Previously, I have talked about the issue of how tastes change over time. How you grow and mature and, hopefully, so does your taste in books. Seriously, if you are an adult that has been through any type of higher education or life changes, you should not still be reading the same old stuff you read in high school. At least not just that same old stuff. I've mentioned how Piers Anthony used to be one of my favorite authors (in this post) and how I can't read anything by him anymore. It can be a sad feeling when you grow out of a beloved author.
Back in high school, I picked up these two books by this author Raymond Feist, Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master. [Note: These were originally published as one book, Magician, but the publisher decided it was too long and later split it into two books.] I liked them. I remember really liking them, in fact. I picked up several other Feist books, including Faerie Tale (which I loved), but never got around to reading any of them (except Faerie Tale). However, when Magician was re-released as an author's preferred edition, I picked those up and re-read it. I still liked it. That, though, was a long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away).
Recently, I passed the two Magician books on to my younger son, and he really liked them. He wanted the next book in the series, Silverthorn.
Now, let me just insert two things here:
1. Magician is a complete story. There is no ambiguity in the ending about it needing any kind of sequel.
2. A few years ago, my daughter bought for me Krondor: The Betrayal, a book (first in a series) that Feist wrote based off of a video game based off of Magician and the rest of the Riftwar Saga. It was terrible. However, remembering how much I had enjoyed the other books I'd read by Feist, I chalked it up to being based off of a video game.
Silverthorn is a book I owned but had never read. Like I said, Magician ends on a note of finality, so, even though there were more books in the Riftwar Saga, I had never felt compelled to continue reading, so I just hadn't. But my son's desire to continue the story spurred me to dig out my copy of Silverthorn (especially since the alternative was to buy him something we already owned), and, then, I decided I would (finally) go ahead and read it.
That was a mistake.
Silverthorn is a horrible book. Okay, horrible may be too strong of a word, but it was quite a challenge to get through it. It struck me as nothing more than a forced sequel to something that didn't need one. Basically, we want to see these characters again, so figure out a story for them. Whether that came from the publisher or the author not knowing what to write next, I have no idea. Whatever the cause, it was completely formulaic but without any of the charm of, say, The Belgariad, to make it worth reading. A quest for an item while being chased by an all powerful enemy that the heroes manage to continually defeat without anyone ever getting killed.
That bit about being chased was the worst part of it. The bad guys always knew where the good guys were, always overtaking them and hounding them endlessly. Plus, there were zombies. Oh, yeah, the book has zombies, but it was written way before the whole zombie thing became big. The only way they can be killed is by fire, so, even when they hack them to bits, the pieces keep coming. The book has magic, but it's that kind of magic that conveniently only works when the author wants it to. The whole thing was rather infuriating.
Feist also suffered from "then-syndrome" while writing this one. "He did this, then he did this, then he did that, then he did this again, and then he did this and that." Then then then. Oh my gosh. He also suffered from "again-syndrome," because, after the characters did something, they almost always did it again. "Again he picked his nose." "Again he turned around." "Again he drove me crazy!" But the worst...
The worst was "suddenly-syndrome." A while back, when PT Dilloway reviewed The House on the Corner, he dinged me for using the word "suddenly" too much. I did a word count after he said that and came up with about two dozen uses in 120,000 words. I didn't feel too badly about that. Well, PT should certainly not read Silverthorn. At one point, during a two page battle scene, Feist uses the word "suddenly" more than a dozen times. In two pages! I think I never want to use that word again after reading Feist's book.
I kept expecting, "then, suddenly, he again...," or something of the sort. It didn't happen, but it wouldn't have surprised me.
The worst part of having read this book, though, is that it's kind of ruined the other books for me. I'm left with this lingering question as to whether the other books are better than this one or if they were this bad, too, but I was just young enough not to be bothered by any of it. And I want to know! I want to go back and read Magician again just so I can see if they were better, but I know that I won't, so it's just going to bug me for who knows how long. Maybe, I'll re-read Faerie Tale and see how that one is; I've kind of wanted to re-read it for a while anyway.
Oh, and the editing is horrible, especially considering these were edited by a major publisher. The book was full of comma errors, for one thing, but errors that don't make any sense. For instance, there would be a sentence like "I went to the store, to buy some milk." Why is that comma there? There's never a reason for a comma in a sentence like that, yet the book was full of that type of error, like the editor just tossed them on the page and let them stay where they landed. And, then, there were the misspellings. Like the adventurers kept going up the trial. Not the trail, the trial. They did this more than once. They did it more than twice. Personally, I kind of want to see a story, now, about someone going up and down the trial or racing down the trial on his horse. That was not the only misspelling just the only one that happened again and suddenly again.
So I don't really know what to say about Feist, now. There was a time I would have suggested, at least, Faerie Tale to people that like that kind of thing, but Silverthorn leaves me more than reluctant to suggest anything by Feist to anyone.