MURDER IN LAMUT
by Raymond E. Feist & Joel Rosenberg
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Readers who pick up Joel Rosenberg and Raymond Feist’s collaborative novel Murder in LaMut expecting either the epic fantasy of Feist’s Magician or the swashbuckling adventure of Rosenberg’s Not Exactly the Three Musketeers will find themselves disappointed. Despite being set in Midkemia shortly after the events of Magician, the book barely touches on the Riftwar, instead focusing on the city of LaMut as it is isolated from the rest of the world by a blizzard.
The authors spend the majority of the novel setting the scene, introducing the characters, and, almost incidentally, providing a variety of motives for different possible murders. Once the actual murder occurs, they shift gears to make the novel a murder mystery, although not a typical one, which is what sets Murder in LaMut apart from so many other mysteries.
One of the more interesting parts of Murder in LaMut is that in a world which has no tradition of investigation, the three main characters must create the techniques so familiar in our own world via mysteries and television shows. In some ways, the creation of investigative methodology is a little strange since the readers have a better idea of what the three characters must do. The fact that Feist and Rosenberg have them follow standard practices rather than create new techniques is something of a letdown.
The authors provide an interesting look at the difference between justice and punishment in the denouement. While not all aspects of their revelations are entirely satisfying, the authors do manage to pull of a good mystery with enough plot twists to satisfy and, at the same time, raise some philosophical questions concerning crime and punishment.
As a shared world experiment, Murder in LaMut is intriguing. Set in Feist’s popular Riftwar world, the three protagonists are taken entirely from Joel Rosenberg’s Guardians of the Flame series, although there is no reference to their exploits in that world, or even their origins beyond Feist’s comments in the acknowledgements. While the majority of readers will probably pick up the book because of its setting, it may well introduce them to Rosenberg’s writings as readers track down the other adventures of Pirojil, Durine and Kethol in the above mentioned Rosenberg novel or its sequels, Not Quite Scaramouche and Not Really the Prisoner of Zenda.
While it would have been nice to see more of Feist’s world and the background which he created in Magician and subsequent books, the fact they those details don’t impinge directly on the action in LaMut means that such intrusions would have been obvious as winks by the authors and would have worked only to drop the reader out of the narrative.
On a personal level, one of the main characters in Murder in LaMut is named Steven Argent, whose name could be translated as Steven Silver. However, I checked with one of the authors and was assured that the character was not named for me, but rather for another popular author.
Murder in LaMut is neither a “Riftwar” novel nor a “Guardians of the Flame” novel, which works to the novel’s benefit. The two authors have brought together their strengths and creative powers to produce a novel which is reminiscent of both of their styles but which neither could have created in this form without the input of their partner.