I read Magician by Raymond E. Feist a few years ago after a friend recommended it as the best fantasy book he had ever read. Then, when I was looking at it in the bookstore, a random man next to me commented on how good it was, so it was with high expectations that I read Magician. I didn't find anything terribly captivating or original about the story. The races such as elves, dwarves and men were bastard children of Tolkien's and were little more than a token effort at best. The tale was epic in itself but I found it rushed and thought this book could have spanned a whole series. What did impress me however was Feist's incredible prose and superior vocabulary - it truly does the fantasy genre a service.
While Magician is almost a stand alone book, Silverthorn continues the series with the focus shifted slightly to emphasise the stories of different protagonists. Feist's spectacular vernacular (I'm amazing) continues to shine and yet never does the language prove to be a barrier to tale itself ... in fact it remains quite easy to read.
The plot begins with events revolving around the attempted assassination of Arutha, now Prince of Krondor and his unlikely friend, Jimmy the Hand, boy thief extraordinaire. I must admit that while this was interesting and made a great story, they seemed a little mundane compared to the last book, and a poor follow up. Magician involved two worlds worth of characters, some supernaturally powerful beings and a colossal war ... so why are we now involving ourselves with the petty goings on in Krondor. Luckily this is all turns out to be a clever ruse and the plot thickens quite nicely to return to the grandeur of yesterbook. Some nice links are made and characters returned to present quite a suitable sequel. Hoorah!
Jimmy the Hand was a definite highlight of Silverthorn. While we don't really get into his past or innermost workings in any detail, he is quite an entertaining and intriguing character. Still only a boy, Jimmy has had to grow up fast, becoming a quick-witted and resourceful young man, yet still retaining his youthful charm and cheek and his comic one-liners are a nice touch to the narrative. I also appreciated how he never became the archetypal Gary-Stu-esque child prodigy that surfaces in so many fantasies these days.
The return of Pug was also welcomed, especially after the first half of the book made it seem as if he would only play a negligible role. His POV provides a much needed boost to the story to get it to the epicness it needs as a sequel to Magician.
While an entertaining story and enjoyable read, I find that Feist gives little more than surface detail about the environment and peoples of his world which I think is what prevents it being a truly epic tale and from a genuine engagement from the reader. It was missing a sense of urgency for me.
Still, another success for me in an attempt to read all the forgotten books on my shelf that were left by the wayside. I've had Silverthorn for almost two years, but there was always something I wanted to read more. Next is A Darkness at Sethanon which will mean another series done and dusted before I leave for Tasmania. Apart from the books I ordered the other day I am also taking Nights of Villjamur, Out of Oz, Treason Keep and City of Dreams and Nightmare.