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MAGICIAN: THE AUTHOR'S PREFERRED EDITION (Riftwar Saga) Hardcover – October 18, 1992
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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Then, there was the 10th Anniversary edition of Magician which put everything together and restored some 50,000 words originally cut, according to the author. As the edition reviewed seems to be the author's preferred edition, go with this one, I guess. One way or another, the complete Magician is the 1st book of the Riftwar Saga Trilogy (the others are Silverthorn and Darkness at Sethanon).
We're not done yet. The Riftwar Saga is itself part of a greater whole. It is the initial series arc of a cycle which comprises several extended series arcs that stand on their own, like Legends of the Riftwar, Riftwar Legacy, Krondor's Sons, etc.
As for the book itself (finally)... First, restoring cuts to this overlong book--mostly a bad idea. An Editor can be an author's best friend. The book is already too long, and it needed a firm editing hand, not indulgence of the author's ego.
Second, this book shows grand scope and great ideas. It is easy and fun to read, page turning prose. That said, however, it also shows some limitations in Feist's early writing abilities and craft. He is simply not that good a writer in a technical sense. The prose is often awkward, almost as if written for young teens; the dialog often stilted and cartoonish. His concepts and plots have their issues, but they far outstrip his ability to execute them all gracefully.
Given those limitations, this tale of a war between two worlds linked by a mysterious portal is still a ripping good yarn--as the saying goes--and a great idea. You can excuse some limitations in the author's writings, because it is a fine fantasy creation with an enormous scope that entertains greatly. Its inept prose and awkward recounting of events does grate at times, though.
The book opens with Pug, an unimportant farm boy who through latent magic hidden within himself (which you'll not hear explained one whit further in this tome) saves the princess Carline from some trolls. She subsequently falls in love with him. Think you know where this might be headed? Well, if you're thinking that it's headed toward Pug being captured into slavery for seven years on the other world, marrying an outworlder slave girl, having a son and never seeing Carline again in any meaningful fashion, then congratulations, you got it right!
The only characters the author seems to truly care about are the varying politicians (and their lackeys) you meet, one after the other in a seemingly endless array. Lords, ladies, dukes, duchesses, kings, queens, barons, warleaders, emperors, huntsmen, princes, princesses, dwarves, slaves, troubadors, elves, goblins, wraiths, dragons (even mini-dragons called firedrakes who do absolutely nothing in this book), gods, thieves, pirates, warriors, cooks - the list really does go on - all of them in the service of some political task or another.
It's all very tiring. On the one hand, in the Tolkien-derivative world, the Duke of Crydee is worried about this and the Earl of Krondor is usurping the authority of that and the Queen of the Elves is worried about the return of the whatever and the the King of the Dwarves isn't really the King because of yada yada. On the other hand, on the Japanese Shogun world, the slaves know their place because they are all captured soldiers of previous conflicts between the houses of whatever and they all collectively play power politics that they refer to as the Game of I can't remember and the Heads of the Houses and the guild of magicians known as the Great Ones are working together to blah blah blah.
I give the story two stars for Macros, a truly badass character (and being a Magician, for a while there I thought the book might really have been referencing him in its title, but alas, no) who of course, dies. Maybe. It's unclear. Why does he die? So that an academy of magic can be established. Once the magicians become learned and powerful men, instead of wretched hobos, Macros' vision will doubtless come to fruition and we might even have the basis for a book that might rightly be called "Magician," because this ain't it.