Title: The Outcast
Author: Taran Matharu
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Summoner, book four
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
My husband and I became fans of Taran Matharu after I won a copy of the first book in his Summoner series, The Novice. I read The Novice and gave it to him, and then we read the last two books in the trilogy together. We were both excited when he announced a prequel to the series, focusing on one of our favorite characters, one of Fletcher’s instructors, Arcturus. My husband demanded that I order it, and he read it before me, since I had been reading something different at the time. As soon as he was done and I finished my other book, I dove in. It took a little while to remember what was going on, as well as the terminology. But once I did, I was blown away. This book is vying for my favorite of the series, and I really hope that there’s more to come!
Arcturus is a lowly apprentice, treated with more abuse and disdain than even his master’s animals. Desperate for a new start, he plans to leave the drudgery of his old life. But his careful planning goes swiftly awry when he accidentally reads a summoner’s scroll and ends up with a Canid. Forced by the crown and nobility to hide his origins, he finds himself at the grand academy of Vocans, where more than lessons in controlling his magic await. Turns out that he’s the very first commoner blessed with the ability to summon, and danger, political intrigue, rebellion and revolution await, and enemies, some obvious and others subtler, hide in every corner. The humble apprentice from a tiny village in Hominum must decide where his loyalties lie, or it could mean losing the blessed life he’s just found…
This book was a really enjoyable surprise. Arcturus is one of my favorite characters in the whole series, so I was really excited when we realized that the book was about him. He’s probably my favorite adult in the whole thing, so it was really nice to see events from his perspective. It was also really cool to see things before they were ‘modernized’ in the kingdom. I can only hope that Matharu has more to come, because I was hooked. As with most sequels, it took a few chapters for me to remember the world, and what was going on, but once I did, I was sucked into the story of this wayward apprentice who stumbled his way to being a summoner. The pacing was breakneck, and even when I wasn’t reading, it was constantly on my mind. One of my favorite parts of the book was his relationship with the other nobles, though most of them were quite hostile, and the dwarves. I really liked his character development, and his friends and instructors were also a great standout. I can only hope that there’s a sequel, because that ending was killer! As I said, this book is vying for my favorite of the series, it was wonderful. I didn’t want to leave the world that Matharu has created. I wanted to give the book five stars, but at times the political intrigue and the nobles got confusing and hard to follow. But it was such a fun return to a world that I fell in love with, and I really, really hope that there’s more! The bottom line: A fantastic, fun prequel to his sleepaway hit, The Summoner series, The Outcast put the spotlight on one of my favorite characters, and I loved it, despite some confusion to the political intrigue parts of the novel. Hopefully there’s more in the future! Next on deck: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee!