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Is anyone really impressed by Raymond Feist? (1 Viewer)

A_MacLaren

Senior Member
After a few months of being badgered by one of my friends, I sat down and read Magician by Raymond Feist.
It sucked.
Really, how is it possible that such a bloody mediocre book became so popular? Please tell me, my mind is boggling.
 

nae411

Forum Hottie
Senior Member
reply

I have never even heard of it, but now that you say it is so awful, I don't know if I want to.

Nae
 

tcaptain

Member
I don't see what sucked about it, I've read most of the series and find its a good story. Not my favorite but I like it enough to have re-read it a few times.
 

asdar

Senior Member
I was impressed with Feist in Magician Apprentice. I always look for the character development and I thought he did a great job with Pug and Tomas.

I get sick of books that are all about instant wars and pure good and evil and this was a book that was all about the development of Pug the magician and I thought that was great.

The secret for my liking it was in the details. The way he portrayed the whole area around the keep and the keep itself was great. I loved the whole boar incident and how he became an apprentice. Even further I liked the whole magic concept in Apprentice, the rules and abilities balanced well to make the system seem real and a valid part of the world.

I hated what Feist did in the last book, and the second half of the second. All that sweet development and wonderful back story and it just felt as if it was all sliding away into the cliche super power magic fantasy book.

I think Feist has a way of writing politics and action scenes that grab the attention of the reader. I'd give him good points for that. My one huge complaint about him is his over dependence on magic to solve problems. If a magician can crush armies and there are many magicians then why have armies.
 

Aubrey

Senior Member
I've read a few books by Raymond E. Feist. I could never really get into much of anything that he has written. I like a book that 'grabs' the reader or presents a challenge. Yes, it was a challenge to read those books, but not the kind I was looking for.

--Wol
 

MiloDaePesdan

Senior Member
Raymond... plenty of description in his books. Too much description?
You could say that theres so much of it that it's flooded out the action and parts of the plot. :wink:
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
I'd disagree entirely with that last comment. I think Feist's books are very plot based, and light on description. He writes a good pace, and does spend time writing good fight sequences e.g. the fight at the end of Darkness at Sethanon, between Arutha and Murmandamus.

I thought Magician was an extraordinary book, full of depth of character and political tension. In the end there was a little of "My magician can beat up your magician" but I think this might be generic, rather than clumsy plotwise.

However I think, reading Feist latest stuff, that he's falling a bit in quality. The real value of Fesit has been the depth of Midkemia - the world in which his books are based. But I think in Talon of the Silver Hawk and King of Foxes that was almost the only value, which was disappointing.
 

A_MacLaren

Senior Member
I've only read Magician and Talon of the Silver Hawk, and I have to say that Talon is a lot better than Magician. Magician is really quite amateurish. Somebody told me he wrote it when he was fifteen, and it shows.
His world is medieval England, with a touch of all-American goodness thrown in to make me want to vomit. The relationship between Pug, Tomas and Roland was stupid and too drawn-out. They fight, they make up, they never fight again. Simplistic and dull.
Talon of the Silver Hawk, while it is by no means brilliant, is at least a competently-written book. An experienced writer delivering a solid effort.
I might also add that the bad guys in Magician are very clearly Japanese (this seems to be a trend in eighties/nineties popular male fantasy writers; think Eddings' Murgos, which are clearly Mongolian, and Gemmel's Nadir). Although some of you might argue that the Tsurani are fully developed, they're still shown as the aggressor and irrationaly so.
Feist's politics are simplistic at best. The plot isn't complex, the characters aren't good, and no matter what anyone says he doesn't hold a candle to Tolkien.
Generic, bland, and overly simple.
 

Aubrey

Senior Member
Just curious: Did Raymond E. Feist also write "Prince of the Blood"?--I have read that book and if that was by him, it wasn't too bad.
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
A_MacLaren said:
I've only read Magician and Talon of the Silver Hawk, and I have to say that Talon is a lot better than Magician. Magician is really quite amateurish. Somebody told me he wrote it when he was fifteen, and it shows.
That's not true. He began gaming in the world of Midkemia when he was fifteen. He didn't write Magician until he was into his twenties.

I might also add that the bad guys in Magician are very clearly Japanese (this seems to be a trend in eighties/nineties popular male fantasy writers; think Eddings' Murgos, which are clearly Mongolian, and Gemmel's Nadir). Although some of you might argue that the Tsurani are fully developed, they're still shown as the aggressor and irrationaly so.

Feist has indicated quite willingly that the Tsurani culture is Korean. Their aggression isn't irrational, and is in fact outlined quite clearly in Magician, and in the three books Feist wrote with Janny Wurts.

no matter what anyone says he doesn't hold a candle to Tolkien.

I agree absolutely. But let's not canonise Tolkein. While his world building was extraordinary, and he did almost create the genre singlehandedly, he was in fact, not a gifted writer - technically - and the LOTR books were poorly put together.

And Aubrey, yes Feist wrote Prince of the Blood, which is by no means his best work. To me if felt thrown together quickly. Look for the Serpentwar books, starting with Shadow of a Dark Queen. These were quite good.
 

A_MacLaren

Senior Member
Oh, come on. First of all, who writes a fantasy series set in an RPG world? That's an invitation to generic, dull mediocrity.
I'll admit I haven't read the Janny Wurts collaboration books, but that's because I hate Janny Wurts. But in magician they aren't really given any credit for being anything other than the 'evil' culture. They promote slavery. They have gladitorial bouts. The only 'good' Tsurani are those that like the Midkemians.
Speaking of Crydee, it is the least believable world I've ever come across. Everbody is good and tolerant, nobody wants war, everything is lovely. There are some complete bastards over in the East, but that's okay, because we want someone for the lovely Westerners to (regretfully) fight against.
Speaking of which, why are all the good people Westerners. Admittedly, lots of people do this (inlcuding Tolkien), but it's a worrying trend.
I'm not trying to canonise Tolkien, but you have to give him a degree of respect for his orginality. As I've said elsewhere, his genius isn't in creating these things, but given them a new spin, a hook, something to make them fresh and new again.
And let's not throw the word 'technically' around. It's a cop out-word. There's no 'technically' when you're judging someone's writing. To my ear and mind, Tolkien wrote brilliantly. Whether or not he obeyed conventions is completely irrelevant. You don't have to play by the rules to be good, and Tolkien is good. Using the word 'technically' just means you've got no strong point here.
Admittedly, some of Tolkien's structure makes the books feel disjointed. But that's not the point I was arguing. I was saying that some people credit Feist for being 'the biggest creative genius since Tolkien', when in fact he's just copying him. He writes about Dwarves, Elves, Men and a race called the Valheru (Valar, anyone) and people think he's doing something new. Well, he's not. He's writing bland, poor, shoddy books and getting away with it, and it's not right, dammit!
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
Whoa. There are some strong opinions there for this early in the morning.

Look, I'm not saying Feist is a great writer, because at the end of the day, he isn't. I think his books are good, and the overreaching story is strong, even if it is mired in the genre a little, but maybe that's to be expected. But he's not great be any standards.

He wrote about the RPG world he and some friends created, but another way of putting it was that he and some friends created a world for him to write about, and they played games in it to explore it thoroughly. That is what D&D has done with Tolkein. There's nothing wrong with that, and in fact it adds some depth to the books that wouldn't be there otherwise.

And when I said Tolkein wasn't, technically, a good writer, it wasn't because I don't have a strong point, it's because I was trying to be polite. What I should have said was "I don't think Tolkein was a good writer". I think he's clumsy, and prone to self indulgence. By today's standard LOTR would never be published in it's current form. There a several parts to the story that are just boring, and unnecessary.

That's not to say I don't respect him, because I do. I think the man was a genius, and he created modern fantasy, a genre I absolutely love reading. He invented an entire language! The man was a God. He just wasn't a very good writer.

But you're right, we're talking about Feist here. It just seems to be that you haven't read Magician recently, and you didn't read it deeply when you did, because a lot of the points you're making are a little shallow, and unrealistic.

The Janny Wurts books, three in all, fully explained the Tsurani. It took three books to do that effectively. Exactly how much time did you expect Feist to spend on that in Magician? You say there aren't any 'evil' people in Midkemia (not Crydee, which is a coastal settlement, not the entire world). What you mean is that Magician followed the plights of likeable characters who were all fighting on the same side because their world was being invaded by a warlike race they'd never encountered before and were having trouble pushing back. When did you expect Feist to segue away from this story to start exploring the less likeable characters? I'll tell you when, in the next book - Silverthorn.

Now, I'm not saying you're wrong. I think people got very excited when Magican was published. I also think it did generate a lot of growth in the industry, but at the end of the day, it certainly appears to be lacking a little by today's standards. It was written over 20 years ago. It's not great, but it is good. Feist isn't a great writer, but he's good at what he does.
 

A_MacLaren

Senior Member
I finished reading Magician only a couple of weeks ago. If I was harsh when criticising you for using 'technically', I apologise. I just don't like the word. It makes an excuse for a badly-made point, I think. If you don't like Tolkien, fine.
I find it unrealistic that everyone on the same side is so wonderful. Nobody likes war, nobody is aggressive. Nobody is ruthless. I don't think it's too much to ask for a few little flaws in a character. Instead of real characters with problems and darker sides to their personalities, we get a few paragons of virtue (Pug, Roland, Arutha) and a few loveable vagabonds (Amos Trask, Jimmy the Hand).
The problem is that Feists world seems to be divided into good guys on one side, bad guys on the other. Nobody compromises their morals, nobody betrays anybody. Nobody is tempted to run from battle, nobody is temped to sell out their friends.
What are the odds of all the likeable people in the world fighting on one side. There are a few traitorous scoundrels (Guy), but that's all they are; their bad qualities define their whole character. Guy's just a bastard who wants to usurp the throne of Krondor. He's never shown to be doing it for any other reason, to have personal motivations.
Perhaps I wouldn't have minded these shortcomings if Magician had been a shorter book. But Feist had ample space to include some of the more interesting character conflicts, and he didn't. He chose to spend all his time writing about the same group of characters, and they act the same way all the time. There's no development.
 

tcaptain

Member
A_MacLaren said:
The problem is that Feists world seems to be divided into good guys on one side, bad guys on the other. Nobody compromises their morals, nobody betrays anybody. Nobody is tempted to run from battle, nobody is temped to sell out their friends.
What are the odds of all the likeable people in the world fighting on one side. There are a few traitorous scoundrels (Guy), but that's all they are; their bad qualities define their whole character. Guy's just a bastard who wants to usurp the throne of Krondor. He's never shown to be doing it for any other reason, to have personal motivations.
....There's no development.

Its interesting you mention Guy, who is a largely absent bad guy in Magician. In later books (Darkness at Sethanon) his character comes back and is developped more. Although I do not think you'd like it because he ends up being a good guy :) But then again, the Tsurani end up good too so...
 

asdar

Senior Member
I think your critique isn't accurate at all to the books.

Feist showed a world in Magician that was fairly believable. If it was based on old England so what. That's a legitimate setting. Where did you get anything American in there?

You think Feist was all good or bad but you liked Tolkein? Hello, Tolkein was the king of evil vs. good. Tolkein never killed anyone, Boromir is it and if you re-read that he really never gets likable or developed in the book. Feist has their home overrun and they're constantly fighting for their life and home. He doesn't show Guy as evil but rather as someone that wants the throne.

Sauron was evil and wanted to conquer the world for umm evil.

There was plenty of depth and intrigue in the books, there were histories and myths that the characters believed and a whole political structure that was well defined. Overall the world they lived in was very well defined and the characters were well developed. Not everything was all peachy keen like you are portraying it and most people and places want peace.

Unlike Tolkein who Does suffer from all of the complaints you have about Feists worlds he does try to tie it all together in a believable way. If he uses existing models to make it seem more realistic then so be it. That's his style and you almost can't argue that something that is real is unbelievable in a story.
 

Creative_Insanity

Senior Member
I just read Talon of the Silver Hawk and yes, I have to agree, it sucked. The dialogue was completely unnatural, the story was cliche to say the least, the events were contrived, the romances was silly, and the writing was bland. Hell, I'm not even the best writer but that book just made me want to take it to pieces and edit it!
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
Creative_Insanity said:
I just read Talon of the Silver Hawk and yes, I have to agree, it sucked. The dialogue was completely unnatural, the story was cliche to say the least, the events were contrived, the romances was silly, and the writing was bland. Hell, I'm not even the best writer but that book just made me want to take it to pieces and edit it!

I agree, and King of Foxes wasn't much better. Feist has recently become divorced, or so I believe, and has once again started writing for financial gain. This means publication deadlines become really important, and I think Talon suffers from this anxiety. He had to finish it by a specific date in order to get the appropriate publication date (right before fathers day, or christmas, or something similar). The last chapter, when Nakor tells Talon the story of the Scorpian and the Frog . . . it just feels like it was written in an afternoon, and never edited.
 

Creative_Insanity

Senior Member
I don't know.. the whole book was chalk full of stuff I wanted to change. It just annoyed me from start to finish. It shocks me that so many people rave about it. I don't see what's so special. In fact, that's what makes it so bad. It's just bland, un-special, and mediocre all around!
 

asdar

Senior Member
Well, I have to agree about Talon of the Silver Hawk, I thought the same thing.

It's not even worth a short story. I wrote a complaint in another thread about series that just get pumped for money and I think that's what he's done with his last 4 or 5 books on Midkemia.

But I liked the Magician series up until Pug became the super mage.
 

Talia_Brie

Senior Member
Creative_Insanity said:
I don't know.. the whole book was chalk full of stuff I wanted to change. It just annoyed me from start to finish. It shocks me that so many people rave about it. I don't see what's so special. In fact, that's what makes it so bad. It's just bland, un-special, and mediocre all around!

Feist built up a huge rep after the Empire books with Janny Wurts, but I don't think anything he's produced since has stood up to that level of quality.

People still rave about him because it's him, and they all remember Magician. Maybe someone needs to get in his face and let him know he's dropping off and needs to start respecting his readers again.
 

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