Raymond E. Feist was born in 1945 in Los Angeles California. After receiving his college degree in 1977, Feist started to have ideas for a story revolving around a boy who would one day become a magician. Two years later Magician was written and later published in 1982. It is hailed by many to be a classic and a masterpiece of fantastical literature and I believe this holds true even today. I am sure many readers have heard of this story in one way or other and were wondering if the tale would translate well decades after first being published. The answer is a resounding yes and I hope I can show you the magic and wonder that Raymond E. Feist has given us in his Rift War Saga. Before I start, there may be some confusion as to the title depending on where you live. In the US, the books are titled: Magician Apprentice and Magician Master, but in the UK and Australia, the books are combined into one titled: Magician. For the purpose of this review, I will be referring to it as Magician because it is one complete story.
Fantasy novels published around the 1980’s were viewed by publishers as needing to be a derivative of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in some shape or form. Some published works of that time include: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks and The Belgariad by Davis Eddings. Although the magician does contain some typical fantasy troupes such as elves and dwarves, they never take away from the story but add a certain layer of depth, mystery, and vast world-building for the world we are set to inhabit. Lets discuss a brief synopsis of Magician:
In the twelfth year of the reign of Rodric the Fourth, an orphaned kitchen boy named Pug is made an apprentice magician to the magician Kulgan in Crydee. A struggling student of magic, he rises to high station by saving Princess Carline, Duke Borric’s daughter, from mountain trolls and becomes a squire of the Duke’s court. Life seems to be going great for Pug until a discovery is made on the coastal cliffs, a foreign ship wrecked after a storm contain strangely dressed warriors known as the Tsurani. King Rodric must seek aid from these foreign invaders and the adventure begins to unfold is a sweeping tale of courage, friendship, loss, the realizing you destiny. Little does anyone in Midkemia know that the mysterious Tsurani are not from Midkemia at all but a completely different world!
To say this this revelation was brand new to the fantasy world at that time would be me telling the world the sun will come out tomorrow. Even for modern fantasy novels, I can’t recall too many authors using this type of plot twist and I won’t mention any here to avoid potential spoilers. What makes The Magician such a classic is without a doubt the characters and the trials they face throughout the story. Raymond E. Feist writing style is very smooth, easy to understand, and I always had the feeling that it was building to something big and boy did it deliver. By far my favorite character was Pug and how his story evolved throughout the journey. When he first starts off as the apprentice to Kulgan, he struggles to conduct even the simplest spells but the master knows there is great promise and potential in Pug. The revelations that Mr. Feist shows us for Pug you will not see coming as this masterpiece is anything but predictable. There are several viewpoint characters in this story such as: Tomas, Martin, Arutha, the Duke, the King, Carline, and so on that I can’t possibly talk about them all. At no point did I ever feel down where I wasn’t reading about Pug as each character carries with them great pride and an unwavering sense of duty.
The fact that it took Raymond E. Feist 2 years to write this novel is nothing short of astonishing. The amount of detail, history, battles, and mystery surrounding this book I could never write even if you gave me a lifetime to finish. The whole scope of this story takes place over a ten year period from front to back. Our characters will be entangled in this Rift War for a decade and the toll and heartache this can put on a kingdom and soldiers I can not even begin to imagine. Right when you think you can predict where the story will go, Mr. Feist will throw you a curveball and change the game completely. Buried deep down beneath the hardship lies love, friendship, and hope with the reaching for the stars moments I have loved reading over the years.
The Magician is one of those rare works that not only crosses different worlds, but different generations of characters and readers alike who have grown to love the Rift War Saga over the decades. The story continues with dozens of subsequent novels in this world, but The Magician can 100 percent be read as a standalone without having to continue any further. It is a complete and wonderful masterpiece that has been sold worldwide in more the 20 countries since 1982. The Magician will bring you back to your childhood adventure stories you loved to read, while keeping you at arms length to build the suspense. Raymond E. Feist other works have had varying success among readers depending on who you ask, but one thing I believe we can all agree on is Magician is his magnums opus and it has withstand the tests of time.
I hope I have shown you the wonder and brilliance this epic has to offer. Maybe you would want to step into a new world and be lifted off you feet? I believe you will have this experience with the Magician as I have experience it many years ago!
This series and author seem to have fallen by the wayside in discussions about modern fantasy. In the fantasy subreddit for example, series from the 80 by Tad Williams and Brust are discussed, but I think Feist is thrown in the same group with Eddings and Terry Brooks and Goodkind and seen as derivative or YA. For me, my read of this was too long ago to say anything meaningful, I’m afraid.
No problem! I wrote this review for two reason. One from people who read it years ago and enjoyed it and for people who haven’t read it and want to give it a try. If I get one reader say to me, I have never read this, but I will now thanks to you, that works for me.
Magician is miracle wizardry storytelling at its finest. Everyone will enjoy Master Magician, Magician Apprentice, and Magician.