A Darkness at Sethanon- Raymond E Feist

The Riftwar Saga

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  A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E Feist is the third and final instalment of the Riftwar Saga. In it we have the final show down between Prince Arutha (aka The Lord of the West) and Murmandamus.

A year has passed since the Prince and his supporters defeated the Brotherhood of Darkness, and restored Princess Anita to full health. However, it is becoming evident that for the bad guys, that was simply a minor set back and that only defeat at an apparently pre-ordained time and place will decided the thing once and for all. The Prince, with some help from his friends manages to sneak out of Krondor and set off on his quest.

Meanwhile we catch-up with Pug who at the end of the previous was still in Kelewan, in search of help to defeat ‘The Enemy’, that he and the rest of the Assembly are convinced are ultimately behind the impending catastrophe set to befall the known (and unknown universe). After a year with the eldar cousins of the elves of Midkemia learning more about the nature of magic, he returns to his home world to team up with his childhood friend Tomas to search for Marcos the Black, a mission that will see them touring the universe on the back of a dragon learning more about themselves and coming to terms with their power.

The whole thing culminates in the final battle, that has been where we were headed all along.

If it sounds like I was underwhelmed by this book, that is true. After the first book, Magician, I was expecting much more.  Magician after all is one of the best, and most rich and complex examples of the fantasy genres that I have read in a long while. However, while this does what you expect, the quest, the magic, the ultimate battle at the end, it fails to do  much more than deliver the stock standard formula. The thing I loved most about the first book, was the incredible depth that was given the all the characters, and their relationships with each other. However, in this (and also in the second book), we rarely go much below the surface of any of the characters. Even the main characters have very little meat on them. As for the women, they are all but invisible, shunted off to some ‘safe’ corner of the story to be brought back at the end, when the blokes are finished saving the world, for a celebratory shag.

However, having said all that the book is okay, for what it is. Readers will be satisfied by the conclusion, with all the main threads tied up neatly. There is plenty in the way of action, blood and gore to keep things interesting and it isn’t an unpleasant way to pass the time.

Silverthorn- Raymond E Feist

Silverthorn by Raymond E Feist is the second instalment of the Riftwar Saga Trilogy. All the folk we came to know in Magician are back. Instead of focusing on the exploits of Pug and Tomas, this time the stars of the show are the newly crowned Prince of Krondor, Arutha and Jimmy the Hand– talented thief on the Mockers.

Where Magician combines heroic battle scenes with interdimensional travel. Silverthorn is focused mostly on the cornerstone of all fantasy fiction– the quest. In some ways, although I enjoyed this book, it was not as satisfying. While the first book could well have been read as a stand-alone novel with rich characters that were allowed to develop and grow, with this one all the way along it is clear that it will be necessary to read the final book to resolve anything in this story. New characters are little more than sketches without any of the depth that was in the first book.

But, having said all that Silverthorn  is a good read, and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Magician- Raymond E Feist

   Magician is the first book in the ‘Riftwar Saga‘ by Raymond E Feist. It begins with two boys, Pug and Tomas, from the castle keep of a frontier city in the mythical land of Midkemia. We follow the exploits of the boys as the grow into men during a long war with a strange ‘alien’ invasion.

Magician is much-loved by readers since it was first published 25 years ago. It doesn’t take long to see why. it has elements that will be familiar to any Fantasy fiction fan.  We have a quest, we have magic, and feats of bravery on the medieval style battle field. Kings, queens and the politics and intrigue of the medieval court are also present. Throw in a touch of inter-dimensional warfare, and you have a sci-fi/fantasy classic.

But it’s not just about mythical, fantastic characters and feats. Like any good sci-fi/ fantasy novel, it also delves into issues that are universal across genres. Everything from the corrupting influence of power to the injustice of a culture built upon slavery.

One thing though, that sets Magician apart from other books of this genre, although it is a part of a series of books, it can also be read as a stand alone novel. The major issues are resolved, without any annoying ‘cliff-hanger’ to force you to read the next book.

Overall, Magician  is excellent. I recommend this to anyone who is already a fan of the genre, or else it is a good place to begin for a new comer.