February 09, 2004

Magician: Apprentice, by Raymond E. Feist

The beginning of this book was very promising but then it degenerated so quickly into a knock-off of other authors that I found it irritating. It's the story of Pug, the young orphan boy, who is taken as apprentice to the local magician and finds that although he has no talent for conventional magic, in high stress situations something just happens and magic flows. And then there is this weird rift in space/time that is letting really bad guys from another place thru to plunder Pug's world and all the good guys are trying to figure who they are and how to defeat them. Oh, yes, there are elves and dwarves. The elves live in the woods that are magically imbued with their essence and the dwarves are miners and metal workers. And there is a mysterious woodsman who has dealings with the elves. And there are little dragons, who thankfully donít have swirly eyes or I'd have tossed the book across the room, but who are taken as pets by the wizard. And there is a princess whom Pug is just really hot for but you know, he has a destiny to fulfill and can't really commit right now.

I finished it but it became so obviously dependent on Tolkien and others that I donít think I will read the next one in the series. By the end of the book the plot was so confused and disjointed I just didnít care anymore. It might make a good read for the young adult audience and I will probably pass it along to a 10-year-old I know, but there are too many other good stories well told to read that don't rip off other authors. Bah!

Posted by Deb English at February 9, 2004 08:41 PM

Will Duquette said:

Well, OK. It's true, Feist's Midkemia is more or less the Standard Late 20th Century Fantasy Realm, complete with elves, dwarves, dragons, and so forth. It's true, the motif of the apprentice magician who can only do magic under great stress, and then without understanding, is as old as the hills and twice as dusty, and anyway Andre Norton beat it to death before anyone else got to it. It's true that this isn't the deepest of all books.

But I still think you're being too hard on it.

The milieu is only superficially similar to Tolkien's. It's really a Dungeons&Dragons world, which is to say that it's approximately similar to Earth's Medieval period, with elves and dwarves. Culturally, it's not much like Middle-Earth, and the plot is entirely different.

And speaking of the plot, you've only got half of it. In Magican: Master you get the payoff--it's really one book, and was originally published that way.

What other authors are you thinking Feist ripped off?

Ian Hartshorn said:

Let me say off the top that it has been a while since I read this book. I remember, though, that I really enjoyed the first half. I did not enjoy the second half as much but I was interested enough to buy the second book. The second book was OK but good enough for me to buy the third book. I barely finished the third book. I now have no interest in reading any of Feist's books, which is not typical of me. I usually discover an author and then try to read everything that the author has written. My impression of this series is of declining slope. Maybe it gets better but I don't really have any interest in finding out.

Deb said:

Will, you pretty much hit it on the head. Dusty, done before etc etc. That's what bugged me. Why should I read it again in a new incarnation? I was also reminded of Ged in LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy. Not having spent much time with role playing games I didnt see the Dungeons and Dragons tie in.

I do think the setting is more than similiar to Tolkein's world--the whole forest the Elves live in has some sort of power bestowed on it by the presence of elves that is directly reminiscent of Rivendell and Lothlorien. And the dwarves as miners, not folks who live in the ground as tradional Scandinavian folklore has them, is the same. You can argue that Tolkein wasnt original--he stole a lot from medieval lit and Northern European folklore--I wont go into how much I think his language and syntax were influenced by the Old Testament here-- but at least he did it really really well.

And my son said the same thing about the 2nd book--it makes the whole thing come together. Gosh, I hate it when guys named Will gang up on me. ;o)

I have found the same is true with other series--they start off pretty good and go down hill from there. It's what make writers that can keep the freshness and energy going so amazing. If you havent read them try Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosignan series. Or Brust's Vlad Taltos series. Both author's keep knockin out good books time after time. IMHO, of course.

Ian said:

Hi Deb,

You are absolutely correct in that most series decline as they go on. For me, I just found the decline in this book and series particularly steep.

paul said:

I was supposed to have half of this book read by last Monday for my English class. Actually it's a "sci-fi/fantasy" class. I was absent Monday though, and yesterday, and we didn't have class today. But regardless, we had a quiz, and I am supposed to make it up tomorrow, but I haven't even started the book yet. I was supposed to have read half of it, and I haven't even started yet. So basically I'm screwed. My plan though, was to take a long nap this afternoon after school, and wake up at around 8pm, and just read the hell out of the stupid thing until like 2 or 3 in the morning. I thought if I did that then I could probably have read most of what I needed to.
The thing is, this book isn't very good. It actually is terrible. I decided this after only fifteen pages. I definitely cannot read this book. So I've been surfing the internet for the past half hour, looking around on Google to see if I can find some kid's book report on the book, hoping to find a good summary of all that happens, so I'll know enough to BS my way through my make-up quiz tomorrow.
I was going to read "Snow Crash", because I heard that was a good book, but the damned thing cost fourteen dollars, and I didn't have fourteen dollars at the time, and even if I did I wouldn't have spent fourteen dollars on a stack of paper and ink. That's just stupid.
Anyway, I don't know what any of this is contributing to a forum that has been dead for months. I was actually going to say something about the book, but I forgot. I've decided not to continue reading it tonight, and I think I'll just write with my left hand on my quiz tomorrow, and since I'm right handed, my teacher won't be able to read what I wrote, and he won't know whether my answers were any good or not, and I'll be able to blame it all on crappy handwriting.
So maybe he'll never know I never read the stupid thing. If I were in a good mood or if I had more time I might actually read this book, but the truth is this book really isn't good at all, and I'm just not a big "fantasy" reader. Gnomes and goblins, wizards and dragons, who cares? It's fine if you do, but I don't. Whenever I read books like this (and that's rare), I feel like I'm stuck in the middle of some stupid children's cartoon show. No matter how much violence and magical fireball BS the auther tries to impress everyone with, it's all just stupid.
Actually maybe it isn't. I don't know what I'm talking about. The truth is, I'm really tired, because I lied earlier, and never took that nap.

Kevin said:

i loved the book, if i compare it with Lord of the Rings, I find it better. Ok Tolkiens saga is special, and nothing can be compared with that, its unique. But Magician is wonderful too.