Book Review: A Darkness at Sethanon by Raymond E. Feist

13813Title: A Darkness at Sethanon
Author: Raymond E. Feist
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Year of publication: 1986
Rating: 4,5 stars

A Darkness at Sethanon is the stunning climax to Raymond E. Feist’s brilliant epic fantasy trilogy, the Riftwar Saga. Here be dragons and sorcery, swordplay, quests, pursuits, intrigues, stratagems, journeys to the darkest realms of the dead and titanic battles between the forces of good and darkest evil. Here is the final dramatic confrontation between Arutha and Murmandamus – and the perilous quest of Pug the magician and Tomas the warrior for Macros the Black. A Darkness at Sethanon is heroic fantasy of the highest excitement and on the grandest scale, a magnificent conclusion to one of the great fantasy sagas of our time.

Wheras Silverthorn, this novel’s predecessor, fails to grasp both the magnificence and originality of the first novel in these series, Magician, A Darkness at Sethanon does manage to meet the expectations. It is a trully wonderful adventure, and not only does it rise up to the challenge, it goes beyond that. Powerful characters, a land on the verge of war, creatures that only appear in your darkest nightmares and the faith of the world resting on the shoulders of a few heroes. It sounds like the classic fantasy formula, but Raymond E. Feist twists it around and turns it into something new, fresh an exciting.

Warning: The content below may contain spoilers for Magician and Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist!

Arutha conDoin, Prince of Krondor, is once again called upon to travel with his unlikely band of followers, who include a couple of bards; a Duke who is also his brother; a thief; a squire and a tribesman, as they learn that the evil demon Murmandamus has been amassing a gigantic army in the North lands. They must try to stop this from happening ofcourse, and upon doing so, they need the help of old allies – which asks for the reappareance of the protagonists of the first book in the series, Tomas and Pug – and new friends, whom they find in the unlikely form of former enemy Guy de Bas-Tyra.

It does take a bit for the book to get back to the level established by Magician, but when it finally does, it is in a most grand fashion, with the defence of fortress-town Armengar making for a frantic and exciting affair in which 7,000 or so town soldiers attempt to keep tens of thousands of Murmandamus’s invaders at bay. The battle for Armengar is one of the best-told, most thrilling battles in fantasy literature, and even those among us who are not exactly jumping up and down in their seats when they imagine an alliance of heroes clashing with a horde of demons, I am certain will still enjoy the way Feist writes this heroic battle, with a focus on human emotions, sacrifices and all those things that turn ordinary people into heroes.

Once again, after his remarkable appereance in Silverthorn, Jimmy the Hand comes back to steal the show. As witty, sarcastic and clever as ever, he thwarts plots to kill Arutha, secudes many and more teenage girls, and provides more wisdom than an entire king’s council. Arutha conDoin, by nature quiet, thoughtful and serious, shows more leadership qualities than you would give him credit for, and Amus Task, the retired pirate with a a rather enjoyable sense of humor, turns out to be valuable sidekick in the war against Murmandamus. Feist’s characters grow into their roles, a growth which is shown especially in this book, as they each stand up to take the part they were supposed to play. Not only does he offer outstanding characters, but Feist also produces believable, well thought through character development, and a plotline with more suspense and originality than any other fantasy novel in the last decade. With A Darkness at Sethanon, Raymond E. Feist proves he is trully a master of the genre.

The story has, except for the great characters which I already mentioned, a fast-paced, thrilling plot that will keep you glued to your seat. As he gathers all the cast members for the final showdown, and ends with an epic fight even Tolkien would be jealous of, Feist delivers the last part of one of the best fantasy series ever, with style and grandeur. It can’t possibly get any better than this.

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