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The Riftwar Trilogy by Raymond E. Feist

Review by Liara

A Darkness at Sethanon

Note: Magician is usually found in two volumes now, Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master in the US. But the copy I read was nearly as old as I am and in the original one volume, so that's how I'm reviewing it. There are also a bunch more books in the same world that follow this series, but I haven't read them yet. Probably most people around here have read it already, but here I go anyway.

The World

Takes place mostly upon Midkemia, your standard, generally European fantasy world with mostly your standard magic. It's got elves, dwarves, dragons and all that. However, some of the story happens on the rather unique, Asian world of Kelewan, and it goes even beyond that, showing a much greater awareness of the universe in general than most books that aren't straight out sci-fi. I liked that.

The Plot

Gee, it's going to be hard to describe this without giving spoilers! It begins with a rift, a magical portal, between Midkemia and Kelewan. At first we follow Pug, an orphan boy who is the apprentice magician of the title, as he meets a number of other important characters through various adventures. Of course there is a war (actually more than one), as the title suggests, a couple good quests, some romance, some flashbacks to the distant past, and some cool magical surprises, especially in the last book. I thought the first half of the first book (the Apprentice part) was not terribly exciting because the story used too many of the old fantasy clichés, and the setting sometimes had strong parallels to Tolkien. But this all cleared up quickly once I got further in, things got more interesting and original, and the last book was sort of a wild ride that alternated between two storylines. One was fairly standard, but quite well-written, and the other was an anything-but-ordinary, crazy magical trip to some very strange places. Sometimes this combination struck me as odd, but mostly it just made for good interesting reading.

The Characters

There are lots! They're all pretty cool too; they seemed very realistic. There's Pug, who remains a pretty important character throughout, and his boyhood friend Tomas; Lyam, Arutha, and Carline, the children of the Duke; Martin the huntmaster; Kulgan, Pug's magician master; and Jimmy the boy thief. I think my favorites were Pug and Arutha just because they were very likeable and they did some nifty things over the course of the series. There are a few other characters that I liked, but I can't say anything about them because it would give too much away :-). I thought the women could have been a bit more prominent, but they weren't bad books on this count at all.


I really enjoyed these books (thanks Chris for making me read them *g*). Other than what I said before about the first part being unoriginal, I only have one complaint. This is with the writing style; it was fairly simple, which in general wasn't bad, but occasionally it started to feel a bit stilted. But this really wasn't a big problem at all and overall this series was just really cool and fun to read! Oh, one other note: if you haven't already gone and read Empire, I would follow everyone else's suggestion and read this series first. I didn't, and while it's not a huge deal, there are some spoilers in Empire for this one (unless you go and forget all about them like I did). Anyway, 4.5 amulets to a very enjoyable series.

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