Raymond Feist, Magician (1982)

Feist-MagicianMagician is the first installment in Feist’s highly popular and lengthy Riftwar Cycle, a 30 (!) -book saga that has its own, hard-earned place in the annals of fantasy. Riftwar Cycle had been only recently – in 2013 – ended with, nomen omen, Magician’s End. A fantasy cycle written over a period of 31 years… well, we’ve already seen something similar, even more than once, and I guess we should just be very thankful Feist is still in a good health.

Magician’s End has met with less than a hearty reception, and in this aspect is no different from several other recent Feist’s works. Magician, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. It is THE book in Riftwar Cycle: the book which had started Feist’s career, which had introduced readers to the worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan (apparently, there are even computer games set in Midkemia, which Feist then novelized and incorporated into his cycle), and last, but not least, the book which has become a fantasy classic and has inspired many other writers.

To be fair, Midkemia was not created by Feist alone – it was a product of many Thursday and Friday nights spent by Feist on RPG gaming with his university friends. Feist claims the inspiration for their imaginary world came mostly from D&D, but for me, a non-gamer, Midkemia smacks mostly of Tolkien’s Middle Earth (just as D&D does, actually). Here we have a world on a curiously medieval development level, hardly aware of its ancient history, but at the same time filled with magic, elves, dwarves and goblins, last dying dragons and feisty magicians (yes, I had to use this pun!).

Continue reading

Raymond Feist, Janny Wurts, Empire Trilogy (1987–1992)

Feist_Wurts_EmpireRaymond Feist is a fantasy author best known for his Riftwar saga – an epic fantasy cycle telling the story of a war between two worlds. The saga is set on Midkemia – a world very much like medieval Europe, or, to be more precise, like Tolkien’s Middle-earth. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Midkemia is a brutal rip-off of Tolkien’s world, but Middle-earth is definitely a very strong inspiration for Feist. The world of Midkemia is basically feudal Europe, with plenty of castles, keeps, villages and cities, but most of all full of forests and roads – long and winding – leading through them. It’s populated mainly by people, sure, but also by dwarves and elves, trolls and goblins, dragons and magicians.

My first encounter with Feist was, paradoxically, not through any installment in the original Riftwar saga (starting with a classic Magician), but with a spin-off of sorts, a trilogy set on the other side of the magical rift – on the world of Kelewan. The Empire Trilogy, as it’s called, was the effect of collaboration between two writers: Raymond Feist and Janny Wurts. Wurts is a fantasy artist (she makes covers for her own books) and a writer in her own right, albeit much less popular than Feist – the Empire Trilogy remains her most popular work to date.

Continue reading