Sunday, June 8, 2008

Silverthorn by Raymond E. Feist

Link to Synopsis: Silverthorn (Riftwar Saga, Volume 3)

I had taken a bit of a break from this series, having left the previous two books with mixed responses. The first ended very abruptly, while the second seemed the natural continuation of the first, and sweetened the experience quite a bit. The ending was complete from a plot perspective, while the author left you wanting to know more about the characters. I was excited to pick up Silverthorn.

One of the key questions in my mind was how Feist was going to introduce or prolong the conflict. Everything had been tied up, more or less, in Magician: Master, and it it was difficult to see exactly where the new book would go. In the end he did a great job of introducing new aspects of an old conflict introduced in the earlier works. For me the original mention of the new conflict had been supportive in nature to the main conflict in the first books, but in Silverthorn it takes center stage while the original conflict was pushed into a supporting, while still additive, role.

So that is the positive take-away here, and while it was short, I'll say now that I really enjoyed the story and look forward to the next book in the series. As for the negative, however, I can only take a moment to be critical on the Fantasy genre as a whole. Every genre has characteristics; defining features that make it appealing to some group of paying readers. I get that. For instance, I could read a hundred fantasy novels and if every one of them has some type of "elf" character in it, I'm OK with that. Elves work in the kind of stories that I like to read. However, there are a few plot lines that seem to get repeated over and over again, and I don't think it is helping the genre at all. I'm not talking about the archetypal journey here, which is a mainstay of course. That is a "feature" to me.

No, in Silverthorn the main plot line is centered around a damsel in distress. Yes, a prince sets out on a quest to save his beloved who has been poisoned by procuring the rare root that will save her. Doesn't that just sound a little too much like a dozen other fantasy plots you have read? I happen to be a fan of David Eddings, and while I don't know who wrote first, Eddings or Feist, one of them has to be copying each other. The plots are so similar and some of the characters are exact replicas. Especially Jimmy the Hand (Feist) and Talon (Eddings). Those two characters are 100% interchangeable. That kind of coincidence is hard to believe in such a creative field.

It makes me want to keep a running list of plot lines:
1. Prince quests to find the rare cure for his princess.
2. Young boy finds out about magic abilities and
A.)goes to magic school where a classic good vs. evil struggle occurs OR
B.)becomes all-powerful and saves the world, generally while being shunned by those in power.

Date Completed: 5/26/2008
Rating: 4.1