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This was the first book in a series but I only read the one book.

At the start of the story the main character is living in a village or small town. He travels to a city for training and gets tested (he may have been tested at the village, I can't remember exactly) and is discovered to be a mage. I think most mages at the school are from wealthy families.

There are mages and archmages, I think generally mages are weaker and when mages run out of magic completely they lose their magic permanently. Archmages can run out of magic without losing their magic permanently. No archmages have been born for a long time but mages can form a link with another mage and become an archmage.

Near the end of the book the main character attends a party with a friend from a wealthy family and cools the room down to make people more comfortable, then he gets attacked and he runs out of magic since it is all used to heal himself keeping him alive. This happens at the end of the book and I think the implication is that he is probably an arch mage but this wasn't explicit.

I think I read the book about 4 years ago, I think it was a fairly modern book but I wouldn't normally pay much attention to the publication date.

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    Welcome to the site. When did you read this book, and when do you think it might've been published? Apr 12, 2021 at 11:50

3 Answers 3

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This looks to me like a slightly distorted memory of A Wizard of Earthsea, the first Earthsea book by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Duny grows up in a small village on the island of Gont; when the Kargads attack, he uses magic to defeat them (confusing them with a fog). This is very unusual for a child still short of his naming day, so when that day comes, he is sent off with Ogion, the wizard who gave him his adult name (Ged). There he studies as an apprentice, but he becomes impatient, wanting to work greater magic, so Ogion recommends him to the School on Roke.

At that School, (where in fact most of the students are from wealthy families or sent by the rulers of the various islands) he learns to be a wizard, but one night at a gathering of the students, they get to showing off and Ged (now known to others are Sparrowhawk, because one's true name gives others power over you) works a true Summoning, from a forbidden book, and brings something inimical into the world.

The Archmage Nemmerle temporarily banishes the thing, but spends himself so completely he dies of it.

After he graduates from the School on Roke, Ged goes to be a local wizard, and has adventures, but always he is haunted by the thing he summoned; along the way, he becomes a Dragonlord (defined as one a dragon will speak to, rather than eating), and in the end sails far into the east, to the edge of the known world beyond all islands, and finally catches up to the thing and defeats it by naming it with his own name.

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  • Certainly the first thing I thought of.
    – Spencer
    Apr 12, 2021 at 12:41
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    Thanks for the suggestion, there are some similarities. I have read the Earthsea series a while ago so I'm pretty sure it wasn't in that series. I'm fairly sure that the main character went straight from the village to the school without being an apprentice.
    – Jonathan
    Apr 12, 2021 at 12:43
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    @Spencer: Same, here, but it breaks down almost immediately on the third paragraph when talking about "There are mages and archmages". Earthsea has a few cases of mages burning out, but all mages have effectively infinite magical resources over time, they just can't overdo it all at once. And Archmage is a title for a single person, there's no separate classes of mages and archmages (wizards and sorcerers are separate, but neither runs out of magic normally). I think the problem is here is that Wizard of Earthsea is just the type story for "the hero's journey (wizard style)". Apr 13, 2021 at 3:36
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    @ShadowRanger We frequently have to assume that OP got some details wrong. Remember Archmage Ged burned out at the end.
    – Spencer
    Apr 15, 2021 at 23:52
  • @Spencer: If the OP had said they read it 20 years ago, sure, there can be a lot of drift in that time. But there are a number of very specific details here that aren't remotely related to Wizard of Earthsea, and the OP read this book just four years ago. The vague generalities match, but the specifics don't; there's no "mages as a class run out of power", there's no "mages can form a link with another mage and become an archmage", no "cooling a room", and Ged's burn out is at the end of the third book in a fight in the land of the dead; OP never read beyond book one. Apr 16, 2021 at 0:27
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I think the book/series you are referring to is The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan. The synopsis from Wikipedia:

The books follow a slum-dwelling girl named Sonea who, although born and raised in the slums of Imardin, discovers that she has natural magical abilities usually restricted to the upper classes. They describe her attempts to escape capture by the Magicians' Guild and gain control of her powers, her struggle to fit in and learn magic, and ultimately her attempts to save Kyralia using the one type of magic forbidden from use. In the early parts, she is frightened and distrustful of the powerful magician Akkarin, eventually coming to trust him, and the two of them fall deeply in love - with Akkarin finally dying in battle with the evil Ichani, the grieving Sonea left to bear his child and carry on his magical work

The High Lord (chief magician) uses a forbidden form of magic that allows him to take the power of others and store it himself.

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The book you are talking about is likely Alistair Archibald's Questor series.

It's about a boy whose grandfather who was also a wizard that was disgraced and his powers removed. He was sent to the training house where his grandfather trained to prove himself.

According to this review, he does become an Archmage.

... Strangely, in his first quest, Grimm became a world cleaving mage. No build up, no trials an tribulations, just start to archmage status. Granted, there are a few minor bumps in the road, but nothing that Grimm can't fix in a chapter or two.

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    Please explain why you think the answer matches. Including quotes from the book relevant to OP's memories would be excellent.
    – Harabeck
    Dec 15, 2021 at 21:06
  • About a boy who his grandfather who was also a wizard that was disgraced and his powers removed. He was sent to the training house where his grandfather trained and proved himself Dec 15, 2021 at 21:09
  • The part in the question about the distinction between a mage and an archmage seems very important, and I can't find anything about that in the summaries of the books. Can you edit in some quotes or details that show how this matches?
    – DavidW
    Dec 15, 2021 at 21:26
  • @DavidW: FWIW, this Amazon review mentions him becoming an Archmage somewhat anticlimacticly.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 15, 2021 at 21:30

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