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on 29 October 2015
I read about half this book in just a few short days of travelling. I don't get to read much these days and I'm so glad I chose to get back into reading with Feast of Souls. I've taken to stick-it noting pages I want to return to because I'm just having such a good time reading it. The story, although long, honestly feels like it's going to quickly. I miss reading something almost as soon as I'm on the next page. Many books that have more than one protagonist can drag, or sometimes you find that certain character developments are less interesting than others and this can make you reluctant to continue reading but I haven't yet found that whilst reading this book. Every character makes me want to read more. Although Kamala is probably my favourite I also adore Coliver and only want the best for Andovan.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who asked.
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on 23 August 2010
I had never read anything by Celia Friendman before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. This book is the 1st of 3 in the 'Magisters Trilogy'. I found the book a little slow to begin with, but after a little while the story really took off. I totally loved the main characters, Friedman has a way of making you really care about what happens to them, and she keeps your nerves on edge waiting to see what will happen next!! A fabulous read and once I had finished I had to start the next book (Wings of Wrath) straight away!
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on 22 October 2015
Brilliant. Even better than the Coldfire Trilogy.
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on 27 June 2014
It's a decent attempt. Catches your attention and holds it. It could be better. The subtext, the underlying story of a woman making her own in a male dominated world, is not fully fleshed out.
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on 10 February 2015
Whilst I tend to read fantasy more than any other genre these days, my first love has always been the horror genre. So when an author promises me a fantasy novel with a dark twist, then I am always likely to be interested.

"Feast of Souls" certainly offered this, with a couple of dark twists to the traditional fantasy themes. Prince Andovan is dying of a disease known as "the Wasting" and a large group of Magisters have been called together to try and find a cure. However, they alone know that the cause of this illness is their particular form of magic, which drains the life force of other beings to allow them to create spells. This means that one of their number must be killing the Prince.

In another part of the world, completely unknown to all the others, a woman called Kamala is going through her own preparations to become a Magister. This is unheard of in Magister circles, as none of their number has ever been a woman before. Combined with all this is the return of an ancient foe known as the ikati or soul eaters, a deadly enemy which existed before the Magisters ever came into being and who no-one alive knows how to defeat.

Even before the story really got started, I was intrigued by the idea of Magisters draining life source from others to perform their magic and witches having to drain their own life source to cast spells. The thought that to perform magic you either had to kill yourself or someone else was certainly different and reduced the chances of magic being a solution to every problem going, which happens a lot in the field of fantasy. There is even some time given over to the psychological implications of this as part of Kamala's teaching, which I found particularly interesting.

Even allowing for this, the story had enough variation to keep me interested. We get to follow Prince Andovan's attempts to find the Magister who was the cause of his illness and Kamala's first tentative steps in using her power. There is also the greater evil of the ikati and we find out more about them and how they have the power to terrify even a Magister. The whole book is deliciously dark, filled with soul stealing, death and madness to appeal to the horror fan in me, although with enough magic to appeal to the fantasy fan that I also am.

Although the story itself was riveting and enough to keep me reading, there were a couple of aspects of the book that didn't work quite so well for me. Whilst Friedman has come up with some wonderful ideas, her writing isn't quite as descriptive as someone like Fiona McIntosh, so I found it hard to visualise many of the characters in detail, which many of them sharing a hazy kind of outline in my mind. Whilst this may not be essential for many readers, I do like to picture people and places in my head and I simply wasn't able to do that as effectively as I would have liked here. Visualising the ikati was particularly troublesome and I ended up picturing them as being like the "reapers" from a Doctor Who episode from some years ago.

The other issue I had with the writing was that the pace wasn't always consistent throughout the story. There were parts where a lot seemed to be happening and a lot where less was going on and the story didn't seem to be advancing. This reminded me a little of Kate Elliott's writing, although there were fewer major characters than in her novels and I did feel that there were parts that could have been removed without losing anything from the story.

The other issue I found was that Friedman didn't include any maps of her world, which made it difficult to judge distances. There were references to towns and lands on opposite sides of the world and in the "far North", but no sphere of reference to know exactly who far away these lands are and how long it might take to get there and back. This was only a minor annoyance this time around, but it could become more important later in the series.

These concerns aside, however, I did very much enjoy "Feast of Souls". It's not the most descriptively written story, but it was a reasonably engrossing read and I did particularly enjoy the darker nature of many of the ideas. It does sit very well as the opening part of a trilogy as well, being self contained enough that you can read it in isolation, but hinting at some exciting future events to ensure you don't want to. I wouldn't say that the rest of the trilogy would be essential reading for me, but I am more than willing to give it a try.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 11 January 2013
My one big downer with this book is that yet again, we are presented with an 'End of the world at the hands of an ancient evil' trope. I'm so bored of this in fantasy/SF, seriously! Minus one star!

Apart from that, the rest of the story I found very interesting, and the characters are definitely not shallow or two dimensional. I liked the distinction between Witch and Magister too; the former using their own life force to make magic, the latter using other people's.

While vampires of one sort or another are old hat, and way too mainstream these days, the parasitic relationship between the main character and the prince did not have the ending I was expecting, so that's another thumbs up to the author.
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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2008
To be honest a book that I missed originally and one that I've come to lament in certain respects as it has some wonderful moments within the pages. Bigger, better and perhaps longer than anything Celia has written before this epic novel really does hit the spot for fantasy fans. Richly painted in descriptive words you can't help but get sucked into this world however youre really going to want the additional novels when you pick this up as to be honest its not neatly tied up with a bow by the end in much the same way that her other novels are but perhaps best of all are the characters within, each one ready to jump off the page to the readers imagination and I hope that they will continue to grow with each subsequent outing. I will eagerly await the next novel.
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on 16 September 2011
To be blunt I found this book quite compelling. The motivations behind many of the characters were certainly ones I could relate to. The plot was novel enough as were elements such as the magic mechanics. Characterisation was fine, perhaps not a vast amount of depth to each character but certainly sufficient to give each of them personality. The world building however is quite poor so don't expect anything of Robert Jordan standards there.

Fitting with the theme of the book the author has no compunctions about killing off characters. A significant portion of the cast is dead by the end of the book. Partly for that reason I wish this wasn't a series as I have my doubts that sequels will do well after quite so brutal a culling. That said I'm still going to buy and read the second so fingers crossed.
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Inexplicably, this latest offering by acclaimed author C. S. Friedman has been flying under the radar since last January. And given its quality, this sad state of affairs continues to baffle me. Feast of Souls marks Friedman's return to the fantasy genre. That, in and of itself, should be reason enough to buy this book! Like many other readers, I have been waiting for this moment since Crown of Shadows was published.

And yet, having read both Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind and Williams' Shadowplay earlier this year, I decided to wait a while before giving this one a chance. I try to balance everything by reading titles from various publishers -- an attempt to spread the joy, if you will. However, electing to wait before reading Feast of Souls proved to be a dumb move on my part, for the first volume of the Magister trilogy is without a doubt the very best of Daw Books' "big guns" of 2007.

More epic than dark fantasy this time around, Feast of Souls is a compelling opening chapter in a tale which appears vaster in scope than anything C. S. Friedman has written up until this point. Having said that, I feel that it's also the least self-contained novel the author has ever written. Whereas each volume of the Coldfire trilogy was more or less stand-alone -- even though part of an overall story arc -- Feast of Souls is definitely an introduction to a much more ambitious and complex fantasy epic.

Richly detailed worldbuilding intrigues the reader from the beginning. It's obvious that this book is meant to lay the groundwork for what will unfold in the upcoming sequels. As such, it makes for a slower pace for the better part of the first half of the novel. After that, the pace quickens and the storytelling makes it difficult to put this one down.

Characterization is a facet in which Friedman excels. It's a little harder to judge how memorable some of these characters will be, for Feast of Souls is comprised of multiple viewpoints. Hence, since the story reveals itself through the eyes of various POV characters, the narrative is not as powerful as that of the Coldfire trilogy. I'm not saying that the characterization leaves something to be desired, far from it. The author introduces us to an interesting and disparate cast of characters that give substance to this novel. The problem is that she leaves you wanting to learn more, again and again. This is especially true with Kamala, as well as the Magisters Colivar and Ramirus. More will be disclosed in the forthcoming volumes, of course. Sue me for wanting to know more right now!

One word of advice, though: C. S. Friedman now belongs to the school of thought which feels that having characters survive countless ordeals and star in multiple books/series is a somewhat obsolete concept. À la Martin, Lynch and Erikson, she has no qualms about getting rid of main characters when you least expect it. Consider yourself warned. . .;-)

The absence of a map did irk me to some extent. What can I say!?! Maybe I'm too "old school," but I'm one of those people who like to know where the action is taking place.

Imaginative and entertaining, with an ending that I never saw coming, Feast of Souls is probably the most underrated fantasy book of 2007. Give C. S. Friedman's latest a shot, lest it remains this year's best-kept secret!

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VINE VOICEon 29 October 2010
This is my first book by this author but it certainly won't be the last. I was enthralled by the characterisation and world building and glued to every bit of the darkly rich plot. If you love George R.R. Martin's writing then you will love this book. I can't wait to get my teeth into the next book. I found that the characters and story stayed with me long after I'd read the last line.
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