Title: Magician: Apprentice
Series: The Riftwar Saga #1
Author(s): Raymond E. Feist
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Original Release Date: October 1st 1982
Raymond E. Feist is known for creating the Riftwar Cycle and with Magician: Apprentice, he sets the foundation to one of the most popular universes ever created in fantasy. It is hard to go around today not knowing what he has accomplished by writing up the story of a boy who became a magician. Having finally the opportunity to read this classic, I have to say: I am a fan.
In Magician: Apprentice, the orphan Pug is taken under the wings of the one and only master magician Kulgan during the ceremony of the Choosing. As he learns the ropes to becoming a magician, he soon begins to question his ability to cast spells in the ways he was thought throughout his apprenticeship. However, an incident unlocks his hidden potential and reveals that Pug’s methods are far different than anything Kulgan has ever heard of. With this newfound hope, Pug slowly seeks to understand the mechanics of wizardry. However, his fate coincides with the beginning of the Riftwar when strange portals open up and an age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos commence.
I came into this book with high expectations. I saw it as one of those classics that helped shape the genre and set the example to follow in regards to stories set in the same universe. I will say that upon finishing the first book in The Riftwar Saga, I do not think it is a series that is made for everyone. It is a special gem in fantasy that revels in its simplicity while delivering complexity. Everything it presents is authentic and succeeds in capturing the essence of a perfect fantasy story.
I was personally hooked from the moment I cracked open this book and that’s because of Raymond E. Feist’s writing style. It transported me to my childhood and that’s not even a joke. I felt like a kid being told one of those epic stories with magicians, kings, princesses, elves, dwarfs and dragons. The author marvelously unravels his story with a style that made it all feel like a prophecy, a tale you would tell in all its glory. The narration was so well-done that it had a flow that mesmerized me.
The story is also dialogue-heavy with a lot of back and forth between various characters, but everything was done impeccably. Through these interactions, we do not only get brilliant character development, but also a lot of world development. With Pug sizzling with questions and always in company with characters with knowledge, readers get a vivid, clean and colourful description of the universe that Raymond E. Feist develops. It doesn’t have a flowery prose, and succeeds in telling the story with pure clarity.
The pacing might not suit everyone, but somehow I was incredibly immersed in the narrative that there really never was a moment that pinged me as boring or irrelevant. In all honesty, even the scenes that focus on every day problems simply added more realism to the universe that was being built. It made me connect to Pug with much more ease and it contributed to the whole nostalgic feeling. While reading, I had the whole book play as an animated movie—a very long movie—with each chapter being cleverly constructed.
The action is also limited but spread evenly throughout the story. If you expect to find action scenes with huge explosions and lots of gore, I would look elsewhere. There’s even a brilliantly developed romance in this story and it actually has a purpose to Pug’s development. But the best dynamic in this book is the bromance. As if it wasn’t enough that our protagonist is a teenager, his tight bond with his buddy Tomas is brilliant! Whether its the romance or the bromance, these relationships highlight Pug’s values for friendship, honesty and everything that is virtue in life.
The moment the story presents the new potential threat to Midkemia, I was deeply invested in this series. It added a whole layer of complexity to the universe instead of feeling far-fetched and off the mark.
The writing style, the characters, the world-building and the universe were all compelling. This isn’t the typical fantasy stories you find nowadays. It is however rare and seldom explored by authors. I think it is a challenge to be simple nowadays, but I am glad that there are plenty of stories left within this universe to explore. Magician: Apprentice is simply one story that all fans of fantasy should try out for themselves.
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★
Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Magician: Apprentice?
Share your thoughts with me!
Till next time,