Magician Re-Read Thread

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Great One

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Magician Re-Read Thread
« on: February 04, 2010, 03:57:35 PM »

Hail, this will be the Magician Re-Read thread.

Expect post-analysis, plot discussion, future imperatives, character altruism, and yadda, yadda, ya. :D Lots of talk, at least from yours truly, as I dive back into this fantastic book that kicked-off Raymond E. Feist's career, and has helped make him an international best-selling author. The continuation of such threads may weigh upon the success of this one, or the poster's sheer determination (read: uncaring) to get his thoughts out there. Fans are irksome like that.

But -- something to see us through this Year of 2010, with A Kingdom Besieged on the horizon, but not hitting our bays until 2011.

Great One

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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2010, 06:04:54 PM »

First proper post!

Let me start off by showing you all the book copy I'm reading this day. It's a tenth anniversary UK edition, that looks like this:

Thankfully, it doesn't look like this:

If you follow-up reviews of this wonderful book, you'll hear comments like 'the benchmark of fantasy' and other strong proclamations.

On the back, it says at the top:

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first publication of his classic fantasy novel Magician, Raymond E. Feist has prepared a new, revised edition, to incorporate over 15,000 (reader: sheesh) words of text omitted from previous editions so that, in his own words, 'it is essentially the book I would have written had I the skills I possess today'.

And synopsis:

At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician (reader: not another) - and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever. Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders (reader: ooh) swarm through the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun. Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilisation. Pug's destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic...

Now, personally, I consider that one of the best synopsis's that I am ever likely to read. It's straight-forward, it's interesting and it gives you enough to make you want to see what it's all about. The mention of Tomas inheriting a legacy of savage power, while Pug masters magic unlike anything he knows, gives away the plot a bit, which would be my only complaint.

And, of course, blurbs on the back:

'Epic action...vivid imagination.'

'Tons of intrigue and action'

Right, now that that is out of the way, I can open this battered copy I hold - it has been read over 10 times and has been carried as far as Egypt and the Americas. :D


*skips part concerning the author, assuming people know who he is, and what he has written* (see Alrin's FAQ)

Ray starts with dedicating the book to his Dad, Felix, and then embarks on the usual acknowledgements, followed by a special one for the revised edition. He thanks a bunch of people again, Janny Wurts, in particular, co-author of the Empire trilogy, who helped bring the Tsurani world and civilisation really to life. Thank you, Janny!! :)

'She helped turn the Game of the Council from a vague concept to a murderously real arena of human conflict.' - REF

He then begins to talk about the problems with doing a revised edition, in his Foreword, as I have read before with other authors. If anyone here has read both, can they drop some opinions? He finished that Foreword in '91...I just wonder if we'll see a 30th year edition published next year.


Book I

Pug and Tomas

A boy's will is the wind's will,
and the thoughts of the youth are
long, long thoughts.
- Longfellow, My Lost Youth


Chapter: I

So begins the adventures of a sun-streaked brown haired boy, dancing among the rocks. That would come to prove to be a strong metaphor for Pug's long tumultuous life. He deals with a lot of great difficulty in this opening chapter, struggling to even perform basic tasks, due to the stormy weather. We later find-out that it was, in fact, Macros whom had conjured the storm to begin with (oops! Spoiler)...Winds up injuring himself in the process, and almost dying. I had always assumed it would have had something to do with the Tsurani rift opening and the Great One's magic causing it. Alas.

The small trees started to bend before the wind, and Pug felt as if a great hand were pushing at his back,

Hmm. Taken in it's vague meaning, you wouldn't know that there was magic involved, but we know better. ;)

Pug finds small sanctuary, travelling along the King's Road, for nearly an hour...

He knew he was in danger now, for the storm was gaining in fury far beyond normal for this time of year. Great ragged bolts of lightning lit the dark landscape, briefly outlining the trees and road in harsh, brilliant white and opaque black. The dazzling afterimages, black and white reversed, stayed with him for a moment each time, confusing his senses. Enormous thunder peals sounding overhead felt like physical blows. Now his fear of the storm outweighed his fear of imagined brigands and goblins. He decided to walk among the trees near the road; the wind would be lessened somewhat by the boles of the oaks.

Recently, I read Robert Holdstock's highly celebrated Mythago Wood novel, and I'm in strong belief that the writing in this novel is on a par with that book. The descriptive qualities of each pull you in and are powerful enough to keep you there!

Back to the book, Pug is confronted by a panic-stricken forest pig! Pug makes his staff ready, and a sound from the trees sends the boar charging. Who would guess now that Pug's first duel in the Midkemia Cycle was with a pig! That'd make for a good trivia question. Unfortunately, Pug struggles and the pig sets upon him, only to be saved by an arrow. We're then introduced for the first - but not last - time to a stranger with all the usual hunter/foresters look about him. He takes Pug to his 'Master's cottage in the woods. The Master turns out to be man Pug recognises from the castle, Kulgan, the Duke's magician and adviser.

With his heavyset yellow robes, grey hair and beard, and long pipe, Kulgan fits the picture perfectly of a Magician/mentor figure in a heroic fantasy tale. Raymond describes the first encounter wonderfully, setting the mood with his descriptions of the cottage and sharp dialogue. Ray, through Pug's POV, let's the reader know that while a member of the Duke's court, and a highly important Duke at that, the magician is still thought of as an object of suspicion, held in low esteem by the common folk. Not uncommon in many fantasy tales, yet it remains sound and works in a basic logical kind of way. After all, would you not want to keep your eye on someone that could do things that you could not believe? ;)

Pug then meets for the first time a small red-eyed dragon by the name of Fantus, that the magician keeps as a pet (reader: madman!) and has domesticated...

Pug shut his mouth, which had popped open with surprise, then asked, "Is he truly a dragon, sir?"
The Magician laughed, a rich, good-natured sound. "Betimes he thinks he is, boy. Fantus is a firedrake, cousin to the dragon, though of smaller stature." The creature opened one eye and fastened it on the magician. "But of equal heart," Kulgan quickly added, and the drake closed his eye again.

Pug goes on to ask if he can breath fire, to which Kulgan informs him that he can manage to belch out a flame or two, if the mood suits him. Not unlike myself. :P

We're formally introduced to Meecham, the franklin that saved Pug in the forest. He informs us that the storm will pass afore dawn - job done, Macros.

Ray, through Kulgan, reveals to we the readers that velvet is an expensive material, when he uses it for covering, for the magician's valuable orb of crystal. A gift from Althafain of Carse, 'a most puissant artificer of magic'. Kulgan informs Pug that it was during a testing of the orb, that he discovered a sight of the troubled boy in the woods.

Pug fixed his eyes on the ball and tried to follow the flicker of firelight that seemed to play deep within it's structure. The reflections of the room, multiplied a hundredfold, merged and danced as his eyes tried to fasten upon each aspect within the orb. They flowed and blended, then grew cloudy and obscure. A soft white glow at the center of the the ball replaced the red of firelight, and Pug felt his gaze become trapped by it's pleasing warmth. Like the warmth of the kitchen at the keep, he thought absently.

Ahhh. This is Pug's first experience (reader: lot o' firsts) with a magical object. Pug shows apt skill at gazing into the orb and getting a reading. His mind was on the kitchen at the keep, and as chance would have it, that's what he saw. Fat Alfan the cook licking his fingers of sweetcrumbs, only to have the head cook, Megar, come down upon him. Oops. A familiar scene that Pug has witnessed many times before, but viewing it through the magical object tires him.

Kulgan picks up on the boy's success, alluding that he is more than he first appeared. Aha! A common fantasy trope, yet a comfortable one, set in this scenario, I feel. Bearing in mind the copyright on the inside flap says 1982, I'm letting it fly. Since then, however, the sheer amount of similar themes used for the burgeoning character is enough to near put you off the genre all-together. But we'll forget about that, for now, and focus on this warm scene.

Pug then shows small skill at reading, when Kulgan catches him eyeing up his collection of books. The punk! The boy can read a little and knows numbers, too. Numbers! "Well, you are something of a rare bird." Who knew kitchen-work was good for ones education, growing-up - let's keep the kids there. Screw school.

Kulgan pulls out a book and gives it to Pug to read. The boy attempts it, and succeeds mostly. Kulgan informs him the curious lad that it's a history of the land, given to him by the abbot of an Ishapian monastery. A translation of a Keshian text, over a hundred years old. Ray then let's the reader in on some, what we'll call, hard facts.

A long time ago, Pug, all these lands, from the Endless Sea across the Grey Tower Mountains to the Bitter Sea, were part of the Empire of Great Kesh. Far to the east existed a small kingdom, on one small island called Rillanon. It grew to engulf it's neighboring island kingdoms, and it became the Kingdom of the Isles. Later it expanded again to the mainland, and while it is still the Kingdom of the Isles, most of us simply call it 'the Kingdom'. We, who live in Crydee, are part of the Kingdom, though we live as far from the capital city of Rillanon as one can and still be within it's boundaries.
Once, many long years ago, the Empire of Great Kesh abandoned these lands, for it was engaged in a long and bloody conflict with it's neighbors to the south, the Keshian Confederacy.

Damn those pesky neighbors! Kulgan goes on to tell us about the Confederacy, and wraps by tieing in the Duke's grandfather who brought the army westward, and winded up forming the Duchy of Crydee, that they now live within.

Kulgan enquiries into the boy's plans once he reaches manhood. Pug tells both Kulgan and Meecham that he hopes to take service with the Swordmaster Fannon, on this Midsummer's Day. They react with varying degrees of surprise, bringing into account his small frame, to which the boy let's them know that he's an orphan (reader: not another one!), so no one knows where he comes from, or to what they should expect body-wise. He was left by the Priests of Dala, by a woman who found him on the road, and the Priests bring him to the keep.

Eventually, Kulgan recalls the time, and remarks that the Duke is the only reason he is a freeman today. Meechan: "A good man, the Duke." Pug has heard this all before, so he begins to nod off. Meecham helps the boy out, and prepares a sleeping pallet, which the boy falls asleep on. With the firedrake Fantus curled up next to him. Ahhh!


And that brings the chapter summary to a close. Thank Dala! Now that I've saved you all the effort of shuffling your feet, while you collect your thoughts, come: let us discuss this opening chapter.

What do you think of Pug's meeting with Kulgan? Do you recall what you thought of during your first time of reading? Did you already guess that the boy would be apprenticed with the Master Magician?

What did you make of Meecham? Some have already commented on this forum about his strange relationship with Kulgan. There really is no proper explanation, as to why a grown man would spend all of his time in the hold of Kulgan. No mention is made as to a debt needing to be paid, nor are there any kinship ties mentioned. You could just conclude, like I like to, that they're just close friends.

I'm sure you can think of more questions to answer, and things to talk about, but I'm off for the next chapter!

P.S. The following chapters will not be as detailed in information as this one, no doubt. There may be no summary at all. Time and mood will tell.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2010, 06:16:36 PM by Great One »

Great One

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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2010, 10:40:09 PM »

Now that I have all of that filler that bogged down the first post out of the way, not to mention dealing with my perpetually poor connection, I can get onto chapter II discussion/walk-through whatever you want to call it, with the inevitable questions at the end.

2: Apprentice

The forest was quiet.

In this chapter we're introduced to one of the other main characters, Tomas (see synopsis). A tall boy with sandy hair and bright blues eyes. With a quick smile, he's established in the novel as the likeable fellow and Pug's closest friend. A brother, more than a friend. Immediately it is stressed of how Tomas is with other boys, how fun he seems to be around, and generally you think what a nice lad. It's brilliant set-up. He works as a great opposite of Pug, who without him would probably be an outcast.

It's like beginning to Tad Williams Dragonbone Chair ,only you have a stronger main character with a likeable co-star that makes the book light-hearted and easy-going. Or at least, that's what comes to mind when reading it. ;)

Many years of harvesting trees for lumber had given the green glades a sunlit airiness not found in the deep haunts of the southern forest. The keep boys had often played here over the years. With small imagination, the woods were transformed into a wondrous place, a green world of high adventure. Some of the greatest deeds known had taken place here. Daring escapes, dread quests, and mightily contested battles had been witnessed by the silent trees as the boys gave vent to their youthful dreams of coming manhood. Foul creatures, mighty monsters, and base outlaws had all been fought and vanquished, often accompanied by the death of a great hero, with appropriate last words to his mourning companions, all managed with just enough time left to return to the keep for supper.

The boyhood fun and revelry is infectious. The above is just a small portion borrowed from the novel, that contains many parts that hold a strong nostalgic effect. I first read this book when I was 12/13, and the feeling I took from it has stuck with me, forever. I'd strongly recommend it for teenagers that are looking to feel their way into reading more. It's as important as reading Salinger or Tolkien. Yup. I said that.

Anyway, back to the book.

Enter the oldest stag in the forest, along with a man the boys both recognise: Martin. Dressed in dark forest green leather clothing, longbow across his back, hunter's knife at his belt, and green-cloak, with hood thrown up. A tall man, you could look to this fellow as the Aragorn of the series. He's the Duke's Huntmaster and Foreseter, and an orphan like Pug. He shares a lot in common with Pug, as no one knows where he came from, or much about him in general -- he's a mysterious figure in Crydee. Martin shares a couple of nice moments with the boys and the stag. It's mentioned he always has time for boys...err...but we'll pretend I did not say that or suggest anything. Nor does it help that he's looked upon as worthy of distrust by adults, but seriously, that is due to him being different and spending so much time away from the castle.

Martin informs the two that he'll not be involved in the Choosing on Midsummers Day, as he chose young Garret last year, and already has a full company of trackers. He also lets Pug and Tomas (readers) in on a little more of his happenings, during his month away from the castle. The Elf Queen, Aglaranna has ended her twenty years of mourning the death of her husband, Aidan (oops, I said his name!), the Elf King. Martin is close to the Elves, and spends time with them, despite most people considering them little more than a legend (reader: heard that one before).

Ray let's us in on a fair amount of detail here, which is why I'm covering it so, like how Martin was raised by the monks of Silban's Abbey, and that he hunted with Prince Calin and his cousin, Galain -- elf folk. Pretty cool, huh?

As I slightly lose interest in Martin, Ray thankfully steps in and nips that one in the bud. We've been saved: hurrah! And here I thought I was off to the Blessed Isles before the chapter moved on...

Choosing time!! It's Midsummer, the time when the year ends and a new one begins, the time when the milling boys have reached their last day of boyhood and are now entering the adult world. It's a spirited notion, but I also recall being troubled by it as a boy. Guess who didn't want to grow up? :P

Pug's in borrowed clothes, from Tomas, looking his best. For him, that isn't too much to look at, but hey, he's an orphan. Pug makes a lot of observations concerning the other boys that I'll chose to ignore. What should be noted is that the practise they're currently undergoing is having boys between eight and thirteen years of age chosen for work in the crafts and services, to see if they can select something that'll suit the boy. It apparently works well.

I do wonder if the boys have much option, though, after they've invested so much time in whomever they join with. That much becomes apparent more later, however. Not worth delving into now. Besides, it removes the fun of discussing it, then.

Pug is scuffing his feet and thinking about the possibility that he will not be chosen by any craftsman - sucka! He also recalls a conversation with Megar the night before, where he's told that there's more men in Crydee without crafts than with. That's one bad system. :o Kind of like Great Britain and Ireland, now. But forget about that. Concentrate on this:

The herald shouted, "Hearken to me! His Grace, Borric conDoin, third Duke of Crydee, Prince of the Kingdom; Lord of Crydee, Carse, and Tulan; Warden of the West; Knight-General of the King's Armies; heir presumptive to the throne of Rillanon."

And so enters Borric into the story. A man past fifty, he's reported to still move with fluid grace and the powerful step of a born warrior. Lucky him. This could prove a bit of a distraction to a haughty out-of-shape reader, too familiar with the genre. Thankfully Ray does not portray him in this role more than one or two times, as far as I can recall. He's no Karsa Orlong, rest assured. He dresses in black, as he has done for the last seven years since he lost his dear wife, Catherine. After this, his sons are proclaimed by the Herald, as well. Lyam, being the eldest, and Arutha the younger brooding one. They're said to be six and four years older than the apprentices.

Arutha is quick and good with a rapier. This'll become all the more apparent later. Hehe.


Enter Caroline, the darling of the book, and Borric's only daughter. She's slim, graceful, beautiful. Every boy in the keep loves her. She's known to be a trickster that loves turning boys emotions against them, causing mischief. Bitch. Let's move on...she reminds me of Esme (the whore!!) too much.


Father Tully! He's a good religious chap, that is a priest of Astalon the Builder and one of the Duke's oldest aides. Apparently, he worked as the Duke's father's aide, as well, so he's seen as being very old. Think of him as a Pycelle, only not as annoying...actually just forget that comparison all-together. :P


A hell of a lot of descriptive text at the start of this book. Reminds me of the Wheel of Time. But anyway, Squire Roland. He's the next fellow up. I am among those that dislike him. Though he does redeem himself later in the book. He's no friend of Pug's, and is generally a disruptive figure for him in his life. He is a middling character. Fairly important, yet at the same time, could be done away with. His importance comes more into player later in the book, as I said before, but it's not the most enjoyable parts, in my experience.

Anyway, chapter 2 serves mainly as filler/set-up play. This should not be looked down upon by any means, as it lets us get an insight into the castle and it's people. The kind of life Pug has had up until now seems a difficult but enjoyable one, for the most part. As the proceedings commence, Pug witnesses the whole thing from start to finish, seeing boys paired with men that he would have expected, while a couple others go against how he imagined. One boy even chooses life as a sailor.

Horsemaster Algon chooses a boy named Rulf, son of Dick. Housecarl Samuel chooses Geoffry. Swordsmaster Fannon chooses Pug's friend, Tomas. If anyone is following this, can you notice the relative ease of the names Ray has chosen to incorporate into his book? For those that find Bakker's character names so difficult, this might be more up your street.

There was a pause, and Pug waited to hear his own name called, but Fannon stepped back and Tomas crossed over to stand alongside him. Pug felt dwarfed by the gaze of all upon him. The courtyard was now larger than he had ever remembered it, and he felt ill fashioned and poorly dressed. His heart sank in his chest as he realised that there was no Craftsmaster or staff member present who had not taken an apprentice. He would be the only boy uncalled. Fighting back tears, he waited for the Duke to dismiss the company.


Thankfully, Kulgan steps up! Yay! He claims to have need of an apprentice, and calls upon Pug, orphan of the keep, to service.

The Duke allows this. Meanwhile Pug is off in his head, imagining other lives he might have lived. But the one thing he never thought of, the one dream that had never captured his fantasies, was that of becoming a magician. :)

He shakes out of it, thankfully, and unceremoniously makes an ass of himself, tripping over his own feet and falling to the floor, in front of everyone.

Kulgan has a word with him after, and all is right as rain.

They retire to the tower where he resides...

They don't share a room, if that's what you're thinking...

- cue end scene -

The story picks up again, late in the afternoon, on a bright and clear day. All around the castle and town, they're preparing for the festival of Banapis, the oldest known holiday. It's held each Midsummer's Day, a day belonging to neither the past nor the coming year. That's nice.

There are mentions of giant barrels dwarven ale being taken from Stone Mountain, and none of the men work. So everyone basically sits around and gets p**sed. Kind of like St Patrick's day. Pug meets up with his friend Tomas, again, who is now in soldier's tabard. The kind of uniform he can get used to wearing on a regular basis! (Oops, spoiler). They steal food and laugh. Thieves!

Pug spots the royal family, more notably Princess Caroline, and his chest tightens (reader: better have that looked at, son). Poor lad. She looks lovely in her blue gown and hat of the same colour.

Jugglers and clowns make an appearance. The story is really coming into it's own here, or rather Ray is setting things up, so we're left with a nice impression of how the boys are going to spend the rest of their day.

Pug looked forward to the evening, for it was the custom for new apprentices to visit many of the houses in the town, receiving congratulations and mugs of ale. It was also a ripe time for meeting the town girls. While dalliance was not unknown, it was frowned upon. But mothers tended to be less vigilant during Banapis. Now that they boys had crafts, they were viewed as less bothersome pests and more as potential sons-in-law, and there had been more than one case of a mother looking the other way while a daughter used her natural skills to snare a young husband (reader: blimey, can't wait for feminists to read that part).

Poor Pug is of small stature, however, so he isn't seeing any action.

Pug felt a deep sense of rightness about everything. He was an apprentice, even if Kulgan seemed completely unsure of what to do with him. He was well fed, and on his way to being slightly intoxicated -- which contributed to his sense of well-being. And most important, he was among friends. There can't be much more to life than this, he thought.

Just you wait.


Great One

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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2010, 03:25:48 AM »

Concerning the Meecham/Kulgan relationship thing, a guy on another forum helped me out...

From: Raymond E. Feist
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 1996

Kulgan and Meecham were characters I didn't wish to create controversy with, rather just let them live together in the woods and have Meecham disapear when Kulgan died. If you reread their exchanges, especially in Silverthorn, you can see a hint of a couple, rather than a man and servant as was publicly their roles. But two old guys living together in the woods for 20+ years? Ya, roomates.


From: Raymond E. Feist

Date: 01 December 2009

They were gay.  However, I wish to point out, it never was anything I wanted to make a big deal about.  Remember when I wrote the book.  I started it in 1977.  But I wanted to include a gay couple that looked 100% "ordinary" to the reader.  Apparently I did OK on that.  The last hint was when they observed that Meecham vanished after Kulgan died.

Best, R.E.F

Didn't we have a thread about those two characters, once upon a time?

The Squire Of Forest Deep

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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 07:15:42 AM »

This is really good stuff, GO. I probably won't do a re-read for many years, if ever, so it's nice to get a quick but fairly detailed summary of stuff from the old days.

I don't really have anything to discuss, except that reading this really accentuates for me how bad the new stuff Feist's written is. I love this meticulous construction of characters in a specififc context (Crydee). You don't see anything like that in the latest books. I really wish we had a more diverse view of events in the new books. For example, if we got to follow the story of a student at Sorcerer's Isle and how that character sees events and what roles they play. I feel like this would ground the new levels and still allow for their epic scope, as you could have Pug and Magnus and whatnot zooming around the universe at the same time. I want a nicely constructed community with a number of developed characters, like we did in Krondor and Crydee. Do others agree? I feel like, other than effort, that's what's missing from the newer novels.

Keep up the good work, GO.

Great One

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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2010, 05:02:22 PM »

Thanks. :)

For example, if we got to follow the story of a student at Sorcerer's Isle and how that character sees events and what roles they play. I feel like this would ground the new levels and still allow for their epic scope, as you could have Pug and Magnus and whatnot zooming around the universe at the same time. I want a nicely constructed community with a number of developed characters, like we did in Krondor and Crydee. Do others agree?

Didn't Ray try that, though? That's what the Conclave trilogy was supposed to be all about. Introducing new characters, like Tal and Kasper, and developing them, along with setting up Pug's secret agency, the Conclave of Shadows, and their community. It also clued us in on what was happening in the Kingdom (incorrectly, in a couple of cases *coughs*) and the state of things. Like what had happened to Stardock, since Pug's face-off with the Keshians.

Meanwhile, adding some importance to the grand scheme of things, in the shape of the Talnoy. Yet he received a lot of criticism for those books. Sure, he didn't seem as committed as he once had, but the basics were still held down strongly and he was giving many people what they wanted - a moment away from Pug, Tomas, et al. There was very little magic involved.

I could understand where you're coming from, while I have not been updating since last week, I have been reading back and forth. The feel of the book is so great, and it's constructed wonderfully.

I'll try and get something up soon. :)


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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2010, 08:06:23 PM »

The effort you're putting into these is staggering, Great One. :D I wish I could remember my first read-through of Magician, but I was really young back then. :D I can honestly say the Kulgan/Meecham thing never came even remotely close to crossing my mind until I saw it mentioned on the forums. I guess the story read as too "old school fantasy" for that to me. And yeah, forming first impressions while still prepubescent probably helped, too.

One of the things I always liked in Feist's books is the imagery. Images that are powerful and eloquent in their elegant simplicity. A boy caught outside in the storm, an alien ship breaking on the rocks, elves riding into the city, a frenzied flight through twisting mines while chased by monstrous ghosts, a dwarf walking in on a boy eating fish with a frigging huge dragon... The pacing carefully adjusted for those scenes, the descriptions phrased just right to stick them in our memory without boring us..

The recent books still have plenty of that. The events at the end of Wrath of a Mad God, for example. The description of the taredhel capital and their new settlement in RaDL was memorable as well.

But I think poignant imagery has its own time and place to be used, and that's what's been slipping in Feist's works. A lot of the time, we're only perceiving the imagery through the eyes and mind of a particular character, so it should only be poignant if the character would find it poignant. And there have been... how shall I say, certain dramatic events in RaDL that should have been described a lot more poignantly rather than just summed up in two lines, considering through whose eyes the reader was watching.
Spoiler: show
Ahem, RIP Miranda...
As a side effect, those of Feist's characters who are more different or alien tend to still have good characterisation, because Feist has no choice but to dwell on their unique view of perceiving events - for example, almost anything concerning the taredhel
Spoiler: show
in Midkemia, in particular Elvandar and in confrontation with, say, the eledhel, Tomas, or the dwarves.

Regarding other changes in Feist's writing style..

What Squire said about the books no longer being about "the little guy"... I don't think that's quite it. As Great One mentioned, the last few books have been full of "little guys" that, for my part, left me quite cold. I think it's more the characterisation, as I sort of touched upon above. In many cases, it's a lack of dramatic imagery when it would be appropriate. Pug knows he'll live to see his loved ones die? Don't TELL us he's morose and moody, SHOW us how he wistfully watches them when they're together, how he has to fight impulses to keep them out of the fighting, how he double and triple-checks the protective wards in place before leaving Sorcerer's Isle on business. He may be a wise person and the most powerful magician on two worlds, but he's still human. His humanity and flaws are what made him so appealing in these early books, and they don't HAVE to disappear just because he's gained power.
Spoiler: show
When he finds himself locked out of coming back to Sorcerer's Isle at the end of RaDL, where is the characterisation? Why is it glossed over? Why don't we see him falling prey to panic, however briefly, with his mind reeling with thoughts about what his enemies may be up to, and whether this was all a trap to get him locked out of the action, and whether perhaps Amirantha was a traitor working for Belasco... That's what you'd expect a character in his situation to be thinking and wondering about, and instead we just cut to another scene.

Then there's that other thing that I already ranted about at length in the RaDL thread... Specifically, Feist's work at letting the reader get to know the character. Characterisation would be an accurate but still too vague term.

When we meet Pug, all we see at first is a boy trying to stay out of the storm. Then we see him face a mad boar and react in stressful, dangerous situations. Then we see him waking up in an unfamiliar place and facing his rescuers. Does he react with gratitude? Is he embarrassed? Does he insist he didn't need any help? Is he humble and nice about it, or does he act like a jerk?

In Magician, we SEE all that. We stay along for the ride and get to know Pug as we observe his actions and reactions to events in that world.
Other characters, too. We don't know Arutha is the type to break up unfair fights with quiet authority until we see him do so, we don't know he'd be one to lead the charge on enemy soldiers to the delight of his own until we watch him in action. Jimmy, when we meet him, is a mystery, a face and a name, someone who works for the Mockers and shows up on their behalf a few times. We don't find out what a loyal person he is until a good deal into Silverthorn.

By contrast... Feist's way of introducing characters in the past few books is to have them appear, switch to their POV immediately or soon after, and then do a good infodump on their background, history, personality and motives. Jim Dasher in the recent books had one. Sandreena's pretty much gave us everything that could possibly be interesting to actually LEARN about her, such as how she joined the Order of Dala, why she became a Knight instead of a priest, how she deals with being utterly dead-drop gorgeous and how it shaped her life. All we really learned of Talwin's personality, if I recall, was back when he was lying in wait for his vision and daydreaming about his current life.

Infodumps. When it comes to characters, they should be forbidden, as far as I'm concerned. If there is to be a chunk purely about a character's past and identity more than three lines long, it should only be ages after they've been introduced and the reader has already gone half insane with curiosity trying to piece the character together based on gleaned hints and half-tidbits.

I mean, just imagine if we had met Nakor in PotB, and a few pages after he'd evaded those soldiers, we got a huge paragraph starting with
Spoiler: show
"Nakor the Isalani could be considered an eccentric man by some, but such was the nature of the burden he had to bear. The Codex of Wodar Hospur in his possession - a remnant of Sarig, the lost God of Knowledge - provided him with unexpected insights at times but took his sanity in return - a side effect Nakor had grown bored with after the first two centuries of his life, but a pervading one nonetheless. And though this particular quality was one he was unaware of, there was a fragment of Banath, the Trickster God, inside him - something speculated on, but never in seriousness, by the defeated victims of his gambling exploits. ..."
- Demonwar and Wrath of a Mad God spoilers

...Yeah. Not so much of a mystery, and in every bit analogous to Sandreena's introduction in RaDL.

Counter-example of a characterisation done right: Tinuva from Honoured Enemy. In his first appearance, he's An Elf Scout. We get glimpses of his personality from his lack of deference to Dennis, and his calm respect to the Tsurani soldiers. When we do finally start to learn his story, it's from the POV of his archrival as he's forcibly reminded of their history together and stops to dwell on it, even drawing a lampshade remark from another character. It's not even told from Tinuva's POV, leaving us still blind to his half of the story. And the time it's actually Tinuva who goes into reminiscing mode, the scene is pointedly not from his POV, but rather from Gregory's who's even more in the dark than the reader still is. This is an example of good characterisation, and keeping the reader interested in the character.

Sheesh. I wrote a lot more than I planned to, but if this IS the review thread... :D
« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 08:20:17 PM by Liallan »
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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2010, 05:31:48 PM »

Wow, it never crossed my mind that Meechan and Kulgan were a couple. I read it for the first time when I was 12-13 and maybe 1 or 2 more times since then (I'm 22 now) and did not notice this. I guess Feist succeeded in what he set out to do :P and did not make a big deal out of it like Rowling did with Dumbledore.

PS: what happened to the It took me a while to find this place again:P
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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2010, 01:37:58 AM »

I remember thinking there was some odd about Meecheem and Kulgan's relationship. I wonder who was the butch. Makes sense now that i know.

What is it with old mentor wizards being gay? And Dumbledore being gay was just stupid. Had no baring on the story. "Ewww, I'm JK Rowling, the limelight has gone away from me because I finished those silly Potter books. How can I get people to notice me again...wait, I've got....Hello, media? Yes, I'm JK Rowling, and I wanted to tell you that Dumbledore is gay. Please send me more money and lavish me with attention."


As for what's been going on with the hall, Arujo...
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Re: Magician Re-Read Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2010, 06:55:05 AM »

I too remember something odd in their relationship, but ignored my own subtle subconscious hints that they may be gay as ridiculous.  I was satisfied with their relationship the way it was explained.  Can't say I like knowing the truth, either.  This news is bad timing and I'm sitting here wanting to just unload but we would definitely have a rant on our hands so I'll just shut up.    :irritated:

Okay.  Wow, what a thread.  One of the better ones I've taken the time to peruse because of all the detailed input those who posted went into.  Those types of posts are the foundation of what got this site started.  Being able to dissect your reading experience with other like minded enthusiasts who sometimes throw a different spin on the same facts and illicit great conversation.  Unfortunately, a lot of the references concerning later Feist works mean nothing to me since I had and have no interest in reading them.  Said works could probably be one of the reasons this site has faded.  Too much discontent and controversy. 

I think Great One was on the right track with this one.  Well done, bro.  I'm not going to try to quote everyone so I'll just piece-meal.  Specifically, it was mentioned learning the characters through detailed information, i.e., Pug in the storm, losing the bag, being found, etc.  GO asked do you remember what you were thinking when you read such and such?  All of that and more are the foundation of why I love those early books. 

I first read them in middle school and high school in the early-mid '80s.  I can hear songs on the radio now, from that era, that take me to specific parts of those books....same with LoTR.  When I read them now, I don't read them as an adult I don't think, but get taken back to that time when I first experienced them and I LIKE going there.  Maybe some of you know what I mean and am trying to say.  They are an escape for me and I like that.  I hope this revelation doesn't ruin that for me. 

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