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Wanda's Book Reviews

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).

A Darkness at Sethanon / Raymond E. Feist

A Darkness at Sethanon  - Raymond E. Feist

An evil wind blows through Midkemia. Dark legions have risen up to crush the Kingdom of the Isles and enslave it to dire magics. The final battle between Order and Chaos is abotu to begin in the ruins of the city called Sethanon.

Now Pug, the master magician sometimes known as Milamber, must undertake an awesome and perilous quest to the dawn of time to grapple with an ancient and terrible Enemy for the fate of a thousand worlds.

 

A satisfying end to an acceptable fantasy series. The Riftwar books suffer by comparison to modern high fantasy series, but in their day, they were the next step for those looking for a LOTR substitute. At least Feist came up with his own version of The Enemy to deal with, instead of just dusting off Tolkien’s idea, changing a few names and calling it good.

 

Yes, there are elves, goblins, trolls, and such—and although they share some characteristics with their counterparts in other fantasy literature, Feist does try to make his versions stand off a little way and have some new & interesting characteristics. Pug/Milamber (both rather awful names for the same man) is a Gary Stu, seemingly able to learn everything and only rarely make mistakes (and those few then seem to work out in his favour). Enough familiar faces perish to make things more believable, as not everyone can live through such momentous battles. And some less familiar faces re-appear and make a much better impression in their second time around.

 

The siege and battle at Armengar was impressive, only vaguely resembling the siege of Minas Tirith (and that mostly in timing of the battle). I was happy to learn about the rather mysterious creation of the city before the book ended.

 

This final entry in the series was extremely light on what was happening with the female characters that we got to know in earlier installments. They seem to have been relegated to household and maternal duties and no longer get to truly participate in the action. I thought that some scenes from Anita’s or Carline’s points of view might have been interesting or at least a good contrast to the battle zone.

 

All the major characters seem to be suitably paired off by book’s end, leaving us to assume that things proceed happily ever after, but Feist doesn’t linger around examining the aftermath. The story ends when it is clear that all will be well—there is no “Scouring of the Shire” type follow-up.

 

Very good for its day and probably still a good choice for young readers searching for another story of noble quests and fierce battles.