Book Review: The King’s Buccaneer by Raymond E. Feist

169959Title: The King’s Buccaneer
Author: Raymond E. Feist
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy
Year of publication: 1992
Rating: 4 stars

Set ten years after the events recounted in Prince of the Blood, The King’s Buccaneer is a new and exciting epic adventure from one of the world’s most popular fantasy writers.

Long recovered from the ravages of the Riftwar, the people in the Kingdom of the Isles enjoy peace and prosperity. Nicholas, third son of Prince Arutha of Krondor, is a bright and gifted youngster, but sheltered by the restrictive life of his father’s court. To learn more of the world outside the palace walls, Nicholas and his squire, Harry, set sail for pastoral Crydee.

Shortly after their arrival, Crydee. is brutally attacked by unknown forces. The castle is reduced to ruins, the townspeople slaughtered and two young noblewomen – friends of Nicholas – abducted. Soon the young Prince and his companions discover that the surprise attack was no isolated incident. The invaders have come from the distant Sunset Islands, home to cut-throats from every known land, and have gathered to make war upon Nicholas’s homeland. But it is more than a simple raid for slaves – they serve a dark force which threatens the entire world of Midkemia, a terrifying force that Nicholas must confront.

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers for Magician, Silvethorn, and a Darkness at Sethanon!

The King’s Buccaneer, formerly part two of the mini-series Krondor’s Sons, but now officially the last part of the Riftwar Series – a change of heart I greatly support, because without being part of a larger series, the Krondor’s Sons books are a bit lacking – is a nice closure piece for said series, but also a prelude for what is to come. The problems Nicholas faces when two of his friends are abducted to a far away, foreign country, seem almost like an omen for the next series: The Serpentwar Saga. Even more than with the folks from Kelewan, Midkemia has had trouble with the Panathians, evil snake-like magicians who worship a goddess of death and would gladly die to be reuinited with said goddess. They could care less about the life of others, and would even gladly kill their own soldiers as to strengthen their mistress. These evil creatures already made their appearance in Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, but the plan they have come up with this time strikes all imagination.

As if burning Crydee to the ground, killing half the population there, and kidnapping two noblewomen wasn’t enough, all this bloodshed is just a minor part of the grand sheme to destroy entire Midkemia. Ofcourse, no one in their right mind would want to destroy an entire world, but we can’t exactly call those Panathians bright and clever fellows, although later on, we have to admit that the way they were going to pull this off – you know, the great mystical ‘kill everyone until no one is left’ plan – is nothing short but brilliant. Unfortunately for them, young prince Nicholas, who has some issues with his misshaped foot, and continues to whine about it for halfway through the book, owns a set of qualities fit for a prince of the kingdom: courage, determination, a heart of gold, and a teenage crush on one of the captured noblewomen. Immediately he takes control – in a rather unbelievable fashion, I might add, as if all of the sudden he gets +100 intellect and finally realises his education might come in handy some day – and sets of to sail to the Sunset Isles, home to all the cut-throat pirates on the entire planet, with the help of none other than former scare of all seas, Amos Task, Nicholas’ very own cousin Marcus, his best friend Harry, the funny and witty Isalani Nakor and the strong warrior Calis. An unlikely alliance that hopes to be successful against all odds.

Nicholas’ personality, although much more developed than the one from his older brothers Borric and Erland – who greatly annoyed me throughout the previous novel, Prince of the Blood – has some downsides, which make him all the more human. About one forth of the book Nicholas is complaining about his misshaped foot, and although I’m not going to argue that this might be a burden, and he does have the right to whine about it if he wants to, I also have a message for the young prince It’s a foot. You can still walk on it, hardly anyone who doesn’t know you will notice, and you’re still prince of the Kingdom of the Isles. Get over it. At least, don’t let it hold you down in every bloody thing you do. But no worries, because halfway throughout the novel, Nicholas all of the sudden ‘gets’ it, and moves on. Gone is the foot-whining, hello to the suddenly decision-making buccaneer. A swift and sudden change, but one for the better. Personally by the end of this book I would have preferred it if Nicolas became successor for the throne of the Isles, rather than either one of his brothers.

There are some things to mention about the supportive characters. The reappearance of Amos Task was wonderful, as is the old menacing pirate. His witty sense of humor, the way he just laughs when Death looks him right in the face, with this captain on my ship I’d sail to the other end of the world, and beyond. Furthermore, there is Nakor, who always manage to surprise even me, as he comes up with new, fun schemes and manages to enter even the most secured of places. Without both of these characters, this novel would certainly not have been this enjoyable. The other characters are somewhat lacking. Marcus is a quiet, but strong and courageous lad, who has had some bad luck as of late, so it’s natural he’s even more quiet than usual. On the other hand, Nicholas’ best friend Harry talks enough for two, maybe three of them, so that makes up for it. The plot is exciting, with some nice plot-twists (some predictable, others unpredictable), and for people like me, who are more interested in the internal struggles in Midkemia rather than the planet-war (or however you would call it) between Midkemia and Kelewan, this novel is definately interesting.

Personally, I liked this book more than its predecessor, Prince of the Blood. However, this isn’t Feist in the way of Magician, this isn’t a mind-blowing, brilliant piece of art. It’s a nice novel, interesting story, and fun characters, but that’s about it. Feist does get bonus points for creating the additional content of Novindus, and describing it in such a beautiful, insightful manner. The King’s Buccanneer is obviously another coming-of-age-story, very similar but also very different from Prince of the Blood, a great way to end the Riftwar Series, and an even greater prelude to the upcoming Serpentwar Series. Do me a favor when you’ve read this book: don’t wait too long to start Shadow of a Dark Queen, and you will trully grasp how well this novel fits inbetween. If you liked Prince of the Blood, you will love this novel. If you like Feist’s witty sense of humor that he portrays so well in his characters, you will occasionally find yourself laughing throughout this story. If however, you’re a bit nostalgic for the grandeur that was Magician, you will not find any of that here.


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