I’ve always loved reading, right back to my time at primary school. I consider it the most valuable learned skill I have. Sometimes sitting down with a book is such a treat and seems like a little extravagance. During my childhood, I read a steady diet of Doctor Who and Enid Blyton books. I still love reading the Famous Five, Adventure Series & the Barney Mysteries! Its a real trip back to my childhood when I read them. But when I went to university, one of my classmates & I were in Waterstones in Aberdeen, and he headed for the science fiction & fantasy section. He suggested Alan Dean Foster’s Spellsinger to me, and I was hooked on fantasy fiction.
Ultimately I encountered Raymond Feist’s Magician. How I loved that book – and still do. It has become my favourite single volume work of fantasy fiction. In summary, it centres around the lives of two boys – Pug and Tomas. One, and orphan (Pug) becomes apprenticed to Kulgan, the Duke of Crydee’s magician. Tomas becomes a soldier. But before their childhoods can progress, alien invaders are discovered in the lands of the Kingdom, and war is joined. Pug is captured but he invaders (the Tsurani) early in the war, while Tomas is becoming a great warrior thanks to magical armour he was gifted. The second part of the book deals with Pug’s discovery of his magical power, and Tomas’ internal battle with the spirit of Ashen Shugar, one of the ancient Valheru whose armour Tomas has inherited. Ultimately both boys come of age, and come into their power helping bring an end to the war and heal the Kingdom, ushering in a new era of peace.
First of all, Feist has all the ingredients that make a great fantasy read for me. Classic “sword and sorcery” plot, elves, dwarfs, and an enemy to be feared. The underlying plot of Pug and Tomas coming of age holds the whole thing together, and its replete with a litany of excellent characters. There are more than enough sub plots that when joined together make a rousing read. The narrative is excellent and you can’t help keep turning the pages. For me, its a book I love reading – I’ve just finished reading it, hence this blog posting – and it was a joy once again. There’s just not a dull moment in the book and I end up with a real affinity with the characters. Pug and Tomas are central to that, but Arutha, Laurie, Martin & Amos are so likeable – and feel real. Its not a sugar coated world they live in. They have their share of hardships caused by the war. The reality of their world is really brought home by the shady criminal underworld in Krondor that is the world of the Mockers. Feist doesn’t shy away from exposing a dark underbelly to the Kingdom. But of course, the war – and the book – does close on a happy ending that leaves it wide open to further adventures involving Pug, Tomas, Arutha and Krondor’s Jimmy the Hand.
Raymond Feist did a wonderful job with Magician, but decided to make it even better with the publication of the revised edition, which added 15,000 words to an already superb volume. And it wasn’t just adding words for the sake of it. They enhance the book, no more so than the added scene following Pug’s capture and his interrogation in the Tsurani camp. The book is well rounded and (for me) without any faults that would detract from it. It remains my favourite single book, and if you read one fantasy book, make sure its Magician. You shouldn’t be disappointed.