Saturday, February 11, 2012

REVIEW: A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist

Now that I actually have weekends for the first time in years, I have time I can waste on more frivolous activities, such as reading for six hours straight. I had more incentive to do this when my latest Book Depository order arrived and I realised how much I had to read. Why didn't someone tell me how freaking big/long A Song of Ice and Fire is!?!

Anyway ... I just finished A Darkness at Sethanon and am filled with much satisfaction at completing yet another trilogy that remained partially read for some years. I found that this book followed seamlessly on from Silverthorn and was so similar in style, pace and content that it could have in fact all been one book. One thing I love about Feist is that he is the only author who manages to find uses for words I have honestly never even heard of. Think about it ... how often, especially in fantasy, do you see words you have never seen in your life? It's great.

aDaS was a mixture of the satisfying and dissatisfying for me. I enjoyed how the story was a to and fro between the very pragmatic events involving the war against Murmandamus and the very mystical and ethereal dealings of Pug and Tomas. Feist is truly accomplished when it comes to masterful prose, the war scenes a particular highlight. However, I think if the book had just revolved around this part of the story, it would have lost any sense of 'epic' status and become a little mundane. Luckily Feist offsets this with some tantalizing revelations about the history and workings of the very universe the story itself takes place in. Not only is this extremely rewarding after getting all the way to book three, but finally gives his universe a little more depth and finality.

I was a little disappointed in some of his reasoning and the resolution. By definition, the ancient history of the universe and the key superpowers involved are completely alien and therefore incomprehensible to our way of thought and understanding. I thought this was handled well and was conveyed by allowing the reader to accept that it wasn't going to get any clearer and move on. There were some elements however which were a little bit of a cop out though, and demonstrated that Feist had but a loose grasp on things. You could tell when this was happening because the story just gave up on explaining logic and replaced it with 'mystical' lights and other hocus pocus, which was then explained away as a mystery of the universe. Bollocks!

The resolution was the worst culprit. Three whole books lead up to an event which was short-lived, had no twist and made no logical sense. Just a lot of explosions and unexplained green light. Le sigh.

That aside, the book was a very easy and enjoyable read and I think a lot of other fantasy authors could learn from Feist's supreme literary skills. I don't think I'll be rushing to read the rest of the extensive Riftwar Cycle - it's just not addictive enough - but maybe one day.

Up next ... Out of Oz!


  1. Nice to meet you. Good luck with A-Z. I look forward to your posts.

  2. I really enjoyed Riftwar, but I'm with you, I don't know if I can do the rest. What is at, book 873?