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Raymond E. Feist’s The Riftwar Saga

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A few days back it was announced that the Riftwar Saga is going to be adapted for tv.I know that for many fantasy readers this is considered as one of the foundational series.Truth is i've never read these books cause the book blurbs never grabbed me.So my question is that is it worth investing the time to read these before the tv show comes out?

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EXCLUSIVE: BCDF Pictures has picked up the rights to Raymond E. Feist’s blockbuster fantasy book franchise The Riftwar Saga with Atomic Blonde screenwriter Kurt Johnstad aboard to adapt the first novel Magician for television. Claude Dal Farra, Brice Dal Farra, Brian Keady, and Feist are executive producing. Fiction Riot is also producing and will develop mobile content for the series starting early next year.

The Riftwar Cycle, a New York Times bestseller from Penguin Random House, has sold over 20 million copies and has been translated into 25 languages. It is also one of the longest-running fantasy book series of all-time, with 32 novels and additional short stories.

Feist said, “I’ve been talking to film and TV people about adapting my work since the publication of Magician in 1982. I have said no repeatedly to deals simply because the ‘fit,’ was wrong. I am delighted to have finally met people with the understanding of the work and vision to match my own in bringing The Riftwar Saga to series television.  I look forward to working with the talented crew at BCDF as much as they need and am excited at finally seeing Magician on the screen.”

Johnstad also wrote such pics as 300, 300: Rise of an Empire and Act of Valor.

 

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The first book(I consider Magician one novel)  is good, was likely ahead of its time as a clash of cultures with no real antagonist.  The following two books were entertainijg but generic fantasy with evil antagonists.

The following duology (per publication order) was good too.  

The Empire trilogy he co-weote eith Janny Wurtz is quite good, mostly intrigue and politics, and ahead of its time, though the last two books felt too long.

The first few books of the following quartet were quite good, some flaws but tried some new things. The 2nd book partly inspired Thr Lies of Locke Lamora.  The 4th book fell off a cliff as did pretty much every following book, especially including those based on the video games set between the original three books and following duology.

The books set after the Serpentwar quartet ranged from mediocre to very poor. The author was literally cranking them out for the money and had lost interest. Continuity fell off a cliff as did editing. In one of the last books a dwarf's name changes midbook.  In the penultinate novel due to a manuscript issue (part of a forst draft got mixed into the final edit) a xharacter is in two places at once.  

The tineline is screwed.  The royal family of the main kingdom literally changes from book to book after the serpentwar quartet.  In the early books we have engsging characters like Prince Arutha; in the latter books the author cant even be bothered to use the same characters.

The last book isnt too bad, but compared to its immediate predescessors, that's damning it with faint praise.

I'd avoid. Maybe read Magician and leave it there. It works as its own story.  What is quite good is he divides the whole series into relatively self-contained trilogies/duologies anda quartet. So unlike WOT or ASoI&F there is resolution without waiting 30 years

A tv series coukd work well.  

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I share Derfel's views on Raymond E. Feist's work, who started off so well, and then during and after his divorce just cranked them out for money and apparently without the benefit of a sober editor.

Magician is quite excellent, and the two books to close it out on the world of Midkemia, Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, are also good work and entirely satisfying in their conclusions for the characters and their motivations.

The Empire Trilogy he wrote with Janny Wurts are by far the best work either of them ever did.  And for the time of their publishing, they were certainly ground-breaking with their focus on non-traditional fantasy settings and characters.  These three books tell a separate story that happens concurrently with the three above, but set on the world of Kelawan rather than Midkemia.  Eventually the events in both books dovetail, and continuity is fine within this set of stories.

Daughter of the Empire
Servant of the Empire

Mistress of the Empire

I recommend reading these six books even if you never see any films or shows based upon them.

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I'd agree with what both Derfel and Wilbur said. You could easily read Magician as a standalone work if you want but the Empire series is really good.

A bit of an aside but am I the only one who doesn't really care about books being made into tv series/films? I've already read the books, if I liked them they're almost always superior to the on screen version and if I didn't why would I want to watch a tv series about them?

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I first read Magician when I was maybe about 12 or 13 and at the time the early books in the series (I think Prince of the Blood was the most recently published book at the time) were among my favourite books, particularly Magician itself and Servant of the Empire. I had a similar experience to Derfel where I enjoyed the books up until the end of the Serpentwar Saga and then the series kept going steadily downhill after that - I eventually gave up after Into a Dark Realm. The only one of the later books that I thought was any good was Honored Enemy, which was  co-written by William Fortschen (who probably wrote most of it), I thought it was a good piece of military fantasy about a small squad of soldiers in hostile territory.

I think to some extent the series has been overtaken by changing fashions in epic fantasy. Back when it was first published the focus on politics and warring nations rather than the epic quest to find a magical item to defeat the Dark Lord felt quite fresh in the era of Terry Brooks and David Eddings, but it looks a bit tamer compared to more modern works like ASOIAF.

There are so many fantasy series being optioned nowadays that I suspect most of them will never see the light of day, but I'm sure I'll give it a chance if it does get made. If they concentrate on the best bits of the books then I think it has potential to make a decent TV series, although it might end up feeling a bit like GoT except not quite as good. The Empire trilogy might make the most interesting adaptation.

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Yup. Magician is good (overcoming the relative lack of writing polish with a huge amount of infectious enthusiasm), The Empire Trilogy is excellent (although the best thing Feist has written or co-written, it's not the best thing Wurts has written; The Master of Whitestorm, at least, is stronger) and the stand-alone novel Honoured Enemy is great, although that was actually written by William Forstchen with Feist getting a story credit.

The rest of the early Riftwar novels - SilverthornA Darkness at SethanonPrince of the Blood and The King's Buccaneer - are adequate-to-solid. The first two Serpentwar novels - Shadow of a Dark Queen and Rise of a Merchant Prince - are surprisingly very good indeed, especially the latter (the one that inspired The Lies of Locke Lamora). The third book in that series, Rage of a Demon King, has an excellent war story mixed with a terrible magical/other-planar narrative. Shards of a Broken Crown, the fourth book in the series, is terrible and every book in the series after that point - about 17 of them - is either outright crap or desperately mediocre. Even the worldbuilding companion book is terrible.

I'd recommend reading MagicianThe Empire Trilogy and Honoured Enemy (which all take place roughly simultaneously anyway) and ignore the rest.

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2 hours ago, Werthead said:

 

I'd recommend reading MagicianThe Empire Trilogy and Honoured Enemy (which all take place roughly simultaneously anyway) and ignore the rest.



I mostly agree with this, but I'd say read the rest of the original trilogy as well. They're not as good and far more beholden to fantasy cliches of the day than Magician itself (which in some ways reads like a prototype asoiaf), but taken as simple quest adventures they're still fun, they tie up some loose ends including significantly expanding on one character, and therefore retroactively improving/casting a new perspective on his plot in Magician, and they have some great moments of epic magic. Plus, they offer context for parts of the later bits of the Empire trilogy.

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Honoured Enemy was quitr good though annoyed me on thr first page when the authors mixed up Borric and Brucal's rank (In Magician Brucal was Borroc's deputy, but HE mixed them up).  It also felt like it was leading to a follow-up, which never appeared.  Also I liked it better when it was called Sharpe's Rifles :p

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1 hour ago, polishgenius said:

I mostly agree with this, but I'd say read the rest of the original trilogy as well. They're not as good and far more beholden to fantasy cliches of the day than Magician itself (which in some ways reads like a prototype asoiaf), but taken as simple quest adventures they're still fun, they tie up some loose ends including significantly expanding on one character, and therefore retroactively improving/casting a new perspective on his plot in Magician, and they have some great moments of epic magic. Plus, they offer context for parts of the later bits of the Empire trilogy.

I think the ending of Magician would seem a bit unfinished without reading the next couple of books and following up on why Macros was so concerned about the rift. I remember being a bit disappointed by Silverthorn compared to Magician, but liked A Darkness at Sethanon more, even if it did feel like the finale was less epic than some of the things that happened earlier in the novel.

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I loved Magician as a kid - I read it a lot. Silverthorn was good & I don’t knoe why I never read the third book...might have to now if they’re being adapted for tv...

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The thing I loved the most when reading Magician and especially Silverthorn was that it felt like an RPG campaign narration. I was just getting into D&D at the time and reading it was very entertaining. Later books just don't give me that feeling, other than Krondor series but not as much as Magician and Silverthorn.

Feist's writing style, prose quality and all that aside, I LOVED reading these books and had great fun doing it.

Missed the Empire trilogy, will have to get to it when my to-read pile gets smaller.

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22 hours ago, Theda Baratheon said:

I loved Magician as a kid - I read it a lot. Silverthorn was good & I don’t knoe why I never read the third book...might have to now if they’re being adapted for tv...

I'd say the chances of this actually hitting the screen is very slight. It's a highly speculative option with no studio behind it (like the Black Company and Cosmere ones). With no studio on board, I wouldn't get too excited this is happening any time soon.

 

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Missed the Empire trilogy, will have to get to it when my to-read pile gets smaller.

 


 

 

I strongly recommend it. It's the only part of the series which I'd say really holds up well and you don't have to keep adding, "...for the 1980s" when talking about how good the early books are.

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I used to be a big fan of the books until the 4th serpent War one when they went immediately downhill fast, consequently I haven't read really any of the "good ones" in 20 years..  As Wert and others have said the Empire Trilogy is the best of his work.  I haven't read any of it in a long time but my favourite character was Tomas Ashen-Shugar, well at least the idea of him.  Unfortunately Feist I think didn't really have the skill to handle a weird character like that and so mostly ignored him except for Magician and  A Darkness at Sethanon.

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So, I must ask: why so many books? 

It seems like people have a less than chummy view of the latter half of the series. Which is startlingly massive at 27 or so books (including the Jimmy the Hand novella). 

So, why did Feist let the series run on for so long? Did he have a goal/end-point in mind with the series? What's the history behind the publishing of this incredibly long series?

 

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1 hour ago, IlyaP said:

So, I must ask: why so many books? 

It seems like people have a less than chummy view of the latter half of the series. Which is startlingly massive at 27 or so books (including the Jimmy the Hand novella). 

So, why did Feist let the series run on for so long? Did he have a goal/end-point in mind with the series? What's the history behind the publishing of this incredibly long series?

 

Originally it was a roleplaying game created by a guy called Steve Abrams, who ran it in the late 1970s at San Diego University where Feist was a student. Feist came on board and after playing in the game for a year or two, asked to borrow the world to use as the setting for a novel set 500 years before the present day of the setting, which became Magician. Abrams and some of his other players formed Midkemia Press, which put out some roleplaying settlements for the world in the early 1980s (mostly for the towns of Jonril and Carse, and the region around Crydee which in the "present day" of the setting has become a backwater). Feist thought there was scope for sequels, but the publisher was hesitant, which is why Magician works so well as a stand-alone. It sold well and Feist decided to write the history of the five Riftwars which took place in the intervening 500 years: the Riftwar, Serpentwar, Darkwar, Demonwar and Chaoswar.

This started off going well, with Feist writing the Riftwar and Serpentwar books (plus an intervening two set-up novels, plus The Empire Trilogy). However, circa 1996 he got divorced from his wife and apparently the alimony was insane. He had to pump out loads of books to fulfil that financial obligation, resulting in really bad ideas like the unnecessary Conclave of Shadows series and the awful Riftwar Legacy series. Eventually, when the financial burdens eased, he got back on track and finished the series off, but had taken a huge amount of time to get there and was clearly running on fumes long before the end.

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I owned the first, oh, twelve? or so books as a late teenager. Even back then I could pretty clearly see the drop-off in quality. I re-read and definitely enjoyed the original series, the awesome Empire series, and sputtered out as everyone else here did about the third book of the serpentwar series. 

Most of us on this forum loved dragons in one way or another at some point in our reading lives, I assume. They're everywhere and perhaps a bit tiresome these days, but I still think the dragons presented in this world were pretty awesome.

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12 hours ago, Werthead said:

However, circa 1996 he got divorced from his wife and apparently the alimony was insane. He had to pump out loads of books to fulfil that financial obligation, resulting in really bad ideas like the unnecessary Conclave of Shadows series and the awful Riftwar Legacy series

Ooof! 

So the series would have been shorter were it not for this? Damn.

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2 hours ago, IlyaP said:

So the series would have been shorter were it not for this? Damn.

Maybe shorter, or maybe better and more carefully written and edited.  Or he might have written something different.

Feist has some real talent, as evidenced by the things he wrote prior to 1995, and it was a pity to lose out on what could have been.

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3 hours ago, Wilbur said:

Maybe shorter, or maybe better and more carefully written and edited.  Or he might have written something different.

Alongside the editorial issues that I've read about, I've heard rumours/tales that at one point, one of the later books in the massive Riftwar Saga was recalled, due to some major errors? 

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