Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book review: "Silverthorn" by Raymond E. Feist

It took me much less to read "Silverthorn" than "Magician", primary because former is almost twice as short (400 pages), but also because it is much simpler book. It many ways, this book is first one in long batch of similar books. This also means that if you don't like it, you should stop reading Feist and be satisfied that you have read "Magician".

This post includes spoilers about "Magician", although minimal.

Events in the book take place a year after those in previous book. Lyam, Arutha and Martin are slowly getting familiar with their new roles (King of Kingdom of Isles, Duke of Krondor and Duke of Crydee); for last few months they have been on a tour through Kingdom. Pug, his family and Kulgan and Meecham has been busy with establishing an academy for magicians, while Tomas has peacefully resided in Elvendar. The book starts with young thief Jimmy the Hand (a minor character from "Magician") thwarting an assassination on Arutha. This will lead to short cooperation between Arutha and the Mockers (thief organization in Krondor) and Jimmy's becoming a member of Arutha's team. Another attempt of assassination will end with Princess Anita's poisoning and revelation that not only Arutha's life is in stake, but a fate of whole world, as new enemy arises in North. A team of heroes will gather to quest for a cure for Anita's poisoning, Silverthorn.

As I said, this books marks a starting of a trend in Feist's books: one part of characters (Arutha and his people in first few books) dealing with more mundane and current troubles, while other team (usually led by Pug) exploring the magical root of these troubles. This is also a first book that will feature Jimmy the Hand as one of main characters. As I said in my previous post, he is one of my favorite characters, and I presume he was the reason why many readers continued reading Feist. Because, who doesn't like to read about young man with poor origins rising up using his natural skills and with, all spiced up with witty remarks and humor.

Plot and pacing is even faster and more straightforward than in prequel. This is a typical quest-plot, full with action and short dialog. I thinks there is not one description or internal monologue longer than half page (contrary to let say Erikson, where you will find characters thinking about stuff irrelevant to plot spanning several pages). This book is on about dynamic: characters are constantly talking or doing something. Plot itself is nothing extraordinary, but best comment about it is the fact that this was my third time reading this book and I was still able to enjoy it. I think it can be said that book is self-contained; although it serves to prepare stage for next one, all plot-lines are resolved and there is no cliffhangers at the end.

Similar things can be said about characters. Most of them are known from previous book and they are still predictable and enjoyable as before. My only complaint is that they behave even more as you would expect them to. Not all the time, but sometimes dialog looks too generic and clumsy.

Feist was clever in his world-building; even though you will find here elements with no clear backing in "Magician", setting still looks believable. He kept things opened in first book and these elements he introduced here don't feel too intrusive or inconsistent (Terry Goodkind was especially bad with this, for example). It is worth to note that he doesn't delve too much in magic and its nature: it works and that is enough. Sometimes he will describe some elements of it, but most time, a character will simply wave his hands or say a spell and something magical will happen.

For conclusion it can said that "Silverthorn" is a transitional book, taking elements (setting and characters) from "Magician" and putting them in a new, but smaller plot. As I said at beginning: try this book and if you like it, feel free to continue with Feist.

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