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3.9 out of 5 stars
A Kingdom Besieged: Book One of the Chaoswar Saga
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Being a long-time fan of Raymond E. Feist (in fact, he is my favorite author and has been ever since the first time I ever read Magician), even I have to admit that his last few books were a little below par for him. Many have said that they have felt like placeholders, and I have to agree; in truth, they more or less were, being that they were mostly used to introduce new characters and move the story into a direction where it would be possible for his current works to take place the way he envisioned them. Still, even with all that, I have never failed to enjoy any of his books, and I'm always among the first to pre-order the hardcovers as soon as they are available (even going so far on a few occasions as to order the books from Amazon UK when it just so happened that they were available in Europe before they were here in the U.S.).

When it comes to this current title, however, I must agree wholeheartedly with other reviewers who have said that it seems to be a return to the old Feist. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and devoured it very quickly (much to my horror when I realized that I now have to wait and wait for the next book in the trilogy to come out). Without giving anything away by way of spoilers, this book contains a lot of intrigue between the major kingdoms and ends with two very surprising plot twists that made my jaw drop. I'm still not sure why the publisher has the Kindle edition priced so expensively, but if you're one of those people who find yourself teetering on the fence of whether or not to buy it, I would advise you to go for it -- expensive or not... If you're a fan of Feist's early works, you will not be disappointed!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I've read all of Feist's previous `war' saga books (sans the special character stories). I have a propensity to like Feist. This book starts a new era called the Chaos Wars. Unfortunately, this 1st book is mostly cliff note primer of the past saga's stories. Yes, such reflection is necessary to get the reader current, except that the extent of back story seems like half the book. The problem is that the book is only 350 pages to start with and `new' stuff is certainly less than 200 hundred of those pages.

Not much here in my opinion. The story will be unfolded as Feist releases more books, but this first in the series is not worth it at the moment. Wait for more installments to be released for a seamless read. That's what I've decided after this disappointing entrée.

PS ... giving the author repeated 1 star reviews because of wacky kindle pricing is bogus and unfair. Whining about kindle pricing is a publisher issue and is overwhelming the purpose of a book review. Amazon as the Kindle provider isn't even offering the kindle edition for gosh sakes. You are paying Amazon "partner" prices that are not doing Kindle any favors.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book reminds me of "Magician", appropriately since it is the lead up to his final book, "Magician's End". It takes place years after the tragic events that lead to the death of many of Pug's family members and while he struggles to keep going forward it seems that new threats are appearing that are beyond even the Conclave's ability to handle. A sudden war from out of nowhere, demons appearing that might be as much the victims as they are the villains, questions once forgotten such as the purpose of the Lifestone being brought to light again, and events of the last 150 years all starting to come together makes this a great read for anyone who's read the previous books as well as someone new to the series. My only complaint, I don't want to wait until the next book!
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I own all of Raymond Feist's books, and absolutely loved the magician and many others. Raymond Feist has created such vivid and beautiful worlds, and he has done so through the people and cultures that inhabit those worlds.

His latest books, this one in particular, are one dimensional and everyone in the book seems very much alike. He seems to move everyone around like game pieces, from one crisis to another, with very little explanation of what is going on. You don't get to know the characters or the communities and the worlds they live in. He goes into no one in depth, except in this book, the Child, a demon. He has also killed off all the interesting characters, and has replaced them (or not replaced them) with one dimensional and very boring people.

A well planned war is coming from Kesh, but what is going on in the City of Kesh, with the emperor and his brother who rule there? What is happening in Krondor and Rillanon? How did Pug and Magnus deal with the death of Miranda, and through at least 8 books, who is Magnus? What is his life like, who has he loved and what does he think? We have never gotten to know him after all this time. What is going on with the Star Elves and the Queen and Tomas? What is happening on the new world that the Tsurani have settled on? How are they coping with all the problems of rebuilding their cultures and societies? So many strings hanging out there, and so many unanswered questions.

In his recent books, the type face has gotten bigger and bigger, and the books shorter and shorter. It's too bad that he seems to have lost interest in his vivid beautiful worlds, and I am losing interest in this author as well.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
being a long time fan of R.E Feist i have sadly noticed some novels below the benchmark of magician. I mean the comically maniacal villain of Laso Varen a case in point. I feel this swan song is no different. I see old plot points being revisited ( someone finds a suit of armour in a cave, again, seriously?) and frankly no plot points are resolved. this feels like Raymond has written one novel that will be split into three. Very disappointing. wait until they arrive in the second hand shop.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
It's no secret that Feist's recent books were written like they were desperately supporting a coke habit or secret mistress. However, this one gets back to something like Talon of the Silver Hawk. Good pace, more consistency (albeit a few glitches still in) and more logical.

There's some satisfaction that the multiple seeds he planted are growing and coming together and we'll soon see how it all plays out. However, he still faces the basic problem of putting another layer on his "dark forces behind dark forces being used by dark forces" theme. I mean, does it really matter that a race of demons is being destroyed by something that basically looks like a demon, is destructive like a demon, but has a different name? He has capacity for great intrigue and politics--there was no real need to go there except for the fact that going demon when the readers already knew of the dread seemed like a weak move in the first place.

Feist was also great at vignette scenes that tell a lot about the characters and make you interested in or care about them. Due to the multiple fields of action, there wasn't time for this: just "they did this, then group B did that and met up with character J" Given the attempt at concealing motive and action, there could have been time to breathe and make the characters rounder as the reader struggled along with them. One example of character development is when Pug rebuilds his villa. Nice try, but in the middle of all the action and planning, taking a few weeks/months to rebuild his villa? You're left scratching your head until you remember how slow Conclave time is, and how they always seem to be waiting for intelligence from non-mages. It really could have been set up better. I don't know how thick the book is as I got the Kindle version, but an extra 40 pages to put more of this in for other characters would not have hurt.

Speaking of the Kindle version, I have a pretty good memory of what Midkemia looks like from years of reading the series, but this one was particularly geography-heavy in the military tactics (which was well done as usual, although not exactly the breathtaking defence of Armengar). A couple of maps could have helped.

I really wanted to give this 4 stars after reading the UK reviews, but it just doesn't quite get there. Maybe 3 & 1/2 because I like the series and want to see how it turns out.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The fifth riftwar is about to start. Pug and the Conclave have been searching for demons for a few years and have not noticed that something is happening. And since I love Pug I am always happy to see him, and I hope there will be a lot of him. But he is also very sad since he lost his wife and son i n the last war and because of all the others he has seen die since he has lived so long.

The other characters in this book are Martin and Hal conDoin, sons of the Duke of Crydee, and they will play a big part in things to come. They are young men, ready for adventure, but at the same time not ready for all the responsibilities. We also meet James Dasher, or Jimmythehand as he wanted to be called when younger because of his famous relative, The one and only Jimmy The Hand. James is a spy that tries to figure out why Kesh is attacking the kingdom. All these characters just bring me back to the first Riftwar and it's a great feeling.

There is another character, Child, who wanders the demon realm and kills and grows. And then at the end there is such a twist and I never saw it coming. She sure is an interesting character.

This book has the beginning of a war that is going to be devastating for the West. There are also some politics and a lot of spying going on. And the question about how Kesh put it all together without anyone knowing. Then we have the question about why the demons are fleeing their realms and what the Darkness is. Something bad is coming and it will not stop. And at the end of the book something big happens that had me stop reading and smile. It's not something good, actually it's really bad, but it's a great plot, and I can't wait to see what happens.

Conclusion:
Ok, so I have not read all the books. It seems I missed the 4th Riftwar, but did it matter? Not really, I could jump in and was soon up to speed about things going on. It's a new series and sure it builds on the other books but it can stand alone. Though there are all these little things and if you really want to know then you should at least read the first Riftwar saga. Fans will not be disappointed, as always, great fantasy.

Rating:
I had fun :D
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
First off, I am a huge fan of Feist, and I've read every single one of his books. At this point though, I really feel like he's just calling it in. Some of the new characters are interesting, but none of them are fleshed out enough. This whole book was really an intro to the next one, there really wasn't a climax or much of a story in this one. I enjoyed reading the book, but after I was done, I was just left feeling very underwhelmed. Also, the book is pretty short for Fantasy, only around 300 pages. This really felt like half, or even a third of a book. I'm sure I'll read the next book, but I just feel this one didn't really add anything to the mythos of the world Feist created.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Raymond,Raymond,Raymond.... what the hell has happened to you.
I wait with great anticipation for your next books... since Magician many years ago.... and have never been disappointed.
I have followed the lives of your amazing characters since their very inception, you have been able to weave their adventures, trials and tribulations as well as their joys and happiness into a tapestry of amazing depth and clarity... I absolutely loved Honored Enemy...but this ... well not up to your usual standard.
I purchased this book only a week ago and took it with me on a camping trip.....no disturbances, peace tranquility and all.. and found that it fell flat on its face ..almost threw it in the camp fire out of disgust.
The characters have no real depth but rely on their family history to push them along. the plot (plots) are too fragmented and scattered, the whole book is just to busy and jumps around too much to make any sort of sense, creating a jumbled and confused mess. Normally with any one of R.E.F's books you were led firmly by the hand through the plots... knowing that there were twists and turns were round each corner yet not daring to take your eyes from the pages lest you miss something. But in this book I felt lost and confused, frustrated and disappointed..... definitely well below the standards of your previous works..
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I remember, as a child, how wonderful Feist's Midkemia was to my young mind; it seemed like every page of his early novels held some new marvel for me to discover. You can imagine how crushed I felt, then, to read his more recent work and see how sloppy his writing has become, how formulaic his plots, how uninteresting his characters.

My theory? Blame video games. He stopped writing full-time so he could help create several games based on the Midkemia world(s), notably Betrayal at Krondor (excellent) among many others (most of which were utterly forgettable/bad). Unsurprising, given this context, that he a) devotes far less time to the craft of writing new novels, b) creatively he's permanently stuck in Midkemia revisiting old characters and their far less interesting children and grandchildren, etc., and c) has written less a novel and more a novelization of a video game concept.

TL, DR: This book is horrible. Shame on you, Raymond Feist. About the only positive thing I can say about it is that it only cost 99 cents for the Kindle version; sadly, that was almost a dollar more than it's worth.
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