This is one of my favorite books, part of a trilogy called The Riftwar Saga. Since publishing Magician in 1982, Raymond E. Feist has continued writing and publishing stories set in this world, but the first trilogy is the best. You can find the book Magician in two smaller sections, with the first titled Magician: Apprentice and the second Magician: Master. However, as long as you don’t mind picking up the bigger book, I recommend just reading both together. Feist wrote in the Author’s Preferred edition (which I also own) that this was the first book he ever wrote. I must say, he did a good job. In fact, I would say that he actually got a bit too wordy in later series, and lost some of the focus that his first trilogy had. Magician is followed by Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, both of which I also highly recommend. The second two focus a bit more on a number of the secondary characters in Magician, with the trilogy covering about 12 years of time. Still, Magician is the best if you only want to read one (and the others would make no sense if you started with one of them). The pacing is excellent, the character and world development are well done, and the story itself is tight, and doesn’t wander around (which can be a problem with some fantasy worldbuilding). The world the story is set in is called Midkemia, which is connected to the world of Kelewan by magic. For those who may be hesitant about magical worlds, one thing to understand is that magic is generally treated as a different type of science. Good fantasy always has rules for magic, just like science has. Feist never forgets to stick to the rules he creates for magic, which is the sign of a good fantasy writer. For those who are used to magic in fantasy, know that this is one of the best.
This book gives the story of two young boys who are best friends, coming of age at the beginning of a war. The story follows them as their lives take two completely different paths, while weaving in a wide group of other characters that surround their lives as they change. The story starts with an introduction to Pug and Tomas, begining at the time they are being chosen for their apprenticeships at the age of 14. This also happens to be when a war starts in the Kingdom of the Isles (the country of Pug and Tomas), begun when Tsurani magicians from Kelewan discover a way to bridge the distance between the two worlds. This effort starts a war of conquest by the Tsurani, which takes place throughout the book. I won’t give away much of the plot, and it is easy to look up more details if you wish. What I will say is that this is one of the more complete world-building efforts, and provides a lot of background while still moving the plot along. The books Feist wrote that extend this world take place after the events in this series, so you might want to try some of them out if you enjoy these. However, I felt that Feist has a tendency to get caught up in more and more pacing problems in the other books. Some are fine, but taken as a whole, I’ll just stick with these first three for a recommendation. I will do a separate review on another trilogy set in the same worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan, but they are written with Janny Wurts writing together with Mr. Feist. Ms. Wurts has a very different style of writing (I have read books written solely by her, and they are very different in pace and character development). The combination of styles by Ms. Wurts and Mr. Feist make for a very good story, but one that feels a bit different than The Riftwar Saga. That trilogy happens concurrently with the Magician series, but on the world of Kelewan. They detail the same time that is covered in Magician, but through the eyes of a set of Tsurani characters. If you have ever thought to read fantasy but just haven’t taken the plunge yet, Magician is a good, solid start in the genre.