My review of Magicians End by Raymond E. Feist
There is an old saying “whoever brought me here must also bring me home”. Feist brought us to Pug and Midkemia many years ago and has finally brought us home to an ending; unfortunately I am just not sure that it is an ending worthy of the life of Pug and the Midkemia Universe.
When I read a series I have a tendency to not read the last novel, I guess I don’t want it to actually be over. Nevertheless, it felt like it was time to close the page on Pug (pun intended); I just wish it were more. In Magician’s End I found the plot to be lean, the sub-stories unconnected and I found no empathy or connection with a lot of characters laid out in the story.
We as readers have known the fate of Pug and his eventual demise. Through each story have we not felt the death of each of Pug’s loved ones and related with him as he tries to continue on with the fight? To come to this end, a story without depth or vigor, without the sense of struggle to the bitter end. There was an unsatisfactory realisation that while not all things end happily for everyone, some of those we love can continue on as long as we are willing to sacrifice.
In this book and the others the character I have enjoyed the best has been James Dasher and those of the Jameson line. There is a roughish quality, as well as a commitment that Feist has brought to the character and his offspring, that have always been right. Thankfully the latest incarnation follows true and is one of the main characters in Magician’s End that I took pleasure in. He’s written as intelligent, committed and decisive and this is portrayed well on the page.
Pug for his part never actually feels like the main protagonist. He, Magnus, Miranda and Nakor add an undertone to the book but I got the feeling Feist was trying a little too hard to make a circular story, tying in past lines and characters. The plots that involved these characters were under-developed and lacklustre. This is most evident in how Pug et al must relearn the lessons of the past to save the future. The concept was good: travelling through different worlds, dimensions and times, but the execution and the realization of these lessons was not engaging and overly simplistic.
The re-emergence of the conDoin brothers as main characters added nothing to the story of Pug and his struggles. However, their tale was very entertaining (the brothers’ story line is actually the most action in the whole book) and well written, it should have been its own novel.
The penultimate novel focused a lot on Miranda and Naktor’s return, all be it in a different form, but for the life of me I found no real relevance for this in Magicians’ End. The best I can come up with is that Feist wanted these characters returned for sentimental reasons; standing shoulder to shoulder with Pug at the end. Dead sometimes should just mean dead, no re-spawns or extra loves allowed.
Feist has been leading us down a merry path to the ultimate end for a while now, the unseen hand of true evil who has guided events for 100 years of Pug life… and then we get the Dread Lord… there is no great darkness, no shiver down the spine, yes the Dread is all powerful, yes if they lost the world ends, but between Bliss (don’t get me started on this concept – I am me and my memories are mine… I would not wish to lose myself in a state where I did not know who I am no matter how pleasant) or nothingness I don’t know what’s worse. I think Feist’s concept is extremely flawed and is another big disappointment.
I feel I am focusing a little too much on the negative aspects. Don’t get me wrong, it did have its positive elements. I enjoyed how Feist has portrayed the Gods of Midkemia, the distinction of the Higher Gods in relation to the lower and the greater Power (Universe). Thoughts have power and belief can narrow focus and limit us in small or large ways. Gods are what we make off them. The final great enemy, the Dread Lord, was a tremendous anti-climax however; the idea that the beings of light Sven-ga’ri are actually a caution of the enemy and were made in this image so people would not destroy was very clever.
The texture and attention to detail of environments and surrounds that each character inhabits was another highlight. There is one chapter where pseudo-Marcus is showing off the Universe in all its majesty both large and small. Feist has written with such a level of imagination and skill that I could see it in my mind’s eye as I read.
If there is an epitaph for Magician’s End it’s that the viewpoints and elements Feist is trying to put across are solid but the implementation is lacking and unfulfilling.
At The Gates of Lims-Kragma you choose the delight of the after-life or return to the wheel to be reborn. I have loved and poured over this series for years, there have been some misses but mostly wins. To end it like this, in a whimper and not a bang, with opened ended stories and half promises, I feel completely let down. I choose for the conclusion of Pug’s journey to return to life as a different book, he deserves better.
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