Canavan, Trudi. The Magician's Apprentice.
This novel is a stand-alone prequel to Canavan's Black Magician trilogy (which I haven't read). The novel kept me occupied, but not fully engaged. The world Canavan has created is adequate in some ways, but for some reason fails to create the involvement one hopes for in fantasy.
The characters never quite come off the page and the plot builds tension that isn't sustained. The "war" and the tactics/strategy are a large portion of the book and strangely insipid. However, when your armies consist of 100 or so magicians on either side, it is a bit difficult to muster a sense of two countries at war.
Tessia, daughter of a Healer, discovers that she also has magical abilities. Lord Dakon takes her on as his second apprentice. Magicians draw magical abilities from their apprentices in exchange for teaching them. The "good" guys are conscientious about this magical draw; the "bad" guys are not. Magical powers seem remarkably dull and frequently useless in this book.
In the last 100 or so pages, there is a definite change in direction as the author (evidently) prepares the ground for the trilogy already published. I didn't find this switch a comfortable one; it seemed contradictory to original characterization and to previous goals.
Fiction. Fantasy. 2009. 588 pages.