The first book in Mitchell Hogan‘s Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, A Crucible Of Souls, is already a winner, having snagged the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel back when it was a self-published novel. Now, the Australian author has signed on with Harper Voyager for a revised reprint of the series, and after having read this first installment, I can see why the publisher would want to take a chance on it. It’s a well-written coming-of-age tale told in a high fantasy setting complete with magic, spells, secrets, and mysteries.
A Crucible Of Souls centers on Caldan, an orphan who was raised and educated by monks who took him in at a young age after his parents died. Since the other students at the remote monastery come from rich, prestigious families, Caldan has always known his place — keep his head down, learn as much as he can, and appreciate the life he was given because there are others like him who are not as fortunate. While he grew up without the love and support of a family, he does have one friend he’s close to, Jemma, a fellow student with the potential to become more than friends with him one day. In the meantime, the young man is preparing for his future, with the hopes of leaving his island habitat to move to the city to work once he’s completed his studies, as he’s shown great skill for the magical talent of crafting. But after an altercation with another student, the monks expedite Caldan’s original plans, sending him off to the city with nothing but a few family heirlooms and a new piece of information about his parents and the possible dangers he now faces.