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The Riftwar Saga #2

Magician: Master

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He held the fate of two worlds in his hands...

Once he was an orphan called Pug, apprenticed to a sorcerer of the enchanted land of Midkemia.. Then he was captured and enslaved by the Tsurani, a strange, warlike race of invaders from another world.

There, in the exotic Empire of Kelewan, he earned a new name--Milamber. He learned to tame the unnimagined powers that lay withing him. And he took his place in an ancient struggle against an evil Enemy older than time itself.

499 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 1, 1982

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About the author

Raymond E. Feist

302 books8,252 followers
Raymond E. Feist was born Raymond E. Gonzales III, but took his adoptive step-father's surname when his mother remarried Felix E. Feist. He graduated with a B.A. in Communication Arts with Honors in 1977 from the University of California at San Diego. During that year Feist had some ideas for a novel about a boy who would be a magician. He wrote the novel two years later, and it was published in 1982 by Doubleday. Feist currently lives in San Diego with his children, where he collects fine wine, DVDs, and books on a variety of topics of personal interest: wine, biographies, history, and, especially, the history of American Professional Football.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 983 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
June 10, 2021
2.5/5 stars

I feel like nostalgia goggles are needed to enjoy this to the fullest now. I gave this an honest attempt, but I won’t be continuing with the Riftwar Saga.

Magician: Master is the second half of Magician—the first book in the Riftwar Saga series—by Raymond E. Feist. Despite the issues I had with Magician: Apprentice, I thought that book did have plenty of redeeming factors that I thought could be explored further in the second half. And to be fair, before I get to the things that didn’t click with me, there were indeed several things that intrigued me so much. The character’s development of Pug and Tomas—for better or worse—were totally intriguing to me. I also enjoyed that the majority of the story takes place in the Asian-inspired setting of Telewan. Plus, there’s also the memorable scene of Pug’s wrath. So intriguing character’s development and world-building accompanied with a memorable scene, what could go wrong? Well, the outdated executions.

Here’s the thing; the title says it already, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Magician: Master means we will see Pug becoming a master magician. However, what I didn’t expect or know was how disjointed the developments leading to this were. Do you know how long it takes for Pug to become a master? One chapter. Before this chapter occurred, he was still an apprentice at magic, but after this chapter, he immediately became a master. To make things even worse, the changes to Pug and Tomas transform them into a completely different character than what we’ve read in Magician: Apprentice. Nothing about their voices or character resembled what I enjoyed in Magician: Apprentice anymore. I’ve mentioned in my review of Magician: Apprentice that the chapters in these books felt like a bunch of connecting short stories combined. And that gets even worse here. Time skips happened non-stop; practically every chapter took 30-50 minutes (felt like 2 hours sometimes) to read. The way the lore of the series is explored is through a crazy info dump; look at chapter 22, just to give a taste. Lastly, Telewan, Tsurani, and the Game of Council—though interesting to hear—felt like an underdeveloped concept. Feist himself mentioned that this situation is fixed eventually in the next trilogy because of Wurts’s involvement in Riftwar: Empire, and I can’t wait to read that.

To those who commented on my Booktube channel that they have a feeling that Riftwar Saga will be too outdated for me now that I’ve read a lot of modern fantasy, they were right. I know I would’ve loved this so much more if I had read it at least a decade ago, or maybe if I have my nostalgia goggles on. Unfortunately, these two situations aren’t applicable to me, and The Magician was overall disappointing. I won’t be continuing with this trilogy, but I will still attempt Riftwar: Empire, I was interested in this trilogy in the first place anyway. I’ve also heard from quite a lot of people that Riftwar: Empire trilogy is the best sub-series in the entire 30+ books of Riftwar Cycle, and I look forward to finding out how it will click with me.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Alya, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Devin, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Sarah, Seth, Shaad, Summer, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,597 followers
November 1, 2018
*** 4 ***

A buddy read with the Fantasy Fans @ BBB!

This was a very strong second installment to this series. Pug and his friends have lived 8 years after the faithful moment the two best friends, Tomas and Pug, were separated and faced their very different paths. Tomas was gifted with a magical armor, while Pug was taken to the world of the invaders and after being a slave for a while, was sat on a journey to discover his limits in the magical arts.

The war has been exposing the weaknesses of the royalty and their ranks are not only thinning, but rifts and power struggles are dividing and sowing distrust among the already tired defenders.

I felt that the crescendo of the story was very exciting and found the little Ascension drama at the end a bit anticlimactic... However, I enjoyed the story as a whole and look forward to the next book:-)

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,109 followers
December 28, 2018
I'm SO happy to realize that my original love of these books in my youth remains as bright in my middle age. :)

As a matter of fact, now that I've had a lot of time to read and process a very large assortment of fantasy novels both epic and derivative and sometimes both, I can confidently say that this may very well be as good as the WoT series that I have been known to put so much store by.

Impressive, no?

So Much Happens. Pug gets kidnapped in the previous book and sent to an alternate world across a rift in space and time, spends years as a slave, gets discovered by the powerful mages there as one of their own, gets trained and indoctrinated. What a change from his past life! But while this is all fondly remembered from before, what becomes a real treat for me is life back at home.

Harrowing sailing, intrigue and politics in cities, and 9 years of a long, long war with the peoples across the rift. Unforgettable characters, immense battle, tactics, strategy, and mindblowing magic at all the very best instances. :)

Fondly remembered? Oh yeah. But now it's firmly enshrined. :) I cannot WAIT to dig into all the rest. :)

I sincerely hope to call this one of my absolute favorite fantasy series. We shall see! :)
Profile Image for NAT.orious reads ☾.
871 reviews358 followers
August 15, 2020
4 STARs ★★★★✩
This book is for you if… you ever wondered what the mash up of classic science fiction and high fantasy would birth. Welcome to the Riftwar. Pro: extremely engaging, Con: you might end up enslaved to a people from another dimension.


In true Raymond fashion, we continue the Riftwar Saga with as much extravaganza as we started it. I'm very fascinated by how well he managed to mingle together the different storylines without creating a disrupted plot that yanks the reader around. Although I was aware of the rougher content already since this is a reread, it's safe to say this book was worth every single second of the many hours it took me to read this.

What mainly occupied my mind while reading this book was the idea that one might actually be able to become so integrated into the society of a parallel dimension that, despite being held as a slave before being set free, you see yourself as much a part of that society than the one you were abducted from. I was stunned to watch our favourite magician (after homeboy HP, of course) shed his identity as Pug and become Milamber, a high ranking wizard on Kelewan. That doesn't mean there's no identity struggle going on. Especially when Milamber comes into close contact with the aspirations of his new people, he realises that he will not be able to keep rooting on Kelewan. I really enjoyed this part of the plot, it gave me a lot to ponder on.

Now that I'm writing these lines I see, of course, how laughable and ignorant my astonishment is. What I'm marvelling at is essentially the experience of so many identities in the real world past and present. Privilege hit me hard just now.

What’s happening.
‘You see, there are few objective limits. What they teach you is useful, but never accept the proposition that just because a solution satisfies a problem, that it must be the only solution.’

I put this quote here because I perked my ears at it but it has nothing to do with my summary. Which will be horrible. The plots of Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master are basically molten together in my mind, but whatever.

Pug has found a rhythm in his new home, albeit it is accentuated by whiplashes and meagre rations of food. When he finds the opportunity to ascend the social ladder of his new people, he grabs at it and finds that not all Tsurani are as war-driven and blood lusty as the party who advocated for the invasion of Midkemia. There might be a chance yet to safe his home. And thereby return to it.
4 STARS. Would stay up beyond my typical hours to finish it. I found some minor details I didn't like, agree with or lacked in some kind but overall, this was enjoyable and extraordinary.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,929 reviews386 followers
July 19, 2015
Lots of plot, very little characterization. The young men of the first book, Pug and Tomas, grow up and by second book’s end are reunited. Several things felt a little off to me—that both youngsters should have such an easy time becoming very powerful men, that Macros would instigate treachery rather than negotiate with the Midkemians & Tsurani, and that everyone at book’s end would just be so accepting of that whole situation. In fact, so many potentially highly charged situations are solved easily through a few questions & answers—very unlike the real world of politics and family relations.

I did acquire a fondness for Prince Arutha that I didn’t have in the first book. He is probably the most well-rounded character in the second volume. I suspect that at some point in book three, he will be happily married off to Princess Anita, who is showing herself to be a remarkably sensible young woman. I look forward also to his altered relationship with Martin Longbow.

In many ways, the plot is tied up with a nice bow at the end of book 2 and one wonders if Feist meant to go on writing the series. He has left just enough loose ends to justify a 3rd volume, but it is hardly a cliff-hanger ending that would impel the reader on to the next installment.

Enjoyable in a “what happens next” sense, but pretty disappointing if one is interested in complex characters.

Praise be to interlibrary loan, which meant that I did not have to pay to read this book!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews9,000 followers
February 5, 2017
Still great the second time! I only read the first four the first time around. I plan to read them all now.

Warning to readers! Book 1 and 2 really are "book one" of a trilogy. Frequently they are combined into one volume (Magician) If you only read the first book, this is not a case where you get the complete first part of the story. You really need to read a least the first two before you will be able to tell if this story is for you or not!
Profile Image for Gary.
948 reviews208 followers
July 1, 2018
Magician: Master sees Pug go from being a slave in the Tsuranuanni Empire, to becoming a great magician of the Assembly, a Great One, by the name of Milamber.
It is here that we learn of the intricate fascinating world of Kelewan (the Tsurani home world) where giant, intelligent insectoid creatures called Cho-Ja reside, as well as six legged bovine creatures called Needra.
Bees are not yellow and black striped but bright red, eagles have yellow bands on their wings, and hawks are purple.
Unlike Pug's homeward Midkemia, where the flora and fauna are more like our own.
The culture of Tsuranuanni is very much Japanese/Korean and we explore the intriguing politics of the five great families of the Empire, the Keda, Tonmargu, Minwanabi, Oaxatucan, and Xacatecas, the Warlord and the near godlike Emperor, the Light of Heaven. Tied up in this are the 'political parties' representing the aspirations of the noble families, such as the Blue Wheel Party, the Jade Eye Party, the Golden Flower Party, the Party for Progress, the Party for War and others.
Then there is the Assembly of Magicians or Great Ones.
Milamber is to play a large part in creating great changes that will see a climax to the war between Tsurani and the Kingdom. He has become of the Empire, married to a girl, from Kelewan, Katala.
Meanwhile on Midkemia, Thomas has donned the armor, given to him in the cave of the dragon, of the great Dragon Lord, or Valheru, Ashen Shugar.
He becomes a mighty warrior, a thing of great power, but causes disconcertion among the Elves of Elvandar, where he lives, who fear the return to domination by the Valheru. This is complicated by the fact that the elf Queen Aglaranna has fallen in love with him.
Arutha must go to Krondor, to get aid from the Kingdom forces, to save Crydee, which is under siege by Tsurani armies. Here he finds, Krondor has been seized by the scheming enemy of his father, Duke Guy of Bas Tyra. He must rescue Princess Anita and flee the city.
Magician : Apprentice takes us into a deeper exploration of two world and sees a dramatic climax for the saga , while giving us material for many more novels.
Profile Image for Michael Y. Patuwo.
14 reviews9 followers
June 6, 2012
After "Magician: Apprentice", I was hoping that the second half of the Feist's Magician series would deliver closure to the multitude of plot threads that have been constructed in the first half, but as it turned out, I was disappointed. There are many problems with this book that impede my enjoyment, because every other page of the book seems to make me look up and whisper to myself, "What? Why? How is this reasonable? Why do I have to see this scene? Why is the guy I'm supposed to be rooting for behaving like a spoiled, rotten child?"

I'll break it down. The main character Pug ceased to be an innocent, endearing boy and suddenly turned into a tyrant with an ego worthy of three men. I hated him. So much. He had everything handed to him: his latent powers, the affection of every single 'good' person in the book, the fortuitous termination of his enslavement (if he had slaved at all, because to be honest I didn't see any suffering in his part), the protection of a good master, the respect of the Tsurani mages (why did he deserve that?), among many other things. He found his soulmate without even trying, and she was completely devoted to him right after a single night of passion. There was no special connection between Pug and his wife; not even the tiniest resemblance of romance. When Pug became a master magician, my empathy for him drained away completely. He treated those of his former station the way every other huffing noble treated them, and we were supposed to root for this man? Not a chance. The showcasing of his power during the bloody arena event was so utterly inane and pointless I had to slog through the pages, rolling my eyes as I did so to lessen the boredom. There is no tension whatsoever in the book once Pug was able to do ANYTHING he wants, at no apparent price. Pug is the embodiment of one of the biggest Gary Stu-s in fantasy writing.

Next, Tomas. A complete jerkass, he too had made a complete personality turnabout from the good-natured, energetic lad we've seen back in Apprentice. Like Pug, he had everything handed to him: the adoration of the elves (although he butchered his enemies and radiated an aura of savagery), the unquestioning loyalty of the dwarves (why? He's just a human, young and callow, and just because Dolgan liked him did not mean that the rest of the dwarves should) and the love of a most unlikely character (again, no chemistry. Shallow, shallow, shallow). His sideplot ended with no violence, no consequences, no repercussions. Bam, author intruded, problem solved. Boring.

Arutha. I like him, actually. But I don't see why a third of the book has to be written in his point of view, especially since he was given barely any spotlight in the first book. In fact, Arutha should be main character, not Pug or Tomas. At least he's not an obvious Gary Stu cardboard character, and the lowering of his station as a prince to an adventurer actually won my empathy, and I really enjoyed his growth as a character.

What could have been an epic fantasy in "Magician: Master" turned out hollow, unbelievable, and boring. Even if one were to forgive the problem of Gary-Stu-ness in the book's many characters, its inconsistent pacing, pointless digressions and anticlimactic emotional scenes still stick out like a sore thumb and give rise to the frustration of the readers who actually care about these things (as I read this book, I almost forgot why the Tsurani was the enemy, since there was so very many chapters of pure digression). I say only read this book when you are new to fantasy and do not know what to expect: its easy and cliched plot are useful for the uninitiated reader. Otherwise, stay away.
Profile Image for Maria Dimitrova.
745 reviews142 followers
February 6, 2017
Buddy read with the Fantasy lovers of BB&B.

The previous book left us unsure of the ultimate fates of our heroes. So, naturally, I was excited to read this one and find out what will happen with them. Magician: Master did not disappoint!

Most of Pug's POV were on Kelewan - the world from which the Tsuranni invaders hail. It was a fascinating world, filled with strange creatures and bizarre fauna, complex political and social order and powerful magicians. As usual I had major problems with the Tsuranni because of their tradition of keeping slaves. More than once this caused me to rage against them. But as the book progressed and Pug got more entrenched into their society, I began to see the Tsuranni not as an absolute evil but as people who have never had cause to change their ways. I found Pug's training as a Great One to be strange and enraging at first but soon saw the wisdom of those ways. There was a particular moment during Pug's training that reminded me of another fantasy series - the Wheel of Time. And more specifically the visions one has in the Aiel city of Rhuidean. There are of course differences between the two things and one might argue that there's no similarities at all :D

A couple of new characters were introduced and along the way they became just as near and dear as the original cast. especially Laurie and the son of the lord of the Shinzawai. Tomas' storyarc was incredibly interesting and equally terrifying. There were times when I wondered if the gentle, courageous boy from Crydee will manage to pull through without becoming a monster. From the flashbacks he got from the armour, I got really curious about the Dragon Lords and I would like to know more about that time of Midkemia's history.

All of the characters from the first book showed incredible growth. Perhaps Carline showed the biggest change - from a spoiled princess to a noblewoman worth following. The same goes for all the children of the Duke of Crydee.

The sorcerer Macros the Black played a major role in the events of this book and there were times when I wondered if he is in fact on of the bad guys. The provided explanation did make sense but I would have felt much better had he I suppose there would be more on this topic in the following books or at least I hope so. In either case the next couple of books promise to be interesting.
Profile Image for Lena.
1,152 reviews255 followers
November 3, 2018

Oh hell yes.

Violence, betrayal, sex, intrigue, magic, mystery, romance, humor, and bone deep joy.

Every time I thought the story would be bogged down by a character’s trial, or politics, something would be solved and another plot point would carry on.

This book flowed.

I can’t say enough good things about this story. If you’ve never read these works of Feel-Good-Fantasy you should.
Profile Image for Josh.
121 reviews
March 26, 2012
After barely making my way through The Magician: Apprentice, I was hesitant to pick up the second volume. However, since Apprentice began to show serious improvement toward the end of the book, I decided to finish it. Like the ending of its predecessor, Master starts off well. With Pug now in Kelewan, I have finally begun to develop empathy for him. And all it took was his enslavement and near death. Many of the other characters too have had themselves fleshed out a bit. But keep in mind that, for Feist, a fleshed out character is not much more than cardboard with a crayon mustache scribbled on it.

Master is sometimes well-paced and sometimes a bore. This is not far from what I experienced with Apprentice. Pug is again taken from a precarious and, subsequently, interesting position — within the swamps as a slave — and placed into comfortable and, subsequently, boring position under Kasumi’s care at his father’s rural estate. This is a good example of how Feist consistently fails to pull the reader along. Instead, just as we begin to feel some tension, Feist releases the pressure and lets us go. I rarely feel as if I really want to read the next chapter.

After spending some time with Kasumi and his family and developing some very real tension and mystery involving the purposes behind Pug and Laurie’s rescue and good treatment, Kasumi’s training in Midkemian ways, and Pug’s love for a slave girl, Feist against cripples the story by changing everything without warning. Pug is immediately whisked off by a Great One and the next time we see him he has no idea who he is. What the hell?

This massive shift in Pug’s character is so shocking that it caused me to lose much of empathy I had developed earlier. Now he has become a Tsurani Great One and an indirect enemy of the Midkemians, the very people I have been wanting to win the war. Don’t get me wrong. I love it when stories break down the dichotomy of good versus evil and subtly blur the lines, but if that is what Feist was going for, it just didn’t work for me.

After Pug enters magical training, the story begins to ramble. We follow Arutha and others on a boring and unnecessary errand to Krondor. We watch Pug, now known as Milamber, toil in Kelewan politics. We dote on Tomas as he is consumed by ancient Valheru magic that his elven girlfriend finds somehow attractive, despite the knowledge that Tomas is a total ass and a danger to himself and everyone around him.

Finally, we are left with an ending that doesn’t satisfy. Despite reading about years of warfare, some douchebag sorcerer steps in to change everything without any explanation and we’re left feeling robbed, not only of a good ending, but also the hours of my life I spent turning the pages of this disorganized and chaotic story. I do not understand why this story has been rated so highly by so many. Perhaps it is acknowledgement that Feist really had a cool idea and, with some proper editing, it may have become a fun yarn. But, unfortunately, I am anxious to put this whole thing behind me and forget about it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,980 reviews161 followers
April 17, 2018
In the land of Midkemia there is a rift that leads to another world. This world is the Empire of Tsuranuanni, losely modeled after Japan during the Shogunate Era, and they are invading. This is the background for this story. A young boy named Pug is taken by the Tsurani and turned into a slave. But his fortunes change and he is taken in by a noble Tsurani family. There he is found to possess great magical ability. He is taken by the Mages of Tsurani to be trained as a Great One.

There are many other characters from high lords and Kings to noble lords who seek to improve their nation whilst navigating the treacherous political world of Tsurani politics. There are also political games going on in Midkemia, as an ill king leads to various nobles trying to take the throne. Add to the mixture a group of "rogue" Tsurani who wish to seek a peaceful end to this long-running war.

This is just a hint at some of the story lines in this book. Overall, I enjoyed it. Some of the aspects tend to lean away from the dark overtones of the story. It's like the author could have crafted a dark tale, but at the last minute changed his mind and kept it lighter than it should have been. But the overall story is still quite good. Is this one of the finest fantasy tales ever told? Er no not to my taste, but it is a good story.
Profile Image for Amber.
1,029 reviews
June 13, 2020
It has been four years since Pug was enslaved and sent to the world of the Tsurani. When he is chosen by their magicians known as the great ones, Pug adopts a new name and will become a force to be reckoned with. Can he go home and stop their Riftwar before it's too late? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a great installment of the Riftwar saga. It was action packed as well as full of magic and more. If you love these fantasy stories, be sure to check this book out at your local library and wherever books and ebooks are sold.
Profile Image for Laura (Kyahgirl).
2,094 reviews143 followers
July 5, 2016
4/5; 4 stars; A-

I really enjoyed the characters and the adventure in this book. It seemed quite a bit tighter than the first book in the series. I was going to read book three now but think I will switch to Daughter of the Empire to get the viewpoint from Kelewan during the Riftwar.
Profile Image for George Jankovic.
140 reviews90 followers
February 13, 2016
Loved this one. It's better than the first book. My favorite scene is when Milamber gets mad. Reminded me of Rand in the Wheel of Time.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
660 reviews80 followers
August 29, 2019
Magician: Master is the second book in Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, the first subseries in the longer Riftwar Saga. Although there are two more books in this subseries, this one finishes the main storylines that were begun with Magician: Apprentice and comes to a satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed this nearly as much as Magician: Apprentice, but it did have a bit less of an ensemble feel with some characters going off in different directions for most of the book, so it lacked some of the camaraderie that I had enjoyed in the first book. There are definitely some great moments though, especially toward the end! Several characters were paired off, and it got a bit insta-lovey at times. Fortunately the relationships didn’t play a very large role in the story so they never reached the point of annoying me, although I did find one of the relationships uncomfortable to read about. I’ll discuss it a bit more in the spoiler tags at the end of my review. Aside from that, I did continue to enjoy the story and the characters very much.

I think I was almost through the end of the book when a female character () was once again being brave and supportive before I finally noticed that females are really underrepresented in these books. They’re all minor characters and they mostly just show up so that their admiring men can see them being brave in the face of danger and hardships, and so we can see them being supportive of the men they care about. This isn’t too big of a deal to me. I like strong female characters of course, but I don’t need every book I read to have them. However, I know some people care about that a lot more than I do so I thought I’d mention it. From what I remember, the Emptire Trilogy co-written with Janny Wurts has a much stronger female main character.

So this review doesn’t sing as many praises as did my review of the first book, but I don’t want to leave the wrong impression. I did still enjoy it very much, and for a lot of the same reasons. I just noticed a few more small flaws this time around. I’m rating this 4.5 stars, the same as the previous book, but this time I’m going to round down to 4 stars on Goodreads. I’m really looking forward to the next book, which if I remember correctly focuses more on the characters who grew to be my favorites.

The rest of my comments will have to go in spoiler tags:
Profile Image for AndrewP.
1,437 reviews32 followers
May 17, 2020
The second half of the Magician book and this one takes a very different turn. While the first half of the story was full of D&D and fantasy tropes this part is much more original. Writing and complexity continue the same way the last few chapters of 'Magician"Apprentice' ended and it's the better half of the overall work. We pick up Pug's story and see the war from the land of Kelewan on the other side of the rift and things are not as simple as they at first may have seemed.

Lot's to like here. World building, deepening character complexity, politics, action, magic and some ancient mysteries underlying the whole thing. At the end, most things are wrapped up and the story could easily end here. But I know there are two further books in the trilogy and I want to read more about the characters. (I read those 30 years ago, but have almost no recollection except I really enjoyed them.)
I will be continuing on with the story fairly soon.

As a whole 'Magician' is well worth reading as a great example of classic epic fantasy fiction. Just make sure you read the whole things and not just the first half 'Magician:Apprentice'. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 for Goodreads.

Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews664 followers
February 9, 2015
My complaint about the first volume of this saga was that everything felt very mundane. Feist may have been one of the first to do these things, but there wasn't much more to the book. It was fine, but not exhilarating, and I've seen the "young man joins a band of heroic travellers; discovers destiny" paint by numbers a million times. I was taken to task by some people for not recognizing Feist as a pioneer in the field. My position remains: that's fine. Maybe if this was the first of the genre I'd ever read, I'd be flabbergasted. But being first is not all there is.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Eric.
508 reviews29 followers
June 13, 2023
This series just keeps getting better. Nonstop intrigue, betrayal, heroics and plot twists. Of all the prominent characters, though, Amos, the seafarer, has to be my favorite. After years a pirate, he knows how to read the wind and weather even over the political landscape of a kingdom. A hidden gem among the stones.

Two medieval worlds clash via a magical rift in the cosmos. As the saga progresses we learn the combatants have much in common. Can they settle their dispute? A nefarious sorcerer has other plans. Just when the reader thinks all is coming up roses, the thorns appear.

Onto book three.
Profile Image for Adam.
349 reviews22 followers
February 22, 2022
This book made my top 10 fantasy reads from 2021, check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9pwG...

Another enjoyable read in The Riftwar Saga; I liked this book more in some ways and less in others than the first entry.

I thought the first book was written better. There were a few examples early on where it really seemed like Feist was telling instead of showing. From page 14: “Their eyes locked briefly before Pug dropped his as a slave is expected to do. For an instant communication passed between them. It was as if the soldier had said: You do not believe that I am a friend. So be it, as long as you act your part.”

I really don’t need the look spelled out for me, let me figure it out.

And also on page 29, “The Shinazawai lord said, ‘Kasumi! It is good to see my firstborn son. When did you return?’”

Who talks like that? Ah, hello, my 3rd child out of 4! It’s clearly just Feist making sure we know who this new character is, and it’s clumsy.

These examples are nitpicking of course, but I don’t remember having any of these issues with the first book, so I noticed.

I also thought the first book just had a tighter and more enjoyable plot. But I also criticized the first book for being generic fantasy; there was a long period of time where it seemed like every fantasy book walked in The Lord of the Rings shadow and Magician: Apprentice certainly fit that mold.

So, despite the story being a bit more hit and miss here in Magician: Master, it certainly was much more unique and original, and I appreciated that. In particular, Pug’s journey’s in the other world and his ascension to power was riveting. This was highlighted by his ultimate test of worthiness where he battles the elements of wind, rain, fire, and earth in an awesome concert of force that reminded me of the opening sequence of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The alien race of the Tsurani fails completely when thought of as an entity that lives in a world separated by time and space. However, if viewed as just a VERY foreign country, they are quite interesting and I think worth spending roughly half the book with.

Overall I enjoyed this entry and plan on continuing the series.

Story-9, Language-8, Ideas-8, Characters-9, Enjoyment-8, Overall-8.3
14 reviews2 followers
July 4, 2007
Magician: Master is a deeply engrossing story which is fairly straight forward from beginning to end. Based on the title of the novel and the actions in Magician: Apprentice it is obvious that the book will revolve around Pug’s capture and his training to become a Master Magician. This book involves more political intrigue and less action than Magician: Apprentice but the author manages to make the political intrigue interesting enough to make me not lose interest in reading the novel.

The one major issue that I had with this novel is that I felt the character development was a bit lacking. I found myself at times not really engrossed in what is happening with the characters. In the first novel there is quite a bit of development for all of the major characters as they start to grow into adults. This does not seem to occur in Magician: Master. For example, when Tomas was dealing with his change from a human to a Valheru I found myself not caring as much about what happened. I felt the author could have done a better job of making his characters more approachable.

Overall, I felt Magician: Master was a good but not great novel that is a fitting end to the events that started in Magician: Apprentice.

Check out the rest of the review below.
Profile Image for Aaron.
107 reviews15 followers
November 11, 2018
4.5 stars. It was a good second book in the rift war series. I found myself wanting to order the next book as I got closer to finishing this one. I really enjoyed the overall feel of the book. The world building and characters are great! The only way I can describe this book is an old feeling wholesome story. It really made me feel like I was transported back in time to when this story took place. The ending was a little strange. It didn’t leave off with as much of a cliffhanger as I would have expected. I can’t wait to continue this story!
Profile Image for Temo (თემო).
166 reviews10 followers
May 19, 2022
After more or less interesting rewrite of LOTR, I expected second book to be a breakthrough. Alas, it turned out to be a disappointment. Terrible editing ruined everything.
Profile Image for Matt.
216 reviews656 followers
November 29, 2016
Every chapter begins with a simple sentence.

Not only does the chapter begin with a simple sentence, but that sentence gets its own paragraph. When I was in sixth grade, and a budding student of literature and writing, that struck me as the coolest thing ever. I was a new minted Dungeon Master, and I was just beginning to appreciate the value of a good hook – starting a story in a way that right from the start the audience was engrossed in the story – and that simple sentence hanging nakedly alone in its own paragraph struck me as the most refined elegant razor sharp stick-it-in-the-audience’s-gut-and-twist hook imaginable. No possible prose approach was as laser honed to the point as that. Those sentences just reached out and grabbed you. There was no way not to read the next sentence. They sliced into your consciousness. They almost always involved in media res action. “The dying slave lay screaming in the courtyard.” Full stop. Not only full stop, but take a breath and consider that scene. I was awed. My little sixth grade self said to myself, “Now that is style!”

I still have quite a bit of admiration for it. While my tastes have evolved to preferring highly natural language so that the author’s craft becomes all but invisible on the page and never reminds you that it is a product of craft, of all the slightly pretentious attempts at style I’ve ever seen, this is the most forgivable and the least tiresome. I’d be happy, in my own writing, to pull a Feist opening from time to time. Just like a Vonnegut paragraph gets old quickly, I wouldn’t open like this with every chapter, but as a starting point of how you should begin a chapter, this is a very good starting point.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

“Call me Ishmael.”

“The dying slave lay screaming in the courtyard.”

Obviously, you can play a bit with the format – Austin’s thought requires not only an extra clause but an adverb - but if anyone has ever assimilated the lesson that the opening line should be simple, unadorned, and sharp and put it to practice – it’s Feist. By the way, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you should delete your adverbs. Try them out. If it sounds better without the adverb, you can get rid of it. Otherwise, keep your adverb and fling it in the face of those that believe that writing well is just a matter of following their format. Paring down your thought to a point is good, but just as the wood worker frequently regrets the last bit he tries to whittle from the wood, you’ll find that paring too far breaks the thought.

I wanted to comment on the opening sentences in the review I made of “Magician: Apprentice”, but I couldn’t fit the idea into the narrative about how the story of “Magician” came to be without cluttering both ideas. Fortunately, the novel is broken into two books, allowing me to make two very different reviews. One should view “Apprentice” and “Master” as being the same novel, and when reviewing “Magician: Apprentice” I was really reviewing both books,

Feist generally doesn’t wrap up his stories as elegantly as he opens them, and this is still obviously a first novel. Various flaws – Marty Stu characters, continual Deus Ex Machina, inconsistent pacing, anticlimaxes - prevent the story of Magician from being a true masterpiece, but it is still enjoyable, and important story in the fantasy canon, and very much worth the time of the reader – especially a younger one. Once again, I can’t praise the concepts in the character of Tomas Ashen-Shugar enough. I suspect here many of the flaws come from Feist following too much the template of Tolkien without understanding that Tolkien’s anticlimaxes and Deus Ex Machina were deliberate subversions of the normal approach to structuring a story – and most especially an epic - undertaken with a conscious purpose, in much the same way that a great author knows when the time has come to use an adverb. Feist over uses those ideas in a story far less suited to them.

The last area that deserves to be addressed is the issue of sexism in the story raised by several other reviewers, and by that I mean, "Is Feist’s story sexist?" Every single female character in the story exists as a love interest for one of the main characters. All are cut from the same cloth – feisty, playful, and sexually aggressive. At no point does Feist’s story pass the Bechtel test. No female character is ever a character in her own right who rises to the level of being a protagonist.

And you know what, I don’t freaking care. Yes, quite obviously, Feist is creating female characters that represent his own romantic desires in a woman. Yes, quite obviously, none of these characters is well developed or exists beyond being objects of romantic and sexual attraction for the male characters, and to provide space to think about how the male character feels about such attraction. But in and of itself, that’s not sexist – that just means that Feist is a heterosexual male who at the time is more interested in exploring his own desires in a partner than he is in imagining characters from a feminine perspective, and he’s not only perfectly entitled to do that but it’s perfectly healthy for him to do so. No one bothers judging works on the basis of a reverse Bechtel test – two men have a meaningful conversation with each other that doesn’t involve women. No one bothers to judge whether a romance pitched at women has men as independent characters that exist outside their romantic relationship with the female protagonist, or whether those characters are realistic portrayals of male emotional desire and male inner complexity.

If they did think that way, they might have to notice that things like ‘Gilmore Girls’ don’t pass the reverse tests, and there are an endless number of bodice rippers and romances with brooding emo strong but sensitive men that exist not as real characters but solely to provide for women to explore their feelings and desires toward men. And that’s OK. Despite whole seasons going by where two men don’t have a meaningful conversation with each other that doesn’t involve their relationship to a woman, I’m a fan of ‘Gilmore Girls’. I watched every season when it first came out. I loved almost everything about it, and the thing that I didn’t love about it was how ultimately sexist the portrayal of women seemed in the story. I can’t forgive the writers for disempowering Rory, because as a man watching the story I was ‘Team Rory’, and I wasn’t going to be happy unless she was happy and found someone to share life with worthy of her. Rory as overgrown girl-child, lost in the world, not understanding herself, and selling herself cheaply isn’t a Rory I’m happy with. Damn you writers.

And if people did think that way, if they thought men and women could share each other’s interests and be entertained, they might have to notice that women quite happily read male centered stories like The Lord of the Rings and Magician without the slightest feeling of being disempowered or angry at the lack of a representative self, because they aren’t necessarily looking for a hero that looks just like them in every story, but sometimes for awesome manly men they are happy to swoon over. Or maybe, even a story where they are interested in the same ideas that the writer was, whether the story is male centered or not.

When I first started participating in the online Tolkien community, I was surprised to discover not only how many female fans there were, but just how many female fans were ‘Team Merry’ or ‘Team Pippin’ or (perhaps less surprised) ‘Team Faramir’. Yes, of course, you find women that swoon over Mr. Darcy, but the other side of this story is that although Elizabeth Bennett is a more fully fleshed out character, the basic template of the character is not that different than a Princess Anita of Krondor or Éowyn. There is a very big difference between writing from a male or female perspective, and writing a sexist story. Feist has written an obviously male centered story, but it’s not a sexist story. It’s just as story written by a man. Get over it.
Profile Image for Mrs. S.
22 reviews1 follower
October 8, 2012
This is the second book in the Riftwar Saga. This was a new author for me but I have always been a fan of fantasy novels. The first book, Magician: Apprentice was okay, but this book was great. For just the one scene where Pug, now called Milamber, first uses his full magical powers, the book is worth recommending. Fortunately, the entire book is highly entertaining and VERY readable.

Synopsis: A rift has been created between two worlds. In this book, Pug is a slave on Kelewan, the capital city of the Tsurani empire (the other world). He is discovered by one of the "Great Ones" as having magical talent and he begins his training in the art of magic. Back in his own world (Midkemia), his friend Thomas, is undergoing mental and physical transformation while wearing the armor of the long dead Velheru (the first race/Dragon Lords that commanded the world). The armor was not meant to be worn by humans. The storyline goes back and forth between the two worlds and the various characters, but it does this so smoothly, you are never "lost" or constantly re-reading pages (something I really dislike). There are many characters, but the writing follows them for a time so you don't forget who they are. Thank goodness, the book does not introduce a lot of named unnecessary characters that are mentioned one time then are never heard from again! The character names (in both worlds) are not complicated, so they are easily remembered, something I really appreciate when reading fantasy.

After reading Magician: Master, I realized the first book was focused on development of the characters, political climate and settings for the saga. "Master" has everything I love in my fantasy. Great characters, warriors, magic, interesting creatures and races and combat. If you were not really thrilled with the first book "Apprentice", I would HIGHLY recommend this second book. This one is a solid 5+ stars.

For other highly readable fantasy authors, try R. A. Salvatore, the Icewind Dale Trilogy and Margaret Weis's Dragonlance series. The Dragonlance series is a classic so be sure to read them in order, Dragons of Autumn Twilight is the first book.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,143 followers
September 3, 2016
A very thin, emaciated (and possibly stunted) 3-star rating. (Disclaimer: I might even lower the rating to two stars if I find myself still fuming about this book the week after I read it, like I did with Joe Abercrombie's Half A War)

This book is rather annoying, to be frank. While I appreciated the fast pacing story in Magician: Apprentice, that book has less plots and subplots compared to this one. I could not even find myself liking Pug and Tomas because their character grew exponentially (if not changed entirely) until I barely recognized them anymore. Pug became this wizard Littlefinger character and Tomas became...a total jerk.

Macros, ugh, I hate this guy alot. No, I know the author said more than twice(!) in his characters' dialogue that the reason Macros did what he did will be explained later when blablabla, the thing he did still annoy me alot. Those stuff really bug me I even don't want to talk about Pug's stupid romantic plot. And his boring life in Kelewan. And that stupid Laurie (you only had one job!). And that stupid elf queen (like, really?). It took me a reread (yes I did that) only on those parts because at first it bogged me down and I decided to skim. Maybe, just maybe, if more pages are dedicated to clarify, expand the story then what happened would not be so unbelievable.

One thing I really like is Arutha. I wish this book is only from his POV. Great character and I enjoyed watching him from other people's POV and looking at others from his. And Amos. He's fun. Ah, I always have a soft spot for pir...I mean buccaneer. Also, I enjoyed the mini game of throne thingy at the end, although again I feel it could be more dramatic if it were longer.

Will I continue the series? I think so, at least the next two books in the saga. The whole cycle? Not sure.
Profile Image for Malum.
2,296 reviews131 followers
April 26, 2019
Wow, I really hated this. All of the charm of the first novel is completely missing here. Where the first volume had a young magician fighting trolls, a meeting with a goodly dragon, and a flight from a deadly wraith, this book was nothing but people standing around and talking for 500 pages.

There are no character arcs, and people just suddenly change without warning. The two main characters get completely different personalities (and emo "I'm so dark and powerful now" ones to boot) and become he-men all through a throwaway "4 years later" line.

The state of the war is given to us in boring expositional dialog, too. Do we see a bunch of cool battles? Nope, we are just told "The war goes badly for both of us" and then it's pretty much forgotten for a "our king is crazy!" plotline that also gets resolved in about 10 seconds at the end (and in a ridiculous way, too).

One main character is killed off-screen, and hardly anyone seems to give a shit. We get the person that cares about him most saying "oh, that's so sad" and then he is forgotten about. I have a sneaking suspicion that Feist had too much going on and had to trim some plotlines because otherwise this makes no sense in the least.

Hardly anything in the first book matters at all. The love triangle? Pointless. The boys growing into capable warriors/magicians? It's done in an instant. The war? It's an afterthought that is hand-waved away.

In the end, I found this book a nonsensical slog that felt like the author was either throwing darts at a board to determine what happened next or writing himself out of corners by just ignoring and/or killing any plotline/character that he didn't know what to do with.
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