Book one of the Darkwar trilogy, which I plan to read all of this year, just not in a row. I’ve found in the last few years that I need the smorgasbord of my reading to have a lot of variety in it. Too much of one thing, no matter how good it is, can get, if not boring, then temporarily stale. And this start to a new trilogy isn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped, so we’re not exactly starting in a great spot.
I started this story with the anticipation of visiting some favourite characters I hadn’t spent time with in years. I got a bit of that, but not as much as I’d hoped. Not nearly as much.
This is a strange book with a lot of shorter story arcs, some introducing new characters who will probably become important later in this trilogy. But those story arcs are only loosely held together. I felt all the way through that this was only barely a complete story on its own. It reads a lot more like set up for the book that comes next and reminds us of all that has gone before. There are actually a lot of references to previous stories, maybe too many.
Add to the weakness of the overall plot, there were significant moments, especially near the climax of the novel, where I Mr. Feist was deliberately hiding things from me. Well, not just me, but any reader. Now, an author is supposed to hide things from the reader, building the plot, building suspense, building anticipation. This is good storytelling. Things should be hinted at, happen off screen, or be misrepresented through the eyes of the characters.
But it’s not good storytelling to have one character tell another character something without actually telling them. “Bob explained his plan to Mary, who thought it was a great idea.” End scene. Or something similar. A very weak storytelling device and one that always leaves me flat. This was how we got from setup of the climax to the climax itself so that everything happening would be a surprise. I spent a little time being irritated with the author.
And the Pug of this story, the master magician, while still having hints of the previous character, is a brooding, slightly full of himself, less edgy version of his original mentor, Macros the Black.
Overall rating: 3 stars. With the scattered storyline, mediocre storytelling, slightly disappointing characters, I still enjoyed it while I read it. Less because of the book itself and more because of the feelings of nostalgia it generated. I read the original Riftwar saga as a teenager repeatedly. It’s sometimes a wonderful thing to catch up with favourite characters, but I wonder if I should just do a Riftwar reread instead.by