So, what started with “Magician” twenty five-odd years ago reaches its “End”. The journey of Pug and Tomas concludes with a host of characters making an appearance from all the series. Those appearances are either in the thoughts and words of those who have made it to this last novel or actually feature in a series of small vignettes as part of a side trip through the nature of the Universe that is undertaken by Pug, Magnus, Nakor and Miranda.
This novel could easily see Feist indulge in a bit of self-congratulation and nostalgia. And…to say he doesn’t would be a lie because he does do the latter with all the old characters, yet tempers it with the ever-present “realistic” stories of the Kingdom’s political struggles and civil strife. Whilst those of us who have been immersed in Midkemia, Kelewan and the “Circles” of other other dimensions can pretty much predict the plot of this last novel it is still written with a touch of excitement, a touch of melancholy. Yet, its ending leaves a door open for more novels should Feist ever choose to do so in a manner that leaves us with a small smile.
Great characters never quite go away and it is entirely plausible a glut of “spin off novels” might come out from associated authors, much as happened with TSR and the Dragonlance series.
Feist does drive himself into a bit of a corner with the theme of his plot. We are constantly told by Macros that the very substance of what everyone is trying to comprehend is far beyond the tiny imaginations of mortals, yet he then tries to describe it all for us. A touch of an oxymoron and, at times, we find the author tangling himself in knots as he has Macro cryptically lead the merry band of inter-dimensional travelers around the universe. As with any such philosophizing as the the Reason behind all things, it comes across as though this might be Feist’s personal view as to the nature of the Universe. He does borrow heavily from the Greek myths; the construct and hierarchy of those Gods are reflected here, paralleled well, though hardly new.
I have to say my only regret with the entire series is that Tomas is not given more air time. We finally learn of his purpose and it is a major piece of the necessary steps for Pug to avert disaster; but he leaves Midkemia as much of a tantalizing figure as when he entered it as the son of a cook in Crydee all those years ago.
The two plots – the first to save a Universe, the second to save a Kingdom entwine nicely in this novel and we find ourselves equally interested in Hal, Martin, Ty, Jim Dasher, and Brendan as they prove themselves born to rule. The form of the Dread becomes clear, the Dragons have a fleeting moment with the Valheru, the cataclysmic ending not quite so fierce as all those pages ago when Pug had to destroy Kelewan.
It’s been a fine series, Mr Feist. I hope some more comes, purely out of reading selfishness. You never quite want something you’ve grown up with to end. Nakor tells us:
“Honour without love is a pose, a hollow justification for your acts. It’s not what you’re willing to fight for, but what you’ll gladly die to preserve: a brother, a wife, or your child.”
….and, by the very end…this is the message Feist wants to give us all.