Book Club: Magician by Raymond E. Feist

“It’s as if you have discovered a completely new form of magic,” …Kulgan looked down at the boy, who was deeply asleep. Shaking his head in wonder, the magician pulled a cover over the exhausted boy. He put out the lantern that hung on the wall and let himself out. As he walked up the stairs to his own room, he shook his head. “Absolutely incredible.”

                                    -Raymond E. Feist, Magician

Whilst finishing the book today I was pondering how best to go about putting my thoughts on paper. Like Pug, I feel completely exhausted after reading this book. It has taken me a week to read and it has required an enormous amount of attention and thought. Before I continue, let me just say that I have always loved fantasy as a genre. Many of my favourite books or series are adventurous and wondrous tales of other worlds and as a child, I would often daydream about them coming to life. I would not be the only person who has looked for fairies (or dragons) in the garden or tried to use my mind to move objects around the room. Fantasy is the ultimate form of escapism – it allows the reader to get as lost (or found) within a story as they might wish to. It is a genre of conventions and tropes that allow the reader to know what they are getting into. Fantasy is all about the journey, or hero’s quest, as it is commonly known. It is a genre of self-discovery for the protagonist generally has lessons to learn along the way.

Reading Magician was a new experience for me. It is the first ‘true’ high-fantasy novel I have read and there were times when I got a little lost in the complexity of the story. It was overwhelming in parts and I had to back track over passages to make sure there wasn’t anything I had missed. There are so many characters and there is so much going on all at once! I took comfort in the traditional roles of the characters; elves, dwarves, apprentices and mad kings all behave in the same way. They have their own set of conventions within the genre and it provided a platform for me to take the rest of the story in. I was able to rely on them to behave how I assumed they would (Feist still had his own twist to them) and it balanced out the parts that were unknown. The parts I found the most confusing were the histories of Kelewan, the Valheru and Tsurani as well as the political structure of the ‘other’ world. I am extremely impressed with the way Feist has created such an intricate and in depth world. There were times when I was glad for my English degree as I recognised aspects I learned at university. I knew that degree would come in handy one day!

The characters were my favourite parts of the book. Feist’s ability to write dialogue between characters was often intelligent and insightful yet frequently contrasted with fun and playful banter. The characters were true to themselves right through the book and they were believable; I wanted to run along with Pug and Tomas as young lads and sit in with the men in the dark corner of the bar (the Mockers seem like a bit of fun too!). Martin was my favourite – he was the hero of the story. His intelligence and strength showed at times when he might not have been seen as a major player in the game and yet he was always there at the most important times.

Overall, I really enjoyed Magician. It is an epic story and it was a hard read but I am really happy to finally know what all the fuss is about. I feel like I am a better reader with a greater understanding of fantasy as a genre!

The next book will be The White Queen by Philippa Gregory. We will now be discussing this book from October 6th. I am having trouble choosing between The Long Song by Andrea Levy or We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver for the following book. Which would you choose?

Over to you – what are your thoughts on Magician? There are many people who are passionate about this book… are you one of them?

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