‘Priestess of the White’ by Trudi Canavan is the first book in the ‘Age of the Five’ trilogy and it follows Auraya, a girl who finds herself being initiated into the White – representatives of the five gods and rulers of Hania. Being chosen comes with all sorts of responsibility and Auraya must navigate the realms of diplomacy and alliances all the while learning of her new powers and becoming embroiled in a war.
The world-building in this book is fantastic. Each country and culture is believable and well-developed. I especially loved the Siyee, a diminutive species with wings to help them fly with the wind. Canavan treated the differences with respect, giving each culture their own strengths and weaknesses, forcing no way of life above the other. The use of magic was also particularly poignant. It is controlled by a clear set of rules, and even the White’s abilities have their limitations. I loved the different sets of magic utilised by the White and their followers and those used by the Dreamweavers and the Wilds. The dynamics laid out by the plot between these people was fascinating and, although not gone into too much detail in this novel, I have a strong suspicion it will come to a head in later books.
The characters are equally as impressive. Auraya, as a main character, is well-developed, realistic and a delight to read. Despite the fact that her abilities are impressive and she becomes a White at a young age, she comes across very well. There is no arrogance in her achievements; rather you can relate the nerves and pressure of being involved with something big despite still being in training. Her empathy is what struck with me the most combined with the vulnerability still present alongside her power. The novel is told in multiple perspectives, and the other characters do not disappoint. Each one brings their own unique perspective and element to the story, adding different layers, which ultimately come together in a brilliant conclusion.
With the characters and the world as impressive as they are, the story cannot help but be amazing. The book is enormous (676 pages), but it read like something half its length. I found myself completely engrossed in the story and struggled to put it down. It reads really well, and you find yourself so invested in the characters and plot that time flies as you read. I will admit, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see any of Auraya’s priestess training, with the story jumping straight to her initiation as a White, but with as much story as was in the rest of the book, getting to see the training would have just been a small bonus.
I am really looking forward to seeing how the trilogy progresses. If they are as good as ‘Priestess of the White’, I will be ridiculously happy. It is definitely a fantasy series to be read.