Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Saga is a stalwart of Epic Fantasy, a now 30 book-long odyssey that began with Magician, way back in 1982. I read Magician about ten years ago — long after I had already immersed myself in all kinds of Epic Fantasy, both classic and modern, heroic and grimdark — and was quite taken with its worldbuilding, its intriguing cross-dimensional societies, and its unlikely hero, the (of course) secretly powerful country lad, Pug. I read the next seven books in the series in pretty quick succession, but then I just… kind of forgot the series existed, I guess. I certainly never cared enough to seek the rest of it out.
Then about five years ago I found a huge stash of Feist books for sale at a school book fair for just $1 each, and I bought every one of them. I’ve been slowly rereading the initial eight ever since, and today I finally hit a new one, which also happens to be the beginning of a new trilogy within the Riftwar universe.
It’s… not as good as the earlier ones. But it’s sufficiently Fantasy-ish to satisfy my craving for same, and there are enough cameos from earlier installments to keep the story within the familiar landscape. Even if everyone is ruthless as hell.
Our tale begins in a small town overseen by an erratic but generally honourable lord, except that his illegitimate son, blacksmith apprentice Erik, lives there, much hated by the lord’s wife and heirs. When the eldest lordling assaults Erik’s lady love, Erik and his friend Roo — son of a merchant, and kind of a creep — kill him, and are soon sentenced to death.
But they don’t die! Instead, they are seconded into an elite commando regiment and sent into enemy lands to track the advance of the dark queen of the title (and of whom we know from earlier titles in the series). That part of the book is better, and Erik’s instinctive horse sense, which almost amounts to animal magic, makes him an engaging hero, even when he is under the sway of the typical break-them-down-to-build-them-up asshole army sergeant type, whom I hate with a burning passion.
In all, it’s not a bad book, and I am intrigued enough with this set up that I am prepared to go further with the series, now that I have recalled its existence. I just hope there’s less of the Falsely Accused nonsense in the next one, because I hate that.
TBR DAY 150: Shadow of a Dark Queen (Serpentwar Saga #1) by Raymond E. Feist
TIME ON THE TBR: 15 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.