There are a lot of fantasy series out there, and I seem to be reading each and every single one of them. Each has something that makes them attractive – my writeups tend to focus on what that is, and I’ve enjoyed each in its own way.
Perhaps the nicest thing about a series is that sense of being reunited with old friends when you crack a new book open. It’s a comfortable feeling, perfect for readers who don’t always want to be challenged, and who enjoy stories that take a loooong while to tell.
Of course, some of these series demand more from the reader, while some give more pure entertainment and joy. Topping the list for the second quality is Raymond E. Feist’s long-running Riftwar series.
I started reading these books when I was about fourteen years old… and have loved them ever since. They are among the few thick books that require almost no effort from the reader. They grab you by the arm and take you for a ride. Time flies by almost imperceptibly, and so do the books themselves.
Critics, of course, will say that the reason for this is twofold. First, that I am an uncritical reader and, secondly, that Feist is not a good writer.
They are wrong, as critics usually are, especially postmodern critics, on both counts. I am a very discerning reader who reads widely across a number of genres (just flip through the posts on this site for random examples). The problem is that I define a good book as one that does what it sets out to do and does it well. Critics define it as a book that meets their particular literary / political / sociological pet peeve. This is why critics are made fun of.
The other place they are wrong is in calling Feist a bad writer for his smooth, fast-paced, uncluttered, prose. Every time I read a critic bashing a writer for transparency, I always suspect that this is a critic who tried to write clearly and failed. This wouldn’t surprise me in the least. As a writer, I have nothing but respect for my peers who can drag you along almost against your will. The men and women who cause you to finish a book before you realize it are masters of the craft–even if their chosen milieu is more popular fiction than high literary expression.
So, if you’d like a good ride, you can do much worse than to pick up a Feist volume (my advice–start with Magician. The one pictured above just happens to be the most recent one I’ve read). And then turn off your inner critic and enjoy the journey.
Gustavo Bondoni also writes fantasy. His book The Malakiad was published in 2018. It’s both funny and poignant. OK. It’s not poignant, but it is funny as hell, as befits a book whose main character is called Kopulus.