This column appeared earlier, but I’m sharing it again for new readers. Enjoy!
Title: Magician: Apprentice, Riftwar saga
Author: Raymond Feist
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Themes: hero’s journey, friendship, war, magic
Source: TBR pile. I found this one at the USB. It sounded appealing, very LOTR, with a young hero discovering his powers and a land on the brink of war, dwarves and elves all that stuff. It was the first in a series, so there’s always that hope that I’ll really love it and there will be all those other books to look forward to.
Story: Pug is a serving boy at the castle who was taken in by the duke. Now he has grown enough that he and other village boys his age are ready to become apprenticed and learn a trade. Pug’s best friend gets chosen to become a soldier, but Pug is unpicked until the wizard chooses him. Pug is willing, but has difficulty learning traditional magic. Still he is willing and brave, and discovers a frightening new enemy poised to invade all of Midkemia. At this point, we begin the journey to summon aid from elves and dwarves, and so on. The duke’s youngest son defends the keep against a determined invasion and we’re set up for the next book.
Pros: The setting is well done, and I like the various races. Yes, it is very much what you expect, with the dwarves living in the mountains, and beautiful elves and so on, but just because something is expected doesn’t mean it’s bad.
I liked Pug. He’s brave, clever, and well written. I liked most of the characters, in fact. Princess Carline has a nice character arc, going from spoiled little brat to a determined young woman in a convincing manner. Really liked the ship’s captain Amos Trask who enters the book toward the end. I’m guessing other readers liked him too, as he gets his own book later.
The villains! They are convincingly bad and I’m looking forward to finding out more about their story.
Cons: The length! My version is the “author’s preferred edition” which apparently means longer and with deleted scenes. But you know what? Editors exist for a reason. This is too long. And it’s not the length by itself that’s the problem. It’s the fact that the title is Magician: Apprentice and yet Pug is not even in the last 100 pages. Why is that? This is his book. I really liked the ending, don’t get me wrong, but it’s out of place. That should have been incorporated in the next book.
Also, for a book named Magician: Apprentice, the POV should have been solely his. Instead it shifts quite a bit. It was usually well done, but was unexpected and occasionally jarring.
I wanted more magic! I keep harping on the title, but wouldn’t you expect a lot of magic in a book about a magician and his apprentice? Sadly, there’s not much. Yeah, Pug studies some, but he only does one major spell! There’s no explanation of how magic works in this world, only that Pug is doing it all wrong. Come on, Feist, that’s why I picked up the book!
Finally, why are there only a handful of female characters in this book? It’s certainly an improvement over LOTR, but not by much.
Verdict: This is tricky. I don’t feel this is one everyone will enjoy. It’s a solid book within its genre, but it doesn’t transcend it in any way. But I did like it enough that I’m going to read the next one. I don’t think I’ll put it at the top of my list, but I do want to know what happens next. 3.8 stars