Title: A Kingdom Besieged
Author: Raymond E. Feist
Series: The Chaoswar Saga #1
Rating: 3/5 stars
The Overview: Midkemia’s fifth and final Riftwar—the devastating Chaoswar—explodes in the opening volume of Raymond E. Feist’s spectacular new epic fantasy trilogy of magic, conflict, and world-shattering peril. A Kingdom Besieged is a breathtaking adventure that brings back Pug—first introduced in Feist’s classic debut novel, Magician, and now Midkemia’s most powerful sorcerer—who faces a major magical cataclysm that forces him to question everything he’s ever held as true and dear…including the loyalty of his beloved son Magnus. -Goodreads
The end of the Riftwar world is nigh, and I feel an odd mix of relief and elation. I think the series may be ending with a lot of repeating elements, having been dragged on a little too long… but at the same time, it has been nice to come “home” to the author that sparked my love of fantasy.
I already like the Chaoswar Saga better than the Demonwar Saga. It took a while for things to get going and for all the “players” to be reintroduced, but once it did, it had my interest. Feist included an interesting POV from a creature in one of the demon realms, adding a nice bit of perspective to the overall story, which I’m excited to see develop. Overall, A Kingdom Besieged was enjoyable, containing enough nostalgic elements to keep me interested, but not enough to knock my socks off.
I do have a few critical thoughts about these later works, especially concerning character development. Some of the text practically screams with Feist’s desperate desire to stay relevant and a live up to all the great characters he’s written in previous books. Unfortunately, I think he’s going about it the wrong way – instead of taking the time to develop strong new characters, he shamelessly name-drops. He’s trying to build them up by emphasizing how similar they are to their predecessors, but only succeeds in paling them by comparison, at least in my mind. Here’s a badly paraphrased example:
“Oh, you’re a son of the Duke of Crydee? And an archer to boot!! Look how amazing you are! Why, I’d say you have all the skill and bearings that your great Grandsire, Martin, had. Do you remember how amazing he was?? Splitting-image, I tell you!”
And he doesn’t do this just once, but with every new prominent character we meet. It doesn’t help matters that many of these characters are actually descendant from original characters. I admit I’m at the point where I no longer remember (or care) which generation we’re on.
So, despite a decided quality drop in these later books, I still think (at this point) the series is worth finishing, but the final verdict will be told with the last two Chaoswar books. If you haven’t started this series yet, here’s my recommended reading order:
Riftwar 1 & 2  Loved #1!
The first 100 pages of #2 is a struggle – keep going!
Empire  Loved!
Riftwar 3 & 4  Loved!
Krondor’s Sons  Loved!
Serpentwar Saga  Loved!
Riftwar Legacy  Didn’t like…
Conclave of Shadows  Loved!
Darkwar Saga  Liked.
Demonwar Saga  Hated!
Chaoswar Saga  The jury is still out…
The Riftwar Legacy is a side trilogy apparently based off of a video game. It lacked the sophistication of the other series and had no particular relevance to future books (that I can remember, anyway). I’d skip those. If the Chaoswar ends well, it MIGHT be worth suffering through Demonwar… I’ll let you know lol. ;)
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Thank you for this review! It really helps to put the overall series into perspective. I only read here and there that some of the elements were of varying quality, but it seems that you overall enjoyed the majority of the subseries. That’s quite encouraging.
Have you also read the three books marketed as Riftwar Legends? I think they are all cowritten with other authors and I was wondering how they fit into the mix.
I think I even played the Krondor game back in the day, because I had read the original trilogy in German and then some. It’s all blurry, because in Germany most English books are usually split up in two German books (apparently 1000 written English words equal 1500 written German words, so larger books are split up fpr publishing reasosn, also…more money). So I’m not quite sure how many actual books I’ve read beyond the initial trilogy, but I remember a mercenyry troop with a red falcon/hawk or something and the mentio of a serpent queen. But all is very foggy as I probably read them 15-20 years ago.^^
Thank you – that was my intent. I know my rating is conservative for the final few, but I didn’t want that to overshadow how much I enjoyed the vast majority of this series. I own the Riftwar legends but haven’t read them yet. They were written about the same time as Conclave, but I think they go back to the original 5 books timeframe. I might get to them eventually.
I think you might be describing the serpentwar saga, but it’s hard to be sure – it has been 15 years for me too haha. By the time I finish it will be time for a reread lol.
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