Monday, September 26, 2011

A.R.R.U. II -- The Disappearing Magician


The last novel that I have finished was Raymond Feist's first, which became the beginning of the Riftwar Saga: Magician: Apprentice.  I did not read the original edition, but the later, author's preferred edition.  It's been recommended to me for years, partially because one thing that I've been telling people I wanted to read was fantasy that focused on a main wizard character, in addition to the obvious popularity of the series.  There were things I enjoyed about the novel, but my greatest impression, unfortunately, is one of disappointment.

My disappointment mostly stems from the fact that the novel felt like a bait-and-switch to me.  I expected a novel titled Magician: Apprentice to be mostly about the character who was the magician's apprentice, Pug.  I had no trouble accepting that he was actually the central character in a cast of characters who were also important, but when he disappears about two-thirds (three-quarters?  I'd have to go back and count) the way through and then never reappears in this novel, then not only are my expectations disappointed, but the unity of the novel seems to be endangered -- something that isn't terribly surprising in a first novel.  I did care about the other characters, but with the character I cared the most about missing for so long, my patience was tested.

Some of my favorite scenes were those about Macros and Black and Rhuagh the dragon. Clearly the wizard Macros promises to be a recurring character of interest.  To close this review note fairly, I add that I read two Feist novellas in Legends I & II, and I marked all those novellas that I thought stood out as good in the collections.  Only four authors had their stories marked in both volumes, and Feist was among those four.  So maybe I will overcome my disappointment and check out the second book, I don't know.

I'd appreciate feedback then on two questions:
1. What are stories that focus on a wizard that stand out as really excellent fantasy stories, and that shed some light on what it means to be a wizard?
2. Would the second Riftwar book give greater satisfaction to my desire to read a story that centers more on the wizard character(s)?

8 comments:

  1. Why yes the second book shall. But it too has it's failings. The biggest issue is really seeing these as separate books. In reality they are not. You will not see pug for a part of the second book as well.

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  2. To answer your first question, I very much appreciate Elizabeth Willey's The Well-Favored Gentleman.
    For the second, as far as I remember, Feist has his wizard characters fade into the background in later books.

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  3. But when you do see Pug again... things have changed.

    I agree with jasmitch, these two volumes really are 'one book' that was too big to put into one cover. At the time, at least; I'm pretty sure I've now seen thicker paperbacks.

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  4. Thanks, guys. I think Jasmitch, Keith, and Allen (sent me his comments) have convinced me to read book two just to see what happens with Pug, then I'm done with the Riftwar. Eliz. Willey's series sounds right up my alley, though, FrDave!

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  5. Hmm. *thinks about remaining books -- lots of them*

    I'd suggest you also read the Empire series (_Daughter of the Empire_, _Servant of the Empire_, _Mistress of the Empire_), co-authored by Janny Wurts. This series tells about the other side of the rift, and honestly I think it's even better.

    The rest may be worth reading if you find you enjoy these five books, but only if so. They expand on Midkemia and the characters (including their descendants, as the various series progress), and expand into a number of different areas. The later series also expand into other accessible worlds (they really start getting into it in _A Darkness at Sethanon_, as I recall).

    Still, the 'first book' (two volumes) sets the stage for everything else and is probably the setting at its best, and the Empire trilogy is probably be best-written of them all.

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  6. Thanks, Keith, I'll take a look.

    By the way, welcome to the Ramblers! If you don't mind me asking, how did you find the blog?

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  7. RPGBA, at first. I'm also grabbing your RSS feed via calibre as part of a general "RPG blogspot" news source and it goes on my ebook reader for the bus ride to work.

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