Taran Matharu’s first book book in the Summoner series, The Novice, was the best book I’ve ever read. Until I read the second one in the series, The Inquisition, which is, unbelievably, even better!

The story is set in in an unspecified time period/parallel universe which feels like it’s back in time, a little bit like a Lord of the Rings-style world with elves, orcs and dwarves. The basic story begins with an orphaned teenage boy called Fletcher. He makes friends with a soldier who gives him a book – inside, the book holds a summoning scroll made of skin. The second he’s done reading it out loud, a small salamander demon appears and becomes his best friend. The minds of the demon and Fletcher are bound together, a bit like the daemons in Philip Pullman’s The Northern Lights.

Summoner Novice Taran Matharu
Photograph: PR

I’ve already mentioned two books the Summoner series is a bit like: Lord of the Rings and Northern Lights. It also reminds me a bit of Christopher Paolini Eragon. BUT I need to tell you that these books by Taran Matharu are not mash-ups. The Summoner series is by no means an imitation of any other book. Everything in them (and there’s a bit of Pokemon-style stuff in there too) moves everything on into something completely new and completely and utterly brilliant.

The books are so thrilling, so political, they make you think deeply about your own world as well as transporting you to their world and keeping you on the edge of your seat. They are brilliant on matters of race and class.

One of my favourite characters in the books was Othello, the dwarf. He was such a well-developed character, you really got to know him well – and understand his political situation. The dwarves were discriminated against and didn’t have the same rights as humans. I felt the descriptions of the weapons Othello used were particularly very, very well done. I loved all the descriptions in the series actually, especially the demons.

SUmmoner book two Novice Taran Matharu The Inquisition
Photograph: PR

In my head while I was reading The Summoner series I could see every single scene perfectly. It was the weirdest experience – and I’ve only ever had something close to this feeling when I’m reading fantasy when I read the Hobbit (and SF Said’s Varjak Paw when I was younger). It just captivated my imagination, it played like a film in my mind. Weirdly I won’t say I’m someone who really loves reading in general, even though I love stories, so I crave books that make me feel I’m not reading, to forget the effort of reading. At many points I’d forget I was even reading these books while I was actually reading. It’s really hard to explain but the book was almost like a DVD when I would open the book and The Summoner ‘film’ would play in my mind with no effort at all.

I read books one and two, straight after each other, captivated and thrilled. I admit to crying when I finished book two and I’m now devastated that I have to wait a whole year for book 3. I’m not even sure if I can do it. Taran Matharu is one of the best writers writing today. If you love fantasy please read these books!


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