Magician by Raymond E. Feist, USA, 1983

Magician by Raymond E. Feist, USA, 1983

Covering an overwhelming 841 pages, Magician – a fantasy – is a feat of imagination, planning, and realization. Feist’s management of the story, on many different levels and with a host of characters, is to be admired. Moreover, as Feist would have written it prior to the advent of the basic PC he would not have had access to the memory and organization tools that are now an accepted part of any computer. However, while some of the writing hints at hidden talents, much of it is fairly mediocre. Characterization is a weak point, and many situations, vital to the development of the story, are handled superficially or, in some cases, are relegated to a couple of sentences. I also felt it slumped a little around the half-way mark, and I found myself occasionally checking how many pages I had left to read.

Among the main characters, Pug (the magician) and Thomas (his friend) stand out as pivot points around which the entire story moves in undulating waves. Pug, an orphan, lives at Crydee Castle in a place called Midkemia and, in his early teens, is apprenticed to the castle magician; his friend Thomas is apprenticed to the sword master. It is as this point that their lives move in two very different directions. As the story progresses over a twelve-year period, it splits between Midkemia, which has a mediaeval feel about it, and another world called Kelewan. Feist’s description of Kelewan is interesting, and there are many facets of this other world that put me in mind of Japan, but whether this is intentional or not is difficult to say.

The story, with humans, outworlders, elves, dark elves, goblins, dwarves, kings, dukes, magicians, and pirates placed against a background of war, treachery, and a rift between two worlds, is, on the whole, sufficiently captivating to keep readers turning pages. Nevertheless, having finished the book, I feel that it could have gained by being somewhat shorter (some passages are unnecessarily long) and that a list of characters should have been included with the maps as reference material.

Magician (Feist’s first book) is Book One of the series called the Rift War series, but whether or not I am motivated to continue with further titles remains to be seen.

The image of Raymond Feist is from Twitter

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