Author: Raymond E. Feist
Publication Date: Original = October 1982, This Edition = 13th September 2012
Rating: 2/5 stars
The world had changed even before I discovered the foreign ship wrecked on the shore below Crydee Castle, but it was the harbinger of the chaos and death that was coming to our door.
War had come to the Kingdom of the Isles, and in the years that followed it would scatter my friends across the world. I longed to train as a warrior and fight alongside our duke like my foster-brother, but when the time came, I was not offered that choice. My fate would be shaped by other forces.
My name is Pug. I was once an orphaned kitchen boy, with no family and no prospects, but I am destined to become a master magician…
Raymond E. Feist’s masterwork of fantasy and adventure, Magician, has enchanted readers for over thirty years. The inspiration for a generation of authors, it begins one of the most magnificent series in epic fiction, The Riftwar Saga.
I have read some of Feist’s books before and really enjoyed them, so I was kind of expecting more of the same thing. Unfortunately, Magician wasn’t more of the same thing. It was very obviously Feist’s first book and while the story itself was enjoyable, the writing was pretty bad, with repetition and unimaginative sentence structures.
Another problem I had with this story was its massive time jumps. I would just be getting into a character’s story when we would pass over ten years to another point in time. I understand that it is difficult to write on such an epic scale without taking liberties with the timing, but to my mind it felt rushed. I would have preferred to read more books without those huge leaps.
The characters themselves were well-written but I think Feist focused on too many – we had Pug, who I expected to be the main character, based on the blurb, but there were also others, including Tomas, his childhood friend and a warrior, and Arutha, the son of the Duke of Crydee, Pug’s liege-lord. I felt that the story should have focused more on the title character.
The gates between different planets was an interesting addition to the fantasy genre. I suppose I just also note my debt to Feist for revolutionising and paving the way for the genre I love so dearly. I can understand why this book was important in the history of the genre, but I find it difficult to compare It positively to the books I have read recently.
The story follows an incredibly long war between people of different planets, who use magical gates to get to other worlds. The Tsurani are he invaders, a warlike people who appear to have been based on an Asian race. I liked the descriptions of their culture, while the people of Midkemia, Pug’s homeland, were based more on a medieval-esque culture and wasn’t particularly interesting to read about.
There were also elves and dwarves, whose lives we learn about through Tomas’ storyline. Combined with the time jumps and the different story lines, it felt like there was too much going on. I think I would have enjoyed the story more, and considered reading it less of a chore, had there been a narrower focus.
While it hasn’t put me off Feist forever, as I have enjoyed some of his later works, it will be a while before I continue with this series, thank goodness the next few books are significantly thinner! I think I started this book with too many expectations based on my previous reading, my perception of the genre, and what I wanted from the book. While I understand it’s importance in the fantasy genre and the influence it has had on some of my favourite authors, I am glad that my reading of it is behind me.