I was a little hesitant when I first started this one, because how many times can you read the blacksmith-apprentice-turned-powerful-dude story without your brain leaking out of your ears? But! This one was actually worth it. It’s a simple, uncomplicated book but still manages to cover off on some very interesting topics (peer pressure, a bit of bullying, feeling like an outsider, etc).
I did find the beginning just a little too clichéd - Fletcher just happens to find a scroll that summons demons and it just happens to work for him and then he just happens to get in a situation that means he needs to leave town, but once the story actually gets going, it’s easy to forget it. That aside, I found the whole thing to be well written, and while it seems to be pitched at a younger audience, there’s definitely a bit of something for everyone.
The whole method of demon summoning, and the limitations on it, were really interesting. I very much liked the concept that each person has a limit to the strength of the demons they can summon. I won’t go into detail, but the whole process of getting a demon for the first time (Fletcher’s experience being an anomaly) was also very nicely done.
The dwarves and their story were probably my favourite part of the whole thing, and it looks like they’re going to be an important part going forward. Ignatius was just a lot of fun - I want one of my own, the cheeky little scamp. The rest of the characters are all great (in their own ways), and it was great to see a decent variety of personalities.
After the cliff-hanger ending of book 1, I’m really looking forward to book 2 and seeing how the characters grow once they’re out of the academy.