Saturday, December 30, 2023

Book Review: A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education

Naomi Novik
Series: The Scholomance (Book 1)
Publication: Del Rey (September 29, 2020)

Description: I decided that Orion Lake needed to die after the second time he saved my life.

Everyone loves Orion Lake. Everyone else, that is. Far as I’m concerned, he can keep his flashy combat magic to himself. I’m not joining his pack of adoring fans.

I don’t need help surviving the Scholomance, even if they do. Forget the hordes of monsters and cursed artifacts, I’m probably the most dangerous thing in the place. Just give me a chance and I’ll level mountains and kill untold millions, make myself the dark queen of the world.

At least, that’s what the world expects. Most of the other students in here would be delighted if Orion killed me like one more evil thing that’s crawled out of the drains. Sometimes I think they want me to turn into the evil witch they assume I am. The school certainly does.

But the Scholomance isn’t getting what it wants from me. And neither is Orion Lake. I may not be anyone’s idea of the shining hero, but I’m going to make it out of this place alive, and I’m not going to slaughter thousands to do it, either.

Although I’m giving serious consideration to just one.

With flawless mastery, Naomi Novik creates a school bursting with magic like you’ve never seen before, and a heroine for the ages—a character so sharply realized and so richly nuanced that she will live on in hearts and minds for generations to come.

My Thoughts: This story is told by Galadriel, call her El, about her time at the Scolomance, a school for budding magicians. El has a difficult time there because prophecy has said that she will become an evil sorcerer. But El was raised by her flowers and butterflies and positive thinking mother and knows that she can fight her destiny and become the sort of sorcerer she wants to be. 

El's nemesis is Orion Lake. He's the school hero and has single-handedly saved a quarter of their class from being devoured by the many monsters that haunt the school. El doesn't want his help. She's determined to survive the school on her own. But Orion keeps turning up and saving the day. 

There are two kinds of magic in El's world: mana and malia. Mana is positive magic created by effort; malia is negative and stolen from other lives. The school is determined to make El into the sort of sorcerer who pulls and uses malia and turn her out into the world as a maleficer. She's determined not to be turned into one.

There is wonderful and complex worldbuilding in the story. It is filled with magnificent and hungry creatures of all kinds. It is also filled with engaging and well-rounded human characters. I especially liked that El gradually makes friends with some of her human classmates including the dreaded Orion Lake. 

Favorite Quote:
Some sorcerers get an affinity for weather magic, or transformation spells, or fantastic combat magics like dear Orion, I got an affinity for mass destruction. 
I bought this one September 29, 2020. You can buy your copy here.

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