The Ambassador’s Mission by Trudi Canavan – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2014 Reading Challenge. All my 2014 AWWC reviews can be found here.

The Ambassador's Mission

My first review for the 2014 Australian Women Writers’ challenge. I’m very slow of the mark this year.

Years ago I read Canavan’s first trilogy set in this world – The Black Magician trilogy. I enjoyed it at the time, but hadn’t really followed up on any of Canavan’s other work. When looking for books for the 2014 Australian Women Writers challenge, the thought of continuing some adventures in the same world appealed.

Having been years since reading the first trilogy, it took me a while to re-orient myself in The Ambassador’s Mission. There was a bit of assumed knowledge in the first few chapters – assumed knowledge that I couldn’t quite bring to bear. It made the first part of the novel hard going – I couldn’t remember the rules of the world, exactly what black magic was (for instance), who the characters from the last trilogy were and their relationships with each other.

Once I got past that “entrance exam”, I remembered why I’d liked the first trilogy. Canavan has created an interesting world and this new book expanded that world significantly. The focus on different countries and cultures was very interesting.

Canavan makes interesting comments on same sex relationships and gendered power imbalances through some of her choices for her characters. The points are well made without being overwhelming and I think added to a more sophisticated feel for the book.

Having said all that, the plot is a little slow for my tastes and it didn’t feel like the characters were in enough “peril” (for want of a better word). I never strongly felt that there was a possibility that they would fail (or die), and without that I found it difficult to get as strongly engaged with the characters as I would have liked.

A great book and well worth the read, especially if you like a more sophisticated take on a secondary world fantasy.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.

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This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.


2014 Australian Women Writers’ Reading Challenge

If you’re looking at my blog more generally, you can probably tell that I’m in catch up mode for finishing off my 2013 reviews for the Australian Women Writers’ reading challenge. Given I’m focused on the challenge today, I thought I’d also announce my intention to give it a whirl again in 2014.



Once again I’ll be trying the Franklin level – read at least 10 books, review at least 6. And this year I’ve given particular consideration to trying to extend my reading beyond speculative fiction. My heart has warmed as I’ve read of others that have expanded their horizons, and reaped the rewards of an enhanced and more nuanced view of the world. People have almost uniformly announced that they are better people for reading more widely, and it has been pointed out to me that I should take any opportunity to be a better person. I’m working from a fairly low base.

But bollocks to that – I’m lucky to find any time at all to read, and I’m always feeling guilty that I don’t keep up with all the releases in the speculative fiction field. I don’t want to feel guilty across multiple genres. And besides, being a better person is overrated.

So, Franklin level is the name, and speculative fiction is the game. I’ve got quite a few books that I didn’t get to in 2013, plus a lot of new releases and old series I’m looking forward to getting stuck into.

Interested in participating in this year’s challenge? Go to the 2014 challenge website and sign up. You won’t regret it. (*)



(*) Musing of a Wannabe Speculative Fiction Writer cannot guarantee a 100% absence of regret for any activities advocated on this site.  I’d put this in the low 90s though.