David Sarkies's Reviews > A Darkness At Sethanon

A Darkness At Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist
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's review
May 22, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: fantasy
Recommended to David by: A freind from the library
Recommended for: People who have read the others

This is how fantasy novels should be written
22 May 2012

This is the third (or forth, depending on who you talk to) and final book of the Riftwar saga (that I have read), though I have noticed that Feist has continued to write books set in this world (or multiverse). After this book he jumps to the otherside of the rift with Daughter of the Empire, and I think I did start reading it, but didn't really bother to continue (or maybe something happened to stop me from continuing, I do not know). However, with regards to these books it is quite clear that they are still quite popular and that they are still being reprinted. Hey, I quite enjoyed this book, and in many ways it was a step back to the style of Magician which in many ways was missing from Silverthorn. In the second book the story simply seemed to be a side quest that takes place halfway during the major quest that begins with Magician and ends with this book.
The plot is similar to Magician in that a powerful sorcerer, Murmandamus, is laying siege to a city in the far north. The king, Arutha, knows of this, but due to his kingly duties, is unable to travel there to help. However, he uses a failed assassination attempt to lead an army to the city, where he encounters one of his father's former enemy's, Guy du Bas-Tyra. Both of them are unable to stop Murmandamus, so they ignite the naptha mines beneath the city destroying it and escaping. Meanwhile, Thomas and Pug are travelling the world, and then the multiverse, to locate Pug's former master, Macros the Black, to help them defeat Murmandamus.
In a way I feel that one can easily skip Silverthorn and go from Magician to this book. Even rereading the plot summary makes me realise how gripping this story was, as well as the breadth of the action. What I remember Pug and Thomas travelled across many worlds and encountered many strange and wonderful sights and creatures. I also remember the setting of the city of Sethanon located near a large forest. However that is about it.
The Riftwar Saga once again follow the basic quest narrative in that the main characters begin as boyhood friends in a small village, and as they travel across the kingdoms, and the world, they not only move forward in their quest, but that also grow to become adults, as well as understanding their powers and abilities. In a way, our quest narrative never truly ends, and while we may complete one stage of our life, or complete one quest, there is always the next quest to enable us to develop and grow further. In many ways I look at myself and ask why I did not realise what I have realised now earlier so as to take advantage of it. I think of the young people out of university with their first job, and they have forty years in which to build their life savings, whereas I have only twenty-five, with a small sum to my name (but no debt of any consequence).
However, I guess many of those fifteen years younger than me also have the experience of one fifteen years younger than me. This is not necessarily a flaw, because the amazing thing about humanity is that not only do we learn from our mistakes, but we can also teach the lessons that we have learnt to those younger than us. Whether they listen to our advice or not is up to them. It does not necessarily mean that everybody of equal age is of equal experience or intelligence, and as such, those of us who have stepped elsewhere in our experience can then teach those who haven't. Once again, it is up to the other to decide whether to listen to our suggestions or not.
The reason that I went down this side track is because through the two books (ignoring Silverthorn) we see Thomas and Pug grow from young boys to middle-aged men, both coming out on their own. Pug ends as a magician, but he does not start as one. Thomas ends as a dragonlord, but does not start as one. It is the same in our lives. We finish as adults, but we do not start off as such. Thus it is up to us to learn from those around us, to ask questions of those who have an answer, and then put their advice into practice. Sometimes though, the answer we want is not always the answer that we get, and the advice that we give others can quite easily be the sort of advice that if followed, means that we lose a friend.

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