Sunday, February 23, 2014

Book review: "Legacy of Kings" by C. S. Friedman

It's been almost two weeks since I have read "Legacy of Kings", the last book in C. S. Friedman's "The Magister Trilogy", but I was away on a business trip so only now has time to write a review.

In last book, "Wings of Wrath", the secret that Souleaters are returning came out, with dark history of the Wrath, magical border that kept them in the North. Now, in "Legacy of Kings", Souleaters have a new Queen, magically joined with Witch-queen Sidarea, so humanity must join forces to repel them once again, or go through annihilation of their civilization. This time, they have Magisters and they don't know will this prove a blessing or a curse. Because, Magisters have a dark secret, hidden even from them, and known only by one Magister - Colivar.

"Legacy of Kings" interweaves several plots. We follow High King Salvator, who has to find a balance between his monkish past, his new responsibility as king, and legacy of his father and heritage. Curiously, Queen Gwynofar, one of central characters of last book, here is downgraded to a side-character. We follow also the enemies, Sidarea and her female Souleater; Nyuku, leader of male Souleater and their companion; and Nasaan, new character who is not aware who is he putting his chances with. Most interesting plot-line is that of Magister's, especially Colivar. Plot oscillates between being familiar and following fantasy tropes, to being unpredictable in small details.

After the setting was expanded in second book, I didn't really expect any new additions. Sure, we finally see some of the southern kingdoms, and desert definitely proves interesting new place, but it is all familiar from previous books. The big revelation is of course connected to Magisters and their connection to Souleaters. Much of it will be as you already guessed, but Friedman was very good with details.

There are almost no new characters in this book (except Nasaan, I think), but we find out some new things about our old friends. Kamala is finally in focus of events, which was not so in first two books. I especially liked her trick and transformation in the end. All Magister are interesting characters, especially Colivar, and during the course of book they change much. It is hard to reconcile complete lack of empathy (by definition of Magister) and still be able to write a likable character. But despite them being interesting, I can't say I really connected with any of the characters.

For summary of "Legacy of Kings", and the whole "The Magister Trilogy": these are solid books, with interesting plot and characters who grow, but without a spark that would make them a hit. They are written well, so even the old fantasy fans won't have problems with them, but all in all, this is not a series that deserves any special recommendation.

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