Book two of The Summoner trilogy
By Taran Matharu
Available now from Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan)
THE NOVICE ended with Fletcher, the protagonist, for his actions protecting himself from the local bully before he left his hometown to train as a summoner. I expected his trial to take up most of the novel, based on the title THE INQUISITION. However, the trial is over rather quickly. A more accurate (if blander) title might be THE QUEST.
Fletcher, his friends, his enemies, and some new characters are put into teams to destroy a genetics experiment by the orcs, rescue a noblewoman, and prove that humans, elves, and dwarves can work together. Small goals.
Taran Matharu's sophomore novel shares the weaknesses of the first. It's fairly predictable, and Fletcher is a bit too much. THE INQUISITION discusses how relationships among the races are severely discouraged, yet almost every girl in the story is openly crushing on Fletcher even when it could get them exiled from their communities. I also was disappointed by confirmation that Fletcher is not so common. I liked that THE NOVICE made it clear nobility wasn't everything.
At the same time, THE INQUISITION is just as readable as THE NOVICE. This is prime popcorn reading, with a dangerous mission on enemy soil and backstabbing galore. I especially appreciated that Fletcher's habit of overlooking people who aren't his friends came back to bite him. The politics between the various allied groups continue to add a nice bit of depth and tension. I also liked that THE INQUISITION gives more insight into the orcs and their culture and possibly more advanced magic.
I'm looking forward to the third and final novel of the Summoner trilogy. I would like to see Matharu grow more as a writer, but he's already quite good at getting me to turn the pages.