Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Magician: Apprentice by Raymond E Feist

A fantasy epic this time.

Magician: Apprentice is the first of the Riftwar novels by Raymond Feist.

When it was first published 1982 under the title of Pug and Tomas, I doubt anyone realized the scale of the invasion that would pour into the world of fantasy. This story (sort of a SF/Fantasy hybrid) chronicles an alien invasion (through a rift between worlds) against Midkemia, a world populated by humans, dwarf in mines, elves in trees, and the barbaric Brotherhood living in the dark forest. This modest beginning spawned so many sequels that Raymond Feist resorted to employing co-authors.

What made this series so successful?

While its scope and characters are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, the style is very different. I've often heard Lord of the Ring referred to as a travelogue with its long descriptions of places, the Magician: Apprentice is more of an action/adventure story. Raymond Feist is a master of economy and action. Everything transitional and ordinary is left out; only the active and extraordinary is told.

Chapter two climaxes with Pug being selected to be the Magician's apprentice. Other authors might feel obligated to say something of the life of the new apprentice, the changes, cares, concerns and crises, but not Fiest. Chapter three skips what can easily be imagined by the reader and jumps to
Since he (Pug) had taken on the position of Kulgan's apprentice fourteen months ago, everything he had done seem to go wrong.
Thus, the book jumps from crisis to crisis, from action to action. The reader never has a chance to stop and admire the scenery, but is on the go all the time.

This is not to say that Fiest doesn't paint a picture of Midkemia. The description is there, but intimatly intertwined with the action. The reader sees the beauty and complexity of the dwarves' mines while Tomas is being chased through them, fighting for his life, and the design of the castle while defending it from alien attacks.

Fiest is particularly adept with swordplay and the book features several sword fights and training sessions.

The main characters are Pug, the talented, but complicated magician's apprentice, Tomas, his best friend and an apprentice warrior, and Carline, the haughty, immature, spoiled princess.

One warning: As the first novel of an epic series, little is resolved at the end of the first book. Regardless, the adventure alone is worth the read.

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