Feist’s 1982 novel “The Magician” is a barnstorming page-turner from first page to last. Yet that is all it is, there is no deeper meaning or interesting subtext here, it is all about the story. “The Magician” has only one string to its bow, although, what a splendid bow it is. The plot is beguiling with Feist moving it along at a frenetic pace throughout.
The character development is both exciting and anodyne. Pug is a Gandalfian moral magician who is humble and displays a love of learning throughout. Admittedly, his meliorist tendencies make him admirable. He does not just rely on his innate talent but works hard to better himself.
“I’ve seen brave men die because they couldn’t forget they were free” he utters whilst toiling away as a Tsurani slave. Pug should have died in chains. It was not his ability that saved him at this point, it was his decision to work hard to overcome his plight. A lesson for us all.
The female characters disappoint the most. Women wait around to marry men in “The Magician”. Take Carline. After she is done waiting for Pug, she shacks up with Roland. Anita and Katala’s lives play out in much the same way. Surely in an imaginary world, women could be imagined as being of equal value? Apparently not.
Reading “The Magician” is akin to eating a bag of penny sweets. Fun yet unsubstantial. Feist follows Tolkien’s template a little too rigidly here. A perfect holiday boon for some and an empty treat for others.