In An Unexpected Apprentice and A Forthcoming Wizard Jody Lynn Nye has created a fascinating world. Only humans and elves are “original” species. Everything else, from werewolves to centaurs to halflings, has been created by the Makers, powerful wizards that lived thousands of years ago. The Makers then put the reality of the world into a book called the Compendium. The book reflects reality so much that if something is changed in it, that same thing is also changed in the world. This naturally makes the book intensely desirable for all sorts of people, wizards and otherwise.
As far as I can tell, An Unexpected Apprentice, the first book in the series, covers the stealing of the book by a wizard named Nemeth, and everything the good guys went through to get it back. A Forthcoming Wizard follows the journey to return the book to safety. The bad guys aren’t gone, though, and there are a couple of warring factions that would like the book for their very own. The book’s protector is halfling Tildi Summerbee. She’s the only one that doesn’t get burned by touching the book, due to owning a piece of copy of it as a child. She and her protectors are traveling south, accompanied by the Scholardom – a group originally created to protect and study the book, but whose aims have gone far astray.
I enjoyed the story. The events were intriguing enough to keep me interested and keep me guessing how the good guys would win in the end (because of course they would; there was never any doubt of that). The characters also caught my interest, especially little Tildi – a homebody halfling suddenly thrown into events that could (and did) change her world. It was really the world that drew me in the most, though. The idea of species created by the Makers is fascinating. Can you imagine the power to create a whole new species? It also created a hierarchy, though. Were the created species equal to the “natural” species? What if someone felt that things should return to the way they originally were? Do they have the right to un-create species? Nye explores these issues to a certain extent. I would have been happy if she had gone even further and explored even deeper.
As a former fantasy devotee, I did enjoy this book. I probably would have enjoyed it even more in high school, at the peak of my fantasy devotion. As an adult, I saw how Nye could have expanded her themes to include even more of a message, but I also saw how the story and the world provided an escape from this world’s reality. I just may find the first book in the series now and see how it all began.