Petrik's Reviews > Magician: Master

Magician by Raymond E. Feist
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2.5/5 stars

I feel like nostalgia goggles are needed to enjoy this to the fullest now. I gave this an honest attempt, but I won’t be continuing with the Riftwar Saga.


Magician: Master is the second half of Magician—the first book in the Riftwar Saga series—by Raymond E. Feist. Despite the issues I had with Magician: Apprentice, I thought that book did have plenty of redeeming factors that I thought could be explored further in the second half. And to be fair, before I get to the things that didn’t click with me, there were indeed several things that intrigued me so much. The character’s development of Pug and Tomas—for better or worse—were totally intriguing to me. I also enjoyed that the majority of the story takes place in the Asian-inspired setting of Telewan. Plus, there’s also the memorable scene of Pug’s wrath. So intriguing character’s development and world-building accompanied with a memorable scene, what could go wrong? Well, the outdated executions.

Here’s the thing; the title says it already, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Magician: Master means we will see Pug becoming a master magician. However, what I didn’t expect or know was how disjointed the developments leading to this were. Do you know how long it takes for Pug to become a master? One chapter. Before this chapter occurred, he was still an apprentice at magic, but after this chapter, he immediately became a master. To make things even worse, the changes to Pug and Tomas transform them into a completely different character than what we’ve read in Magician: Apprentice. Nothing about their voices or character resembled what I enjoyed in Magician: Apprentice anymore. I’ve mentioned in my review of Magician: Apprentice that the chapters in these books felt like a bunch of connecting short stories combined. And that gets even worse here. Time skips happened non-stop; practically every chapter took 30-50 minutes (felt like 2 hours sometimes) to read. The way the lore of the series is explored is through a crazy info dump; look at chapter 22, just to give a taste. Lastly, Telewan, Tsurani, and the Game of Council—though interesting to hear—felt like an underdeveloped concept. Feist himself mentioned that this situation is fixed eventually in the next trilogy because of Wurts’s involvement in Riftwar: Empire, and I can’t wait to read that.

To those who commented on my Booktube channel that they have a feeling that Riftwar Saga will be too outdated for me now that I’ve read a lot of modern fantasy, they were right. I know I would’ve loved this so much more if I had read it at least a decade ago, or maybe if I have my nostalgia goggles on. Unfortunately, these two situations aren’t applicable to me, and The Magician was overall disappointing. I won’t be continuing with this trilogy, but I will still attempt Riftwar: Empire, I was interested in this trilogy in the first place anyway. I’ve also heard from quite a lot of people that Riftwar: Empire trilogy is the best sub-series in the entire 30+ books of Riftwar Cycle, and I look forward to finding out how it will click with me.

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You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

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Reading Progress

May 23, 2021 – Shelved
May 25, 2021 – Started Reading
May 27, 2021 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

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message 1: by Vu (new)

Vu 5 stars review Petrick and keep going =]


Marilyn Sadly I also found it quaint but not riveting. Maybe I’ll take your suggestion one day and I try the Empire trilogy.


Marilyn PS However his Faerie Story was dark, disturbing, and delightful!


Petrik Marilyn wrote: "Sadly I also found it quaint but not riveting. Maybe I’ll take your suggestion one day and I try the Empire trilogy."

It's unfortunate, but oh well. Not all books will work for both of us! :)


Petrik Vu wrote: "5 stars review Petrick and keep going =]"

Thank you, Vu! :)


Sarah (thegirltheycalljones) Great review, my friend! I completely understand what you went through with this one! This series was actually my first "adult" fantasy one and I wonder if I'd still be over enthusiastic if I reread it now...


message 7: by Audrey (new)

Audrey I can feel you Petrik but my husband read this saga when he was in high school , he told me back then Sanderson wasn’t a writer yet 😅 we are too used to the « new way » of Fantasy , the old way aren’t bad just we can’t appreciate it…


message 8: by Caleb (new)

Caleb M. When I read this I'll tell you if nostalgia goggles are needed since I haven't read it yet either and don't have any nostalgia for it. I really hope I love it so we can go back and forth with each other 😉


message 9: by Al (new) - rated it 3 stars

Al Burke I often wonder if I reread some of these books I read in my teens and early 20s, how they'd hold up under my more cynical glare. I think I'll stick with reminiscing though


message 10: by Rinaldo (new)

Rinaldo Even the Empire didn't work well for me. The first book was mostly fine IMO, but I DNF'd the second. They introduced a white-coded character as a foil for our Asian-coded protagonist (Mara), but the interactions often came out condescending toward Kelewan/Tsurani culture. The book read like classic 90s Orientalist/Essentialist work which framed Tsurani through the lens 'the Other' culture: exotic, impenetrable, and illogical. It's not a book/series I'd personally recommend for those who seek East Asian-inspired fantasy, but YMMV.


message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen I loved Magician and the Empire books (read and re-read so many times) and couldn't stand LOTR. The fact that we can have so many diverse opinions about the 'classic' types of fantasy are what keeps this genre so, so good :-)


Petrik Sarah (thegirltheycalljones) wrote: "Great review, my friend! I completely understand what you went through with this one! This series was actually my first "adult" fantasy one and I wonder if I'd still be over enthusiastic if I rerea..."

Thank you, my friend! Yeah, I think I would've loved it more if I had read it a long time ago! :)


message 13: by Petrik (last edited May 31, 2021 12:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Petrik Audrey wrote: "I can feel you Petrik but my husband read this saga when he was in high school , he told me back then Sanderson wasn’t a writer yet 😅 we are too used to the « new way » of Fantasy , the old way are..."

Hahaha, modern fantasy ruined our patience for some classic fantasy! :D


Petrik Caleb wrote: "When I read this I'll tell you if nostalgia goggles are needed since I haven't read it yet either and don't have any nostalgia for it. I really hope I love it so we can go back and forth with each ..."

Hopefully you'll enjoy this more than I did, bro! Who knows, you just might! I rarely click with classic fantasy! xD


Petrik Al wrote: "I often wonder if I reread some of these books I read in my teens and early 20s, how they'd hold up under my more cynical glare. I think I'll stick with reminiscing though"

Sometimes, some books are better left in our memories! xD


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Even the Empire didn't work well for me. The first book was mostly fine IMO, but I DNF'd the second. They introduced a white-coded character as a foil for our Asian-coded protagonist (Mara), but th..."

I mean, it IS published before the year 1990! xD So no surprises there. I'll definitely keep that in mind, but for an older book/series, I'm usually not too bothered by the stuff you mentioned due to the period of time it's published. As long that the series isn't boring of course...


Petrik Jen wrote: "I loved Magician and the Empire books (read and re-read so many times) and couldn't stand LOTR. The fact that we can have so many diverse opinions about the 'classic' types of fantasy are what keep..."

That's true! Haha, LotR took me a lot of tries to get through. It's not until last year I was able to read through it. Before that, it was constant DNF. xD


message 18: by Rinaldo (new)

Rinaldo Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "Even the Empire didn't work well for me. The first book was mostly fine IMO, but I DNF'd the second. They introduced a white-coded character as a foil for our Asian-coded protagonis..."

It is definitely my personal dealbreaker, especially considering there were other writers like Le Guin who could capture non-Western cultures and values with nuance and respect even back in the '60s and '70s. Still, I realise I'm more on the minority side considering the high ratings of the Empire series XD


Petrik Rinaldo wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "Even the Empire didn't work well for me. The first book was mostly fine IMO, but I DNF'd the second. They introduced a white-coded character as a foil for our Asian-c..."

Nothing wrong with that as a dealbreaker, we are all different fter all. On the other hand, I DNFed Guin's first book in Earthsea. I have to try her books again one day!


message 20: by Rinaldo (new)

Rinaldo Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Rinaldo wrote: "Even the Empire didn't work well for me. The first book was mostly fine IMO, but I DNF'd the second. They introduced a white-coded character as a foil..."

IMO Earthsea is good but it does fall into trappings of older fantasy. Her Hainish books on other hand, are superb. Hope you will read those someday!


message 21: by Maja (new)

Maja Ingrid Magician is the best book in this series IMO and I agree with about everything you say and I got the nostalgia goggles. If you didn't like Magician, you will not like the other two books.


Petrik Maja wrote: "Magician is the best book in this series IMO and I agree with about everything you say and I got the nostalgia goggles. If you didn't like Magician, you will not like the other two books."

Noted, Maja! I definitely won't continue to the other two books! xD


Pamela I read the first two 3 years ago and quit, thanks for the great review, I don't feel so alone anymore. You have such a wonderful knack of pinpointing the issues with a book, where I can only read and think "Book two really isn't clicking with me, and I liked the first one so much"


message 24: by Maja (new)

Maja Ingrid Petrik wrote: "Maja wrote: "Magician is the best book in this series IMO and I agree with about everything you say and I got the nostalgia goggles. If you didn't like Magician, you will not like the other two boo..."

Haven't read the other series in the same world(s), but if you just gonna read Empire, I doubt you gonna miss out on anything for skipping the last two books xD


message 25: by Al (new) - rated it 3 stars

Al Burke Petrik wrote: "Al wrote: "I often wonder if I reread some of these books I read in my teens and early 20s, how they'd hold up under my more cynical glare. I think I'll stick with reminiscing though"

Sometimes, s..."


Petrik wrote: "Al wrote: "I often wonder if I reread some of these books I read in my teens and early 20s, how they'd hold up under my more cynical glare. I think I'll stick with reminiscing though"

Sometimes, s..."


Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.


Petrik Pamela wrote: "I read the first two 3 years ago and quit, thanks for the great review, I don't feel so alone anymore. You have such a wonderful knack of pinpointing the issues with a book, where I can only read a..."

Thank you, Pamela! Haha, sometimes thta's how I feel about some books, too! xD


Petrik Maja wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Maja wrote: "Magician is the best book in this series IMO and I agree with about everything you say and I got the nostalgia goggles. If you didn't like Magician, you will not like th..."

I'm quite excited to read that one! Many people have said it's okay for me to dive into it immediately! :D


message 28: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Murray Disappointing to read yr review as this is one of my favorite series and have reread the series several times.
I guess we just like different styles (eg I disliked immensely Dreams of the Dying)
What you call Riftwar:Empire (to me Daughter of the Empire etc) is a great series as well so hope you will enjoy that !


Petrik Kim wrote: "Disappointing to read yr review as this is one of my favorite series and have reread the series several times.
I guess we just like different styles (eg I disliked immensely Dreams of the Dying)
W..."


It's unfortunate, I really wanted to love this! But hey, even though we disliked different books sometimes, there are also those that we both enjoyed like Robin Hobb's books and Dragon Mage!


Michael I really liked Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon. I know they're old-hat now but we're spoiled in this modern age of fantasy with its carefully thought out magic systems. I found that Pug's time spent in Telewan was less interesting for me; and his transformation happened over the period of time that he spent there. I could be wrong, it is many years since I read the books. Tomas changed completely because he acquired the armour and in essence became Ashen-Shugar. As you say; I think if you had read these before reading all the modern fantasy you would have found less faults. It's one of the reasons I don't reread books. I prefer to remember them when I enjoyed them... lol.


message 31: by Petrik (last edited Jun 01, 2021 12:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Petrik Michael wrote: "I really liked Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon. I know they're old-hat now but we're spoiled in this modern age of fantasy with its carefully thought out magic systems. I found tha..."

It's not about the magic system not being carefully thought-out, Michael. I don't mind soft magic system, John Gwynne's books doesn't even have a magic system. But everything, for me, need to have a proper course. Pug's transformation did happened over a period of time, but this period of time is mentioned in a very disconnected manner.

I'm going to throw a random number here to avoid spoilers. Let's say in chapter 15, he was 17 years old. In chapter 16 he's 25 years old, and still an apprentice at magic; this goes until chapter 21. Then in Chapter 22, he's already 30 and he became a master magician. All these time skips happened without we, as readers, seeing the proper development. Legolas and Gimli aren't in a good relationship at first, I can't have their next chapters be like "so a few years happened, they're now best friends" repeatedly.

And in the end, Pug isn't the same Pug anymore. Not in a good way; he's literally a different person with no narration voices that made him the same as the previous Pug I've read in Magician: Apprentice. As for Tomas, yes he changed completely because of the armor, and that's why I said his story is still the most interesting one despite him becoming a completely different person so quickly.

Anyway, sorry for the long reply. As I said, I definitely would've enjoyed these more if I haven't read (imo) better epic fantasy books published these days. But I wouldn't say we're spoiled by modern age of fantasy; I just personally think that a lot of modern epic fantasy writers (Sanderson, Gwynne, Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Fonda Lee, and so many more) have taken what's best about classic fantasy and molded them into something better. And I'm truly glad you loved this series! :)


Michael Petrik wrote: "Michael wrote: "I really liked Magician, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon. I know they're old-hat now but we're spoiled in this modern age of fantasy with its carefully thought out magic syst..."

Lol... no need to apologise for a wordy reply, I find it difficult to keep things short but sweet whenever I'm talking about books. Besides, I think one of the biggest reasons why your reviews are so popular is because you are very thorough, which generally requires wordy explanations.

I think it's probably because Feist, Gemmell, Eddings and Morcock were the authors that I loved when I started reading, so I naturally jump to their defence. It's possible that I would view them differently if I reread their work in today.

I totally agree with you about John Gwynne, we're both big fans of his style of writing. Sanderson has a huge amount going for him as well, though I prefer less world-building and more action. I liked Abercrombie's early books but lost interest after struggling with Best Served Cold. My tastes have changed away from his grimdark-style of story-telling, I just don't find that I care about his characters any more. I didn't get into Rothfuss's work at all. I listened to the start of his first book on youtube and kept falling asleep before anything actually happened... lol. Not read anything by Fonda Lee yet.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to give me your in-depth thoughts. Truth and Courage!


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