Tough Travelling“Tough Traveling” is a weekly Thursday feature created by Nathan at Review Barn where participants make a new list each week based on The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones. This hilarious little book cheerfully pokes fun at the most prevalent tropes in fantasy. All are welcome to take part, and there is a link up over at his site. Join in any time!

This week’s trope is NOVICES:

Novice is a term in frequent use. There are not only Novice Priests and Priestesses and nuns: you will also encounter novice healers and bards, and sometimes also novice mages…Novices are always young, frequently skinny and undernourished, and clad in robes.

Novices abound in fantasy novels: if you weren’t already aware of magic, then chances are pretty damn good that you’ll be sitting in the novice position for a while. There are so many ways people can go with this trope – I’m excited to see what everyone comes up with! Here are my picks:

SquirePages and Squires – Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora PierceThat’s right folks, here’s your bi-weekly reminder to read something by Tamora Pierce! In her Tortall universe, to become a knight of the realm an individual must undergo years of training and preparation. The first stage is a four-year stint as a page, which is a more hands-off type of learning. If you progress to the stage of squire, then you’ll be expected to joust, aid the knight you serve in combat, and maybe even serve in combat yourself.
bart1_usMagician’s Apprentice – The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan StroudIn The Amulet of Samarkand we’re introduce to Nathaniel, a bright young boy who’s training to become a magician. He studies quietly and resentfully as a boarder in the home of a cruel, low ranking wizard until a horrible personal tragedy changes him forever. A darker, more cunning and more dangerous Nathaniel emerges, plotting to smite his enemies with the help of the djinni Bartimaeus.
HoundedDruid’s Apprentice – The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin HearneIn the first book of the series, Atticus takes on an apprentice. Granuaille wants to be a druid like Atticus, so she must undergo training in various magics as well as herbs and their properties. The apprenticeship period lasts years, sometimes even decades, and is not a task undertaken lightly.
Divergent hc c(2)Initiate – Divergent by Veronica RothIn the Divergent universe, the beginning of adulthood is marked when a 16 year-old chooses their faction. Before they are full-fledged members they’re initiates, low-status people in the faction who must undergo a series of tests to prove their fitness for the group.

Honourable Mention: Markl from Howl’s Moving Castle


Markl is Howl’s apprentice, although he doesn’t seem to be learning much magic. The only magic we really see him do is put on an enchanted cloak to change his appearance. Poor kid. Wait, what am I saying? His life is the best. Plus isn’t he just the cutest?