You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rides a Dread Legion

Rides a Dread Legion is the first book by Raymond E. Feist I've read. It is the first book in the Demonwar Saga, however I discovered while reading it that it draws heavily on Feist's previous series. There are constant references to characters long dead and battles decades old. While this gives the novel some depth, some of the references feel superfluous and irrelevant.

The Clan of the Seven Stars are a race of elves who are being slaughtered by armies of demons that overwhelm their worlds. They are making a last stand on their last world but have discovered a world through a portal that they believe to be their ancient home. Gulamendis is an elf who is treated as an outcast because he works with demon magic, and others are suspicious that such a magician is the cause of the demon attacks. Gulamendis travels to Elvandar, where he finds a large settlement of elves who stayed on the home world, Midkemia. While awed by the beauty and power he finds there, he knows that his people will see all the other peoples of the home world as subjects for their dominion.

Amirantha is a human magic user in Midkemia who makes a living by conjuring demons and banishing them for a fee. When one of the demons he conjures turns out to be too much for him, he realizes his brother is trying to kill him. He determines to tell someone of authority about this, and ends up on an island of magician school. Pug, the leader of the magicians, is an old man who had been in a big fight with Amirantha's other evil brother. Sandreena, a Knight-Adamant and former lover of Amirantha, arrives on the island to give her testimony about a band of thieves she encountered and the magic users with them who conjured a demon. It is clear that there is an interlacing of histories here, and nearly everyone is tied to everyone else in some way.

While Pug and his son travel through a portal to another world for research, Gulamendis returns to where his people are coming through their portal to make a homestead to retreat to. Tomas, the Warleader of Elvandar, flies a golden dragon to the homestead to make peace overtures to the returning elven people. Meanwhile, Amirantha and Sandreena and some other magicians try to stop Amirantha's brother, but end up caught in an ambush.

The book suffers from a feeling that it is largely exposition and building up to something. The events at the end are a tragedy that strikes the group, but it is clear that this is just the beginning of a larger story. The novel doesn't stand up well as a single story. I know that trilogies are tricky, especially trying to make each installment satisfying as a complete story while building towards something else. This worked very well with the Fire Logic series.

While the history of the world felt complex, otherwise it felt shallow. I didn't get much of a sense of the cultures of the world. The observations of Gulamendis as he enters Elvandar are a strong point. Most of the characters are drawn one dimensionally, with the exception of Sandreena and Gulamendis, and to an extent Amirantha. I wonder if the author was relying too much on a history that he would expect his readers to remember. The book has good potential but it doesn't quite live up to expectations. C+

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