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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The benchmark for fantasy
Fantasy stories tend to rely on stock characters, as well as some pretty standard clichés. Characters such as the naïve but uniquely gifted young boy and his powerful yet mysterious instructor, and clichés such as the seemingly undefeatable foe and journeys across great distances that function as the backdrop to passages into adulthood. Depending on your...
Published on 6 Oct. 2005 by Fantasy Lore

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated
Magician is not a terrible book. However, I'm perplexed at the acclaim it has received elsewhere. It's a plodding tale which aims to be an epic in the style of Lord of the Rings.

The stories of the two main characters, Pug and Tomas, were fairly interesting but I found the supporting characters very dull. If I came to a chapter focussing on Arutha, Martin or...
Published 20 months ago by BornToRun


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66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The benchmark for fantasy, 6 Oct. 2005
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Fantasy stories tend to rely on stock characters, as well as some pretty standard clichés. Characters such as the naïve but uniquely gifted young boy and his powerful yet mysterious instructor, and clichés such as the seemingly undefeatable foe and journeys across great distances that function as the backdrop to passages into adulthood. Depending on your point of view these can either be negative or positive aspects of the genre. But considering this is my absolute favourite genre of all- obviously these are characters and clichés I just can't get enough of, even if I must occasionally trudge through those plainly unimaginative and painfully formulaic examples.

'Magician' however, whilst containing all these characters and clichés and more common themes besides, is an exceptionally original and absolutely gripping novel. At first Pug is the uninspired hero, who aspires to the service of the Duke of Crydee and in companionship with his boyhood friend Thomas begins his unrelenting pursuit of that goal. But the twists and turns in Pug's story are unlike those in most fantasy stories- his ascendance into adulthood and the form his service to his country takes are completely different from that of his fellow apprentices and indeed his fellow heroes in fantasy.

Concepts of space and time, as well as the mastery of magic are areas terrifically brought to life by Feist and it's in the education of Pug in these arts that this book really comes into its own and where all competition is completely blown away. Clearly Feist has done a lot of research into this area, particularly in regards to some unequivocally harsh teaching techniques that seem to take their inspiration from Eastern philosophies, as do the 'undefeatable' foes and their far-off land. And it's in the culture-clash and the repercussions of such differences between these two peoples that makes this story truly compelling and makes this finely printed, but effortlessly readable book...totally gripping, ground-breaking fantasy. If you love fantasy, you'll LOVE 'Magician' and to add one more cliché into the mix...it's magic!
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It captures your imagination, 11 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
This was my first Feist book, and what an excellent read it turned out to be. The characters were introduced at timely intervals, so they didn't overlap. The plot of the book was never lost , but in the middle you cover such a lot of ground it becomes hard to follow. It all comes together in the end with quite a bang. The characters develop realistically, and the twists and turns they go through in the cause of fate, adds a real feeling of realism. There is one charachter who is instrumental in the final chapters, and you suddenly realise that you had knowledge of him from the very first part of the book. I've read a lot of fantasy books in my time, but I cannot recall a time when I have had been wrong in guessing what would happen next. This had me on the edge of my seat more times than I can remember. If someone asked my to recommend a good book for a long journey this would be it, If you are a fantasy fan and you haven't read it already it is a must. If you have never read a fantasy book before, I couldn't think of a better one to start with.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, 11 July 2013
This review is from: Magician (Riftwar Saga) (Paperback)
Magician is not a terrible book. However, I'm perplexed at the acclaim it has received elsewhere. It's a plodding tale which aims to be an epic in the style of Lord of the Rings.

The stories of the two main characters, Pug and Tomas, were fairly interesting but I found the supporting characters very dull. If I came to a chapter focussing on Arutha, Martin or Roland I groaned internally.

I think I would personally have preferred the book to have been a simpler, old-fashioned fantasy romp with the focus on Pug and Tomas. The depth of the characters, and world, simply couldn't sustain an epic-style fantasy for me.

As with many fantasy novels, the influence of Tolkien is not difficult to spot. At times, Magician goes a little too far in paying respect to the master. In one sequence, a band of travellers are unable to use the preferred route on their journey and instead are forced to travel through the mysterious and feared Dwarven tunnels known as the "Mines of Moria". Well, they aren't actually called "Moria" but they may as well be! Books which have a similar style or tone to LOTR will certainly draw the interest of many fantasy fans but to blatantly reuse plot points from Tolkien is a real turn-off for me (maybe I'm harsh in this regard as I stopped reading the "Wheel of time" one third through due to copy and paste "Tolkienism")

As I said initially, Magician is not an awful book. Credit goes to the author for the idea of the "rift" which introduces the novel idea ( novel at least in a traditional fantasy tale) of multiple worlds and, as noted, the essence of the Pug/Tomas stories are fun. However, there wasn't enough here to sustain my interest across a very long, and pretty average, fantasy novel.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun with elves and dwarves, 4 Dec. 2008
By 
Vp Campbell (Leicestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Where to go after Tolkien and Lord of the Rings? Here's not a bad place to start.

Epic fantast is overloaded with authors these days, each offering what could be called 'map' fiction. You know the type of book- big map in the front intended to show the epic scope and scale, and depth of the world you're about to enter.

Magician goes one better than most- it has two maps, and two fantasy worlds across which the story unfolds. A neat trick, and one handled quite well in this first book of the riftwar saga (although it stands well enough on its own).

In this, the revised edition, you get 600-odd pages of story with nearly ten years of events (compared to LotR's 1500 pages covering about a year). Loads of things happen, and mostly at a break-neck pace- no bad thing, and for those wanting a bit more action with elves and dwarves and dragons than you get in Tolkien, you get plenty of that.

This is very much an American book though. The characters we begin with are humble enough, but instead of Frodo-like epic heroism resulting in permanent scarring and having to leave the world they've saved, here Pug and Thomas go from young boys to well powerful beings rather rapidly. Nothing wrong with that per se, and here it's very good. In later books , it's a problem for Feist in where he can take the characters (just like in Dungeons and Dragons games from childhoos- if you cheat on your stats nad make yourself super powerful, it's hard to generate any real dramatic tension to what happens). So it's the American dream in fantasy form- anyone can end up the world's most powerful magician (against the melancholic realism of duty in LotR).

Don't look for high quality literature here- the writing at times is clunky ('and a and b were there, along with c and d and e and f and....'), and even potentially interesting female characters end up rather subordinate to the men (just love interests in the end). If you want literate fantasy it has to be George RR Martin BUT this is a lot of fun on its own terms.
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5.0 out of 5 stars worth it, 23 April 2014
This review is from: Magician (Riftwar Saga) (Paperback)
I have been reading fantasy for a very long time, never wrote a review. But I could not this one go. This was the first book I ever bought for myself. Not a family present, not a task from school. But I just liked the original cover and title. It was 1989 and I was hooked. I have literally never stopped reading a book for more than a month or so ever since then. And it has been mostly fantasy. I will write not only about Magician but also about the next two books. (Sethanon) - which are Feist first thrillogy.

The book is the epiphany of fantasy literature. It is farly black and white. probably resembles more a YA book than a modern fantasy title; with characters personalities being ambiguous and deep and dark twists. Having said that. Feist was a master of classical fantasy. That his characters are black and white does not, by any means, take away anything from their sense of deep personality. One can do little but fall in love with Pug. One suffers along him, and looks forward tot he moment when everything will be repaid, when he becomes the hero, when he becomes the "Magician". But the book is not only about young Pug, a small orphan boy that discovers he has some power - a power his master and mentor cannot understand or duplicate, nor any other master his mentor knows of.

The book is also about Thomas, Pugs friend. And his struggles against the old dragons gift. All Thomas always wanted is what all boys always want: be tall and mighty. The most feared, respected and all-around best possible warrior the world can possibly have known. And his dream girl at his feet of course. What if a gift could make most of that true? what would a boy do if he inherits the potential to be a demi-god?

And lets not forget the young, dark haired prince and the beautiful princess. Their struggles to regain control of their falling kingdom and the chance to save the young princess live. And what about young "Jimmy the hand"? such potential for that your man, but the books where too short and Jimmy had to wait for some spin offs to get more attention :)

Once you read the first 3 books, waste no time and head to Feist/Female athour name empress thrillogy. Almost better than the magician thrillogy. and set at the same time as magician, but seen from one of the other sides of the struggle. A fantastic read in a completely different setting for standard fantasy.

If you were a fan of the Malazan empire books - which I was not, then continue to devour Feist following books. If you were not, you may want to give the following thrillogy a read (demon war thrillogy, an extraordinary soldier adventure). But stop there. Feits characters and plot becomes increasingly more and more powerful, and like Gokus's at the end, they can pretty much destroy worlds and gods with a flick of their little finger (the reason I could not stand the Malazan books). Pitty, I loved this three thrillogies but gave up on my fav. authour towards the end of his books (talon, etc).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmirising magic!, 28 July 2012
This has to be the most outstanding novel by an incredible author who is recognizable as a creative giant within the fantasy genre, taking this genre to a whole new level that inspires. Having previously read the series the serpentwar saga that surrounds the world of Midkemia, I was excited to read more of this author's work that would be slightly different to what I had previously encountered. This book exceeded all expectations with its incredible storyline that was highly imaginative, inspired and totally unique. The fast moving action pulls you along on a thrilling journey, which is full of vivid imagination and suspense. With such epic scope here Raymond E Feist has created something that is of such depth as to be comparable with JRR Tolkien, being an array of delicious delights surrounding the most fascinating world of Midkemia.

You follow the journey of the character called Pug who is apprenticed to become a master magician, within the tranquil kingdom of the Isles where things turn upside down. With the invasion of deadly enemies one is plunged head long into the most electrifying battle between good and evil, where ultimately you hope for victory from the hero. With a rift through space and time that opens up a cataclysm of magic and power beyond all imagining, this tale is truly spellbinding. If you want to discover the real essence of this genre, with magic portrayed in such an interesting and original way then I cannot recommend this author enough who captures the essence of what `fantasy fiction' is all about. Magical and mythical creatures of all descriptions both good and evil alongside characters that are intriguing and outlandish, being highly memorable and distinctive here is a tale that will delight many readers. Set within the most believable and authentic world, Raymond E Feist's creation is a true masterpiece that is so realistic in its design and description it is as if you are actually there.

One of the greatest writers of this genre Raymond E Feist is a notable author who is quite a match for other writers, who has set the standard so high with his astonishing work. This book has to be my favorite and most loved within his collection of works, as it is something that you can read and re-read time and time again without tiring of it. If you enjoy ambitious writing on a grand scale that is overwhelmingly good, then look no further than here where you will be transported to the most tremendous and remarkable creation. Innovative, imaginative and inspired here is a writer who is not afraid to go that extra mile, with such passion and dedication as to enchant all his readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Epic in every sense, 28 Jan. 2010
'Magician' (it made the BBC best reads top 100) is the first book in a long series of books centred around inhabitants of the world of Midkemia who have just found out that there is another world out there. The Tsurani Empire from Kelewan, with its huge armies, has invaded Midkemia and its collection of independent kingdoms via a rift in the fabric of the worlds. At the same time as facing this unknown enemy, the Kingdom of Rillanon is weakened by the threat of civil war as the current King is showing more and more signs of madness.

The story begins with Pug and Thomas, two boys who live at the castle of Crydee, in a far-flung corner of the Kingdom of Rillanon. As they start their respective apprenticeships, both boys dream of the future, adventure and girls. When a mysterious ship breaks up on the rocks of the harbour, they don't realise that it marks the beginning of the rest of their lives. Both boys will be changed almost beyond recognition by the events to follow. How they are changed and the role they have to play in the war between the two worlds are at the heart of this book.

The medieval settings and customs of Midkemia and its more regular fantasy inhabitants of humans, elves, dwarves and goblins contrast well with the culture and people of Kelewan. Many strange folks and beasts share it with the Tsurani whose strict code of honour and adherence to customs and traditions show a marked Japanese influence.

'Magician' can be read on its own even though it is part of one of the greatest tales in Fantasy. Whilst the reader is supplied with many bits of information which indicate the vastness of the world building and the potential for further developments the story itself is very much completed. This first book reminds of a Tolkien epic with its in-depth descriptions and attention to detail whereas later books are more focused on action and are quite condensed by comparison, the exception being the 'Empire Trilogy'. That collaboration with the author Janny Wurts which many describe as the best books in the series, returns to the epic style of the early books.

Feist pretty much captures the essence of what regular fantasy is all about. Great world building, epic stories, well developed interesting characters, fantastical beasts and powerful magic. Having read all the books based around Midkemia, bar 'Jimmy the Hand' the only one I would not at all recommend is called 'Murder in LaMut'. The rest should appeal to fantasy readers of all ages though some of the later books do not come up to the same high standard as the early works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start but a start to one of the historically most important fantasy series, 11 Dec. 2009
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
The book has been one recommended to me for many years and I finally took the plunge to read it. It took me some time to get into it, as the start is painfully slow and somewhat generic - admittedly the book was published before many others in the genre aping it, so one cannot lay the blame there.

It starts with the standard apprenticing, so common to fantasy books, and goes on to the Riftwar, where the Tsurani attack Midkemia - a war, which is fought over the span of about a decade.

After the slow start, eventually the book picks up somewhat but there are several reasons why I would not accord it 5 stars. The first is the initial concept of magic, which, being scroll based, I found unconvincing. Even more tragically, it looks like it was a concept the author toyed with for a short while, only to cast it aside later, without correcting the earlier parts of the book - I found this inconsistency a bit of a disturbance.

On top of that there are several sloppy elements and the author is not as consistent as would be expected of a true SFF great in my opinion. Journey times are so wildly inconsistent, so as to give the impression the author really does not care about the size of Midkemia and has people journey as long as he needs them to each time - taking 6 days or three months for the same route. Then there are several periods, where suddenly years pass without anything happening, or without any good reason for moving time forwards.

In many ways it looks like the author fashioned the Tsurani on a mix of Japanese cultures and traditions, with both medieval and 20th century elements. The pointers are many, from their construction, to the role of the emperor in society, their values, fighting styles, relations between gentry and those of lesser status, the honour system, their expansion drive necessitated by their lack of resources, their warfare system based on individual bravery and on infantry tactics, rather than mobile forces (cavalry in Midkemia, armour in WW2), etc. While one got the impression early on that the author viewed them in a very bleak light, this does subsequently change to a much more balanced view and the transition is a well executed one.

All in all a good book, maybe not as interesting as early Robbin Hobb and it looks like a promising start into the trilogy. As already mentioned, though, the significance of the book in historical terms should not be overlooked - the reasons I gave it five stars in spite of the mentioned 'issues' - and many of the concepts used have subsequently been copied, so may appear less fresh if you read the later fantasy books first.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 26 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Magician (Riftwar Saga) (Paperback)
Having re-read all of tolkien's books for the third time, and gotten to the end of R.R.Martin's "A dance with dragons", I felt like I needed to start something new. After reading the other reviews for Magician I decided to give it a try......and I am so glad I did. This book is simply amazing. The start is very much tolkien, with fantasy staples such as elves, dwarves ect, but the additional dynamic of the invaders through the rift adds such a boost to the story line that you'll find the book very, very hard to put down.
The main character "Pug" is well thought out and easy to like while still being credable as the hero. Finding out how he goes from apprentice to master magician is utterly engrosing and will keep you turning the pages well into the early hours.
The other main characters, Pug's friend Tomas and prince Arutha are also very likeable and both have an "Aragorn" type feel to them.
In short I was blown away by this book, and while it is a great stand alone novel, I'm itching to find out more about the worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan. Silverthorn next, can't wait! Well done Feist!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant book, 19 Nov. 2010
This is a brilliant book as are most of the books that came after that are part of the series. I got this book many years ago when it first came out and now as a 35 yr old, i still think its one of the best I ever read. I had just finished Lord of the Rings and was delighted to get stuck into this one. I am a bookworm so I'd like to think I know a good book when I read it and I loved this, it was a page turner and I couldn't wait to get stuck into the other books in the series, highly highly recommended, would have made a great film (although it might have been a crap film, probably hard to get the whole story in). Loved it.
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Magician (Riftwar Saga)
Magician (Riftwar Saga) by Raymond E. Feist (Paperback - 13 Sept. 2012)
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