Baz has always dreamed about leaving his dusty little town, so when a stranger comes to his family’s home and asks him to be a weaver’s apprentice, Baz is eager to start his journey. He and the stranger travel for several sunrises and sunsets until they reach the land of Kallah, where Baz starts his apprenticeship—and soon learns that his master is very cruel. Baz is disheartened, and when the master trades Baz for a sword to a magician, Baz expects no better from his new owner. But as Baz travels further into the depths of the desert with this kind–hearted and wise magician, he learns to re-examine his beliefs about people, the world, and himself, discovering that everything is connected in a continuous journey toward destiny and that no person or thing can ever really be owned.
I accepted The Magician’s Apprentice not realizing it’s a children’s book, and it took me a few starts before I really got going on it (one of those was due to technical difficulties on my end), but I ended up enjoying it. The story reminded me a lot of The Little Prince meets The Alchemist, it has a somewhat mystical quality, and the writing is lyrical and beautiful.
There’s no actual magic, as the magician Todas is really an illusionist, and while the idea of destiny and all things being one is that of Middle Eastern philosophy, I don’t think Christians would be offended by the Todas’s teachings to Baz.
The story does move a little slowly, and while the target audience is middle grade, I’m not sure kids that age would quite understand what’s going on, and the lack of action prevents it from having broad appeal. That being said, this is a great multi-cultural book that introduces subject matter kids may not be aware of in an interesting way.
Notes on the audiobook: I greatly enjoyed this performance of The Magician’s Apprentice. At only 3 hours it’s a nice, quick listen. The narrator uses distinctive voices for the characters, something I always appreciate when done well. Note that the print version features small illustrations however I don’t feel anything was lost to the story in the audio version.