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Book Review: Honored Enemy and Murder in LaMut by Raymond E. Feist

Authors: Raymond E. Feist, William R. Forstchen, Joel Rosenberg
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
ISBN: 0060792833; 006079285X
Pub. Date: June 2006 and July 2007
Series: Legends of the Riftwar Series, #1 and #2
Format: Paperback, 323pp and Paperback, 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Raymond E. Feist has always been notable for his willingness to share the world of Midkemia. From its very inception, the world of Midkemia had been a collaborative effort (something Feist notes in all his acknowledgments and dedications). The second trilogy Feist wrote was a collaborative effort with Janny Wurts, and the computer game Betrayal at Krondor had to be by its very nature. Although more recently Feist has written the bulk of the stories in Midkemia on his own (as much as any author can), he has returned to the tradition of collaborative effort in his Legend of the Riftwar series.

Taking Feist�s world of Midkemia, using his name and notoriety as well as that of other noted authors (William R. Forstchen and Joel Rosenberg wrote the first and second books, respectively), the series returns to the time of the first Riftwar, wherein the Tsurani have invaded Midkemia from their own world of Kelewan. Each book is a stand-alone novel. The first book in the series, Honored Enemy, is notable for its military descriptions, and for the strange situation two small companies of Tsurani and Kingdom soldiers find themselves in. It almost seem like the story could have been taken from a historical event in any of Earth�s wars. (Which makes sense since William R. Forstchen is also author of the acclaimed Gettysburg series, co-written with Newt Gingrich, and a military historian.) Fans of military history or survival stories might find some appeal in this book, though fantasy fans are the most likely to benefit.

The second in the Legend of the Riftwar series, Murder in LaMut, takes three of Joel Rosenberg�s characters from his own fantasy series, renames, and transplants them into Midkemia. Sort of like a Three Musketeers of fantasy, these mercenary soldiers find themselves caught up in a web of political intrigue that they are wholly unprepared for. The murder of the title doesn�t take place until the last 50 pages, but the mystery of the murder begins from page 1. Although not really comparable with genre mystery novels, and probably not appealing to those who read them, Murder in LaMut will appeal to fans of the fantasy mystery subgenre (a very small one I might add) and to any readers who enjoy a long slow build-up of mystery and don�t mind a rather simple conclusion to it.

The writing in both is classic Feist. The story is simple, and usually revolves around the growth or change of key characters, and the challenging of their preconceptions. Honored Enemy does this more than Murder in LaMut, but both see characters taking on roles they had not expected to, or making life changes that only their circumstances could have forced.

The novels themselves will make little sense to someone not already familiar with the world of Midkemia. References to characters from other books, oblique references to events described in the original Riftwar series are prevalent, and background on these events is lacking. Still, these novels could be read by someone with only a basic knowledge of Midkemia, and still be enjoyed. The third novel in the series, Jimmy the Hand, co-written with S.M. Stirling will return to a much beloved character, and looks to be interesting but is not slated for publication until August of 2009.

I do recommend these books as fun sword and sorcery stories set within the world of Midkemia. The events and plot are not world-shattering, but they were fun to read. Best comparisons would be some of the shared world novels like the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance wherein authors write about localized events and stories within the grand scope of a developed world. Feist fans will love these stories, as it will develop the world of Midkemia, but those new to it should start with Feist�s first novel, Magician.

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