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Serpentwar Saga
Raymond E. Feist
Avon Books
Volume 1 Shadow of a Dark Queen
Volume 2 Rise of a Merchant Prince
Volume 3 Rage of Demon King
Volume 4 Shards of a Broken Crown

Shadow of a Dark Queen
Rise of a Merchant Prince Rise of a Merchant Prince Excerpt
Rage of a Demon King Rage of a Demon King Excerpt
Shards of a Broken Crown Shards of a Broken Crown Excerpt
Raymond E. Feist
Raymond E. Feist has produced some remarkable novels. Most fall into his Riftwar Saga along with his Prince of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer plus The Serpentwar Saga. He developed the basis for the award-winning game, Betrayal at Krondor.

Raymond E. Feist Website
ISFDB Bibliography
Earlier SF Site Review: Serpentwar Saga
SF Site Review: Rage of a Demon King
SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown
Another SF Site Review: Shards of a Broken Crown
Return to Krondor (computer game) FAQ
Betrayal at Krondor (computer game) FAQ
download Betrayal at Krondor

Past Feature Reviews
A series review by Wayne MacLaurin
Updated from the May 1997 mid-series review.

With the release of Shards of a Broken Crown, Raymond Feist has completed his second major series.

The Serpentwar Saga is set in Feist's world of Midkemia. The first trilogy (done in four paperbacks), The Riftwar Saga, introduced us to some memorable characters (Pug, Thomas, Jimmy the Hand, Arutha) and to the world of Midkemia. After the Riftwar Saga, Feist wrote two loosely-connected novels (Princes of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer) that dealt with the children of the heroes of the first books. The Serpentwar Saga picks up after that and carries on a similar plot but introduces several new characters, not least of whom are Roo Avery and Erik Von Darkmoor.

While Magician (first book in the Riftwar Saga) was a pretty predicable novel with fairly standard characters (two young boys grow up to be the greatest warrior and the greatest magician in the world), Feist's writing has improved dramatically over the years.

Shadow of a Dark Queen introduces a much more complex theme with several major plot elements. All of them run independently yet are constantly tying themselves together in a way that keeps the reader enthralled. Roo and Erik are two young boys thrust into adventure with the unfortunate murder of a noble (Erik's half-brother, the Baron of Darkmoor). This lands the two into a sort of army press gang and starts the story. Meanwhile, a plot of world destruction involving our old friends, the Pantathians, has created a massive army on a far-away continent. Roo and Erik end up as part of an elite military unit whose job it is to infiltrate this army. There, they intend to discover what the enemy is doing and to try and prevent an attack on the Kingdom.

Of course, the plot is much more complex and involves a bunch of hungry demons, two lost magicians, a really weird place called The Hall and other marvelous twists.

Rise of a Merchant Prince continues the story. While we do see a fair bit more of Erik and the plots of the sinister Emerald Queen (along with assorted demons and the Pantathians), the novel spends most of its time with Roo and his rise from being a newly pardoned convict to a major player in Krondor's merchant class. A radical departure from standard fantasy fare, Rise of a Merchant Prince, was among the best novels I read that year. Feist's characters and storytelling are simply wonderful.

Rage of a Demon King deals primarily the invasion by the Emerald Queen's army. Once again, Roo and Erik are the main characters. However, I think Erik gets the nod for more-main character this time around. Feist also takes the opportunity to literally re-introduce us to many of his characters from the other books (including Pug, Macros, Thomas, and Jimmy the Hand). Everybody gets in on the action as the invaders run amok in the Western Kingdom.

Shards of a Broken Kingdom completes the saga. The Western Kingdom is a shambles: Krondor lies in ruins; a foreign warlord rules much of the former kingdom; the Keshian Empire is eyeing the southern provinces hungrily; and Prince Patrick, a young and inexperienced ruler, is desperate to recover his realm. It's a tale that draws all the loose ends from the first three books into a solid ending. Several mysteries are finally solved and Feist takes the opportunity to weave a few new stories into the fabric that is Midkemia. Roo and Eric share the spotlight with Jimmy and Dash, Pug and Thomas as the plot reaches its climax and the saga closes.

As a series, the Serpentwar Saga is fabulous. It meets all three of my criteria of greatness: complex plot, great characters, and an overwhelming desire to be re-read. It is also fun to while away the hours lost in the complexity and the world of these people. That just adds a little icing to the cake. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the saga is how Feist starts out with a simple plot, the evil Emerald Queen is trying to take over the world, and slowly sculpts the story into something totally different. Having re-read them all at once, I was amazed at how well they do fit together and how crucial each aspect of four novels was to the overall tale. Feist does turn several long-held truths of his Midkemia world completely around. But, like the plot itself, the changes really don't alter the results, only the understanding of how events have come about.

Copyright © 1998 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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