Magician, £1.99 on Amazon

Brian G Turner

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Just noticed that Raymond E Fiest's Magician is currently available on Kindle for just £1.99:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B008TGOMWY/?tag=brite-21

Not sure if this is a limited time offer, or simply a long-standing promo one for the series. It's also the "author preferred edition", which means it's going to be somewhat longer than the original release.

However, as this book has been hugely popular, it's long been my intention to read this at some point. At that price point, it's a bit hard to refuse. :)
 

Venusian Broon

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Brian, I do have fond memories of reading the full Riftwar saga when I was a young lad at high school.

Unfortunately that was so long ago and my copies live up in my parents house in Edinburgh, that I can't tell you if the book would be any good today. :D
 

Ray McCarthy

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it's long been my intention to read this at some point
I can't believe you haven't already. I read the original version (lost abroad), and now have the longer "preferred" version, which I think may be the only "in print" version.
At that price I'd nearly buy for someone. Except you can't. This isn't the real "own it" book, but licence to read eBook for £1.89

Still, tempted to add a Kindle copy. It's a classic really. Worth having the print Edition to pass on to Grandchildren etc (though one of mine is saving for a Kindle Touch for his 8th Birthday)

EDIT:
@Brian Turner You need to budget more, another £10.49
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009JWCQOS/?tag=brite-21

You'll probably want them too, later.
 
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Brian G Turner

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I can't tell you if the book would be any good today.
I suspect it's going to read as somewhat dated by today's standards. Then again, same can be said of Dragonlance, but I did actually enjoy revisiting that again recently.

I can't believe you haven't already.
By the time friends recommended reading the Magician and Belgariad, I was reading comics such as Hellblazer, Sandman, and Doom Patrol, and graphic novels such as Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, and Born Again. In all honesty, what they told me made those fantasy series sound childish by comparison, which didn't appeal.

I'm still not expecting to love Magician, but I hope to enjoy some aspects, and find something of what appealed - as an aspiring epic fantasy writer I think it's very important for me to read as many significant novels in that genre as possible.

I also bought Robin Hobb's Fool's Apprentice at the same time - I couldn't get into Ship of Magic, but as the Farseer trilogy appears to be her best regarded, so I expect to see her famous character development at work - and hopefully, even learn something from it.

I'll probably get the Belgariad later this year.
 

Ray McCarthy

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I suspect it's going to read as somewhat dated by today's standards
I can't imagine why! It's Fantasy, not SF.
I've maybe 9 or 10 Robin Hobbs, not on same level at all. Eddings too, is way below the standard of this, though very enjoyable.

same can be said of Dragonlance
Dragonlance I read recently. It's not that long ago I re-read Magician. I'd put Hobbs and Eddings way above Dragonlance, though I really enjoyed the Book1.
 

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Magician was pretty much a gateway book for me. It's what got me into fantasy and so will forever remain one of my favourites. I don't know how I'd respond to it if I was coming new to it today, though. I suspect I wouldn't love it quite so much.
 

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I read this a couple of years ago, though I had to go and check my records to confirm that, since I can recall absolutely nothing of it. Which alone suggests how much impact it had on me.

My initial thoughts at the time: Apparently I have the "Author's Preferred" edition, which appears to reinstate the 50,000 words his original editor made him cut. I'm with the editor on this one, except I'd have cut a lot more. So far I'm 45 pages in with 800 to go and I can't see me making it to the end. Flat, unrealistic dialogue, cardboard characterisation, dreadful info-dumping and a complete lack of any sense of historical reality. And bloated with it.

Two weeks later: I'm plodding on through Magician but without any great enthusiasm. After 300 pages we're got some action and a vaguely interesting character who is more than one simplistic trait, but my views on everything else remain the same. I have finally clicked, though, that it's basically an old-fashioned YA novel, hence the saccharine emotional content and lack of adult themes.

Followed by: I've not finished Magician, though I have now struggled to half-way. The one interesting character lasted only a few pages. And the one major female character is making me want to rip Feist's head off.

And then: And, finally, two months and two days after I started it, I've finished Magician, and I hold by my original thoughts – too long, too slow, with poor characterisation, women who are ciphers, appalling dialogue, prose that is clunky and flat, and description that goes on far too long interspersed with info-dumps of the most egregious kind.

Good luck with it.
 

Brian G Turner

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Flat, unrealistic dialogue, cardboard characterisation, dreadful info-dumping and a complete lack of any sense of historical reality.
I'm only a few pages in, but I've already raised an eyebrow a few times:

1. A storm is blowing in from the south. Yet the wind is gusting in from the north-west.
2. Pug thinks that he would not be allowed back into the castle at sunset, even though he works there and its peacetime? He also thinks he can scale the walls easily enough?
3. A frenzied wild boar, killed instantly with an arrow from a hunting bow
4. Walking easily through a forest at night and during a thunderstorm, with no light source of any kind. (Magic?)

It would be easy to condense the prose as well. However, I'm trying to look more for why the story might have appealed in the first place.
 

Brian G Turner

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A few more chapters in, and it does have a certain naive charm to it - a clear mix of familiar Tolkien imagery and Mediaeval Romanticism. Though I did mention some quibbles above, Feist has at least looked to provide detail and depth to create a degree of complexity with consistency in his world. There's a sense of it being like some modern-told fairy tale, somehow rooted in some mythical past.

It doesn't have the pace, energy, or character of an Abercrombie or Gemmell, but I think I can appreciate already why this book might have especially appealed to younger readers.
 

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A few more chapters in, and it does have a certain naive charm to it - a clear mix of familiar Tolkien imagery and Mediaeval Romanticism. Though I did mention some quibbles above, Feist has at least looked to provide detail and depth to create a degree of complexity with consistency in his world. There's a sense of it being like some modern-told fairy tale, somehow rooted in some mythical past.

It doesn't have the pace, energy, or character of an Abercrombie or Gemmell, but I think I can appreciate already why this book might have especially appealed to younger readers.
I first read Magician when i was ten. At the time it was almost my favorite book, second only to"a Spell for Chameleon".

Feist tells an amazing story with Magician, he just doesn't tell it very well. It was his first book, he was still trying to find his own style. His writing does improve as the series progresses. I reread the the entire series in 2012 preparing for the final book, and now that I'm pushing thirty the Riftwar saga just didn't pull me in like the Serpentwars and darkwar sagas did. Magician sets the stage for greater things, it introduces you to a small part of a massive world, well two worlds really. It's an origin story for Pug and Thomas, a fairly enjoyable read, but it's the books that follow that really make this series great.
 

Ray McCarthy

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1. A storm is blowing in from the south. Yet the wind is gusting in from the north-west.
2. Pug thinks that he would not be allowed back into the castle at sunset, even though he works there and its peacetime? He also thinks he can scale the walls easily enough?
3. A frenzied wild boar, killed instantly with an arrow from a hunting bow
4. Walking easily through a forest at night and during a thunderstorm, with no light source of any kind. (Magic?)
Those things aren't impossible. (2) was common enough.
(1) On shore wind can be different to storm. Usually is with storm cells / hurricanes as the cell is moving across the ocean, but rotating. The wind is often at right angles in front of the storm direction of travel. So wind direction depends on where the storm cell centre is even though storm is generally moving from south.
Keep an eye out here from June
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
(3) is very improbable. It might need a lucky shot through the eye? A long bow will penetrate any armour as well as a 303 bullet if the range is close enough.
(4) is possible depending on amount of lightening, amount of rain, density of forest, full moon etc.

Nit picking ... :)
 

Brian G Turner

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There's real attention to detail in this. Fiest is on record as saying that he doesn't regard himself as a fantasy writer, but instead: "I write historical novels about a place that doesn't exist." And he does that really well. Magician is a good early example of historical fantasy.

Where he is perhaps weakest is that he overlooks so many opportunities for conflict. For example, everyone in Crydee is friendly with one another, and nobles think nothing of being pally with the lower classes. Issues of social strata are barely applied in any form, which could potentially have made the story stronger in many small ways.

However, the overall story idea is really fascinating: What if Middle Earth were invaded by Feudal Japan?

While answered with analogues, it still makes for a compelling - and original - background.
 

Brian G Turner

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This book is taking fascinating turns. At times it drags - every opportunity to add backstory is used - and the D&D derivative world of Midkemia is one I find least interesting. But we're seeing more and more of Kerewan now, and it is far removed from that. And the characters of Tomas and Pug are developing in unique and surprising ways.

I used to turn my nose up at this book, thinking that it was probably too juvenile for me. However, I am enjoying it now, and beginning to understand why it holds such a founding position in the epic fantasy genre.
 

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I enjoyed Magician when I read it, however I never felt that anything of Fiest's that I read after ever really kept up to the same level of quality. A DnD adventure sums it up well and his other novels do feel very formula style like that.

That said he did a series in collaboration with Janny Wurts called The Empire Trilogy, first book Daughter of the Empire, which goes more into the Kerewan world. I've not yet read it but I've heard very good things of that particular series and if you're liking the Kerewan parts it might be worth checking out that series after.
 

Ray McCarthy

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thinking that it was probably too juvenile for me
Ah but you are old enough now to read kids books (though I never thought of it as Juvenile, in the sense of say Rider Haggard or Treasure Island or Biggles).
Sure it's a bit rough in places, but fun.
I don't read fiction to "improve my mind" (sometimes maybe that might happen or the reverse) but for relaxation, de-stressing, escapism, entertainment etc. I think I ceased to worry about age 17 if a book was too "anything" other than tedious, or grating due to a preachiness in it, or grating due to excessive "grittyness".
 

Overread

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Ray - I think sometimes it can be hard to read a book aimed at younger audiences as one gets older. It's not an outright rule, but sometimes I find that books aimed at younger generations use language and concepts that often make them out to be just too simple; too easy an adventure.
I think part of it is sometimes the lack of depth; the story is very bold and simple and lacks interconnections; you also tend to see a lot less struggle - even in the struggling bits the character surmounts them with too much ease - you don't get that feeling that they can or will fail or that it could all go horribly wrong.


It's a hard thing really to put into words as there is no strict "childs" language and target ages for many books are only a very rough guide (heck its the same for films and other media as well) and normally focused upon the suitability of content rather than the style, structure etc...

Sometimes I think its also a generation thing; that sometimes (esp with fantasy) reading a modern book the language used can give a very different feel to one written 10 or 20 or 30 years ago. Such can mean that a story once for kids can feel more advanced for its language use and vis versa a book for adults feels more childish. Partly I put it down to how advanced the writers skill set is - those who only ever use basic words and write with a modern style will feel simpler; easier.

Of course one can just as easily write overly complex and sound bad - I recall one novel I read where the two authors felt like they were trying to show off to each other with a thesaurus
 

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This book is what started it all for me. I have read every Feist book, and even though they have declined in quality a lot over the years, I still enjoy them. Call it nostalgia, but I love the Riftwar books. I can look past any faults they may have. The Empire books are quite good as well. (most will say much better)
 

Ray McCarthy

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Ray - I think sometimes it can be hard to read a book aimed at younger audiences as one gets older.
As I reach "retirement age" I find it's got progressively easier over the last 40 years. Yes, I do spot simplicity, plot holes, shoddy writing I would have missed as a teenager and not even understood when I was reading age 6 to 11 approx.
 

Brian G Turner

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Fiest's attention to detail continues to surprise me. Amos Trask is a wonderful character in his own right - but even more so for all the nautical terms he uses. And he's not even a POV character!
 
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