Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book review: "A Darkness at Sethanon" by Raymond E. Feist

With this book I finished my little re-read of Feist's books I have home. I actually have "Krondor: The Betrayal" also, but I have issues with this internal mini-series. Raymond E. Feist started to write this five-book cycle featuring Jimmy the Hand's rise and I remember that I really liked it. He finished three books and then got in some quarrel with publisher of video-game based on these books and never finished it. Anyway, I plan to get some more books before re-reading this one. Things also get a bit confusing about the order books should be read. "Krondor: The Betrayal" is happening shortly after "Riftwar Saga", but it was actually written much later; next book published after "Riftwar Saga" was "Prince of the Blood", which is something of a stand-alone novel. If you now include in this "The Empire Trilogy", which was actually written by Janny Wurts and is taking place on Kellewan in this same time, you get a pretty good mess. I resolved it by skipping "The Empire Trilogy" and reading "The Riftwar Legacy" (Krondor books) before "Prince of the Blood".

I tangled myself in description of reading order while I should be talking about the book... As in last post, there are some minor spoilers for previous books.


Events in "A Darkness at Sethanon" start off a year after those in its prequel, "Silverthorn". There were no new attacks by Murmandus or the Enemy for the past year, but now things are stirring up again. Nighthawks are again active in Krondor, so after some trouble with them, Prince Arutha and his old retinue is again joined by Martin and Baru and they start their travel to the North, looking for final confrontation with Murmandus. There they will find friends and enemies they never expected to see again. In the same time, Pug has finished his education with allies found at the end of previous book and is joined with Tomas, his oldest friend. Two of them will start a journey with ultimate goal of finding the one person who understands all this mess: Macros the Black.

This sounds like very simple plot; and believe me, it is. As before, plot is simple, straightforward and fast. This doesn't mean it's dull; Feist provides us with enough surprises and twists that it stays interesting. Also, considering pace with which events happen, reader doesn't have the time to stop and think much how plot is "easy".

Biggest complain can be directed to characters. While interesting and funny, they are just too shallow and already-seen. At times, I was feeling like I was reading some cheap love-novel, especially when Martin meets his love-interest (love at first sight, duty before love and all other clich├ęs...). But as with plot, speed can cover a lot of mistakes. Also, this is where he really starts with recycling of characters.

On the other hand, world-building (or better said setting-expansion) works great. Feist is able to twist elements he introduced in "Magician" completely around and still sound plausible. This will happen continuously with his books, but he still has one of largest and interesting settings, which he can always return to and work the details.

The book ending was a bit too much "happy-end", but this is nothing that it shouldn't be expected. This book is quite larger than "Silverthorn", but it doesn't feel so; it is very easy to read.

All in all, "A Darkness at Sethanon" is a solid continuation in same tone as his previous book. Not a great achievement in fantasy genre, but a simple book with likable characters that is a great fun to read. Who was able to enjoy "Silverthorn" is certain to have fun with this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment