Before I started reviewing books online I loved rereading my favourite SF/Fantasy books. Since I don’t have time to do that anymore, this column is a trip down memory lane, where I’ll rave about books I love to read. And then read again. These aren’t reviews, as I won’t necessarily mention criticisms, they’re my chance to fan girl about books I love and hopefully garner some interest in some older titles.
After The Sword of Shannara trilogy, the Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist, was the series that cemented my love of fantasy. While it uses a lot of what have now become common tropes, this series is well written and fun, with a lot of great battles and characters.
The series starts with an orphan boy, Pug, who's discovered to have magical abilities and is apprenticed to the duke's wizard. But while he struggles to learn magic, beings from another world have opened a rift to his, and plan to invade.
My synopsis barely scratches the surface of what you'll find, and though the story starts with a fairly narrow focus, it opens up to cover numerous cities over two worlds as well as following a small group of influential people in a variety of circumstances. There are elves, forgotten creatures with godlike power lost in the rift, magic, a thieves guild, warfare, politics, and a touch of romance. As the books progress, so does time and new characters come into the books as the older characters increase or lose their powers and influence.
You've got to read them in order to understand everything that's going on, but my favourite book is Silverthorn, mainly because it focuses on Jimmy the Hand, a thief turned squire, whose street smarts and backtalk make him one of my favourite fantasy characters of all time. He's clever and handsome and was my first book crush. ;)
The books have had numerous covers over their publication history, though the ones above are the ones I read and own. I know that Feist re-edited them a few years back but haven't read what he changed/added. I couldn't bear to see books that meant so much to me change.
And while I read several of the books that came after these, I can't really recommend all of them. Some I enjoyed (like the Krondor trilogy and the Empire trilogy that he wrote with Janny Wurts), but none reached the same level of careful planning as the original trilogy (the publisher split Magician into 2 books due to its size, hence why there are 4 covers above). In a few cases, the sequels directly contradicted or rewrote the history told in these books or had deus ex machina endings that ticked me off.
But the original saga is definitely worth reading. And reading again.