Friday, September 24, 2004

Review: Talon of the Silver Hawk by Raymond E Feist

In many respects REF was my introduction to "modern" fantasy, back in the early 1990s when a frient lent me Magician. I have since read quite a bit of what he has written, but think he has never since equalled the masterpiece that was Magician. Indeed, I had come to the conclusion that after the Serpentwar Saga he was really just punching out books without really writing them. They were ok, but really I was very disappointed. So when I picked this one up second-hand it was because it was second-hand, and I had a train journey in the immediate future that I needed some light reading to do inbetween bouts of more serious reading.

I must say that I was pleasently surprised. Although, imo, still not as good as Magician, in this tale I feel REF has actually written a story, and a compelling one at that. We follow a young man, whose village and tribal people have been killed off by some sort of noble, as he makes his way in a world of magic and conspiracies and dread deeds. We end with a memorable fight, that I could picture cinematically my mind's eye. The novel is set in Midkemia, quite some time after the events of the Serpentwar. It also explores to some degree the lands east of the Kingdom of the Isles for the first time.

REF has a wonderful talent for writing people. He characterises them, giving each character a unique identifying characteristic. Most obvious of these of course is the irrepresible Nakor and his oranges. Nakor is only one of the favourites to make an appearance, but while these favourites appear they never take over the story. The story itself remains concentrated on that young man, as he really makes the journey from youth to adulthood.

The simple judgement I have on this book though is this: it is only book 1 in a series, and I very much intent to purchase the others. Albeit not until I can convince myself that my finances allow such profligancy. I think the I have a 25% chance of holding out to Christmas. After then all bets are off.

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