A Deadly Education (The Scholomance #1), by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was a fairly mixed bag of a read… A school for kids learning to control their magic, surrounded by hostile creatures and even the school making life as hard as possible for its pupils. Pupils who are left entirely on their own – no teachers, hardly any protection and a deadly competition for resources, power and the arcane…

It sounds all so well and, indeed, I was drawn into the book fairly quickly: We’re accompanying Galadriel (El) during her penultimate school year which she passes by scolding the local hero Orion Lake (yes… the rest is silence…) for almost desperately trying to get on her good side.

Sadly, El’s “good side” is something she strongly tries to hide by playing bad ass…

»Meanwhile I was well on the way to successfully making myself violently, instead of just modestly, hateful to every enclave kid in the place, probably before the end of term at my current pace.«

… and almost to this reader as well. Her treatment of Orion, her social awkwardness, it all felt so very, very young adult (and I’m not sure about the “adult” part in that) that I frequently got annoyed and rolled my eyes at so much fumbling.

There’s also not much of a plot – gather information, get attacked, make friends, fix a major problem, get the guy – that’s pretty much all there is to be found story-wise.

The characters are also rather bland and shallow – the in-kids are pretty much only annoying with few redeeming qualities, Orion Lake is the archetypal white knight who comes to everyone’s rescue (but with special fervour if a damsel in distress is involved!) and even El and her two friends are about as shallow as a puddle.

The writing is adequate for that and, thus, serves its purpose.

And despite all that, I still enjoyed “A Deadly Education” – the setting of a magical school somewhere out of the normal realms, an isolated population scheming, some really interesting ideas about monsters and the dark side of magic as well as the showdown at the end; it all appealed to me and made me read on.

I might even pick up the next book in the series as well.

(Barely) four stars out of five.

P.S.: No, El is not Murderbot. They play in entirely different leagues.

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