I was reading Nevermoor today which triggered a memory of a book I once read while visiting the library. It was some 15 years ago, I was obsessed with Harry Potter so I was probably searching for something similar.

The details are super blurry; I think I can remember the beginning of the book - a young boy around 11 years running through a hill/forest because he is late for something. I think he is a wizard's apprentice but not a very good one, so that's why he is terrified of being late, he will turn up to be incompetent again.

There is a school for witches and wizards and I think he will go there eventually.

I thought maybe it was Septimus Heap but when I bought the book for my Kindle I don't think that it is anymore. I'm googling it like crazy and can't find it.

  • Craig Shaw Gardner wrote a series of six humorous novels featuring the master wizard Ebenezum and his bumbling apprentice Wuntvor. There is a school of wizardry involved.
    – Spencer
    Jun 30, 2019 at 22:13
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    There are lots of examples here: tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WizardingSchool
    – Buzz
    Jun 30, 2019 at 22:15
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    Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! This question would be improved by going through the checklists here; How to ask a good story-ID question?
    – Valorum
    Jun 30, 2019 at 22:27
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    Could it be The Riftwar Saga? The first book depicts a boy running from the weather, and meeting a wizard. As the boy is supposed to be taken as an apprentice in the castle he lives, the wizard decide to take him when no one wants to. But Pug (the boy's name) can't seem to use magic as the wizard can; he seems to have difficulties to use spell at will, but can be really powerfull in case of danger. There is no school though.
    – Lyzvaleska
    Jul 1, 2019 at 7:55
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    @SanjaSrdićJungić At the moment this is quite a general description that is likely to match quite a few works. Can you remember anything else about the story that stuck in your mind? Anything a bit unique about it? Every little detail can help us find this for you. If you remember anything else please edit it in!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


Partial match for Raymond Feist's "Magician", the opening book of the Riftwar Saga.

That also starts with a boy running, but not because he is terribly late. He is trying to outrun bad weather. Along the way he finds shelter in a mage's cottage, after which the mage makes him his apprentice. The boy is terrible at doing magic however.

Partial match, because there is no school in this book until much later, at which point it turns out this boy is actually God's Gift to Magic, just a different type of magic than the old mage was teaching him.

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician—and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever.

Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun.

Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.

  • Whoa! Spoiler alter for the second paragraph! :)
    – Jontia
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:24
  • Maybe add the name of the saga, The Riftwar Saga. That was my answer as well, but the school part made me not put it as a real answer
    – Lyzvaleska
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:28
  • I don't think this is it, but I do agree it sounds a lot like this story :) I'm starting to get so desperate I think I might go to the library and just ask then, with the risk of looking like a complete lunatic :) Jul 1, 2019 at 15:36
  • @SanjaSrdićJungić Well, if they also don't know, I can reccomend Feist. The series that the Magician is the start of is over 20 books long, so should keep you entertained for a while :-)
    – steenbergh
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:38
  • When I read the description in the question this was book that came to my mind.
    – krb
    Jul 1, 2019 at 21:07

Is it A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin?

I suggest it because I read it for the first time about 15 or so years ago when I was also very much into Harry Potter. I distinctly recall a scene where the main character is running through forests/rocky outcroppings several times, both to meet a mentor and to escape a shadow monster. From what I can recall, the character really wanted to prove himself, although I can't remember specifically if he felt incompetent. He also does eventually go to a school to practice his magic.

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

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    Why do you feel this would be a match? :) We generally ask people to explain their answers.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 1, 2019 at 14:53
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    There was never any indication in the Earthsea books that Duny/Ged/Sparrowhawk was bad at magic, even when he was a pre-Naming boy.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:14
  • @ZeissIkon OP never mentioned that the character was bad at magic, only that he was a bad apprentice. ;) If you ask me, being late, summoning shadow monsters, and (later) forming rivalries that distract you from your studies typically make for a bad apprentice.
    – goat_fab
    Jul 1, 2019 at 15:18
  • Doesn't seem like it from the pdf sample, sorry. Jul 1, 2019 at 15:41

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