Magician's End by Raymond E Feist
Book of the Month
So, what started with "Magician" twenty five-odd years ago reaches its "End". The journey of Pug and Tomas concludes with a host of characters making an appearance from all the series. Those appearances are either in the thoughts and words of those who have made it to this last novel or actually feature in a series of small vignettes as part of a side trip through the nature of the Universe that is undertaken by Pug, Magnus, Nakor and Miranda.
This novel could easily see Feist indulge in a bit of self-congratulation and nostalgia. And... to say he doesn't would be a lie because he does do the latter with all the old characters, yet tempers it with the ever-present "realistic" stories of the Kingdom's political struggles and civil strife. Whilst those of us who have been immersed in Midkemia, Kelewan and the "Circles" of other other dimensions can pretty much predict the plot of this last novel it is still written with a touch of excitement, a touch of melancholy. Yet, its ending leaves a door open for more novels should Feist ever choose to do so in a manner that leaves us with a small smile. Great characters never quite go away and it is entirely plausible a glut of "spin off novels" might come out from associated authors, much as happened with TSR and the Dragonlance series.
Feist does drive himself into a bit of a corner with the theme of his plot. We are constantly told by Macros that the very substance of what everyone is trying to comprehend is far beyond the tiny imaginations of mortals, yet he then tries to describe it all for us. A touch of an oxymoron and, at times, we find the author tangling himself in knots as he has Macro cryptically leads the merry band of inter-dimensional travellers around the universe. As with any such philosophizing as the the Reason behind all things, it comes across as though this might be Feist's personal view as to the nature of the Universe. He does borrow heavily from the Greek myths; the construct and hierarchy of those Gods are reflected here, paralleled well, though hardly new.
I have to say my only regret with the entire series is that Tomas is not given more air time. We finally learn of his purpose and it is a major piece of the necessary steps for Pug to avert disaster; but he leaves Midkemia as much of a tantalizing figure as when he entered it as the soon of a cook in Crydee all those years ago.
The two plots - the first to save a Universe, the second to save a Kingdom entwine nicely in this novel and we find ourselves equally interested in Hal, Martin, Ty, Jim Dasher, and Brendan as they prove themselves born to rule. The form of the Dread becomes clear, the Dragons have a fleeting moment with the Valheru, the cataclysmic ending not quite so fierce as all those pages ago when Pug had to destroy Kelewan.
It's been a fine series, Mr Feist. I hope some more comes, purely out of reading selfishness. You never quite want something you've grown up with to end. Nakor tells us: "Honour without love is a pose, a hollow justification for your acts. It's not what you're willing to fight for, but what you'll gladly die to preserve: a brother, a wife, or your child." ...and, by the very end... this is the message Feist wants to give us all.
*** Warning - the review below may contain a few spoilers ***
There is an old saying “whoever brought me here must also bring me home”. Feist brought us to Pug and Midkemia many years ago and has finally brought us home to an ending; unfortunately I am just not sure that it is an ending worthy of the life of Pug and the Midkemia Universe.
When I read a series I have a tendency to not read the last novel, I guess I don’t want it to actually be over. Nevertheless, it felt like it was time to close the page on Pug (pun intended); I just wish it were more. In Magician’s End I found the plot to be lean, the sub-stories unconnected and I found no empathy or connection with a lot of characters laid out in the story.
We as readers have known the fate of Pug and his eventual demise. Through each story have we not felt the death of each of Pug’s loved ones and related with him as he tries to continue on with the fight? To come to this end, a story without depth or vigor, without the sense of struggle to the bitter end. There was an unsatisfactory realisation that while not all things end happily for everyone, some of those we love can continue on as long as we are willing to sacrifice.
In this book and the others the character I have enjoyed the best has been James Dasher and those of the Jameson line. There is a roughish quality, as well as a commitment that Feist has brought to the character and his offspring, that have always been right. Thankfully the latest incarnation follows true and is one of the main characters in Magician’s End that I took pleasure in. He’s written as intelligent, committed and decisive and this is portrayed well on the page.
Pug for his part never actually feels like the main protagonist. He, Magnus, Miranda and Nakor add an undertone to the book but I got the feeling Feist was trying a little too hard to make a circular story, tying in past lines and characters. The plots that involved these characters were under-developed and lacklustre. This is most evident in how Pug et al must relearn the lessons of the past to save the future. The concept was good: travelling through different worlds, dimensions and times, but the execution and the realization of these lessons was not engaging and overly simplistic.
The re-emergence of the conDoin brothers as main characters added nothing to the story of Pug and his struggles. However, their tale was very entertaining (the brothers’ story line is actually the most action in the whole book) and well written, it should have been its own novel.
The penultimate novel focused a lot on Miranda and Naktor’s return, all be it in a different form, but for the life of me I found no real relevance for this in Magicians’ End. The best I can come up with is that Feist wanted these characters returned for sentimental reasons; standing shoulder to shoulder with Pug at the end. Dead sometimes should just mean dead, no re-spawns or extra loves allowed.
Feist has been leading us down a merry path to the ultimate end for a while now, the unseen hand of true evil who has guided events for 100 years of Pug life… and then we get the Dread Lord… there is no great darkness, no shiver down the spine, yes the Dread is all powerful, yes if they lost the world ends, but between Bliss (don’t get me started on this concept – I am me and my memories are mine… I would not wish to lose myself in a state where I did not know who I am no matter how pleasant) or nothingness I don’t know what’s worse. I think Feist’s concept is extremely flawed and is another big disappointment.
I feel I am focusing a little too much on the negative aspects. Don’t get me wrong, it did have its positive elements. I enjoyed how Feist has portrayed the Gods of Midkemia, the distinction of the Higher Gods in relation to the lower and the greater Power (Universe). Thoughts have power and belief can narrow focus and limit us in small or large ways. Gods are what we make off them. The final great enemy, the Dread Lord, was a tremendous anti-climax however; the idea that the beings of light Sven-ga’ri are actually a caution of the enemy and were made in this image so people would not destroy was very clever.
The texture and attention to detail of environments and surrounds that each character inhabits was another highlight. There is one chapter where pseudo-Marcus is showing off the Universe in all its majesty both large and small. Feist has written with such a level of imagination and skill that I could see it in my mind’s eye as I read.
If there is an epitaph for Magician’s End it’s that the viewpoints and elements Feist is trying to put across are solid but the implementation is lacking and unfulfilling.
At The Gates of Lims-Kragma you choose the delight of the after-life or return to the wheel to be reborn. I have loved and poured over this series for years, there have been some misses but mostly wins. To end it like this, in a whimper and not a bang, with opened ended stories and half promises, I feel completely let down. I choose for the conclusion of Pug’s journey to return to life as a different book, he deserves better.
Fergus McCartan, 6/10
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Have you read Magician's End?
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Magician's End reader reviews
Adam from England
So disappointed. Like many others I have loved these books for years. I roils like to echo that I think Feist got completely confused with this book and it feels like lord of stories with no depth rolled into one. Angels were mentioned but never got going as with many other plot lines. I just felt that given Pug being such a focal part of the books to just end him simply was a real let down. I am gutted but I would also like to say how much I have enjoyed this series.
Anthony from UK
Huge fan of the Magician series, dont feel content after reading Magicians End. Since the book came out a few years ago something has been missing in my life and feel doomed to eventually die not knowing what is missing.
Kory from US
I disagree with the reviewer's distaste of the end. I have been reading this series since the mid 90's and I found the conclusion to be one of the most satisfying I have read. Feist may not have been a fantastic writer (he told great stories though) and his books may have been full of continuity errors, but he nailed this ending.
7.4/10 from 4 reviews
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