Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Series Review: The Riftwar Saga

Just to prove that I read more than just paranormal romance and trashy vampire novels (I do, honest!), this review is going to be about Raymond Feist's Riftwar Saga (  Okay, so if it wasn't about vampires or werewolves, you knew it had to have at least one dragon in it to pique my interest.
I have actually read this series twice over my lifetime and am severely tempted to make it a third.  Before I knew anything about that Tolkien guy or anything about some silly ring, I was reading about Pug, Tomas and Princess Carline (and later Lyam, Aurtha, Jimmy and Princess Anita).
It was the first fantasy series I'd ever read and it sparked my interest in not only reading but writing.  I wasn't the only one.  The popular series has spawned comic books, video games and is still in print 25 years later.
Series Overview:  The series is very multi-dimensional.  Yes, there are actual dimensional portals, but it also spans many times and over several cultures of the worlds it describes.  There's magic, dragons, elves, evil dragon riders and a whole lot more.
The main premise is that there are two worlds joined by a rift.  One world wants to take over the other, but because of the rifts, it's attracted an old evil that could destroy them all.  Only the power learned from both worlds and a young magician will save them.

Magician – 1982 (Later republished as two separate books Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master)
The story starts in the world of Midkemia.  Pug and Tomas are young boys, Pug working in the kitchen and Tomas aspiring to be a squire.  Pug is chosen to become a magician, taught by Dulgan.  As the rifts become known to the inhabitants of Midkemia, Pug gets taken to the other side and is enslaved.  Taken from all he knows, he finds his own way in a strange land.
This is Pug's story and my favorite of the series.  He grows from a kitchen boy to a man. It shows his growth as a person, as well as in the magical realms.

Silverthorn – 1985
Pug wasn't the only one that was busy.  There were lots of other plots going on while he was off learning all that magic stuff.  This part of the series picks up back in Midkemia.
In this book we learn more of the underbelly of all the political intrigue.  We see more of Jimmy the Hand and learn more about the Mockers, a society of thieves.
Also, at its heart, it's a love story.  Prince Aurtha is to marry Princess Anita.  She's poisoned and the only cure is Silverthorn.  The prince will do anything to save his beloved, even risk his life.

Darkness at Sethanon – 1986
This is the culmination of the previous books. All the rifts and world jumping has beckoned true evil that will destroy both worlds, an ancient evil that will swallow them all whole.  Everyone returns in this all star cast to battle for their existence.

Other Thoughts:  I loved this series.  There's a little something for everyone.  Magic, politics, vortexes, knights, elves, pirates and even a dragon.  What's not to like?
Okay, there are spots where the author slows down and feels the need to describe every tiny little detail.  I will admit, this annoys me and there were times when it felt like a strain to get past certain parts.
However, I found myself always rewarded for sticking with it by once again getting sucked into the world after the describing was done.
This was truly my only gripe.  The plot made sense (for their world) and I never questioned where they were or what they were doing.  And for a highly complex plot(s) such as this, that's quite impressive.
I love maps, and having a map of Midkemia and having the author stick to that map was wonderful.  He threw out all the names of cities and areas just as a character would think of them, but because the reader never heard of it before, it was handy to have a reference.  Of course the character wouldn't question what the capital was, but the reader sure would.

Conclusion:  If you like fantasy, then why haven't you read this yet?  It is definitely worth the read.  I can't vouch for his other work.  He has a couple other series based in the same world with some of the same characters as well as series on completely different worlds, but the Riftwar Saga is special.

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