Monday, 23 May 2011

Fantasy Fiction- Feist

Raymond E. Feist is one of my favourite fantasy authors. He is most famous for his debut novel 'Magician', which is a modern masterpiece. His fantasy sagas are set on the fictional worlds of Midkemia and Kelewan, worlds that were created by he and college friends during Role Play Gaming and Dungeons and Dragons play sessions. With the exception of his novel 'Faerie Tale', all of Feist's novels are set in this fictional universe. Like many in the fantasy genre, Feist is heavily influenced by Tolkien and also by Ursula Le Guin's 'Earthsea' books. Feist's world is populated by the familiar staples of fantasy fiction: kings and queens, good and evil wizards, warriors and thieves, demons, dwarves and elves in a largely medieval/historic Earth setting, and essentially his books are about the eternal struggle between good and evil. However, what sets Feist apart from the rest of the Tolkien imitators and more average writers is his masterful, majestic storytelling. His books are easily accessible, his characters well-drawn and his plots gripping.

Here is a (slightly dated) interview with Feist from 2000 where he talks about his writing and the craft of writing generally:

I particularly liked his response to a question about writer's block:

Have you ever faced writer's block? How do you deal with it?

I don't believe in it. I believe there are times you can't write because of other issues in your life: death, divorce, marriage, buying a house, tax audits, etc. But if you sit and look at the screen and can't think what to write, that's your subconscious telling you there is something else you need to do first, then you get to write. Sometimes it's hard to figure out what that other thing is, but once you take care of it, you get back to writing. Unfortunately, I've known writers who've taken years to figure out what that other thing was.

I can highly recommend his books, in particular his first novel Magician and the Conclave of Shadows trilogy: Talon of the Silver Hawk, King of Foxes, and Exile's Return. These books in particular are my personal favourites. Magician introduces two major recurring characters through his sagas: the young apprentice magician Pug who becomes a mighty sorceror, and his friend Tomas who becomes a Dragon Lord and wedded to the Elven Queen. That novel details the early lives and development of those characters and the shadowy threats their world faces from the Tsurani race of Kelewan and the dark figure of the Black Sorceror, Macros. The Conclave of Shadows trilogy is a story of tragedy, intrigue, revenge, exile and redemption, and in my opinion after Magician is Feist's second masterpiece.

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