Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review of The Wizard's Test by Hilari Bell

Honor used to seem so clear to Dayven.  Now it had faded into shades of gray.  Like a wizard's robe.
-Tagline The Wizard Test
Wizards are bad—at least that’s Dayven’s vehement opinion. In seems in his society, wizards create more problems than they solve. They change people’s destinies. Children are tested for magical abilities, a test Dayven too must take. Worst case scenario—he passes the test.
Thus begins the novel The Wizard Test.
It was a fascinating read. What stood out the most to me are Bell’s stunning characters. I picked up this book because I was most impressed with another of her books The Last Knight. Her characterization is superb—the characters simply feel real. They are characters that you want to read more about. Dayven is a good example of this. He grumbles a bit and holds stubbornly tight to his notion of wizards, but he’s obedient and kind. He finds the human side to his enemies. Riddick, the wizard to whom Dayven is apprenticed to is another fascinating character. He’s odd and cryptic, unbelievable likable. The interaction between the two main characters is witty and dynamic. This seems to be a hallmark of Bell’s novels.
The Wizard Test touched on a theme I’ve often pondered. That is the rightness or wrongness of opposing sides in fiction. In a simple way, she shows that things are not always black and white. Granted there are times in fiction for the villains to truly be bad and the heroes to be an example of goodness. We need the occasional Harry Potter-like tale because in reality some situations in life have no grey. But more often than not there is a fine line between who is right and who is wrong. I think of it with the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. Romeo’s family is thoroughly convinced that Juliet’s family is the epitome of evil and her family feels the same about his. But who is actually right? A person could argue for both their sides and still be right. Every side has their good and every side has their bad. Sometimes, perhaps our enemies are not as they seem.
The only downside to this novel is that, because it was written for younger readers, at times the plot seems simple and a bit predictable. For me, it wasn’t enough to be more than mildly distracting. But for readers more accustom to adult fiction, they might not like that. Overall however, it was an excellent book.

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