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?


    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    • 8 years ago

    I’ve read none of your picks. But there’s Tamora Pierce again. Stalking me on lists until I actually read her. Now that I have my Backlist Burndown effort, hope I will actually get it. 🙂

    1. I’ll wear you down, Lisa. One of these days you’ll read a Pierce novel. I am gonna laugh so hard if you end up disliking her stuff, but it’s highly unlikely. 😉

  1. Aaww, you stole my pick! I was going to go with Granuaille too, even though I am beginning to dislike her character more and more as the Iron Druid Chronicles progress. I HATED her in Shattered. URGH! I hope you’re enjoying Otherwold Nights BTW!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads.

    1. Great minds and all that! 😉 Honestly I wasn’t too jazzed about Granuaille even in Hounded…I was hoping that she’d grow on me before she got super annoying. Otherworld Nights is sooooo good!!! Kelley Armstrong is a gentlewoman and a scholar.

  2. I have never read Stroud either. His stuff does look kinda interesting. Unfortunately I have read Divergent though. Was Markl in the book? I don’t remember him.

    1. His books are pretty cool – the Bartimaeus series uses these snarky footnotes to indicate when one character is commenting on the other’s version of events. Pretty clever stuff. Markl’s kind of in the books…but not really. His name is Michael and he’s twice Markl’s age and in love with one of Sophie’s sisters.

  3. Yes Howl’s Moving Castle! ahhh love it. I wonder how the apprentice Atticus takes on will work out I have only read the first book!

    1. Me too! My favourite Studio Ghibli film for sure. Me too! I’ve heard that she gets a bit annoying…see Carmel’s comment below for a common opinion, hahaha.

  4. I briefly considered putting Divergent on my list, but then decided not to because even the non-initiates seemed so unprofessional and clueless themselves that they could have been novices too! LOL! XD

    Yeah, I thought that series was funny…but not exactly in a good way 😛

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. The more I blog the more convinced I am that I’m the only person who actually liked Divergent. My only defence is that I was in high school at the time and I thought Four/Tobias was the hottest thing ever…too bad he got super lame and mopey by Allegiant (but then again I thought everyone was terrible in Allegiant).

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