Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It took me a little time to get into this book and root for it, much like a lot of the Feist books, but even though much of it is either average or slightly above average when it comes to epic fantasy, it does have moments of truly great scope and awesomeness.
This one brings in that REALLY HUGE SCOPE in a big way but it doesn't dominate the story. Most of the story is actually about the civil war in Midkemia and the crowning of the new king, featuring lots of war, tactics, and strategy. Pretty good, but this is still the realm of the average bits. Fun but not totally brilliant. Or I suppose it might be if I hadn't read... 10 or more other books in this series that was much of the same. :)
Let me be fair here. We are having to do homage to the rest of the Rift series in this novel. It's mostly an amalgamation of all the others while recalling a new huge civil war that is STILL small beans in comparison to the BIG action going on with the mages.
Where this really shines is the multiple realms and multiple realities. There are the demon and angelic realms ON TOP of the countless worlds at stake, and the devouring void killing off even the demons are set to make the final battleground on Midkemia.
Enter in all the gods, the most powerful magicians, the Dragon Lords, the lost elves, dark elves, and all the rest of the peoples are involved in this conflict. Even the demons. I mentioned that the scope is big? EVERY RACE in the series is given top billing here.
Best of all is the twists and turns in the worldbuilding. At times it becomes SF in a very cool way. Think the end of Stephen King's first Dark Tower book. Gunslinger. But draw it out and increase its scope and give it to a lot of characters in here. :) I liked it a lot.
My only complaint, in the final estimate, is the lack of total cohesiveness across the full series. Yes, there are lots of themes and certain characters always show up - like Pug and Thomas and a few others - and the Chaos Wars history was nicely developed in the beginning, but the development felt a bit - or more than a bit - disjointed and brought forth in spits and starts and surprising huge leaps that then got pulled back for the sake of the newer generations within the kingdom.
In some ways, it just turned out like a generational serial with some great - but drawn out - epic magic bits. Decent, but I felt like it could have been so much BETTER.
I still enjoyed it. I don't regret reading them. :) But it won't be on my top-favorite lists.
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