Book reviews

Silverthorn – Raymond E Feist

Release date: 7 May 1985
Rating: ★★★★★★★ – 7/10
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Silverthorn (Riftwar Saga #3) blurb:

With the Kingdom of the Isles at peace, Prince Arutha can at last look forward to marrying the Princess Anita in the city of Krondor.

But the capital in the west harbours many shadows.  When Jimmy the Hand, a young thief in the Guild of Mockers, upsets an assassination attempt on Arutha, a sinister plot is uncovered.

As the dead rise and assassins stalk the darkness, Arutha must rally the Kingdom forces swiftly if he is to save his beautiful princess felled by a poisoned arrow on her wedding day, and prevent a madman from destroying Midkemia.

I really enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it like I loved Magician.  That could be for a number of reasons – the lack of character development, the crammed feeling of the story, the ‘everyone makes it out at the end’ storyline.  Or it could just be that it wasn’t as good!

Obviously, this book is much shorter than Magician – and it doesn’t help that the version of Magician I read is the ‘Feist put everything back in that his editors originally took out’ version.  Silverthorn is 386 pages, compared to Magician’s 841 pages… So therefore it would not be as fulsome in story and character development.  In terms of a plot, it has everything that makes an epic fantasy novel – a prophecy, a quest or journey, a battle, and of course, love.  Feist presents us all of these in a much condensed framework – the story felt rushed in places, although it was still ‘gripping’ in others.  The writing and language is smooth, polished – what you would expect from an experienced fantasy novelist, but at the same time it wasn’t exciting – it certainly wasn’t a Maas fantasy novel.

One thing I didn’t really enjoy was the lack of death.  Not that I enjoy death, and I certainly don’t want all my favourite characters killed (thanks, George), but it also didn’t seem very realistic that with all the missions they undertook, no one really died.  None of the good guys anyway.  I understand that this book is probably more of a scene-setter for A Darkness at Sethanon, but there was very little in the ending that made me want to pick up that next book, despite the big fight still to occur.  I tried to convince myself to read the next one in the series (as opposed to running off and reading Nevernight or The Raven Boys instead) but Feist had wrapped it all up a little bit too well (please note that I absolutely went off and read Nevernight instead).  Where’s the drama of Aelin being carted off to be a prisoner by the mad Queen Maeve to keep us on our toes and hanging out for the next book?  Come on Ray, you can do better than that!

Despite what I said before about a lack of character development, I still enjoyed what little it did have.  Jimmy was first introduced during Anita’s mad escape of Black Guy’s sinister intentions (and where has he gone?  He better show up in the next book!) in Magician, and here we see him grow from that scamp into a young man with great ambition.  We learn a bit more of his background and motivations, and it was a nice segue to move a familiar face from background to main character quite seamlessly.  We see a lot of the older characters return – those who made it out of Magician in one piece anyway, which is probably why there is little character development (you don’t have to try as hard when they’re already established!).  Arutha, Martin and Lyam all return, as do Pug, Kulgan, Gardan, Anita, Carline, Laurie, Kasumi, Thomas, Algarranna, Calin, Hochopepa, Shimone, Meecham, Kamatsu, Katala and William.  Even Tully makes an appearance.  The story introduces very few new characters, but those it does seem to have an intriguing narrative that I do look forward to reading more about later.  These include Brother Dominic – a brother of the Ishapian abbey at Sarth; Gamina – a child who has come to Pug’s school of magic and can communicate telepathically; and Rogen – an elderly man who raised Gamina and can also see the future.

The story itself is well put together, and even though I’ve torn it to pieces a little it is a strong fantasy novel.  Overall it was an enjoyable read, even if I wasn’t as glued to it as other stories I have read recently.

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