Feist’s 1982 novel “The Magician” is a page-turner, a barnstorming adventure from first page to last. Be warned: do not expect any deeper subtext or subtle revelations here. “The Magician” has only one string to its bow. Although, what a splendid bow it is. The plot is beguiling, moving at a frenetic pace throughout.
The character development is both exciting and anodyne. The main character Pug is a Gandalfian moral magician who is humble and displays a love of learning throughout. This propensity for self improvement is pleasing. 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 he toils away as a Tsurani slave. The expected route for Pug was to die in chains. It was not his talent 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 a fantasy world, women could be imagined as being of equal value? Apparently not.
The magician is like eating a brown paper bag of penny sweets. Fun at the time but results in a sour tongued hollowness afterwards. It follows the classic Lord of the rings template throughout, sometimes drawing too heavily from Tolkien. A holiday read.