The Magician by Raymond E. Feist is one very long book. Set in the world of human, dwarves and elves in Midkemia. It follows the story of the orphan keep boy Pug, in his journey to become a magician. Throw in a alien war (yep aliens) and Pug’s journey is a complicated one.
I was attracted to The Magician because as always the skinflint in me likes as long as possible audiobooks for my Audible credits (this one was around 36 hours long) and because I was missing my Game of Thrones and I wanted a substitute. Was it a good substitute? Sort of, it had the requisite large cast, with the useful to remember writing trick of concentrating on one of the other characters for a while whilst one of the main characters is off stuck in a swamp for four years, as four years worth of text about life in a swamp would have been a bit boring and it removes the writerly temptation to get your main character out of a sticky situation more quickly, just to move the story a long. There were plenty of Dukes, Princes and Princesses and some cool scrapes to get out of. However the book had, to me, some significant flaws, the first in part I think, due to the book’s age, it was published in 1982, back in the era where I think writers could potentially get away with patronising their young adult audience with ‘listen young readers, whilst I go on at length about what relationships with the opposite sex are really like’. Of course Young Adult books written today often have plenty of stuff about first relationships with the opposite (or same) sex and readers can learn from that, but through the actions of the young characters and not, in the case of The Magician, through the adult characters sometimes preaching at the younger ones. I also found some of the character transformations to be alarmingly quick, particularly in one scene, where one of the character’s, who has been slowly taken over by a magical creature, over many many chapters, manages to successfully shake him off in a single brief scene. Also I found it hard to empathise with the motivation of some of the characters, I could get why, from a plot line sense, why one of the main characters pretty much switches side because if he hadn’t it would have been a much shorter plot line because he would have been killed but it just felt like the character was behaving that way because it was convenient to the story, basically the switch wasn’t truly believable. Or maybe that’s just me personally, if I were captured by the enemy, I would do my best to escape or die trying and I just can’t get why someone wouldn’t, just because of the fear of death (I know, I know, fear of death is quite a biggie but surely hatred of your enemy could be potentially a more overpowering emotion?).
Sigh, it’s worth a read (although in warning, the sound quality on the audiobook is occasionally iffy) and just because it occasionally annoyed me, it might not annoy anyone else.
*** (out of 5 stars)