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Raymond E. Feist Archives - Canadian eReader

Author: Raymond E. Feist

King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist – Spoiler free review

King of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist – Spoiler free reviewKing of Ashes by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Firemane Saga #1
Format: ARC
Pages: 512 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

King of Ashes is the first in a new series by fantasy author Raymond E. Feist and is the first not to be set in his Midkemia setting.  My thanks to HarperCollins Canada and Raymond E. Feist for the early eArc.  King of Ashes is released on May 8th and as such I will keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

On a personal note, I credit Mr. Feist with reawakening my love of reading; after studying literature at university I couldn’t stand to read anything more involved than a Cosmo magazine. Then a friend put a copy of Shadow of a Dark Queen into my hands and I’ve not stopped reading since.  He is a master storyteller.  It’s always “have to read one more page, one more chapter.” then before you know it, it’s 6am and you have to get ready to go to work…

For those of you unfamiliar with Feist’s earlier work, there are 30 novels in his Riftwar series starting with 1982’s Magician and ending with 2013’s Magician’s End.  My personal recommendation is to start with Magician as a good introduction to the world – be aware it does drag in parts – or the four books of the Serpentwar Saga – storytelling at its finest.

Anyway, onto King of Ashes.  This is set in the new world of Garn and centres around two young men, Hatu, the unknowing secret heir of the betrayed King Steveran and Declan, a young blacksmith at the peak of his craft.  Events force our two protagonists to flee their homes and plunges them into an adventure that promises to change their lives and the future of Garn itself..

Worldbuilding.  Naturally, it’s not reasonable to expect a world that is as fully developed as Midkemia, on which Feist worked for over 30 years.  That said, there are clear indications that a lot of thought has gone into Garn already and that it is going to be a wonderful place to get to know.  There are distinct cultures, history and religions and I look forward to seeing how the place grows.  One aspect I would have liked to have seen developed more fully at this point is the magic system.  In the whole 512 pages, it is only touched upon briefly, although there are definite hints of magical forces.

Characters.  I enjoyed spending time with both our protagonists, probably more so Declan than Hatu.  Both characters had distinct arcs in the story, although it was clear they are both still at the beginning of their journeys.  I look forward to seeing where they go from here.  The supporting characters were also interesting, and well developed, and a couple of them led to intriguing hooks for book two.  it’s too early to say yet whether either of them will be a Pug, a Jimmy the Hand or a Miranda from the earlier series.

Plot.  I would say that the focus of King of Ashes is on worldbuilding and character development, somewhat to the detriment of plot.  As the first book in a new series, especially one set in a new world, there is a great deal of heavy lifting to do in order to set the scene.  Much of the storyline seems to be focused in getting characters and plot points in place for the next stage of the saga.  As as self-contained story, I didn’t find King of Ashes particularly satisfying, but I have great faith that it will pay off in future books. 

In summary, if you are hoping that King of Ashes will be a great stand alone story you may be disappointed.  It is very obviously the setup for greater things to come and as such I personally feel it is worth the investment.  

four-stars

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015

In the three weeks since I blogged, I have read several great – and some not so great – books.  Check out my full (spoilery) review of Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb.  Other books I’ve read are as follows.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Voice of Gods by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals #0.5
Format: eBook
Narrator: Gemma Whelan, John Meagher
Pages: 122 pages
Genres: Cutesy romance, Epic Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

One of the YA books generating the most buzz this autumn is Eleanor Herman’s Legacy of Kings.  Herman is a respected historical author and Legacy of Kings is her first foray into YA historical fantasy.  The blurb makes it sound along the lines of Alexander the Great meets Game of Thrones.  I’m assuming minus the graphic sex and violence as it’s YA.  Early reviews have been positive.  I have not yet read/listened to Legacy of Kings (it’s on my TBR list) but I have read the prequel Voice of the Gods, which is currently free on major ebook sites.  It tells the story of the prophecy, which, I assume, is at the basis of the series.  it was… fine.  The worldbuilding was great, as you’d expect from a historian.  The characters were engaging, but in the space of a novella, it was more difficult to become overly attached to them.  I liked the story, but it’d didn’t grab me as fiercely as other books.  It did, however, show me enough to convince me that Legacy of Kings has potential.  Why not check out Voice of the Gods for yourself to see if you might be interested?

I gave Voice of the Gods three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: two-stars

This month I finally finished Magician’s End, the last in Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia Cycle.  To be perfectly honest, if it hadn’t had Feist’s name on it and been the culmination of a series I’ve been reading for decades, it would have ended up in my did not finish pile.  There were two storylines, one, the political/practical which involved characters about whom I struggled to care, and which seemed disconnected from the magical storyline, which had much loved characters but which got bogged down in the philosophical.  

In my opinion the trilogy could have benefited from some heavy editing and been condensed into two much stronger novels. Despite a few wonderful scenes, Magician’s End was a very disappointing entry from a normally masterful storyteller.  

Magician’s End only earned two out of five stars from me.

Reading roundup – August 28th 2015Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Gemma Whelan
Length: 6 hrs and 36 mins
Genres: Cutesy romance, Young Adult
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

Finding Audrey has been in my Audible to listen pile for some while now.  I was inspired to listen to it by the review over at PolandBananasBOOKS on YouTube and, like Christine, I loved this book.   Being British born and bred, Kinsella is for me the go-to beach read; light, amusing and witty – think Confessions of a Shopaholic or Remember Me.  Finding Audrey is Kinsella’s first foray into young adult territory and tells the story of the titular Audrey and her recovery from mental illness and her growing romance with her brother’s friend, Linus.  

The subject matter of the protagonist’s dealing with her anxiety issues adds real depth to this novel, more than I generally would expect from Kinsella.  Audrey’s whole healing process is beautifully and sensitively handled.  This doesn’t mean, however, that the book is lacking Kinsella’s usual wit and charm – on the contrary, there were some really hilarious and sweet moments.  The humour is typically British and I very much enjoyed it.

I loved Audrey’s relationships with her family and her growing romance with Linus.  I appreciated that her friends and family were really there for her, even if they didn’t always like the impact her illness had on her – and their – lives.

Gemma Whelan (Yara from Game of Thrones!) took on narration duties and did an amazing job.  She really brought out the humour as well as the challenges of a full blown anxiety attack.  This is a book I would recommend experiencing in audiobook format.

Finding Audrey rated a five stars out of five on my scale.

Added to my library recently

As I mentioned earlier I had been interested in Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman’s Alexander the Great/Game of Thrones mashup.  I picked this up in both Kindle and Audible formats, and will likely be my reading/listening matter for my next nightshifts.

Recently I finished Heir of Fire – full review coming soon! – and to ease the wait for Queen of Shadows I picked up the Assassin’s Blade, the compendium of the five Throne of Glass prequel novellas.  It’s going to be interesting to go back to see pre Endovier Celaena.  I picked this up in both Audible and Kindle formats.

There are so many good new releases coming out in September that I will start a new blog post for those.

See you then!

three-half-stars

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015

Hello, yes I know it’s been a while since I blogged – work and life keep getting in the way!

This last couple of weeks has involved routine doctor’s visits for both me and my cat, Isis.  Now, most cats don’t enjoy going to the vet, but Isis takes it to the extreme psycho-cat-going-to-shred-your-hands-and-tear-your-face-off mode complete with screaming, hissing, yowling and hyperventilating (that last, all three of us, the cat the vet and me).  My normally quiet, reserved kitty became so upset the vet had to fit her with a Hannibal Lecter Silence of the Lambs mask, which she STILL managed to remove to sink her teeth into the vet. 

IMG 0009

Poor kitty.  She’s now on meds which fortunately are a little easier to give!

Anyway, onto reading-related matters.

This week I’ve been rather obsessed with the upcoming release of Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, the second in her Fitz and the Fool trilogy.  I enjoyed book one, and more importantly, I’m heavily emotionally invested in the characters of Fitz and the Fool and their unconventional relationship.  Some of the early non-spoiler reviews I’ve read have said that it’s a fantastic return to form by Hobbs, and to my mind she was never off form.  I really can’t wait for release day.  I’m on nightshift on August 11th so I’ll anxiously await the audiobook to hit my Audible download queue at around 3am and start immediately.  From where we left book one, I’m anticipating Fitz going all Liam Neeson in Taken on the Servants of the Archive:

During my nightshift I made excellent progress on some of the series I need to complete, thanks to audiobooks.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Magician's End by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Chaoswar #3
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: John Meagher
Length: 17 hrs and 4 mins
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: three-half-stars

Since my last post I’ve read/listened to books one and two and am half way through the third book in Raymond E. Feist’s Chaoswar saga.  I must admit I’ve been somewhat less than excited about this series.  Although we have Pug and Magnus, I don’t feel as connected to the newer characters as I have in previous Feist series.  I’m also not wild about the whole religious angels/devils Fall from Heaven storyline that seems to be creeping in.

Despite my love for some of the unexpectedly returning characters, I am not too impressed that Feist chose to bring them back.  Their previous plotlines, to my mind, gave good closure to their character arcs and wonderful character development for others.  To bring them back now seems to negate all of that.  Admittedly though, in Feist’s hands, it’s handled in a much better way than a lesser storyteller might have been able to achieve.

I’ve still not completed the entire series, so I will reserve full judgement for when I do.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Trapped by Kevin Hearne
Series: The Iron Druid #5
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Length: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: five-stars

The next book I listened to on my nightshift was Trapped, book five in Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I adore this series.  The characters, (Oberon!) worldbuilding and plot are all wonderful.  This is a series best enjoyed in audiobook format thanks to Luke Daniels’ wonderful audio narration.  I can’t say enough good things about this series, so I’ll strongly urge you to go check it out for yourselves. I gave Trapped five stars out of five.

Reading roundup – August 8th 2015Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Amy Poehler
Length: 7 hrs and 31 mins
Genres: Autobiographies/Biographies, Humorous
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

I was looking for something a bit different to listen to during a recent nightshift, something funny, so I decided to listen to Yes Please written and narrated by Amy Poehler (with guests.)  In terms of audiobook production Yes Please is pitch perfect.  The producers have chosen to go for a less “polished” version leaving in snorts and giggles so that it really does feel as if you’re hanging out with Amy and friends.  I believe the text has been adapted slightly to fit the audiobook version.  I also did get a chuckle out of her guest stars.  Hearing Sir Patrick Stewart deliver some of Poehler’s down-to-earth and earthy words in his cultured British accent did give me a few giggles.

That being said, I didn’t necessarily always appreciate some of the language and the jokes, but I can honour Poehler’s commitment to get her laughs from making fun of circumstances or herself not other people’s misfortune.  

I gave Yes Please four stars out of five.

That’s all for today folks.  Expect a review of Fool’s Quest as soon as I have finished it!

Have a  good week.

three-half-stars

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist – Review

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist – ReviewSilverthorn by Raymond E. Feist
Series: Riftwar Saga #3
Format: Paperback
Pages: 343 pages
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne's rating: four-stars

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist is the third book in the Riftwar Saga and together with A Darkness at Sethanon forms a kind of duology within the series.  This first part tells the story of Prince Arutha’s search for the magical silverthorn plant to cure his beloved Anita from magical poisoning and of the growing threat of Murmandamus,

I consider Feist to be one of the master storytellers of his generation.  Let me tell you a story to prove it.  I studied language and literature at university and after four years of deep literary analysis sucking all the enjoyment out of reading I refused to read anything more complex than a Cosmopolitan for many, many years after graduation.  Not until, that is, a colleague loaned me Feist’s Shadow of a Dark Queen, the first in his Serpentwar saga.  I completely DEVOURED it and the rest of the series.  I was immediately drawn into Feist’s world of Midkemia and it reignited my love of reading that I’d all but forgotten.  When I bought my first Kindle and made the switch to ebooks, a book by Feist was also the first book I bought to ease my transition to the new format.

So, onto Silverthorn.

What I liked

Worldbuilding.  Feist has been writing in his world of Midkemia for over 30 years and knows it inside out.  Each of the nations in his world has its own distinct character, flora and fauna and customs.  The world feels real.  The magic system is what Brandon Sanderson would call a soft magic system in that it’s not always fully explained to the reader.  Feist is good at avoid using magic to create a deus ex machina which can be a strong temptation of a less well defined magic system.

Characters.  The characters, too, feel real.  While Arutha is the hero of Silverthorn and displays many heroic qualities he can be a really moody son of a gun which keeps him real.  The young Jimmy the Hand too, could be annoying, but his occasional moments of real vulnerability keep him endearing to the reader.  Admittedly,  in Silverthorn his female characters aren’t my favourite.  Carline comes across as shrewish and Anita is your stereotypical damsel in distress.  We don’t have a kickass Brienne of Tarth or Egwene al Vere.  Still, Silverthorn is one of Feist’s earlier works, and his female characters are better written later on.

Pacing.  Feist knows how keep a story moving along at a brisk pace and to keep narrative tension.  In Feist’s books there is always something going on; always an obstacle to overcome or an enemy about to try to kill our protagonists. 

The humour.  I adore Feist’s writing still with its not infrequent humour.  it is a rather dry, understated humour which is often expressed in quips by the characters and  really appeals to my British sense of humour.

What I didn’t like

Not available in ebook format.  Here I have to have a rant.  It seems that the publisher for the English version of Raymond E. Feist’s Silverthorn in North America doesn’t have the rights to produce an ebook version.  The only ebook version available to us Canadians is the French version.  I see that the UK publishers to have an ebook version available, but can we Canadians buy it?  Nope. We can easily buy hard copy books from Amazon.co.uk, but not ebooks.  Grrrr.  I look forward to the day when digital rights are less restrictive. I started reading Silverthorn in French as ebook, but in the end I found I was missing too much of Feist’s nuance and humour so switched to the paperback version.  (Note, the links above are to the French ebooks.)

Few female characters.   See above.

All in all I loved Silverthorn and gave it four stars out of five.

 

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist – Review

four-stars
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