Magician: Apprentice: A less graphic reminder

The Riftwar  Saga: Magician: Apprentice, Silverthorn, A Darkness at  Sethanonbook review Raymond E. Feist Magician Apprentice Magician MasterMagician: Apprentice by Raymond E. Feist

Raymond E. Feist’s Magician: Apprentice was one of my favorite books in the mid-1980’s — I read it over and over. If I have read this book less than 20 times I would be completely amazed. The wonderful part of re-reading it recently and having 20 years plus of fantasy literature experience is that I can appreciate something sublime.

Pug and Tomas are best friends raised practically as brothers at the Keep of the Duchy of Crydee. Tomas’ parents are in charge of the kitchens and the boys have lived a fairly happy childhood. Pug is an orphan who has lived at the grace of Duke Borric. It’s a wonderfully typical beginning for a fantasy novel.

During the course of the story, Pug is selected as the Apprentice to the court Magician, Kulgan and has a lot of interesting experiences as he learns to harness his gifts. Tomas, the stronger and more charismatic of the two, is selected to be trained as a soldier so he can serve in the palace guard. Both boys have dreams of a future full of promise and excitement.

The plot of Magician: Apprentice centers on the imminent threat of invasion from another world. Naturally, Pug and Tomas are caught up in the momentous events that lead to the crisis of the story. Their experiences give them aspirations for lives far greater than they had even imagined. It is classic coming of age material complete with boyhood infatuations for both boys.

What really continues to set Magician: Apprentice apart from the other clutter in coming-of-age fantasy is the well-rounded cast and the compelling storytelling. I find characters who amuse me, plot themes that inspire and excite me, and above it all there is a constant feeling of curiosity about what is going to happen next.

Feist relies heavily on many of what are now stereotypical elements for a fantasy novel, but back in 1985 this was great stuff. In 2012 after the harsh, violent advent of the likes of Steven EriksonJoe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin, the RIFTWAR saga is a softer, less graphic reminder of a time when fantasy didn’t need blood and guts to entertain, and when the story of normal kids growing up to be heroes was stuff we would all dream about.


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JOHN HULET is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of.

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10 comments

  1. Hi, John,
    You recapture that sense of it being the perfect beginning for a fantasy tale absolutely — I remember hugging the book at the time with sheer enjoyment! Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Oh, thanks for the memory. I LOVED this book as a kid. I’ll have to dig it out and re-read it, and pass it on to my kids.

  3. John Hulet /

    It is a wonderful book and a great start to a wonderful series. My copy of the second book in the series is held together with tape and pages are loose….read it so many times.

  4. I own the book but haven’t yet read it – the reason being that I wanted the ” full” rather than the “cut” version and was not sure (still aren’t) which one I owned. It sounds just perfect, the sort of fantasy I love and reminds me of why I started reading the genre in the first place. Not at all a fan of the violent, charmless fare penned by the three you mention and I wish they still wrote them like this…

  5. Rachel… My sentiments exactly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  6. I loved this too, when I read it sometime in the early ’90s. I gave a copy to my son.

  7. I always wanted to go back and reread this (especially as it’s so many more books than those first two or three). Are you planning on continuing?

  8. This is one of the best reviews i’ve seen!That last paragraph! Love Feist’s books so so much! 3-4 books left to finish all of them! ^.^ When i need something good to read i will just go back to his books :)
    I’m totally sharing the review with my readers since i haven’t written one! :D

  9. Brad Hawley /

    Not having read many fantasy novels growing up, I’m discovering for the first time all these wonderful books that are discussed on fanlit as core fantasy novels. I’ve got a copy of this novel somewhere, but haven’t heard about the shorter and longer versions. Will somebody explain and tell me which one to read? Perhaps the correct one is available for the Kindle?

    At the moment, I’m reading Susan Cooper’s Over Sea Under Stone, apparently another fantasy classic I missed.

    I’m sad that I didn’t read these when I was younger, but at least I can know that I’m reading the best of the best in my 40s thanks to al these great reviews!

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