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A Compelling World with Un-Compelling Plot Execution ⇉ Review of The Summoner trilogy by Taran Matharu

Thursday, April 26, 2018
I saw this book while browsing at Barnes and Noble over the winter holidays. The cover, then the synopsis drew my attention. Then I saw that this book is an overall fan favorite, and I wondered under what rock I've been hiding the past couple of year. (Okay, I was a new teacher, so that's my excuse.)

All that said, while I can see why this is a fan favorite—it has entertainment value—what I found was a series that lacks complexity and originality. Following is the breakdown of what I liked (the entertainment value) and what I disliked (aka. things that could have been done better).


Continually Moving Plot
Taran Matharu is good at keeping a plot moving. The chapters end on cliffhangers that have you wondering what will happen next. This may be a trait from the story's origin on Wattpad, where he first published the novel in a serial format.

Compelling Start to the Series
The beginning of The Novice is fantastic. I like how it establishes Fletcher's origins and helps the reader form a connection with him. Fletcher is a likable hero, if a bit of a Mary Sue, but I didn't know the latter at the time.

A World I Would Have Liked to Explore
The world is compelling. I like the premise of a blacksmith's apprentice summoning a demon (something unexpected in his world). That said, the series only gives us a taste of the world. I would have liked to see more exploration of the intricacies of the world.


Un-Compelling, Un-Complex Characters
There are characters that you like to like and characters that you like to hate. They all fit pretty nicely into boxed stereotypes. As much as I like Fletcher and his friends, I would have liked to see more character complexity. Give me a character I hate to hate, or a likable character with a fatal flaw, or a generally detestable character but with compelling reasons for his or her unlikable. (And so on.)

Unoriginal Plot
Though it has its differences, the Summoner trilogy felt like a poor re-enactment of The Lord of the Rings. It has the humans, elves, dwarves, and orcs. It has the heroes fighting against an orc army. It has the piece needed to rule them all....

I don't mind unoriginal plots. There are only so many stories that can be told. However, such plots need to be worked in a way that makes the story compelling in its own right.

Non-Existant Villain (Well, he may has well not exist.)
We keep hearing about the orcs being a dangerous force that needs to be stopped, but it's a while until we learn why they're such a threat. Even after we learn about the real threat that needs to be defeated, the villain rarely appears and doesn't live up to the hype. He doesn't have character.

Lackluster Conclusion
The series sets up an epic war in which the fate of the known world is at stake. So much time is spent off the battlefield, however, that the hype falls by the time Fletcher actually joins the battlefield. It's over before any suspense can build. The ending feels like a gift-wrapped package to make up for all the bad things that happened to Fletcher since he was born, not a proper resolution to everything that has happened.


While the world of the Summoner trilogy is intriguing, the plot is straightforward and superficial. The characters are stereotypical good or evil with minuscule growth, and the ending falls short of the hype that is built in the beginning. In the end, the Summoner novels fell flat for me.


When blacksmith apprentice Fletcher discovers that he has the ability to summon demons from another world, he travels to Adept Military Academy. There the gifted are trained in the art of summoning. Fletcher is put through grueling training as a battlemage to fight in the Hominum Empire’s war against orcs. He must tread carefully while training alongside children of powerful nobles. The power hungry, those seeking alliances, and the fear of betrayal surround him. Fletcher finds himself caught in the middle of powerful forces, with only his demon Ignatius for help.

As the pieces on the board maneuver for supremacy, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of an empire is in his hands. The Novice is the first in a trilogy about Fletcher, his demon Ignatius, and the war against the Orcs.


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What's a novel that didn't live up to the hype for you?

Publication Info
  • The Novice by Taran Matharu
  • Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 5, 2015
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 355 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
Series: The Summoner
  1. The Novice
  2. The Inquisition
  3. The Battlemage
  • Violence

2 comments on "A Compelling World with Un-Compelling Plot Execution ⇉ Review of The Summoner trilogy by Taran Matharu"
  1. Ah, this is why hanging out with book bloggers is nice. You can warn me off the waste-of-time books. I recently read Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain, and it was ... Well, the first half was great. The second half was like watching a game of Dodge The Idiot Ball where everybody lost.

    1. I'm happy to hear my review has helped! The title "Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm A Supervillain" sounds interesting. It's too bad the later half of the book falls apart!


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