Book Review: A Darkness at Sethanon by Feist

A Darkness at Sethanon (The Riftwar Saga, #4)A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final installment to the Riftwar Saga series contained page-turning action and most of the answers to mysteries and questions posed from earlier in the series, including a surprise twist that posed … more questions. While I enjoyed reading A Darkness at Sethanon, I felt the characters gained less growth this time around, being more reactive to the harsh circumstances thrown at them on their quest to stop Murandamus. The Pug, Tomas and Macros cameo chapters intrigued me the most, providing more background about themselves and the other elves, and more worldbuilding with glimpses of rift space and the end or beginning of the universe.

I enjoyed reading this series and feel it provides a good solid fantasy adventure story.

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Book Review: Silverthorn by Feist

Silverthorn (The Riftwar Saga, #3)Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(To view spoilers, please highlight this redacted text.)

With the closing of the rift at the end of Magician, I wondered where Raymond Feist would take me in Silverthorn, the next novel in the Riftwar Saga series. The three brothers (Arutha, Lyam and Martin) spent a year touring the Kingdom and returned to Krondor to plan Arutha and Anita’s wedding. Jimmy the Hand, a young full-of-himself thief and rising star in the Mockers, foiled an assassination attempt upon Prince Arutha. Because Jimmy aided both Anita and Arutha in escaping Krondor during the Riftwar, he chose to warn Arutha before reporting to the Mockers, and for his divided loyalty he was branded a traitor by his Guild. Arutha haggled with the Upright Man, the leader of the Mockers and, unknown to Jimmy, his father. Arutha agrees to make Jimmy his Squire and the Mockers agree to hunt for the Night Hawk assassins. With the Mockers’ assistance, Arutha invades the Night Hawks’ hideout in Krondor, but what should have been a rout, instead turns into a zombie apocalypse melee until Jimmy burns the place down around them.

Thinking the threats to his life abated, Arutha and Anita proceed with their wedding. Jimmy gets a bad feeling and restlessly searches the upper galleries of the hall, stumbling upon a former high-ranking Mocker now turned assassin. Despite being knocked senseless, gagged and restrained, Jimmy manages to divert the assassin’s shot, which misses Arutha but strikes his bride-to-be Anita. Even the great Pug can’t cure Anita, so he places a spell upon her that slows time down to a barely perceptible crawl, allowing Arutha time to find an antidote for the poison. An interrogation session with the assassin reveals the name of the poison (and also the antidote) to be ‘silverthorn’ but no one on hand in Krondor has ever heard of it.

Thus, a quest is begun. Pug returns to Stardock to search Macros’ library and eventually discovers a way to return to Kelewan, where an even more comprehensive library exists founded by the Tsurani Assembly of Great Ones. Predictably, Pug is detained as a result of his last acts at the Imperial Games before closing the rift. Meanwhile, Arutha and a small party, including Jimmy, head to the Kingdom’s own repository of knowledge at Sarth.

Eventually, knowledge of the silverthorn is gleaned and Arutha’s party seeks it through elven territory in the west and the far northern reaches of Midkemia. Pug extricates himself from detention and goes on his own quest for the Watchers, also in the far northern reaches, but on Kelewan. Both storylines include action, adventure, danger, puzzles and more walking dead. Jimmy provides some sidekick humor to lighten the mood.

Arutha returns with the antidote and saves Anita. Jimmy continues his campaign to become Duke of Krondor. Pug finds the Watchers and agrees to be instructed in magic for a year.

Silverthorn delivered an almost typical quest adventure, focusing on Arutha’s obsessive need to save Anita and Jimmy’s transition from thief to trusted companion and squire to Arutha. Even though Pug only popped in for a few chapters, I am positive his quest will result in further adventures in later novels. Tomas appeared only in a couple of brief cameos, but at least he’s settling in nicely among the elves and fatherhood agrees with him. Princess Caroline, twice bereft of lovers in Magician, sets her sights on Laurie and I see another royal wedding in the near future.

Probably not quite a four star rating, but definitely better than three or three and a half. Stop in at Fantasy Book Club Series group to review discussions of Silverthorn (with a Q&A thread monitored by Raymond E. Feist) from April 2011.

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Book Review: Magician: Master by Feist

Magician: Master (The Riftwar Saga, #2)Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second half of Magician became increasingly dark as I approached the climactic end to the Kelewan-Midkemian Riftwar. I observed definite growth to full maturity between Pug and Tomas, and perhaps that growth from boyhood through young adult into adulthood is what I lament – the rite of passage of most normal young boys, though Pug and Tomas could never be mistaken for normal. While everything seemed wondrous and adventurous in the first half of the novel (also known as Magician: Apprentice), I felt the oppression of circumstances, the collision of events and the machinations of a magician previously thought trustworthy. Not all was dark and gloomy, yet I didn’t walk away from this book thinking it ended on a resoundingly happy note.

A couple of scenes stood out as a bit over-the-top and stretched the envelope of believability: Milamber’s reaction to the Imperial Games and Tomas’ ability to overcome a dead dreaded god-like being with his boyish mental fortitude. And I can’t deny I felt gut-punched by the eleventh-hour betrayal by Macros. (to view spoiler, please highlight this paragraph).

For a debut work, I applaud Raymond Feist for a magnificent tale and the beginning to a well-loved fantasy epic. I’m continuing the Riftwar Saga by reading Silverthorn this month.

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Book Review: Magician: Apprentice by Feist

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read in February 2011

I am kicking myself for not reading this novel when published, my only excuse being I was a teenager with no funds and no connections (remember the state of the Internet in 1982?). I lived twenty miles away from the nearest library back then. If my mom didn’t own the book, I didn’t get to read it.

This story overflows with likable characters: Pug, Tomas, Carline, Roland, Arutha, Kulgan, Meecham, just to name a few. The pacing skips, trots, canters, gallops, crashes, walks, jumps, and flies. The magic system teases you through Pug’s apprenticeship, yet we glimpse broader examples through Kulgan and the invaders. The classic fantasy races make an appearance via elves (both light and dark or good and bad as you prefer), dwarfs, goblins, trolls and dragons.

The world building interwove seamlessly with the narrative as we followed along with Pug and Tomas as they ventured along with the Duke’s expedition to seek aid to stave off an invasion of aliens from his royal kin over the mountains and east of his far western holding of Crydee. The aliens control rifts between their world, Kellewan, and Midkemia, where the Kingdom reigns through the Duke’s royal relatives. Through these rifts, the aliens establish a bridgehead and proceed to slowly encroach upon Midkemia, first to mine metals in the mountains east of Crydee, and then to expand westward to gain access to the sea.

The book ends abruptly, but understandably so, since the original publication was one large volume, not the two we see today published as Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master. I look forward to reading the second half of this opening salvo in the Riftwar Saga next month.