Magician – Raymond. E. Feist
Firstly apologies for being M.I.A. this past week or so. End of semester at uni and ended up buried under a ton of work. Gah! Luckily all that is handed in now and my second (and final!) semester started today.
Anyway thought I’d kick off with a new review – book review this time so here we go:
Magician – Raymond. E. Feist
I should begin by saying that the version I have read is the revised edition, the “author’s cut” as it were, with 15,000 words added that he had had to cut from his original version due to publisher’s preference. I have never read it as an ‘original’ copy but, as Feist states in his foreward to this edition, “nothing profound has been changed. No characters previously dead are now alive, no battles lost are now won, and two boys still find the same destiny”.
I love this book. It may appear to be typical fantasy fare and if I’m being perfectly honest it is in many ways. Very swords-and-sorcery, with epic battles, magic, Princes, Kings, journeys, elves, dwarves, romance… blah blah blah. But that’s not all this book is. Get beyond the traditional fantasy elements and there’s a whole lot more to this book.
In many ways, it is also an alien invasion story; a clash of cultures between an old, Western medieval society (considered ‘traditional’ fantasy) and that of an alternate ‘Eastern’ culture with similarities to that of the Samurai.
More than that, I believe it can be considered a “bildungsroman” narrative – basically a story about coming of age, as it focuses on two boys: Pug and Tomas who start off life in small keep and through the course of the novel (which takes place over twelve years) grow into men who shape not only their world, but another one.
Their stories are wonderfully told in a rich and vivid world that Feist has created. They go through trials and tribulations, and deal with love and loss. The romances in it are not quite typical. The damsels are rarely in distress and, though there isn’t a single very strong female character, there are numerous women who do show strength and courage. Relationships and their particulars are portrayed as realistically as can be expected in a fantasy novel and one of my favourite quotes comes from it:
Some love comes like a wind off the sea, while others grow slowly from the seeds of friendship and kindness.
While Feist has created not one but two amazing worlds, do not be put off by the thought that this is a world-builder novel in the same vein as Lord of the Rings and some other fantasy books. The narrative is what drives the story, not the world(s). It may be set in a fantasy realm but it is primarily a story about people. It does fall into the occasional fantasy cliché, but surprisingly for me (who does get irritated by some of the more traditional notions of what a fantasy novel *should* be) that doesn’t matter. In Feist’s own words, what this book is, is a “ripping good yarn” and I cannot help but agree.
There are sequels to this book, which are good and cover a huge period of time (so if you’re interested in books which follow characters through their lives and their children’s lives then it’s a good series to get in to), but this book is perfect as a stand-alone.
I definitely recommend it. Perhaps more those people who already like this genre but for someone venturing for the first time into a fantasy world is could be considered a gentle introduction to some of the “canon” elements as well as being an enjoyable read.
Read it? Planning on reading it? Let me know! 😀