Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Book Review: King of Foxes (Raymond E. Feist)

Raymond E. Feist is probably one of the better writers of popular fantasy around. Although his stories do tend to be slightly formulaic, his writing is at least well-paced and his characters are generally quite interesting (in fact, Pug is one of my favorite characters in modern fantasy right now).

He's had quite a few series' out already, but his best is undoubtedly his debut - Magician. Magician is one book I'd recommend to anyone who wants a good fantasy story where the plot is reasonably exciting, the concept is good but not too complex, and where the characters do not spend the first 300 pages traipsing around a haunted forest and being rescued by fat blokes with colorful clothes.

King of Foxes is the second book in the Conclave of Shadows trilogy. I'll be getting hold of the third book, Exile's Return later this week. For the time being, here's the review of KoF:

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Title: King of Foxes (Book 2 in the Conclave of Shadows)

Author: Raymond E. Feist

Synopsis:
Talon, orphan of the Orosini tribe and last of his people has been transformed by the Conclave of Shadows from a trusting young boy to the dashing young nobleman Talwin Hawkins: educated, confident and now Roldem's premier swordsman.

But still his lust for vengeance will not be sated until the reason for the massacres has been uncovered and their architect revealed and punished. The Conclave demands its price from Tal: he must gather information on Laso Varen, a magician of terrible power and subtle craft, dangerous beyond contemplation.

To do this means service with the sorcerer's master, Duke Kaspar of Olasko - and swearing loyalty to the very man he suspects of killing his family, even if it means becoming the Duke's right-hand and tracking down his enemies - the members of the Conclave and Talon's own friends.

Main characters:
  • Talon of the Silver Hawk a.k.a. Talwin Hawkins: The last of the Orosini people, transformed by the Conclave of Shadows from a trusting young boy to a dashing young nobleman
  • Duke Kaspar - The ruler of Olasko, who plans on expanding his power. Also the man who ordered the massacre of Talon's people
  • Laso Varen - Kaspar's 'advisor', a very powerful dark magician
  • Pug - The legendary 'Black Sorceror' and leader of the Conclave of Shadows

What I liked:

  • You'd have to read the first book - Talon of the Silver Hawk - to get a better idea of the characters, but the events in the first book are recapped well here, so it can actually stand on its own
  • One major twist that I really did not expect (although on hindsight, maybe I SHOULD have)
  • A few nice touches that made the story a lot more interesting
  • Story was simple enough, but well-paced and entertaining with no boring moments
  • Pug!

What I didn't like:

  • The ending seemed a bit rushed and conclusive
  • Some parts were just a little too predictable
  • Things seem just a little TOO easy for Talon. One just KNOWS he will get through everything unscathed
  • Some parts might be slightly confusing for those who do not know the entire history of Pug and Feist's world.
  • Not enough Pug!

Summary:

All in all, this is a pretty good book from Feist, whose record has been pretty consistent. It may be slightly formulaic and predictable, but at least it's well-paced and entertaining. I finished in just over a day, and actually made me want to get the third book immediately.

It DOES help if one has read the Riftwar trilogy (starting with Magician), and The Serpantwar Saga, because it references the events in these books sometimes. Also, I'd still recommend reading Feist's earlier books, just to get to know Pug better, because he is really one of the better characters ever created in modern fantasy.


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