up with all the knowledge from the Great Library – including forbidden magic that no one is supposed to know – stuffed inside her head. This unwanted gift doesn’t give her greater power, but it does give her a better understanding of magic, allowing her to accomplish far more than ever before.
It’s also terribly dangerous. If the senior wizards find out what has happened to her, they will almost certainly have her killed. The knowledge locked away in the Great Library was meant to remain permanently sealed and letting it out could mean a repeat of the catastrophic Necromantic Wars of five hundred years earlier. Elaine is forced to struggle with the terrors and temptations represented by her newfound knowledge, all the while trying to stay out of sight of those she fears, embodied by the sinister Inquisitor Dread.
But a darkly powerful figure has been drawing up a plan to take the power of the Grand Sorcerer for himself; and Elaine, unknowingly, is vital to his scheme. Unless she can unlock the mysteries behind her new knowledge, divine the unfolding plan, and discover the truth about her own origins, there is no hope for those she loves, the Golden City or her entire world.
This is the third book from Christopher Nuttall that I have read and I have enjoyed them all. Unlike the first two books from Mr. Nuttal that I have read this one is a pure fantasy book without any science fiction component. The book is well written in the same general way as the previous books.
The book follows Elaine who, as the book blurb states, is a magician with limited talent. Elaine’s world is one where magic is abundant and he who has or controls magic is he who rules. The world is very much governed by tradition and old aristocratic rules. The world-building is adequately detailed and provides a nice backdrop for the story.
It was very enjoyable to read this book. After Elaine’s little incident at the start of the book she goes on an adventure to discover the truth about the event and discovers a carefully planned plot to free an ancient enemy and literally take over the world. She also discovers a lot about herself and her friends. Sometimes the book felt like a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter (although with a more adult view). Although somewhat naive at times I quite liked Elaine and I definitely liked Inquisitor Dread.
I was a bit disappointed that, although Elaine did save the day (should not be much of a surprise, there is a second book after all), she did not develop as much as I hoped in terms of her powers. The book also had a fair amount of rather explicit sexual content which I felt was not really adding much. I do not really mind and I am certainly not against sexual content out of some hypocritical principle but it really did not add much of interest to the book.
These are minor flaws though and in general this is a very good book which I much enjoyed reading. I will definitely pick up Bookworm II as well.