Monday, 21 July 2014

Riftwar Saga #1-2: Magician by Raymond E. Feist

Published: 2009 by Harper Collins (first published October 1st 1982)
Goodreads Summary: 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.


Many people had told me that Magician from Raymond E. Feist was a REALLY GOOD fantasy book. So, I actually had high expectation for this one. Unfortunately, after a hundred of pages all my expectation got shot down. 

First off, Magician is SUPER long. It was more than 700 pages. I have nothing against long book, as long as they don’t make me yawn.  The yawn factor is a mixture of several things:  The pace was off, the characters were bland, the author can’t deal with romance, telling instead of showing was Feist's favourite formula (which is always a recipe for literary disasters), there was too much things going on with the plot, too many over the top and/ or rushed scenes and there were smears of LOTR rip off.

One day, out of the blue, the region of Crydee belonging to the Kingdom of the Isle starts being attacked by the Tsurani, people with Asian features who come from a completely different world called Kelewan. A magical rift which also suddenly appeared allow this whole world travelling. *sighs* (writing about this book even makes me sleep but whatevaa). By the way, Islemen are white people (am I the only one who feel some unconscious racial prejudice?) and their kingdom belong to the world of Midkemia. 

So, the Duke of Crydee, Borric conDoin decides to travel to Rillanon, the capital of Isle to inform his King.  Are also part of this journey, his second son Arutha, his troops, his master of arms Fannon and his personal magician (I couldn’t think of a better way to put it) Kulgan. Both have an apprentice, blond, good-looking and good natured Tomas is aiming to become a glorious soldier  and the short , dark-haired and clever Pug is learning (with many difficulties) the craft of magic. The story mostly centres on them.

Early during the trip, Tomas is trapped in a cave with Dworkin, a dwarf and must therefore remains behind in Elvandar, the Elves’ country. By the way, just so you know, the Elves Queen’s name is Aglaranna, she’s beautiful, tall, gracious, old beyond time and her name means Shining Moon in the ancient tongue (no kidding!).  She’ll also fall in love with Tomas, but that’s for later. And Pug is captured by Tsurani soldiers during a raid and subsequently carried in Kelewan and made a slave (Yeah, life’s a bitch sometimes). 

I don’t even know where I should start ‘cause there’s so many things that received *the confused shake of head*.  Okay, let’s start with the pace. The story spans over more than a decade. At the beginning our heroes are about 11, then about a hundreds of page later or so, they get to thirteen. So far, all is well and good. But then later, things start to go messy. Sometimes, you turn a couple of pages, and you realize that four years lapsed O_o, at other times one years, two years, I mean whatever, the time spanning is ALL over the place. The pacing didn’t actually annoy me, it merely perplexed me. It was just so random, like DANG.

When I started Magician, I was looking forward to seeing Arutha, Lord Borric’s second son, because so many people loved him. And really, after the thousands of pages I swallowed, when my brain starts thinking about him, it goes ──── error...──── nothing found...──── bland *crash*. The same goes for every single character in this book. I found the whole cast uninteresting. 

I think this feeling stems from the author’s writing. As I mentioned in this review’s intro, Feist tells rather than show. His writing lacks imagery, because of that, in my opinion, there isn’t any substance, any personality or flow to its characters. For example, a character may be described as ill-tempered, but you don’t really feel it. Let’s take Arutha, he’s described as shrewd, sullen and quiet.  I’m told these things, and every now and then I might say that Arutha did a smart thing, or doesn’t talk much, but still, there’s no life inside the character. 

To me, it’s just words written on paper, when it should be an imaginary person for whom I’ll want to root for (or not), that I’ll want to know more about, that I’ll want to have an happy ending (or end miserable and alone). What I’m trying to say, is that this person should stir something inside me, because that’s what characters in books are meant to do. Whether you like them or not, they should arouse some emotions.

And unfortunately, in Magician, I felt nothing for none of the characters. The love stories (which I’m usually always looking forward in a book) were equally dull.

But the main problem I have with Magician, the thing that really bothered me, is that things were either over the top or/and rushed and EVERYTHING was so obvious. There was absolutely ZERO suspense.

This gutted me so much that I’m going to make a list of the time I shook my head in disappointed and/or bewildered :

- the King of the Isle is becoming mad and there’s this bad guy Guy du Bas-Tyra who’d really like to wear his crown. He already has a lot of power and would rather prolong the war if it meant becoming King. Borric hates him and he and his sons are also in the waiting line for the highest spot in the kingdom. We never get to know why Borric hated Guy so much and Guy is dealt with in a matter of a few pages. So much build up for nothing.

-During their trip to Rillanon, Pug and a few men of the Duke talk about the legendary sorcerer Macros. And a few pages later, obviously they met him. This Macros also gift his magician’s staff to Pug. And of course, he has something to do with the rift.

- When Tomas is trapped in the cave, he meets a dragon *insert immense side eyes*. This dragon is about to die, and since Tomas and Dwarkin are witnessing his death, he hands downs everything he possessed to them. Tomas decides to take a golden armor. Thanks to this armor, Tomas goes from a sweet little boy, to a psycho master swordsman. Yeah, ‘cause this piece of golden metal was enchanted. Such an easy way to power up a character. Tomas’ possession was actually interesting but he shouldn’t have become that scarily strong that soon (or that effortlessly).

- A toddler would have figured who was going to end with whom, even though the level of chemistry between the characters was as low as the temperature in Antarctica. And I never really understood why, but wise, ancient, Aglaranna fell in love with Tomas (even though she knew he could be a danger to her race).

- In the first part of the book, Pug couldn’t really use magic. Pug’s days as a slave end when a Tsuranni magician detects his power and subsequently take Pug with him so that he can practice magic. We never really know how or why, but Pug becomes excellent after his training in the magician’s “academy”. Apparently, the reason he couldn’t use magic under Kulgan’s tutelage was because his teacher was a magician of the lesser path while he was of a higher one. Ahhhhh...No further explanation is given.

- By the way, just before Pug met this magician, another slave had predicted that his social status was going to change soon. I warned you that suspense was not the author’s forte.

- Elves believe that when they die, they will go to a blessed Island. Massive Shout Out to Tolkien.

I could go on and on with this list but I won’t ‘cause I’ll start spoiling you.

There were actually a couple of things that I liked about Magician. The part with the Valheru was really interesting and I genuinely wanted to know more about them. I was interested by The Enemy and what its coming might mean. However, this was truly the only two things that warmed me. I who LOVE political intrigue, didn’t care for the fight for the throne. 

When I compare Magician to the Daughter of the Empire (from The Empire Trilogy) written by the same author in partnership with Janny Wurts, I can only think one thing: EPIC FAIL!


  1. OHHHHH MAAAAN! This book is my favourite fantasy book of all time XD and yet, I understand exactly where you're coming from with a lot of points. For me, the bit that threatened to make or break was when Pug becomes Milander and practically forgets who he is - and the same happens to Tomas when he wears the armor that those old crazy evil Gods used to wear.

    The essences of the character were stretched to breaking point but I felt that Feist was able to bring it back for a suitable ending. Okay, if you didn't like this, I HAVE to read Daughter Of The Empire and see what the fuss is about!

  2. LOL! It's always like that, someone's favorite book will be someone else most hated book, xd. You HAVE to read Daughter of the Empire, lol. It's an amazing book. The characters were more interesting and better fleshed than in Magician. Besides, the writing is better and more compelling. Okay, I know that my opinion might be a little biased because I hated Magician, lol.


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