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on 13 January 2004
Oh dear Mr Feist, are we bound by a contract to our publishers by any chance? It is sad that a once brilliant author of a book which made it into the Top 100 books of all time (Magician) is reduced to 'writing by numbers'.

As a number of reviewers have already pointed out, King Of Foxes falls a long way short of the book that it ought to have been. Book One of the Conclave series, Talon Of The Silver Hawk, marked a welcome return to gripping fantasy writing following a number of 'collaborations' (for which you can read Feist allowed others to play around with his world and characters, usually to disastrous results in terms of the quality of the books, and took a co-writer credit) and, I hoped, paved the way for greater things to come. I completely agree that it's as though Feist just decided that he couldn't be bothered and so churned out this rubbish as quickly as he could.

It's sad that Talon (now Tal) has become so wooden that his creator doesn't feel it necessary to paint him with any kind of emotions and so even the most major setbacks (one of which caused me to feel physically sick) and betrayals fail to create any sense of despair or sadness in what is essentially the book's only character. Which leads me to the second main criticism of KOF: where are the other plots and characters which made former Feist novels so intriguing and readable. As a nod to loyal readers, Feist manages to name-check a number of former characters (for example we see Erik Von Darkmoor, of the Serpentwar Saga, now in his old age, for a fleeting moment), but where are the sub-plots and other characters to care about? When Feist does his usual trick of showing that the 'good' guys don't have it all their own way, and kills off various people as the book progresses, you just don't care about it. As for a sub-plot, what greater one could there be than the mysterious workings of the Conclave of the Shadows, yet Feist gives the reader absolutely zero insight into their operations. He could easily have done it without Tal being in the know, but that would have involved making the book longer and more effort on Feist's part. The point is that I have only just finished the book and I can't think of a single scene that didn't involve Tal - that may be ok for children's authors but from the writer of 3 of the best series in fantasy history (the Riftwar Saga, the Serpentwar Saga, the Empire series), it just isn't good enough.

I've given the book a very generous 2 stars, simply because the plot itself, one dimensional as it may have been, was sufficient to keep me reading to the end, but if I were reviewing it purely on the basis of things which have made previous Feist novels so enjoyable (character development, multiple plots and sub-plots, epic descriptions etc. etc.), then Feist should count himself lucky that Amazon doesn't allow a zero star rating. If you can't be bothered anymore then just give up and let Magician and co take pride-of-place on my bookshelf without having to sit embarrassed alongside this sort of nonsense.
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on 4 December 2003
After several sub-par collaborations, Raymond E. Feist returned to epic fantasy in 2002 with "Talon of the Silver Hawk," Book 1 of the Conclave of Shadows. The boy Talon saw his tribe slaughtered and was raised by the Conclave, founded at the close of Feist's previous Serpent War Saga. After learning typically Feistian lessons in swordplay and boyhood love, Talon extracted revenge on his tribe's executioners, but without any sense of the greater evil that necessitated the Conclave's founding.
"King of Foxes" sees Tal swear fealty to Duke Olasko, the noble who ordered his tribe exterminated, and Tal must mesh his thirst for revenge with his Conclave directive to investigate Olasko's magician Varen. The novel starts with plodding court intrigue, but the story quickens as Tal enters Olasko's service. Feist's novels have always relied on plot rather than narrative, but the prose in "King of Foxes" rings particularly wooden, and none of the new settings such as Opardum feel as real as the grit of Krondor in past novels.
After Tal suffers a reversal, Feist rushes through a predictable detention and escape sequence and then Tal easily assembles an army of thousands for his personal revenge, since the Conclave's barely mentioned goals fortunately coincide with his own. The predictable endgame effortlessly thwarts the supposedly powerful enemy, with scant explanation of the Conclave's findings. Tal redeems his clouded heart, but his character oddly ends the novel in a state of complete resolution, as though Feist plans to switch to a new main character for Book 3 (of a projected five).
In the Serpent War Saga, Feist used two new young characters and half a dozen older ones to tell a spellbinding tale of invasion that took the bold risk of killing old characters and destroying Feist's core city. The Conclave of Shadows novels thus far have centered on only one new character, Tal, with bare flashes of older ones. Tal's plain thirst for revenge and his cold manipulation of fencing opponents and women alike render him dull, and his isolation from the Conclave's motives saps any overall tension of impending doom from the story. Perhaps a shift to a different main character, such as one more involved in the decisions of the Conclave, might enliven this saga.
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on 2 February 2006
Not his best to be sure, but still well worth the time to read. I think his best series to date is the Serpentwar Saga. I especially liked the Merchant Prince where Roo goes from dirt poor to the richest man in the kingdoms.
His books continue to entertain and I have yet to find one which didn't satisfy my hunger for action/adventure.
The Unsuspecting Mage by Brian S. Pratt is another beginning to a great epic fantasy series. It being his first work ever published, it's a little rough, but the storyline and action more than make up for it. If you like sword fighting, battle, magic and gods, you will like this book. Give it a try.
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on 30 June 2004
Now that young Talwin Hawkins, formerly Talon of the Silver Hawk, a warrior of the now dead Orsini people, has established himself as a great swordsman, he is ready to seek his revenge against the man who murdered his people. But, getting close to the evil Duke of Olasko, he finds that there are games within games being played, and for stakes beyond anything he can imagine. The time for vengeance is coming, but only if Tal can keep himself alive and in one piece!
I must admit that I have been a fan of Raymond Feist for many years now, and I looked forward to this book's release with bated breath. It does a good job of continuing the story of Talon of the Silver Hawk, keeping you on the edge of your seat, as you follow his rise and fall and rise!
In certain ways, it is different than many of his other Midkemia novels, as wizards and magic are moved more into the background. Instead, like with the Empire stories that Mr. Feist coauthored with Janny Wurts, this is the story of a young person, who must overcome great obstacles, relying on ability and luck to see him through.
Overall, I found this to be a great story. I liked the action and the suspense. If you are a fan of fantasy literature, then you will enjoy this book. I highly recommend it!
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on 8 January 2004
I am afraid to say that i found King of Foxes to be a disappointment.
Whilst it continued the Conclave of Shadows story line, it felt as Mr Feist was simply coasting along.
Too much of what happened in the story was glossed over, and very little detail was given.
On the plus side the book was well paced, and the pages slip by extremely quickly. However without a doubt this is not one of Mr Feist better efforts.
I for one, will simply never be happy with explanations of the type 'well they have done bad things ! and hence must be punished'
If there are evil plots, and greater depth to the story line, let your reader know it. Trust me, letting the readers have some insight does not distract from the story. As avid Feist readers will know, compare this book to Daughter of the Empire, when there were whole passages detailing both sides of the plot. This made for a compelling read.
Sadly, King of Foxes, was not the book that it could have been.
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on 15 April 2004
King of the Foxes is a most compelling sequel to Talon of the Silver Hawk. I must admit, with the Riftwar Legacy I was beginning to worry that Feist had lost the intangible quality that so enthralls in his work. However, after reading this novel, his latest installment in the Conclave of Shadows, I once again have utmost confindence in Feist's impeccable tallent for writing.
I would even go so far as to say that King of the Foxes is Feist's best work yet. Talwin is a character at least as complex and well developed as Jimmy the Hand or Arutha were in the Riftwar saga. I have always felt that Feist's greatest strength as a writer (arguably of course, as there are many) is his ability to enshrine in his readers a sense of commonality with his characters and the ease with which he integrates the events of the lives extraordinary people in another world with the type every day problems we all face.
It seems to me that the Conclave of Shadows is indeed an example of classic Feist, the Feist we all know and love. With his classic talents for keeping his readers unaware of the next twist or turn his novel will take, and his uncanny ability to create and develope characters we all connect with on many levels, Feist once again reclaims his title as the best Fantasist in the world according to Nate
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 February 2016
I have had difficulty finding a new adult fantasy writer for some time now, most of the genre seems to be either targeted at the teenage demographic or is a pale imitation of authors such as Feist, Martin, Kerr or Gemmell and so once again I have returned to my bookshelf to revisit the masters of the genre and add their works to my more mobile Kindle collection.

Raymond E Feist is one of the handful of fantasy authors that I have collected and kept on my shelves over the years and re-read chronologically from time to time.

King of Foxes is the second volume of the Conclave of Shadows and as always is a good read, fast paced and entertaining.

Feist's epic saga is still one of the best fantasy series ever.
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on 7 August 2004
This book follows up on the tale of Talon of the Silver Hawk and doesn't dissapoint readers. This book contains a number of surprises and I look forward to reading more tales about the conclave of shadows.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2004
On one level I loved this book, it flowed with the usual ease that I love about Fiest when he writes at his best.... However I do have a few major buts regarding this novel.
What happened to the story? What happened to the plot? What happened to the characters? What? What? What?
This book follows on from the excellent Talon of the Silver Hawk, a book that once again showed Fiest abilities to spin a riviting yarn and create a new character for us to love. However in this book that much loved character seems to have become an emotionless drone, devoid of wit and character. His "plan" on Roldem was pathetic to say the least, it made so little sense that I can't even be bothered to pick it to peices. The list of 2nd fiddle characters in this book shows so much prmise, but nothing is made of any of this. Although there is hope for something intresting in the future.
Another thing that really gripped me about this book was a list of nonsensical plot jumps, it felt that this book was cobbled together from 3 or 4 different novels, not as in writting by numbers, but just the way event happen and are described, its almost like chapters have been chopped out, but then Fiest went back and rewrote the remaining chapters so that they made sense but didn't.
All in all a disappointment. It left me thinking of a roleplaying campaign where the DM has lost intrest but carries on to try and finish the adventure for the party, but no longer cares.
If I was Mr Feists publisher I would tell him to put Midkemmia on a shelf and leave it there, go away creeate a new world and write in that for a while, once you have written elsewhere for a year or two then think about returning to Pug and the Kingdom.
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on 2 February 2011
The first half is terrible. I can't say why, but Talwin Hawkins grated on my nerves and the constant reminders of Talon of The Silver Hawk (both book and character) really didn't help at all! I made it through that first half by most of the time NOT reading it. I often found myself wondering about the title, it really doesn't make any sense!

Then halfway through it turned around and became... Good! I enjoyed sitting down with it, got annoyed rather than relieved when my reading was interrupted, and stopped wanting to strangle Tal just because he was so very... Flat.

It did dim a bit, maybe only for me, at the last little bit, but the ending wasn't as bad as the beginning, although I can't really imagine why Feist thought there should be a third instalment. To me it seems a longer epilogue might be enough to satisfy.
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