Series Information: Riftwar
Rating: Weighted - 7.86 / Average - 7.9 of 10 (279 votes)
Description's Source: IBList user synopsis
The central theme of all of Feist's novels in the series is the rite of passage. This is the main bond that unites the two, seemingly irrelevant threads in Magician, namely the tales of Pug and Tomas. It's essentially a tale of two boys' wishes come true (although, as Feist shows us well, the old caveat holds: be careful what you wish for..). In this case, the wishes were a bit extraordinary: to become the greatest magician, for Pug, and the mightiest warrior, for Tomas.
Feist spins a tale that, at the same time, encompasses a boyish wonder-filled view of the world -full of magic, mysteries and adventure, as well as its more rougher elements. Here, the characters bleed, hurt and die like the rest of them. A war ravages the land for nine consecutive years, and the final victory only leaves the reader with the bitter taste of ashes on his mouth. True, some things happen just like in fairytales: some heroes find true love, and most, if not all of them have good and steadfast friends on their side; justice prevails - mostly, and worthy characters are rewarded and given places of importance as the world of Midkemia is rebuilt. But not everybody walks off into the sunset: opportunities are lost, war brings out the worst in some, as it brings out the best in others; there is unrequited love, and sorrow for marvels lost for all time.
..And those that make it, in the end, don't always feel luckier than those that haven't managed. Power is safer in the hands of those that deplore it, Feist tells us, because these are the ones that know the true worth of life: the "simple" moments spent with family and friends that impart serenity and a feeling of belonging. His heroes have passed through life-changing experiences; they have all lost their innocence long ago, or rather, they still retain their humanity despite the burden they must carry, through the rituals of everyday life, and the companionship of others. These are real people that have developed through the course of the novels, and the writer knows it, never letting down his guard against treating them as constructs for the sake of telling a story. In this way, a natural sense of balance and growth is evident throughout the books.
And yet, the story that unfolds is magnificent, full of twists and turns and backplots; and the truths that are revealed, when the veils lift at key points, are staggering. The canvas of these tales, the world of Midkemia, is slowly taking shape and is revealed before our eyes as we explore the novels. Small wonder that this near-photographic development feels so natural, since Feist used roleplaying as a tool to further enhance the realism of his creation.
This is readily evident to any reader acquainted with role-playing games; the writer operates as a gamemaster, guiding his heroes/player-characters through the stories, and we discover the mysteries of the plot along with them. He allows them to gain in experience and develop in personality, acquaint themselves with one another, to forge friendships and enmities. At no point in the novels does he let his heroes seem indestructible (the mark of a good gamemaster); some of them, in fact, will perish; but those that survive and attain legendary status are withdrawn from the books as main characters, to be cast in supporting roles instead and be replaced by younger heroes on their way to glorious deeds.
This is heroic prose in its most magnificent, and will appeal to all ages. Something not to be missed.