Book Review: Raymond Feist's A Kingdom Besieged

Raymond E. Feist's latest release A Kingdom Besieged launches the final story arc called the Chaoswar Saga. A Kingdom Besieged is also the first of the final three novels in his Midkemian universe coming almost 30 years after the publication of his first, and arguably best novel, Magician: Apprentice.

A Kingdom Besieged
I have compared this series to the Star Wars saga in the sense that we already know what is going to happen and Feist had lately pigeon-holed himself 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. His last few books were far from his best, A Kingdom Besieged is a great read and a return to the Feist of old.

In many ways A Kingdom Besieged is a return to form for Feist. There are what I would call the 'oh no he didn't moments'. And yes, he did find a plausible loophole to raise the dead without it coming across as contrived. Almost. I will avoid any specific spoilers. A Kingdom Besieged is Feist's best book since those of The Serpentwar Saga. 

In his earlier books Feist's characters were so well thought out we recognized that REF was writing about people he knew personally. Those characters were close to him. Later, the new characters seemed foreign and their stories communicated as if they were being repeated and not a topic known first hand. This perhaps reflects on a rushed development process or, perhaps, someone running out of ideas. Feist always had success with developing rich characters that would leap off the page. Even some of his regular characters had lately seemed foreign to him. 

A Kingdom Besieged Book One of the Chaoswar Saga
The story picks up with the mighty army of Kesh marching into the Kingdom of the Isles, capturing towns and killing its residents. Initially Kesh's plans appear to be to recapture the land lost centuries before to the Kingdom. At the same time Pug, the most powerful magician in the world, recovering from the loss of his family, discovers increased turmoil in the Demon world. 

A Kingdom Besieged
The novel is faster paced than some of his more recent work. Perhaps Feist can be excused for a few lapses as, after nearly thirty years and more than two dozen novels his story is coming to its conclusion. With two more novels to go, the author will be challenged to match his best work. The next novel, A Crown Imperilled, is set for a spring 2012 release. While the final book, Magician's End is expected in 2013.

If you haven't read Feist before, A Kingdom Besieged is not the book with which to start. With limited character building the new reader will be left confused. The story though is quite good and there are enough twists and cliff hangers to perk your interest. Feist also managed to clear up some of the plot that didn't make sense in the last book. All of the Midkemian series are of the historical fantasy-adventure variety. The Riftwar series, contained much political intrigue. His Serpent War series, while still steeped in historical fantasy, took on a theological theme in this polytheistic universe.

Feist remains one of my favourite authors. A feat he won with his first four novels. His world of Midkemia is  the most detailed and interesting literary world since The Lord of the Rings. His novels MagicianSilverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, along with the Empire Trilogy he co-wrote with Janny Wurts are numbered as his best works to date. (Click here for my review of At the Gates of Darkness)


  1. Now I'm actually looking forward to finishing the book. Had put it "down" due to insane schedule. This week is clearing up a bit so I'll give it some lunchtime reads to make progress.

  2. I may just read it a second time. I am getting impatient waiting for the next release.