The medieval world of Midkemia, filled with castles and kings, clashes with a realm of magic wielding aztec-like invaders from the world Kelewan. Raymond E Feist gives a refreshing take on the fantasy adventure genre in his book “Magician” in the start of The Riftwar Saga book series. Don’t get me wrong, I can happily read Tolkien clone fantasy novels for the rest of my life and never tire of them, but “Magician” was a breath of fresh air that I didn’t know I was looking for.
When I first dove into Magician it was through the book titled “Magician: Apprentice” not knowing that “Magician: Master” was the follow-up sequel, due in part to both books also being published together as just “Magician.” If that’s confusing to you don’t worry I had to address Wikipedia myself to figure out what was going on. Whether you pick up the two books separately or in one tome doesn’t matter too much, you’ll be reading them back to back if you’re a fan of fantasy or adventure.
What sets Magician apart from other books and really makes it one of my favorites is the system of magic, and that the conflict between the two civilizations occurs because the side which happens to be war-like figures out how to establish portals using that magic. In the world of Midkemia, Feist begins to paint a picture of Crydee and the simple kitchen boy Pug, in an environment where you would least expect this story to take place. While the two warring people are completely foreign to each other in the book, you’ll notice that he borrows from cultures long gone from our own world and that dynamic keeps the story exciting. By now we are used to the culture clashes amongst those classic fantasy races of elves, and dwarves, but by throwing the Tsurannuani people into the mix he establishes a sense of lingering mystery and makes you question what’s going to happen next throughout the entire story.
The system of magic in this universe is unique, in that the magicians don’t chant spells or fling wands about casting fireballs and lightning. It exists in a vague way, akin to Lord of the Rings, except for there being many Tsurani magicians as opposed to Gandalf and a handful of other wizards roaming around in the world. It gives you with the impression that magicians can bend the world to their will equal to their ability, but that their ability is typically weak and leaves a lot to be desired.
I can imagine the writing prompt that spawned the book series “What would happen if medieval Europe went to war with the Aztec empire?” I guess magic is as good a catalyst as any for that type of conflict!
Magician being the introduction to The Riftwar Saga has me very excited to dive in and read the rest of the Raymond E Feist books. When I finish those i’ll be sure to write down my opinion, but until then I’ll leave you with the recommendation to get this one into your library and under your belt.
If you’ve read Magician let me know what you think! What made the story interesting to you? Who was your favorite character?