I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
To the forest on the shore of the Kingdom of the Isles, the orphan Pug came to study with the master magician Kulgan. But though his courage won him a place at court and the heart of a lovely Princess, he was ill at ease with the normal ways of wizardry.
Yet Pug's strange sort of magic would one day change forever the fates of two worlds. For dark beings from another world had opened a rift in the fabric of spacetime to being again the age-old battle between the forces of Order and Chaos.
It is interesting to be reading the Belgariad by David Eddings and the Riftwar Saga by Raymond Feist at the same time. Published very close together in time, they have some striking similarities and I can see why they were very popular in their day. Both feature boys becoming men and also becoming sorcerers/magicians.
For me, the Riftwar Saga is much more engaging of the two. I like Feist’s writing better and I find that the plot moves along at a slightly swifter pace than the rather glacial Belgariad. Feist also introduces a very interesting plot device—a rift in time/space that allows another culture to invade. I am used to this device’s use in science fiction and in a technological environment, but I found its use in a rather medieval fantasy setting to be interesting. I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, so it is appropriate that it is apparently magicians who have control of this rift in spacetime. (The rather unbelievable part of the plot is that both civilizations on both sides of the rift have virtually identical technologies otherwise).
Pluses: fast moving plot, innovative way to introduce enemies, interesting magical system.
Minuses: not much for female characters to do (and they are depicted as moody & changeable, very stereotypical), can’t stand the name Pug for the main character.
I wonder why we, as fantasy fans, are so enamoured of medieval-type settings? What is it about swords and horses that we prefer to ray guns and spaceships? Why do we romanticize that very difficult way of life? Mind you, I know that many or most science fiction & fantasy fans love both, but I wonder why there are so many of these fantasy worlds with medieval technology in print.
Also noticeable: reflections of LOTR’s Galadriel and Lothlorien. A settlement in the tree canopy is frequent in these epics (see Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant as well as Feist).
Now, my main problem is finding book 2, Magician: Master, which is not to be found in either library that I have access to. Interlibrary loan, here I come!