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Wrath of a Mad God
Raymond E. Feist
Harper Voyager, 516 pages

Wrath of a Mad God
Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist has produced some remarkable novels. Most fall into his Riftwar Saga, consisting of Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, and A Darkness at Sethanon, along with his Midkemia series consisting of Prince of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer, plus The Serpentwar Saga, consisting of Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, and Shards of a Broken Crown. He developed the basis for the award-winning game, Betrayal at Krondor.

Raymond E. Feist Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Into A Dark Realm
SF Site Review: Flight of the Nighthawks
SF Site Review: King of Foxes
SF Site Review: Talon of the Silver Hawk
SF Site Review: Exile's Return
SF Site Review: Prince of the Blood
SF Site Review: Murder in LaMut
SF Site Review: Krondor: Tear of the Gods
SF Site Review: Krondor: The Assassins
SF Site Review: Krondor the Betrayal
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Rage of a Demon King
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

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'"How did we become like this?" asked the old trainer.

"Generations of lies and manipulation," said Magnus.'

As everyone who enjoys this genre knows, Raymond E. Feist is among that small band of highly successful authors whose fame and following guarantees sales, regardless of quality. This lack of the need to try has been apparent in recent years, with material that was less than he is capable of producing. However, as the mediocre Conclave of Shadows sequence gave way to the altogether more Feistian Darkwar, things began to look up. Instead of Zorro-style swordsmen as central protagonists, Feist reverted to the formula that began his success, and dusted down the magic. The result was a small renaissance, rekindling past glories, alongside the best enemy that the author has created in twenty years. These were the Dasati; a wholly militaristic alien society, where casual cruelty is seen as the social norm, and any weakness as an abhorrence to be swiftly and fatally terminated. The Dasati made Feist's original Rift enemies, the Tsurani, seem like Girl Guides by comparison. In tandem with this, Feist had at last come up with a really good new character to add to his pantheon, a more than human young man of mystery, named Ralan Bek. But best of all were the wide ranging possibilities offered by this storyline, including the chance to literally take his characters to places were nobody from their realm had ventured before.

Wrath of a Mad God concludes the Darkwar sequence, setting a cracking pace which rarely lets up. When it does, the breather scenes come across as contrived and forced, only there because the author believes his readers need a rest. Whenever action is on the menu, it proceeds in a highly cinematic, often bloodthirsty fashion, ranging from micromanaged individual peril all the way up to an entire world at risk. In some ways, this is the best that Feist has been for a very long time, playing to his strengths and giving his audience what they want to read about. The story is split between adventures on the Dasati home world, a lost contingent of ancient Elves on Midkemia, and the alien invasion of Kelewan. Tomas once again rides his dragon, Pug, wife and son all do serious magic, Nakor plays his usual pivotal roll, and Erik Von Darkmoor is back for a last run. The scope is epic, from page one right up to the last lines, and the various conclusions are mostly satisfying. The one serious exception being the body-stealing necromancer Leso Varen. His participation in this story is painfully lacking, and his final fate was not very satisfying. I'd expected something much smarter and devious. Varen, is not the only casualty, as Feist retires other major players, mostly in suitable ways. Is your favourite still alive? That would be telling. Suffice it to say that scope is left for further adventures. Although, with so many long-running threads tied up here, there is a strong sense of completion.

If Wrath of a Mad God is to be Feist's last hurrah in his world as we know it, he wisely chooses to involve many long established, fan favourite characters, mixed with newcomers who are more than capable of holding their own. The plot is immaculately paced. But, the novel still ends up being less than it could've been. The reason for this is that Feist has a tendency to take liberties and sometimes clumsy shortcuts with his prose. In the past, even the most powerful among his characters had their limitations. Not so in this book, where if a character's progress is being hampered, overwhelming magic is almost always the solution. Having a range of characters that are shown to be unstoppable, on several occasions, does detract somewhat from the dramatic tension. Similarly, the better non-magical characters are often shuffled in and out of scenes, with little or nothing to do other than show their faces. When those characters are as good as Erik Von Darkmoor, and Kaspar of Olasko, this is wasteful. I got the distinct impression that the series was intended to be two or three books longer, but has ended up being trimmed down by editorial diktat. These criticisms aside, Wrath of a Mad God delivers in spades, and I can recommend it as a rollicking, enormously entertaining read.

Copyright © 2008 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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