Wicker King (jtoomey) wrote,
Wicker King
jtoomey

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Raymond E. Feist's Midkemia Books, Reviewed

The Riftwar Saga
    Magician: Apprentice
    Magician: Master
    Silverthorn
    A Darkness at Sethanon
( Stand alone )
    Prince of the Blood
    The King's Buccaneer
The Serpentwar Saga
    Shadow of a Dark Queen
    Rise of a Merchant Prince
    Rage of a Demon King
    Shards of a Broken Crown


When you're talking about adult-oriented fantasy novel series, you've got a few standouts, in my opinion:
    Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (enough said)
    Eddings' Belgariad / Mallorean
    (one of my all-time favorites)
    McCaffrey's Pern
    (though it does have a strong sci-fi element)
    Jordan's Wheel of Time
    (though I don't think it's the tops)
    Martin's Song of Fire and Ice
    (though I haven't read it)
    LeGuin's Earthsea
    (short but wonderful -- Harry Potter seems to draw a lot from here)
    Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
    (though they can be rather bleak)
    Moorcock's Elric of Melnibone / Eternal Champion
    (if you thought Covenant was bleak...)
    Brooks' Shannara
    (though I haven't read it)
...and the list, of course is malleable, as other folks would be throwing in Pratchett and Anthony and Lackey and... well, you get the picture.

Strangely, Feist doesn't often seem to enter the list, though his novels are probably in my top three with Eddings and LeGuin.

In the first series, the Riftwar, the first two novels -- really the split halves of one book -- chronicle the rise to power of a magician, Pug, and a warrior, Tomas. The final two follow the convoluted trail of a death cult's attempt to trigger the world of Midkemia's end. From there forward, the books and series skip ahead in time in bursts of twenty or so years apiece, allowing the reader to have familiar faces in the background, but new heroes to explore. The net effect is a gradual accumulation of lore which allows Feist to weave ever-more-complex webs while still allowing his characters enough room to grow into something more than stereotypes.

My personal favorite is The King's Buccaneer, but the whole collection has very few low points in any case. If you like Eddings and LeGuin, I can't see how you wouldn't enjoy these stories as well.

( Feist also wrote a trilogy set between the Riftwar and Prince of the Blood, but it's widely acknowledged to be of inferior quality to the rest of the books. He co-wrote, with Janny Wurtz, an additional trilogy set on a parallel world, Kelewan, which I've not yet read, but which is considered excellent as well. Finally, he has a new book out, just recently published, which begins a new series, once again shifted forward in time, on Midkemia. )
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