Magician by Raymond E Feist
The story begins in Crydee, a frontier outpost in the Kingdom of the Isles. An orphaned young boy named Pug becomes a master magician’s apprentice and two world’s destinies are forever changed. The peace that he has known all his short life disappears and is replaced by war in the shape of invaders from another world. A magically created rift in space brings together the two worlds, the world that Pug has always known and the world of the invading Tsuranuanni.
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...
This is an epic tale of intrigue and action. Raymond E. Feist has an amazing imagination and here he brings to us a war between two worlds reminiscent of Medieval Europe and Japan in the time of the Samurai. This book is not short (650+ pages) but it never feels overly long as the fine narrative guides you effortlessly through the story. The character development is also excellent and they come alive in your mind and leave you genuinely caring about what happens to them. The plot twists plus the use of two culturally different worlds make for very interesting reading.
The story is set in Midkemia, a world created by Feist which also includes an impressive back history. This is the first (and by far the best) of the series called the Riftwar Saga. Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon complete the trilogy.
The chapter in which Pug sees the beginning of worlds is possibly one of the finest in fantasy literature. Magician was voted the 89th most popular book of all time in the BBC's Big Read Top 100.
This is an extremely powerful and memorable book. If you gain any enjoyment whatsoever from reading fantasy then this is a novel that you simply cannot afford not to read. Understandably, this is one of the highest regarded books in the world.
I do not have the fond recollections nor nostalgic associations about Feist that many people seem to. I read Magician about 12 years ago in my early twenties, but remembered extremely little about the novel, and as I couldn't get hold of any other Riftwar books at the time I simply let things be.
Rereading Magician, (this time with the rest of the Riftwar series on hand should I wish to progress to them), it is unfortunately obvious to me why Magician made so little impression the first time around, despite the fact that on both occasions I was rereading the author's longer revised edition of the book from 1992, as opposed to the previous shorter version published 10 years before, since while Magician does undoubtedly have elements, concepts and passages that are extremely engaging, for the most part the book is clearly and obviously, the author's first novel.
Magician tells the story of a war between two very different worlds bound together by a rift in space-time. It begins, and remains for most of it's length on the world of Midkemia, a world which will be decidedly familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with fantasy literature. Human kingdoms governed by a feudal monarchy, tough, metal mining dwarves, magical long lived pointy eared elves, goblins, dark elves, and dragons guarding treasures. I was not surprised when I read that Feist based his first novel heavily on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign, since the influence, even some of the language of the popular role playing system is used in a rather obvious way, Dwarves with their "strong constitutions", speaking of a creature "unaffected by physical weapons" or of a character's "skill set".
Of course, it is entirely possible for writers to take standard fantasy tropes and twist them in new directions, or through sheer mastery of style make them appear enthralling, new and unique to the reader. Sadly, Feist seems to have been playing it extremely safe for much of the novel's time in Midkemia, since his descriptions of such creatures as elves and dwarves are brief, even cursory, focusing only on that feature which the creatures are famous for, short Dwarves, Elven ears etc, indeed the only time he seemed to raise his game in the Medkemian part of the novel was when describing a golden dragon lying upon its treasure, (as well as visions of the glorious past of a world ruled by Dragon lords), or a ship battling across storm tossed seas.
It is not just in the book's landscape that Feist's descriptive writing tends to be patchy, but even in describing such events as intensive battles or chases through dark woods. In general I frequently found my level of immersion in the prose lacking, mostly because it felt as if Feist was reliant on his reader's own imagination and liking for dwarves and elves and battles to fill in the gaps that his description missed out. Indeed, while Feist's overall rhythm is not in itself slow, he makes no deviations in this rhythm to change the action, thus meaning a lady's dress is described with the same sparsity as a goblin ambush, which caused me to feel a disconnection with both.
The other world however, Kelewan is where I felt Feist really showed his calibre as an author. Though apparently also partly based upon a role-playing setting, it is a much less well known one, and one which consequently feels far more strange, dangerous and in general fascinating to explore.
Though Kelewan does bare some similarities to the China or Japan of the past, such influences are far less evident than the medieval European ones in Midkemia, there are no wandering Samurai, kung fu monks or fan waving elegant ladies. From its rigid social order and byzantine political machinations, where anyone can be made a slave and where death is held greater than dishonour (a highly Eastern idea), to even its creatures and aesthetics which include humanoid insects and six legged half lizard cows as riding beasts, Kelewan feels a very alien place, and I was sorry that the book spent so little time there as compared to the comparatively drab world of Midkemia.
In terms of his overall plot structure, Feist is it is true capable of producing some massive shifts in his characters’ fortunes and unexpected twists. The story for example follows Pug, and Tomas, two boys (one an orphan), who grew up in the keep of Crydee. Tomas predictably wants to be a warrior, while Pug becomes an apprentice to the keep's Magician. When Pug's uncontrolled magic saves the duke's daughter from an attack by trolls, it seems fairly obvious where the romantic plot of the book will go, however Feist circumvents things rather nicely and takes Pug's destiny into a very different direction.
The problem with this approach though, is that for all his twists and turns, Feist just does not engage with emotions either through character or description enough to make any of them effective. The romantic relationship mentioned for example simply involves Carline, a princess who insults Pug at every opportunity before randomly deciding to throw herself at him and love him eternally. Pug, as a young boy must obviously desire to fight constantly (despite the fact the small and studious Pug seems the last person who'd want to), and most characters simply appear universally amicable with little by way of distinguishing marks of personality, indeed frequently Feist seems to expect us to care about a character simply because he's said they are noble or clever or (in the case of the extremely few female characters), beautiful. While he does attempt to make his characters grow and change (not surprising in a book that spans about twelve years), mostly his execution of this is extremely heavy handed, usually by simply telling us that someone has changed, or suddenly having a character alter their attitude in an instant, and since said attitudes are usually drawn with extreme lack of subtlety the changes didn't come off so much as actual growth as simply Feist switching archetypes, okay we've gone from roguish boy to noble leader now.
This lack of character meant that I found it hard to empathise with many members of the cast, meaning that scenes or twists which by rights should have been nerve wracking simply felt flat, for example when one character is nearly killed during a castle siege I really felt little concern as to whether he died or not, despite the fact that again one of Feist's few double x chromosome characters was busy saying (based on not very much by way of interaction), how much she loved him.
Again however, when the plot turned to Kelewan I found a distinct upswing in quality. This was partly because Pug is first brought to Kelewan as a slave, and indeed it's made infinitely clear just how low his life expectancy is, giving us a sense of danger and unpredictability heavily lacking in other parts of the book. Even in terms of relationships, a scene in which the young Pug plaintively asks a friend for advice about women because a fellow slave seems to find him attractive and he doesn't know how to cope did actually make me feel a tinge of empathy, and though predictably Pug's girl simply falls for him rather quickly, the romantic section between them, set as it was against a background of slavery in an alien world was one of the few relationships in the book that did make me care.
As well as more at stake for his characters, the Tsurani empire on Kelewan gives us a fascinating political game, indeed Feist freely admits that in the revised edition he expanded this aspect of the book which definitely shows. I found the idea of a political system which contrasted absolute loyalty to family, clan and the Tsurani empire itself with shifting loyalties to political parties with different concepts a truly interesting one. In particular, I was very pleased by the way that the war on Midkemia was not merely the master work of some evil, expansionist dictator, but just one more move in the on running political game. As with much of the Kelewan section of the book, I was sorry that Feist didn't explore this aspect further.
This part also concludes with Pug's training in magic, and with his vision of the history of the world of Kelewan and the Tsurani empire. This vision is a truly staggering piece of writing. Colourful, exotic, and sweeping with dark hints of a much wider and more complete story, everything I would expect from epic fantasy, indeed much of my frustration at Feist's paucity of description for a lot of the novel is my knowledge that when he tries he genuinely can evoke that sense of awe and wonder which is such a great experience.
As well as its overall flatness and shallow characters despite some unexpected twists, I will also admit some details of Feist's plot are decidedly uncomfortable. The first of these are some of his attempts at humour, many of which can come off as cruel. For instance when the castle's rat catcher alerts the duke that besieging Tsurani forces are under the walls, due to the fact that one of his ferrets has had its back broken by being stepped on, and both the unconcerned Duke and the reader are plainly supposed to find the man's distress at his animal companion's agonizing death comical. In another sequence, a protesting Carline, wishing to help in the battle is forcibly shoved into a cellar to remain safe with the other women and even threatened with being tied up if she doesn't comply, a sequence which Feist obviously intended to have the roguish tension of Han Solo and Princess Leia, but which just amounted to having Carline demeaned and treated like a little girl.
Finally, Feist does include one sequence which, though stunningly described does have severely uncomfortable implications for a modern reader. This is when Pug, a fully fledged Magician grows angry at the Tsurani gladiatorial games and decides to use his magic to destroy the stadium, killing innocent commoners, scheming lords and pretty much anyone else present judging them all guilty. Of course, in 1982 when the book was first written, or even during its revision 10 years later, the idea of a lone maverick who, angry at some supposedly unjust aspect of society or culture walks into a public place and causes massive devastation and indiscriminate loss of life with his personal weaponry was probably not quite as relevant as it is today. The fact that Pug feels no remorse for this action, acted deliberately and even took time to kill those trying to escape makes the action even more questionable.
Of course, there are works of epic fantasy which ask us to have different relation to war than that we would normally have, but where heavily martial writers like David Gemmell are at least careful to make sure the mighty heroes only vent their rage on the enemy, Feist's callous lack of thought of the slaughter of innocents here in his huge magic smiting was to me definitely an oversight, and quite an uncomfortable one. Also on a purely structural perspective I found this an unsatisfying conclusion to the Kelewan political plot.
The book's final section returns to Midkemia, and despite the introduction of a mysteriously powerful magician and a conflict over the kingdom's throne, I will freely confess the last few hours were a slog in the extreme, mostly due to the fact that the battle for the throne simply involved a disagreement between which of two fairly bland characters would be king about which I simply did not care, and the disappearance of an ineffective evil duke (we know he's evil, his name is preceded by the word black). It is interesting that where with the Tsurani politics with its shifting game and loyalties Feist succeeds in creating something fascinating, because the Midkemian politics is based on one of his weaker aspects, character, it was far less engaging. Indeed the fact that Feist takes so much time in the ending section to attempt conclusions for some of his characters, but that said characters were people I really did not care about meant that finishing the book was far more a duty than a pleasure.
All in all I have to say Magician was a disappointment. Feist plainly has an ability to write gorgeous and sweeping descriptions and to construct entangling plots, however his decision to restrict himself not only to a very standard world, but to not use his descriptive gifts on this world, along with his inability to actually write depth into any of his characters which would give his twists of plot any sort of emotional punch severely impacted the novel. It actually surprises me to learn that Feist was 37 when Magician was written, since with its broadly drawn characters and seeming total lack of understanding of relationships, I would've assumed the book was the work of someone much younger.
Clearly, Magician was a first effort, and what's more a first effort in which Feist played things very safe, borrowing heavily from dungeons and dragons and standard fantasy tropes and not risking anything more complex with his characters, despite the fact that judging from certain parts of the book, he does have the ability to do so. Magician does have some undoubtedly superior aspects, the problem is that for the most part, these are eclipsed by it's many flaws.
If in his future work Feist plays to his undoubted strengths rather than his weaknesses and matures as an author, I can imagine him creating something truly astounding, but sadly Magician isn't it.
All reviews for: Riftwar Saga
Riftwar Saga: Book 1
Crydee, a frontier outpost in the Kingdom of the Isles. An orphaned young boy named Pug becomes a master magician’s apprentice and two world’s destinies are for...
Riftwar Saga: Book 2
Prince Arutha’s reign has been peaceful. Jimmy the Hand, a young thief, uncovers a plot to assassinate him and the young King now faces new challenges.The firs...
A Darkness at Sethanon
Riftwar Saga: Book 3
As Prince Arutha and his companions rally their forces for the final battle with an ancient and mysterious evil, the dread necromancer Marcos the Black has once again unlea...
Have you read Magician?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Magician reader reviews
Patrik from Sverige
I just finished reading Magician after it had been on my backlog for years. I first came into contact with Feist's worlds when I read Daughter of the Empire when that was released, not realizing it was part of a larger series, and recently reread it. The deep character development of the main characters and the long political plots made me praise the author. None of what I enjoyed in Daughter of the Empire, and its two sequels, was visible in Magician. The blandest, most shallow characters I've read about outside of fanfiction. Women are described only by their beauty and temper. Thinking back, I can only count on the fingers of one hand the female characters that had dialogue (of which two only talked in a context of their romantic relationships). Another two or three were described with a sentence. Political plots that boil down to "some evil guy is taking advantage of someone else". On two separate occasions characters travel for a couple of chapters to ask for help from a greater power only to arrive, realise someone arbitrarily evil is in control and choose to go back home without accomplishing anything significant. Important political events are glossed over and solved with single sentence solutions along the lines of "We have received news of antagonist X; he was killed by a stray arrow in battle!" Nine years of war is described in a handful of battle scenes. Two of them are memorable. The first one because the entire thing was described with "and still they came". The second one because of the laughable deus ex machina solution of a mysterious sorcerer showing up and saving the day at the end. I read Magician with the intention of going through the entire series. Instead I find myself removing everything by Feist on my backlog. The only reason it gets two stars instead of one is because it answered a couple of questions I had after reading Daughter of the Empire.
Jonathan from UK
I think this one of top 5 books I read it in 82 the original edition ,and have seen some of the reviews that he borrowed from other books ie dungeon and dragons this is not true it was before most had been written and indeed they used some of his ideas ,read it and enjoy but remember much time has gone by and many books
Alex from United States
I would say that this book is a very good book.
Heidi from Australia
Amazing! Never stops, leaves you wanting more... if only I could read faster. I am in love!
Matt from USA
I have read this series and all of Feist's books many times. I enjoy fantasy and have learned over the years, readers either love or hate his style. I have friends I have lent these books and they would give them 10 out of 10 like me, and others who would say like 4 out of 10. Those who give it one star clearly are bitter people- really? A world wide best seller and it is a one star? Ok, not your style, but one star means it is completely unreadable and loaded with misspellings, double words and inconsistencies...silly people. I love this series and loved all of his follow up books. Review was weak at best and it sounded like it came from a whiny millennial who needs shiny objects and their iPhone in there face instead of the book.
Paolo from Italy
In Magician Feist cleverly melds a Tolkien-inspired pseudo medieval world with a world reminiscent of Ancient China. And this is where I think the main strength of this novel lies. To be honest much written is standard fantasy fare but it is, like all good books, utterly compelling. The action never lets up, the individual stories of Pug and Tomas hold the reader's attention equally. It's a big, and I mean big book, but readers of fantasy should be used to and comfortable with its length. Although I did enjoy the book and would recommend it to others, I must mention that I have never felt compelled to read any other book in the series. Magician, for me, is a great stand-alone fantasy novel, one which had a large impact on the genre.
Ra!y from Ireland
Mark from Australia
As good a book as you could wish for, the author paints wonderful vistas with his imagination of a world and its alien aggressor. He seemlessly weaves many different themes into a rich tapestry of lore all his own, this the first book in the series is pure brilliance and well worth the read by any fantasy fan.
Florent from France
I have read Magician right after The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb, ant it was like going from Shakespeare to Harlequin. Feist writes like a fifteen years old: skeletal description, shallow characterization and simplistic dialogues, combined with failed humorous attempts, all wrapped in a weak plotline crippled by repetitious combat scenes, irritating jumps of point of view and a completely out-of-place 18-months ellipsis in the narrative in the middle of the book. The worldbuilding is a bit better and more detailed, but it is so full of clichés it is almost comical. I think Feist wins hands down the prize for "most clichéd fantasy book ever". If I want to read about a war against an evil Empire with dwarves living in mines, elves living in forests, nasty goblins, magicians and a striking absence of strong female characters, I think some guy called Tolkien did it thirty years before Feist, and thirty times better. However, even though I somewhat struggled to finish the novel, I understand how it can be seen as a very entertaining read, light and fun: it is perfect, for example, when you are on holidays (and your brain too), lazing on a beach. It's full of twists, the characters keep moving on, and it's quite suspenseful. But I still can't get how by any means Magician can be considered a fantasy classic.
Kieran from England
I read this book as a teenager and absolutely loved it. It quickly turned into one of my favourite fantasy books and as an avid reader of fantasy at the time it was in good company with Eddings, Robert Jordan, Mcaffery, Tolkien, Hobb, Donaldson, Pratchett etc. I ranked it highly if not no.1 in all my fantasy reading adventures. However as I've matured and grown in to a fully blown hunk of a 31 year old man my impressions on recent reading have dimmed considerably. I can see why I like it as a teenager who grew up in suburban England. It full of power fantasies and ludicrously fast paced character arcs in which everyone seem to turn into the greatest "..." of all time. I can see how being a younger reader I may have been oblivious to the hackneyed cliches and non-existent characterisation of the book but now, no, I really can't. It's a shame as re reading this book as an adult has shattered my illusion of this book. Like re-watching Robin Hood Prince of Thieves as an adult is painful; Magician is too. This book is good for a younger reader or a reader who likes a bit of cheesy fantasy, but I would strongly recommend other books as a gateway in to the fantasy genre for adults. The world of fantasy authors has blossomed in recent years with great exponents such as George R. R. Martin leading the way, I really would look at a modern author for a "good read".
Joshua from USA
A wonderful series. Highly recommended!!! Have read the series twice so far.
Manny from Nigeria
I think it's one of the best fantasy books I've ever come across. Raymond Feist has an amazing imagination. I'd never get tired of reading it again. What I'd love is seeing this amazing story come live on screen. How soon are we to expect it?
Buyos from Uganda
I read this book in 1992 way back when I was a kid & I came to this forum searching online for whether Hollywood had become wise enough to make an epic out of it. This book was really a good read, for it's still seared in my memory 20 years later. I too can't wait for the movie.
Sue from UK
I first read Magician in 1994 & loved Feist's unpredictable plots, the way he draws you in with action, adventure and promises, only to deliver something completely off the wall & leave you gagging for more. I have practically read everything he has published & have most of it in hard back, I'm such an avid reader. I have just started his whole works again for the third time, starting with Magican and still thouroughly enjoy it, even though I know what's going to happen. To be compared to Tolkien is high praise indeed, I'm sure he would be very flattered. For those who think Carline should have got with Pug, well, those of us who have been around a bit know it would never have worked between them & Pug's destiny lies elsewhere, if he had married her, there would never have been the adventures and loves he encountered later on. Good plot writers look at the bigger picture, the long haul of their characters and dont confine them to a single volume, often the story carries on and develops beyond your wildest dreams- but then, you'd have to read them to know...
Jan from UK
I'm struggling to read this book - got about a third of the way so far and am finding it rather boring. I'll try to read on..! I agree that the characters are somewhat flat and there's very few descriptive passages. I just find something lacking. Quite disappointed, as had read plenty of good reviews. Not a patch on Lord of the Rings!
from from from
A fantastic read! To anyone who felt the characters were deep, I recommend reading Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master. Feist really fleshed out the characters, and by doing so split the original book into two. That might help you enjoy this book as much as I did!
Tommy from Australia
I like all the early Feist, but none compare with Magician as a stand alone. I read it at thirty and loved it and loved it just as much at 55. One of the best three fantasy books along with Dune and LOTR. Say what you will it is certainly a feisty read.
Morgan from Aus
Great character development and suspense.
Darren from Ireland
All I can say is when is the movie ... great book hooked from page one...
Ron from Ireland
Shallow characters with little to offer the reader.
Alexander from Ryan
I read this book first when I was 11, and again when I was 20ish, am reading it again now and am 45. I still am totally absorbed by the story, the characters and find myself reading into the night and still delighting in the twists and turns. I guess some people don't get it but I am so happy I am one of the ones that do. I plan to read it again when 85 and am sure I will still get as much pleasure then as I did 34 years ago. Magnificent. (Please to hear it Alexander, I plan to re-read it after a gap of over a decade and hoped it would be just as good second time around. Lee, Fantasy Book Review)
Not Telling from Oz
I loved this book. Nothing was at all wrong. Sam from Chicago was completely wrong.
Jo from Germany
I am with you, Sam (from Chicago). Nothing annoys me more than shallow characters in a book... I really didnīt like it at all :(
Avery from New York
Honestly, I know people all have different tastes but I do not know how this series gets such high reviews. To be blunt I did think the FIRST book was really good but after that the feel of the series felt rather rushed like the author did not know how to go on with the story and just wanted to get it over with. I can honestly say that after I picked up the first book I was pleased but the second... I, was highly disappointed.
Kurt from Queensland
This book was excellent, after having three people recommend it to me I decided to pick it up, and I'm glad I did! The only reason I give this nine stars was because when something climatic happened, the book changes to another path in the story. For example, when Pug was captured I had to wait 80 pages to find out, or when Tomas was lost in the mines, I had to wait another 80 or so pages to find out how that turned out. But nevertheless, a good book. :)
Shane van der Straaten from London
Simply the best fantasy novel of all time. And a side note... criticism of this novel should not be deemed valid by anyone who says - Carline should 'of' been with Pug, and would 'of' made a happy reunion @cody from NZ. Also @sam from Chicago and those who agree with him/her... I have to agree with the others who insinuate that he/she sounds like a frustrated writer who hasn't been published. As for LOTR, I like to view the comparisan to Magician as like looking at the first automobile compared to a Ferrari... just because it was first and original does not make it the best. LOTR...drag on much?
Adam from England
Generally a very good and well developed book, with a gripping narrative and characters the audience actually cares about! The only real criticism I have about the story is the way Pug doesn't end up with Carline, it just seemed a bit pointless to go to all that effort to establish the young romance, only to later say 'oh by the way Pug's getting married now' in the space of a single chapter.
Dana from Australia
I would give it a billion stars if I could, but ten will do, a simply amazing book and series.
Cody from new zealand
With this book i found it very exciting in the first part but it seemed to drag on and I found myself becoming more interested in finishing the book than enjoying it. I really think Carline should of been with Pug which would of made a very happy reunion. But when Carline sees pug for the first time she shows little emotion. If this book was shortened it would be more fast paced and exciting the only exciting scene was when Pug destroyed the stadium and that was out of the two parts and the only joke i found funny was when pug said (Capital punishment) when he was talking to Kulgan. I found the author to drag on the boring scenes and shortened the good one.
Troy from Australia
I actually enjoyed the various series by Feist. Having said that I believe that he made some significant blunders in the Magician and a lot of them have been already covered. I think one of the largest mistakes with the Magician was that he made Pug and Thomas too powerful. I dont think Feist could have imagined the success his books would have and this early mistake led to contradictions in later books as he tried to balance the various enemies. Credit where credit is due and it can't be denied that he has produced some very popular books. I have spoken to many people that have read or tried to read the Magician and I found that for the most part that the readers read the first page and were hooked or read the first page and never bothered to go beyond that.
Joshua from Kent, UK
This, and the series in general is the best I've read. I agree with most the people on this site with reviews, but the select few who write bad reviews have no reason to do so. They may not like the book but what they say makes no sense. The characters certainly don't talk 'robotic' or 'one-dimensional' the character development and speech is very well done. There is no way this book could've become an international bestseller if what these people say is true. The characters are wonderful and likeable and of course, the story is great. It is the best in a long series and with little bad to say about it. To me, it seems the people who have written the bad reviews think of themselves as superior as they think differently. Theses books, in my opinion, are superior to Tolkien. Whilst certain aspects aren't, it is a very good book and series. If you are new to fantasy or a 'veteran' it is worth the read.
Anit from Engand
The book that hooked me on fantasy fiction. I have read it, probably, more than 20 times since picking it up 25 odd years ago... For those crying hackneyed and cliched - remember published in 1982... blazed a trial that has been improved and developed since then, but a great read in it's own right - the trilogy as whole holds up incredibly well in my opinion... the rest of the canon... less so. Can't belive some of the 1 and 3 star reviews... must be reading something else!
Paul from Leighton Buzzard
As someone who has only been reading fantasy literature in earnest for the past couple of years (I had read LOTR as a teenager and kept coming back for more, until a good friend recommended Robin Hobb's Farseer books, and I was hooked!), I felt it was incumbent on me to read the classics of the genre. With this in mind, I picked up Magician for a couple of pounds on Amazon. I'm going to be clear here: this book is not "great" in the way that LOTR is great, but it is very good indeed. It also fails, in my mind, to live up to the modern classics (I'm thinking of Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, R. Scott Bakker and Patrick Rothfuss here) in terms of sheer originality, although I concede that it was written 25 years ago and is in all likelihood an influence in itself on all of the authors I've just mentioned. I found it a little hackneyed in places if I'm being honest - like a book I'd read before. There are also places where the dialogue is quite Americanised, and for me this removed the suspension of disbelief Feist works so hard to build up throughout the book. Having said that, it was very absorbing, and by the time I was a hundred pages in I was well into it and rooting for Pug and Tomas. I find the whole concept of the two worlds quite intriguing - the worlds themselves are hardly unique (one 12th century Europe, and the other Samurai-era Japan), but the rift is a great concept and allows a real clash of cultures to take place, which is for me what kept my interest throughout the book. It should also be noted that the chapter where Pug sees the beginning of the Empire is, in my opinion, one of the finest pieces of stand-alone literature I have ever read - up there with not only some of the fantasy greats, but some of the finest English-language writers of all time. All in all, I don't regret reading this book, and I intend to at least complete this trilogy before making a decision on whether or not to continue with Feist's frankly immense back catalogue.
Joel from Athens
Afraid I have to agree with @Sam and others. I've read well-written novels with well-developed characters, and this is not one. That's not to say that the book isn't worth reading - the story itself is fun in several places, but on the whole, I fail to understand how Feist's novel was capable of capturing a generation of readers, particularly when published in a similar time to authors like Heinlein and Herbert. Feist's characters are flat and jump from one developmental stage to another, and their dialogue is painfully one-dimentional. His cultures are incredibly shallow and underdeveloped. I'm hoping that Feist developed as a writer as the series progressed, otherwise, there is little to recommend Magician: Apprentice other than a slightly interesting story arc.
James from Swindon
I'll just chime in to agree with Sam from Chicago, and add one further point about the supposedly impressive creation of two whole worlds (gasp!). In our Earth history, the templates for both of these civilizations existed on the same planet, at the same time, and with a whole lot of other distinct groups as well. Why anyone thought it was clever to have to introduce a whole other world to accomplish a clash of civilizations needs their world view expanded by more than derivative fantasy.
Colin from Perth, Australia
A book very close to my heart. Short of cash while living with friends, I picked up Magician one weekend and couldn't put it down. I've read every one of Feist's novels and haven't read a bad one yet. To Sam of Chicago: Before you rip into the works of a man who is a best selling author please, for the love of God, stop using words you don't know the meaning of. In the age of spell check, there is no excuse for you to have such bad spelling and grammar. Especially someone who is aspiring to be a novelist. So take the hate speech, jam it up your arse and go back to reading books with pictures, you dickhead.
Barry from Australia
Have to agree with Sam. Boring as anything. Cardboard dialogue. Embarrassing humour.
Rob from Stamford, UK
Read this 20 years ago when I was 15 and have been hooked on the ongoing plot ever since. Even 20 books in (I think) with A Kingdom Besieged I'm finding it almost impossible to put down.
Shell from Winchester
Having read Magician had to buy rest of series - and was not disappointed.
David from The Netherlands
I completely agree with Sam from Chicago here. Although the book was enjoyable to read, especially at the second half, it is not 'great'. Feist`s writing is bland and simple for a big part. There is a lack of scenery descriptions and character development and the dialogue is just annoying at times. Despite these things the book has a very good plot and in the end I found it to be an enjoyable read. It just doesn't equal the best fantasy books out there.
AliaOfDune from Romania
I found this to be an exciting fantasy book with a well developed plot, good twists and a great background. It is set in an apparently not such an original world, but as the book evolves we learn more about the very creation and foundation of the world and the surprises are abundant there. I loved the descriptions of the environment as well as the whole intrigue.
Allen Toby from Melbourne
This book is my favourite book in the world. It's intresting and it's cool the way they do things. My favourite part is when they go in to war and he stops the war.
Anthony from Cardiff
Sam from Chicago - I am afraid you are wrong, this novel is a superb piece of work. Pug is a legend!
Peter from Scotland
I don't believe it's possible for me to do this book justice in a mini review. So instead I'll just say that by far and away 'Magician' is my favourite book and Raymond Feist my favourite author (and I don't see this changing anytime soon).
Josh from New South Wales
This is a truly fantastic novel, that I have read to within an inch of its life; front and back covers long disintegrated, I managed to read it in a day and every time I pick it up again, I have to read it, the hold that it has on me is so truly magnetic!!! @sam from chicago; I do not know what you are on about, but like Rob and Rave say above, please show me your own work before judging a master writer of the first class. Truly Feist's best novel to date.
Rave Critic from Australia
Sam from Chicago as above, please grow up, and do not spend your whole day writing a vapid and substance less response to a novel that you have obviously loved. Magician is a wonderful text, embodying all of the aspects of the traditional fantasy genre, and the day that anyone gives it one star on a reviewing site is a sad day for humanity. Poor sport, Mr. Sam, as I don't see you writing a fantastic novel that has so many fans around the world and is still on the top 100 after being published decades ago! A simpleton name or even alter ego as your personality has been shown to be through your writing. Even the evidence in this case, would go against you. When you write a novel as classic, fantastic and as masterfully crafted as Mr. Feist, you just let me know and I will rate it for you. I wonder what your children will grow up as, if you do indeed have any, with such a sad, hopelessly judgmental father as you are. Brilliantly Indignant Rave Critic.
Rob from Huddersfield
@sam from Chicago. Did you read the same book I did? What do you want from a book? If you think you can do better, which apparently you do, then you write one and get it published and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. You have no taste whatsoever. Stick to reading comics.
Jack from Southampton, UK
I came to this series late when I stumbled upon 'Magician' in a second hand book shop. I only read the first chapter and then dropped the book when the latest in a different series came out. I forgot about the book for about a year but when I went back to it I finished the whole book in a weekend and went straight out and bought the sequel the next weekend. While I didn't continue at this speed through the whole series, I did get up to speed with the then 23 other books in about 2 years I have loved every book so far and am eagerly anticipating the final trilogy. The only criticism is that the book is somewhat cliche both in the plot and the setting. However on both points, setting especially, this improves as the series goes on.
Allan from Bridgend
It is about 15 years since I read this and the following books in the series. I remember being spellbound by it and falling in love with Pug and Tomas. At first the size daunted me but once I started I could not put it down. I have since recommended it to my wife and mother in law, and while these do not read fantasy they both read the whole series and loved it! I have also now discovered a new book to read called 'The King's Buccaneer... AWESOME!
Raj from Solihull, UK
Magician was passed to me by my brother in law and I read it after reading the likes of Gemmell and Tolkien as I was looking for something new. The book itself is a very good read but there are instances when the detail is lacking. Some of the dialogues are worn albeit entertaining. All in all - a book worthy of a read and the writing style of this author only gets better as you go through the series(s).
Fast pace, good characters and long plot coming together at the end. What more can you ask of a fantasy story?
Sam from Chicago
An absolutely horrific novel. I have to admit, the plot is acceptable. Yet the others, especially Feist's writing is almost unbearable, and his characters are too shallow and undeveloped. For instance, Feist describes Arutha as quiet and sly, and Lyam as cheerful and adorable, yet as far as the dialogues go, Arutha talks as much as Lyam. I can't even detect the slyness of his character in any part of the book except when Feist states he is sly. Another example is how Feist describes the elves. He states they "had pointed ears." Well duh! It is obvious elves have pointed ears. That's their trademark. His bad writing is even more evident in the dialogues. The characters are talking like robots, and they seemed to be talking to the readers more than to each other. For instance, Laurie does not need to say Katala is prettier than Almorella, because he or Pug does not need to know this fact. However, it is necessary for Feist to establish to the reader that Pug's girl is hotter than any other girl in the world, so he placed it there, although he probably knows clearly that the phrase is unnecessary. (Here's a funny test you should take when you read this book. Just cover up the characters' names in every dialogue and try to figure out who's talking what. Trust me, you wouldn't know who is talking what because they all talk in the same tone, language, etc." Another glaring problem with this book is that it has virtually no description. For instance, when Feist is describing the waves of Tsurani soldiers attacking Crydee, he just describes it as "And they still came." What kind of description is that? It could be described vividly like, "a horde of black-armoured men like demons from hell, ripped through the thick fabric of silence that lingered above the battlefield with their cries, and marched up to the walls in tight columns, their boots scathed through the earth like ploughs in the desert...etc." Phrases like this could always use some descriptive juices, and it would put more emphasis on the battle scenes. And the character development is too superficial and unrealistic. For instance, Roland became a man in just two chapters and was able to snag Carline with only a few choice words. Nobody matures that fast, even characters in Hollywood movies. This is just an example of bad writing, as Mittelmark in "How not to write a novel" describes it as "The Underpants Gnomes", where crucial steps are omitted since the author does not know how to get from point A to point B, in this case from a immature Roland to a mature Roland. The last problem with this book is that the worlds Feist's portrays in his book are just plainly undeveloped. They do have potential, yet Feist failed to develop them vividly. For instance, the Tsurani world is just another form of Eastern Asia, and nothing of his creation, therefore is uninteresting. And to cover this up, he creates creatures like the Then, and insect-men that are not appealing so that it appears as though he created the world. I'm not saying one cannot base off of something else. All writers do, even Joyce and Bradbury. However, in the case with Feist, it has gone offhand. Architecture, every clothes they wore (excluding armour), and their customs are all of those from Asia. To be acceptable, the book needs to create a more concise hierarchical system, and a new form of government and kingdoms that is nothing similar to Asia. He is welcomed to use the appearances of Japanese to describe the Tsurani. But Japan's institutions, and its customs should be left untouched, if that is the case. Otherwise, it makes the readers wonder where the credibility of this creation lies. Overall, Feist's failure to display a realistic view of his world to his readers, write a well developed sentences and paragraphs to enrapture the readers' attention, and show clearly the development of his numerous characters that are like stick figures in the book made me rate this book one star out of ten.
Dean from Portsmouth
A great book with a free flowing and exciting narrative. One of the best of Feist's stories alongside the Mistress of the Empire series.
Dan from Tunbridge Wells
This book is superb and I still remember writing a letter to the publisher after I read it (I was 15, so perhaps a little over-keen), suggesting he write sequels. Little did I know what was already in the pipeline.... All - most - of the Midkemia and Kelewan stories have been fun, but some part of me wishes he'd stopped at either the end of Magician or A Darkness At Sethanon. Everything since then has lessened the impact of this book somewhat. It's been a great cash cow, but it would have been good if he'd been able to write about a completely different universe. That said, I'm looking forward to reading Wrath Of A Mad God... albeit a library copy
Ed from Nottingham
If anyone is new to the fantasy genre and doesn't really know what book to start with - this is the one! This is an enjoyable, exciting book which is well written - and is very easy to read. The character development is probably the best in any book I have ever read, and you really feel for the main character and share the experiences.
Duncan from Scotland
I have read many, many fantasy novels and this was one of the first. I find that this is still one of the best. The fact that the story concerns two worlds makes this one of the most interesting, thought-provoking and enjoyable novels. A must read for any fantasy fans but it is a shame that Raymond E Feist never reached these heights again.
8/10 from 57 reviews
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