Tuesday, August 7, 2012

There and back again - Magician: Master by Raymond E. Feist

Oh look, another post about Riftwars...
Sick of them yet? This will be the last one about Feist's excellent series for a while - after reading the Apprentice and Master in quick succession, I need a break! That, and none of the libraries in the area have the third book of the Riftwars Saga, A Darkness at Sethanon, which puts a bit of a damper on reading the rest of the series at the moment. Unlike the last nonreview, this one won't be as long. Hit the jump.

Pros: Unlike the previous book, Magician: Master didn't have a good story, it would a great story. Apprentice was very enjoyable, but Master was just better. Loved the plot twists.
Cons: The ending just seemed a bit hokey, like the final episode of Good Times, where everybody's dreams come true and the Evans family move out of the projects. It didn't ruin the book, but like I said, it was a bit hokey.

Thoughts: Not surprisingly, the book starts out by revealing Pug's fate. In Magician: Apprentice, Pug had been captured by the Tsurani doing a scouting mission mid-way through the book and was fated to become a slave. In Master, we learn that was indeed his fate and that he had spent the four intervening years between the books as a slave on Kelewan, the homeworld of the Tsurani. There, he works in a swamp helping to fell trees and had befriended an ill-fated troubadour by the name of Laurie. Both of their fortunes rise as they're removed from the camp by the son of the head of the Shinzawai family, who own the slave camp, and taken to their estate to live. There, they teach another son, Kasumi, to ride a horse, as well as speak the primary language of The Kingdom and its culture. It goes without saying that the Tsurani are based on the Japanese, but also I believe the Roman Empire and some other civilizations.

Anyway, the first part of the novel follows Pug as he adjusts to life with the Shinzawai and his falling in love with a slave girl named Katala. The first part of his tale ends with an encounter with a Great One, who we learn are not only the Tsurani equivalent of magicians, but are also outside all Tsurani love and are answerable to no one, not even the Emperor. The Great One detects Pug's magical potential and seizes him, but not before knocking him out.

After that, we get Tomas for a while and we see that the armor he wears, which was once worn by a member of a demi-god like race called the Valheru, has greatly changed him, becoming more ruthless and evil. I guess he's probably be chaotic good or something, on the D&D alignment chart. The Valheru once ruled Midkemia and as it turns out, the elves, goblins, and dark elves were their slaves. Several of the elven characters express both fear and distrust towards Tomas because as he becomes more and more Valheru, they believe it could leave to their return to slavery. Tomas, meanwhile, is having dreams and visions of the previous wearer of the armor, Ashen-Shugar, and we learn what became of the Valheru, and Ashen-Shugar's own development of emotion and a yearning to protect Midkemia.

We revisit Arutha and see him, Martin Longbow (Duke Borric's huntsman), and Amos Trask, a ship captain that Arutha rescued and befriended in the previous book, travel to Krondor to elicit aide to reinforce Castle Crydee against a potential siege by the Tsurani. Those plans go down the shitter pretty quick when they arrive to discover the city of Krondor and the entire province under the control of a sworn enemy of Arutha's father. They end up having to flee the city with a princess and escape pursuit by a warship.

Back to Pug, we see him undergo training to become a Great One, which includes having a vision that explains the history of the Tsurani's existence on Kelewan. They're not native to the planet, surprisingly, and arrived with other humans via a rift. We also learn why Great Ones are outside the law.

Magician: Master contains twists and unexpected deaths. Some of the latter are heartbreaking, while one in particular wasn't and really, was for the best. I don't want to say more about what happens. Like I said at the beginning, the ending was hokey, so the book overall loses some points for that, but otherwise, I recommend both Magician books and the rest of the series in general.

Rating: 9/10.

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