Fiction Review: A Deadly Education: Lesson One of the Scholomance by Naomi Novik
Posted on February 25, 2021 at 6:50 am by Gene Ambaum
A Deadly Education: Lesson One of the Scholomance by Naomi Novik. Del Rey, 2020. 9780593128480. 324pp.
The Scholomance is a high school where teens learn magic. It is in a mystic void and barely connected to the real world. There are no teachers. There are strict rules and, in other ways, no rules at all. Students learn languages and spells and other magical skills. They gather mana. And they spend most of it trying to survive every moment of every day because when the school isn’t trying to kill them there are maleficaria (the monsters trying to feed on the students) as well as maleficers (students who feed on other students). To have a chance to make it through graduation, most band together in alliances. Some are already members of powerful enclaves when they come into the school, while others will do anything to join. Still, only about a quarter of the students survive, sometimes far less.
Orion Lake is the current school hero. He fights all of the monsters that invade the Scholomance, and almost everyone is swooning over him. (This makes sense as he’s saved most of them). El is not impressed. In fact she’s annoyed that he just saved her life. She’s friendless, and everyone thinks she’s probably an evil maleficer. Really she’s just trying to figure out a way to impress other students with her affinity for mass destruction, because she needs to attract allies to have a chance of making it out of the school alive at the end of her senior year. But it’s hard to impress anyone because Orion Lake keeps saving her. And now those in Lake’s enclave think she and Lake are dating, which may make school even more dangerous for her.
This is a brilliant fantasy novel that will appeal to fans of the whole magical school genre and anyone looking for a book that they won’t be able to put down. I read it in a rush, and enjoyed it as much as Novik’s Uprooted.Tags