A Kingdom Besieged (book, Raymond E. Feist, 2011)
I was a big fan of Feist for a while, although I grew a bored with his kind of heroic, RPG-inspired American fantasy a long time ago. I’ve interviewed Feist twice, by the by, and by golly, he’s a confident man (as you would be with his level of success), a bombastic American of the old school, if perfectly charming with it. I’ll be putting one of those interviews up here eventually. I accepted the offer of reviewing A Kingdom Besieged to see if anything much had changed in Midkemia. It hadn’t really. From SFX 207.
Raymond E Feist / HarperVoyager / 416pages / £18.99
The last ever Midkemia trilogy. Honest.
Nearly thirty books in, and Feist is calling it a day in Midkemia, the world he and his pals created long ago as a setting for their Dungeons & Dragons games, and which Feist has been writing about ever since.
Feist has lost none of his power, nor any of his weaknesses. His prose is still workaday, yet compelling. The big drawback here is that we’re now dealing with a world with hundreds of years of history, and fan service demands it’s acknowledged. On the one hand we have plenty of nods to characters long departed (Arutha, Martin, and Jimmy the Hand), and on the other, interminable passages where new names are rattled off in unlikely conversations between nobles having dinner in an attempt to get us up to speed with the political situation. It’s a bit like having the characters in Eastenders spend half an episode telling each other loads of stuff they already know about cousins that don’t really matter to the plot.
That’s annoying, as Feist tells a great yarn when he’s not tripping himself up with extraneous detail. Yeah, it’s shiny-armoured US high fantasy, but he’s one of the best at it. When he’s sketching in demoniacal cannibalism he’s awesome, when he stalls, he stalls bad.
The plot is: Midkemia is again threatened by extra-planar conflict. Only Pug, the last member of the original cast, stands in their way, and he’s not concentrating. Crydee, the far-off duchy where it all began, is in danger.
This is very much a volume one. Lots of new characters are introduced, the threat is established. If you’re a big Feist fan, this will be mother’s milk, but for the rest of us it’s an unsatisfactory feast.
Did you know…?
Feist has only ever written one non-Midkemia book: Faerie Tale, a dark fable set in our own world.