A little romp into the now unfamiliar territory of Great Kesh, where the cackling, stereotypical mad wizard Sidi/Leso Varen is stirring up mad trouble once again. Can the heroes stop him before its too late or will the Penultimate Cliche Villain giggle his way out of another failed Conclave trap?
Can the supposedly powerful magician Pug stop having nightmares about life-size Dasati toys coming to kill him on the beaches of Crydee?
Will Pug ever find out Miranda is having an affair behind his back like she was in the Serpentwar Saga?
Will anyone realise Jommy and the boys are pale imitations of Jimmy the Hand and should be killed off ASAP?
Will somoene explain where Magnus and Caleb came from after popping out of nowhere in Talwin Saga?
Will anyone see that Feist is messing up his own character history for the sake of the Comic Book?
These questions establish some of my problems with the series, but where should I really begin?
Well, let's start with the lack of character development throughout this over priced book
Magnus-who is he? Besides being the son of Pug, why should we care about him like we cared about William? We never saw him grow up like William and he has no distinct personality for us to get a feel for him. He has potential from the confrontation with the Death Goddess, but he isn't the powerful figure of Tomas and Pug from the Riftwar. Just cardboard.
Caleb-same as Magnus. Except he has no magical powers, so we care about him even less
Jommy and the boys-more cardboard cut outs with none of the feel we got for young Jimmy the Hand
Miranda-less attitude, which is good, but more useless than ever, which is very bad. Since when did she get on Pug's power level? In Serpentwar, she was way above average, but way below Pug. When did she get the power to stand toes to toe with his Arch nemesis? She doesn't say much in this book, which is good since she was a smart mouth with a big head, and lacks the character complexities from Serpentwar, which is also good because her role was divided between Calis' bed and Pug's bed at the same time, and we all know that means. If she keeps quiet she can stay for a while, but otherwise she is a poor replacement for the lively slave girl Katala and should be disposed of in a timely fashion.
Erik Von Darkmoor-good to see the last well developed Character Feist made. Doesn't do much as an old man, and his questioning of Nakor is out of character from their adventures in Serpentwar, but as the last desperate man he's allowed some flaws.
Tomas- in good form as a warrior-god, if a little wooden compared to the complex Valheru/Man shaped by Macros during the riftwar. He puts down Ralan Bek, which is a damn good thing since he's a psychopath with the Nameless One in him.
Ralan Bek-has a fragment of Nalar in him....does evil for evil's sake. No firm grip on his character yet, kind of simplistic, but then with the Nameless One in him that's okay
Sidi-this guy is Pug's archfoe and the best he can come up with is black fire that kills a few dozen people. Earlier in the book he was said to have the power to level the whole city.
Pug-Successor of Macros. Is in poor form in this book. Has been since the end of Darkness at Sethanon.(DAS) At the end of DAS, has the bulk of Macros' knowledge and power from their Mind Meld but his mistakes and limitations since then are
1. can't do any thing Macros could do, even though he received his knowledge from him during DAS
2. tries to blow up the Dark Queen's fleet with a fireball that gets reflected back at him and roasts him(he couldn't move?)
3. can't time travel, even though Macros showed him how in DAS and he did it again in Rage of a Demon King
4. can't block Sidi's rifts, even though in DAS he was able to block the Valheru's attempts to create one to Sethanon
5. can't make small rifts but he can make big ones?
6. doesn't know about the demon invasion in Serpentwar even though the old seer at the Inn tells him about it
7. can't duplicate the Wards shielding the Talnoy beacons from the Dasati, even though he had a mind meld with the maker of the wards Macros
8. is impressed by mind magic of another sorcerer in the Conclave, even though he was once confronted the oracle of Aal in a young girls shattered mind and helped heal Nicholas son of Arutha in a Mindscape. He also pulled Macros out of the Mind of Sarig the God, a fact that impressed Macros and left Miranda, who supposedly is his equal in awe. He also mind-spoke with Gamina from across the Universe. While he could acknowledge skill in another member of the Conclave, it would take more than just a mind magic ability to impress one that had done these feats.
9. Marries Miranda, even though she is sleeping with the son of his best friend. Basically, allowing her to jump on the gravy train.
10. Couldn't save his own daughter and son when Krondor was attacked by the Dark Queen's army.
11. Couldn't confront the Demon King without Macros' help, even though Macros himself was impressed by pulling his mind out of the essence of Sarig, the God of Magic.
12. can't tell Jommy and the other boys are cardboard cutouts of Jimmy the hand
Storyline Inconsistencies within Flight of the Nighthawks. This may escape newer readers, but people who have been with this since Magician can see what I'm saying.
1. The Assembly has 3 members studying the Talnoy artifact when there are thousands of members of the Assembly, which may or may not include girls now. Feist didn't deal with that. Maybe he forgot.
2. Where is the Interaction between Pug and the Assembly, which he is still a member of in spirit, if not in body. He has ties to these guys. What would they think of his great powers and how he has lived so long when his running buddies Fumita, Hocho, and Shimone are dead? What ties does he still have with them? Why do they refer to him as Pug and Milamber when he was only known to them as Milamber?
3. If they need wards to bock the beacons, why not talk to the Choja at chakaha, the best ward makers in Kelewan according to Mistress of the Empire?
4. Why didn't Pug consult the Oracle of Aal, the oldest known prophetic consciousness in the universe about the Dasati.....the old dragon under Sethanon might know something. Maybe Feist forgot about it in a rush to put out this substandard book.
5. What are the Moredhel doing? Did they just disappear into the North of the world?
6. Why does Pug need help to confront Sidi, whom he looks at as his responsibility to defeat? Scared?
7. How can Miranda stand up to Pug's main foe when she was far below him in Serpentwar in terms of knowledge, skill, and power?
8. Pug can't teleport without a pattern or device? He learned how to traverse worlds at will during DAS.
9. He can't time travel? What was that whole business in the City of Forever then?
10. Why doesn't he go to the city of Forever to augment his powers? Macros went there to do it.
11. Where did all the powerful magicians on Midkemia come from in between Magician and Flight of the Nighthawks. Supposedly, there were only small time lesser path guys during the times of Macros and the like. How did powerful ones at Stardock appear and people like Miranda pop out of thin air?
11. Why would they let a fragment of Nalar exist when they won't even speak his name themselves so great is there fear of them
12. Pug displayed for more power in Magician when he destroyed the Arena than Sidi did when he attacked them. It's over a century later and his power has grown greatly and yet it's all he can do to stalemate the guy. When are we going to be given concrete evidence on Pug's power or will he go through the same fluctuations the post-crisis Superman did since the Magican Comic is coming out now?
All these questions hopefully to be answered at a later date. But probably not with the poor plot and character development in this one. The Riftwar saga was full of suspense and towering, dark villains along with the noble, valiant heroes that rose against them. Now I wish for a villain as dark and as evil Murmandamus with an insane, cackling antagonist like Sidi around. But in truth, I don't think we'll get it. I mean Serpentwar had a good beginning, suspenseful and powerful. A demon horde poised to destroy the universe under the cover of an invading foreign army.
Then it descended into utter stupidity with senseless, ineffective attacks on the enemy by Pug and characters defined as little more than dreams of a Mad God as the main villains. Pug showed a level of ineptitude far below his performance in a DAS and couldn't deal with the enemy decisively without help due to his POWERED DOWN status.
All of this, despite having received the mantle of Macros in DAS.
I can at least understand that. It keeps Feist from having to think of good opponents and enables him to put in formulaic mad men with no character to them at all. Our visit to Kesh in this book was a little more eventful than the very pointless and very boring Prince of the Blood, but at least that had Jimmy the Hand at his finest, even Locklear and the Macros-Pug that Sethanon had come into his own. Not this uncertain, indecisive man shown since the Serpentwar
A Riftwar saga this is not. For long time fans, I suggest picking it up when it goes paperback in a few months or maybe buying it used from someone whose already kicked it to the curb as a disappointment. It's not worth the hardback cost.
Feist and Pug were good in their day, but I think time and age and money has killed the life of this series. If you want a new outlook on the fantasy genre with well developed enemies and complex heroes, I suggest Ferrenzano's Against the Summoner or even Aaron Mccarty's Empire Lord Saga, Andremmon against the Abyss. For even with the editing problems in those books, it's a new place start over from the Deader and Deader world of Midkemia.