Review: The Chaoswar Saga: A Kingdom Besieged:
“A Kingdom Besieged” is the first book of a new series by bestseller Raymond E. Feist, “The Chaoswar Saga.” This, in turn, is just the latest installment of his much greater, “Riftwar Cycle,” a series that has been going strong for the better part of the last three decades.
The countless trilogies, quartets, and duologies of “The Riftwar Cycle” tell the tale of the godlike magician, Pug, and his secretive Conclave of Shadows as they struggle to protect the world of Midkemia from… well, you name it.
Feist has long since settled into a fairly predictable formula. Depending on your perspective, he’s either admirably consistent or stiflingly repetitive. Personally, I say he’s a little of both.
I have mixed feelings on the Midkemia books. Feist is actually capable of coming up with some incredibly epic and fascinating fantasy comments — I’m particularly a fan of the surreal temporal paradox that is the boy-turned-Dragon-Lord Tomas — but he seems to prefer writing about far less interesting aspects of his universe.
He has a fantastic core of characters that appears in every novel, but yet they tend to not be the focus, often being eclipsed by newer and far less interesting characters that — with a few notable exceptions — all fade together into a blur after a while. I don’t know why he bothers; Pug always shows up when the important things happen. Why not just stay with Pug?
This is also the author who wrote an epic quartet about a war with a Demon king and devoted an entire book of it to the guy who bought the wheat to feed the army that was actually fighting the Demon.
This really happened.
But then again, there’s a reason I still read these books. When they’re good, they’re good. They’re just oddly inconsistent — and very consistent in their inconsistency. One chapter can have you on the edge of your seat, devouring pages in a fervor to see what happens next, and then the next can almost put you to sleep.
You may note I’m not actually saying much about “A Kingdom Besieged” specifically. That’s because it’s very much a standard Midkemia novel — with all the good and all the bad that entails. If you’re familiar with the series, you know what I mean, and if you’re not, you’ve got a few dozen books to read until you’re caught up to this point anyway. (On the plus side, his first few books were the best. Prince Arutha was a badass back in the day.)
For what it’s worth, I would say “A Kingdom Besieged” — and its most recent predecessors, “The Demonwar Saga” — are above average in the greater scheme of the “Riftwar” novels. There’s a certain sense of events coming to a head, of promises made long ago finally being fulfilled.
Then again, some of that was undermined by the ending of this book. But that’s compensated by one particular event whose implications are so nerdgasmic they alone have me eagerly anticipating the next installment.
Apologies for being vague, but I wish to avoid spoilers — some of this stuff is pretty big.
Overall rating: 7.4/10 If you’ve liked Feist’s other books, you’ll like this. If you haven’t read his books yet, start with the original “Riftwar Saga.” You’ll catch up this series. Eventually.
My latest contribution to WhatMMO is Six Awkward MMO Moments. I’ve experienced all but #5 personally. Although, in the case of #6, I was the one who got killed by a guildie.