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Prince of the Blood
Raymond E. Feist
Bantam Spectra, 357 pages

Prince of the Blood
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: 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 Chris Przybyszewski

Prince of the Blood was Raymond E. Feist's blockbuster set in the Kingdom of the Isles. The tale was one of coming of age, of court intrigue, of betrayal, and of faith in those friends one finds along the way.

The tale seemed to recapture that magic of the Riftwar series that sealed the author's fame. Feist has only rewritten two of his 21 novels, his debut Magician: Apprentice, and now Prince.

In his afterword, he says that "Prince of the Blood was, to me, my least satisfying work." According to Feist, the original version did not spend enough time on the interior lives of the two protagonists, the twins Borrick and Erland. Feist wanted to bolster their inner monologues so that the reader could get to know the both in a more intimate way.

Borrick, as the reader of the first version knows, was fated to become ruler since his uncle King Lyam had no heirs and since his own father, Prince Arutha, did not want the crown. However, the years since the Riftwar and those events that followed them have been good for Midkemia. The younger of the people do not remember the wars and the death that the elders understood as a part of life. The twins were -- how shall I say -- useless.

Their interests in brawling, womanizing, and drinking outweighed their interest in ruling. To bring the boys to speed on all things governing, Arutha sent them on a diplomatic mission to Midkemia's neighbor to the North, Kesh. Kesh and its Empress were celebrating its Jubilee, and the royal pair could do much to solidify relations between the two countries.

Feist's second goal of the rewrite was to change the ending. "The problem was it was an action/adventure fantasy that suddenly in the last turns into a Victorian Murder Mystery, one in which 'Sherlock Nakor' reveals who did it." Nakor, of course, is the Islani Monk who has befriended the two princes. Nakor has also turned into one of the more popular of Feist's characters.

The new ending is for those who wish to read this rewrite. Does the new ending add much to the original work? I can't see it. However, if this ending makes the author happy, then other readers may agree.

The phenomenon of a rewrite is a peculiar one, and one that should not happen, in my view. Books should be abandoned at publication, and they should stay abandoned after publication. To go back to a book and to rewrite it is the equivalent of a divorced couple getting remarried.

It doesn't work in many instances. Writers should move to their next work, and readers should move to their next read. Feist says the same in his afterword, and that he has only rewritten two of his extensive bibliography attests to his dislike of revisiting past haunts. Still, if the author needs to rewrite something, why not do it in private? Pen the new book, but then put it in a drawer. Why subject readers to a 'new and improved' version of the book that will cost the money of fans and which will take the attention of publishers away from new writers and new stories?

In terms of value to those readers who once enjoyed the original, Prince of the Blood offers little. The story is still solid and the characters are still vivid. Also, the cover art is striking, and the book will look good on a bookshelf. However, with an asking price of $25US and $37CDN, one must wonder if it is worth the money. For first-time readers, I recommend the book highly. It's a good read, after all.

If you have read the original version, don't bother. Keep your memory of a good book as it was.

Copyright © 2004 Chris Przybyszewski

Chris learned to read from books of fantasy and science fiction, in that order. And any time he can find a graphic novel that inspires, that's good too.

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