Raymond E Feist's 2010 novel At The Gates of Darkness continues the saga of Pug the magician. In this novel Pug marshals the Conclave of Shadows, their allies, master spy Jim Dasher, the young Knight-Adamant Sandreena, and the warlock Amirantha against the invading horde of battle demons. The demon invasion has already caused the fall of dozens of worlds and the deaths of millions. Among those deaths were Pug's wife Miranda and their youngest son.
|Murmandamus in Armengar|
I enjoyed At The Gates of Darkness but it is far from Feist's best. As a stand alone novel, or if you have only recently been introduced to the author, you may enjoy it more than the seasoned Midkemian reader.
His early books were epic. Gates of Darkness comes across as an afterthought or a quickly thrown together story as if Feist was rushed to meet his publication deadline. This is a novella and, his ideas may be running thin. I got the impression at times that I was reading fan fiction.
As of late, I have compared this series to the Star Wars saga in the sense that we already know what is going to happen and Feist is pigeon-holed into completing the entire story in a set number of books all the while filling in the gaps. Another problem that has surfaced stems from Feist killing off his best and most original characters. Sandreena and Amirantha pale in comparison to the heroes of yore Arutha, Jimmy the Hand, all the way to Nakor and Miranda. Feist's 26 novels span hundred's of years, so it is expected that his mortal characters would have to be killed off. For every Arutha that dies an Erik Von Darkmoor is born. But for this latest publication, At The Gates of Darkness where was Thomas? He was barely mentioned. The author should at least make full use of his characters.
And (spoiler alert if you didn't read Rides a Dread Legion) why does Feist keep repeating over and over that Miranda's death has effected Pug? It only brings attention to what most fans consider a waste, the death of a popular character. Mention it once and move on Ray.
Feist's earlier books were epic novels of great detail, with well developed characters. He was recognized for producing well researched fantasy stories of adventure and political intrigue. Feist knew who he was writing about, he knew his characters personally. His later books are filled with rushed stories and thin characters almost as if he is repeating a story secondhand.
Over his last couple novels I also began to wonder how many other types of elves he is going to discover. I hope the Keeblers don't attack next.
All in all, the book was not bad. It fits in as a placeholder before the final trilogy. The two books that make up the Demon War Saga would have been better released as one novel. I could have stomached the teaser ending much easier on a full length novel.
I remember reading Magician, Silverthorn and Sethanon for the first time and staying up all night because I could, literally, not put them down. Here's to hoping that the final three Midkemian books contain some of that spark that made us fall in love with the world Feist created. Anyone know what happened to Honest John's at Hallofworlds.net? Honest John's seems to have disappeared. (edit: click here for my review of A Kingdom Besieged.)
Expected Release dates:
A Kingdom Besieged (2011)
A Crown Imperilled (2012)
Magicians End (2013)