The King's Buccaneer by Raymond E Feist

The Big Peat

Darth Buddha
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Most people who know Feist seem to know him for his original trilogy, a sometimes odd mix of extremely Epic Fantasy and D&Desque quests. That's a shame, as a lot of his follow up works meld the two better with a higher quality of writing.

The King's Buccaneer is centered on Nicholas, the youngest son of one of the trilogy's original characters, as he foils another plot of the dastardly Pantathian Serpent Priests and learns how to step out of the shadow of his legendary father. Both come about due to a raid on his homeland and a desperate sea journey to a new world to recover those abducted.

If that sounds somewhat corny, that is no accident. Feist writes fantasy's conventions with 90% sincere love and 10% gentle self-mockery. Throw in some 80s-tastic melodrama and a bit of coming of age and you have Feist's formula. The recipe might be too stale or sweet for some, but for those who like that old time rock n' roll, Feist does it nearly as well as anyone.

Why nearly? Well, this only came to me when writing the review. It lacks that touch of greatness and that, I think, comes from the characters' relative lack of mistakes and moments of redemptive awesome. The ensemble hit their fair share of troubles, but it never feels like they truly go through that dark night of the soul. Being an ensemble also means they're rarely all alone and forced to rely on themselves either.

Which is ironic in a book that preaches about the need to risk failure.

But this is just a quibble (although the Everest of quibbles to some). The plot twists and turns nicely. The scope is just huge for a single book, albeit one of considerable size. The characters' sense of wonder and surprise at being strangers in a strange land is conveyed well. The cast are good company and their humour works. All the ingredients are there for a superior example of Epic action-adventure fantasy - and this re-read has confirmed that is exactly what The King's Buccaneer is.
 

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