A Darkness at Sethanon is the stunning climax to Raymond E. Feist’s brilliant epic fantasy trilogy, the Riftwar Saga.
Here be dragons and sorcery, swordplay, quests, pursuits, intrigues, stratagems, journeys to the darkest realms of the dead and titanic battles between the forces of good and darkest evil.
Here is the final dramatic confrontation between Arutha and Murmandamus – and the perilous quest of Pug the magician and Tomas the warrior for Macros the Black. A Darkness at Sethanon is heroic fantasy of the highest excitement and on the grandest scale, a magnificent conclusion to one of the great fantasy sagas of our time.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
A disappointing end to what I remember being a great series of books. The first two were really well written and well structured stories, this book didn’t seem to know what it wanted to do and wandered from one huge event to the next. I totally understand that it’s a fantasy story but the suspension of belief required to navigate not one but three huge battles was just too much with our major characters repeatedly putting themselves at risk and escaping at the last minute, remarkably unscathed.
I really enjoyed finding out the back story behind the elves, Valheru and especially Macros but the whole concept of the time trap and returning to the beginning of the Universe was baffling and seemed to have no significance apart from a handy way to get stuff done and move characters around. It’s like the author had a great idea he wanted to shoehorn into a story and nobody was able to talk him out of it.
Finally it’s very obvious that George R.R. Martin was a Feist fan at some stage. The immortal Black Slayers, who can only be killed by burning their hearts led by one key magical leader coming in a horde from the North, delayed by a battle at a fortress with giant walls and the use of naphtha to destroy a city. Sound familiar? There’s even dragons!
Feist went on to write many more great stories based on Kelewan and Midkemia and I definitely won’t be stopping here.
A poisoned bolt has struck down the Princess Anita on the day of her wedding to Prince Arutha of Krondor.
To save his beloved, Arutha sets out in search of the mystic herb called Silverthorn that only grows in the dark and forbidding land of the Spellweavers.
Accompanied by a mercenary, a minstrel, and a clever young thief, he will confront an ancient evil and do battle with the dark powers that threaten the enchanted realm of Midkemia.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The storyline is a familiar and simple one. The dashing young Prince has fallen for the beautiful young Princess and instead of living happily ever after she is struck down by a terrible poison. Close to death she is placed in a magical sleep and he embarks on a quest for the cure accompanied by a small band of friends. It’s old school fantasy at its best.
The writing is far from simplistic. The detail of character and location is really good and the simple story is nestled within the much more complicated overall story that was started in the first book.
Despite being set almost completely on Midkemia it was good to return to Kelewan close to the end setting the scene for the final book of the series but also briefly bringing back well liked characters from the first book.
The author has a great talent for writing standalone stories that are completed within the one book but also interconnect to form the bigger story. This is difficult to do and this is one of the very few middle books I’ve read that don’t just feel like scene setters.
It is the characters that really make these books so good. Arutha and Jimmy dominate here but we get to know so many others that develop further through the series of books and see a slightly different side of some we’ve already met.
At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician – and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever.
Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land. Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun.
Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Pug’s destiny is to lead him through a rift in the fabric of space and time to the mastery of the unimaginable powers of a strange new magic.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
While this is undoubtedly a very good book my high rating may be influenced by nostalgia as much as anything else. It was one of the very first fantasy books that I read and one of the small number that got me really interested in the genre. I first read it in my late teens and have come back to it a number of times over the years.
The story itself isn’t that complicated and neither are the characters but it still manages to incorporate a large number of characters, all with an impact on the story and span two worlds with very different cultures.
The style of writing is very much that of the early 80s. This story comes at the very beginning of the emergence of fantasy fiction and is very different to many books being written today. It’s a simpler style of writing and no adult themes. I found it very refreshing to be honest.
The author has written a considerable number of books in the world of Midkemia and Kelewan and this is just the first installment. It’s hard to believe that this was his first published novel. The story of the Magician and the Riftwar Saga is an introduction to two amazing worlds and I’d highly recommend it.