With Magician: Master, the Riftwar series becomes a saga
in more than name only. Told with a more confident voice and a sense of
larger perspective, Raymond E. Feist's second novel of the Riftwar imparts
a far greater sense of destiny than Magician: Apprentice
even hinted at. Here is the indication that Feist was on his way to
becoming one of the most recognized in modern fantasy.
The war between the Tsurani and the Midkemians has been dragging on
for four years with neither side gaining ascendancy in the struggle.
The orphaned magician's apprentice Pug, captured by the Tsurani and
whisked with other Midkemian prisoners of war across the Rift, slaves
in a swamp labor camp. Injured in a nearly fatal accident, Pug and the
Midkemian troubador Laurie are taken as slaves into the household of the
Tsurani Lord of the Shinzawai. There they teach one of the lord's sons
their language and how to ride the horses captured from Midkemian armies.
Long past pining for his childhood friend Carline, Pug falls in love
with Katala, also a slave in the lord's household.
Pug has barely had time to settle into the new routine of his life
when a Great One, as Tsurani magicians are called, recognizes the latent
potential for magic in the young Midkemian. Pug is whisked away from
Katala to begin the studies that will end either in his mastery of Tsurani
magic or in his death. He loses all memories of his identity and life
while under the bizarre tutelage of the Great Ones, and emerges several
years later as Milamber, a magician neither wholly Tsurani nor Midkemian
but possessor of the power of both worlds.
While Pug struggles with his conflicting loyalties, he discovers that
the Shinzawai lord plots for peace between the two worlds joined by the
Rift. Laurie and one of the Shinzawai's sons will make a daring journey
to convince a mad king to negotiate peace with the otherworlders, putting
their lives in great jeopardy. Tomas, Pug's old childhood friend become
a supernaturally mighty warrior, struggles to maintain his humanity as
the ancient Valheru Ashen-Shugar fights for control of Tomas' mind and
soul. The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance, while the elves try
to contain the emerging Valheru in Tomas, and as political maneuvering
in the halls of power on both worlds threatens to destroy the fragile
hope of an end to the Riftwar.
Magician: Master makes a deeper impression than the novel
it follows. Arguably the character introductions of Magician:
Apprentice were necessary to make the second Riftwar installment
possible. Whatever the case, Feist proves that his level of mastery improves
with practice. Don't stop at the Apprentice level; this
novel exceeds by bounds the promise of the first. If Feist's storytelling
improves this much with each successive book, he will have achieved perfection
by the true end of the Riftwar.