Riftwar Saga by Raymond E. Feist
The Good: Feist's language and writing style is acceptable, since it seemed to me he was aiming this book for junior readers. His writing toolbox was lacking in some areas, but mostly, it was bearable. Also, his plot was quite original, and the world he portrayed in his book was interesting to a degree. His ability to create a stable hierarchy system and an understandable government was quite fascinating as well. However...
The Bad: His characters seemed undeveloped to the point of being stick figures. Arutha and Lyam has virtually no distinction from one to the another, and just because Feist states one has black hair the other is blond, and one doesn't smile and the other does, does not make Arutha taciturn, and Lyam charismatic. I should be able to feel Arutha's quiet and stoic personality just by reading his dialogues and his actions throughout the book. I don't. Even in Bray's Devlin's Luck, and Brown's Da Vinci Code--both unacceptable in style and language--managed to draw a line of distinction from every one of their characters. Even the two protagonists, Tomas and Pug, is underdeveloped and I could go on rambling about it all day. I won't since it will bore you. But to summarize in one short sentence, I should be able to tell who is talking what in each dialogue just by listening to the sentences and phrases, without having to read "Arutha said" or "Pug said". This underdevelopment, I personally believe, is unacceptable.
The beginning also failed to grab my attention. Instead of letting Pug sleep in the beach for two hours and having him wake up, just begin the story when Pug is running away from the storm. I mean seriously, why ramble about stupid tide pools when they have no significance to the story?
And Feist's failure to make Pug an actual "magician" in the first volume, then not mentioning about him for nearly two-hundred pages really got into my nerves. The reason I am reading the book in the first place is to read about the main character and his growth as the hero, not about Arutha defending Crydee, or Roland kissing his ass off with Carline.
In short, Feist failed to 1. develop his character thoroughly, 2. create a solid introduction, 3. have a solid writing toolbox. These failures led me to choose one star out of five.
Submitted by Anonymous
The series is a most typical fantasy. The setting consists of the typical elves, dwarves, goblins, etcetera. I feel that many of the situations in the book seem to be illogical within the frame of the setting and destroy the suspension of belief. Near the beginning of the book, the protagonist, a lowly commoner, goes on a horseback ride alone with the princess and they are attacked by a couple of demihumans. Two things immediately strike me: why is a lowly commoner going on riding with the princess and why are there no guards? Seems like an awfully contrived way for our hero to save the damsel in distress. Much of the rest of the plot is generated in a similar way and often resolved very unnaturally by Deus ex Machina. None of the characters are well developed or especially sympathetic. The description of the flora is certainly detailed, but again typical fantasy fare. The fight scenes and the big magic scenes all feel flat and dull. The words could have been better spent on actually giving a bit of reason and pretext to events and character actions. The protagonist and some random girl manage to look at each other awkwardly and then do it (and later get married) in the span of a few pages. There is no clear antagonist, and the evil warlord has about a single scene. His motivations are extremely sketchy as well as the whole faux Japanese political system of the other world. I can't even call the warlord evil because he is completely undeveloped. All in all it is rather poorly written, even for someone looking for easy escapist fantasy - on par with a trashy romance novel.
Submitted by Danny Popov
This is simply the best fantasy series and books I've ever read. Feist is a master story architect--the story could not have been put together any better. I have re-read this series many times and just can't get enough of it. Anyone that loves reading, whether or not a fantasy fan, is missing out by not reading these books.
Submitted by Guy
This series is by far the most amazing fantasy series I have ever read.
Having been weened on fantasy since a young age through the likes of hobbs and eddings and ofcourse tolkien, I at first scoffed at the seemingly "simple" writing styles in magician, the book seemed to lack much of the depth of description which tolkien and eddings would use to create their detailed worlds where you would see the authors visions to the detail of the number of petals on each flower.
Reading on I discovered that even through my arrogance at the relatively "low" literary style, I began to become enraptured by Magician, Fiest achieves an amazing thing which many of his counterparts fail at, he gives JUST enough detail so that you are never mistaken in your images of his worlds, but he allows each reader to create their own worlds and unvierses through their imagination, something which tolkien does not allow and the reason Eddings' series tend to be 5 books in place of the 3 they can justify.
The apparent lack of detail and depth infact draws the reader far deeper into the book, because you are not only witnessing a world Fiest creates for you, you are creating a world around yourself.
Once you get sucked into Magician, there is no turning back, you fall in love with the characters, you share their emotions, occasionally laughing or grinning with the characters, occasionally feeling your eyes begin to water with their grief, having finished magician after 3 days, I couldn't wait to go to work the next morning so that I could stop into the bookstop and pick up silverthorn, 2 mornings later I had to stop in and pick up a darkness at sethanon on the way to work... now I'm here looking for what more remains of the stories because I am loathe to say goodbye to the characters I have grown to love (terry goodkind is lined up and waiting, but I'm going to miss pug and tomas too much to just switch)
I could not think of a way to more strongly recommend reading this series, save to say that with the riftwar trilogy Fiest has forever secured his place in the canons of fantasy authors, I can't wait to read the extra books in the saga, then no doubt the serpent wars, then I'm sure the follow ups, as I write this I'm busy downloading betrayal at krondor (which is now freeware), 2 weeks ago I hadn't heard of Raymond E. Fiest, today I have read over 1700 pages of his work and can't help but wish I had more, I'm actually looking forward to going to work so that I can pick up the next book.
Submitted by Duke Jinx
The most facinating series of books I've ever read. Magician...is simply the best book(s) I've ever read, some would think that there is too many characters, but I think it's perfect, there is soo many characters but you get to know every single one so well, and without that many, it would hardly feel like a real world full of thousands and thousands of people. Raymond E. Feist, unlike other (unnamed)authors can REALLY pull you into the book, the way he can write has no equal. If you haven't read the books, all of his books, do not miss out on the greatest books ever(I know I'm incredibly biased, but you must understand... THE BEST)And if you have read them all, do it again. Not even several times reading them all, I can never put them down.