My Top Picks – Part Three

What are my biggest influences? There are too many to cover in one post. This is part three of my series of posts to show the key books, movies, music and shows that have influenced me, not only as a writer, but as a person.

 

Star Trek:

We are at a point in time where the amount of Star Trek available for consumption is mind blowing. Not only are there five shows and twelve movies, there are comics, video games, board games, card games and books. I began watching Star Trek because of my mum, who was a big fan. It was almost routine for us to sit down and watch the latest episode of Next-Gen or Deep Space Nine and Voyager in later years. As I child I can recall watching Star Trek IV; The Voyage Home, on a monthly basis.

What is it about Star Trek that captivated me so? Firstly it was the individual characters who became a second family. Every new voyage was like going on an adventure with a band of best friends. But the truth of it is that Star Trek appeals to something in human nature. The desire for discovery, and for betterment. The federation is an almost utopian idea. A world where we have shed all of the prejudices and vices of the past. We have rid the world of poverty, of greed, of war. All that is left is a unified civilisation which strives to spread peace throughout the galaxy and learn all that can be learnt.

Despite this we see the crew of the enterprise go through all of the very same drama’s which are present in the world today. However, they are presented to us in conflicts with alien species or new space oddities. Even though the Earth has managed to find lasting peace, we still find war and avarice in the far reaches of space. Star Trek showed me that no matter what, peace is not eternal.

 

Magician by Raymond E. Feist:

Arguably this is the single most influential piece of art in my life. When coming up with a list of things for this series of posts, the first thing to spring to mind was Magician. It is the one book that changed my life. It was one of the first epic fantasy novels I read front to back and I still recall the feelings I felt when turning those pages.

The story of Pug and his journey to become a magician captivated me like no other story ever has. When reading it I recall the sensation that this was what had been missing from my life. It had everything you could ever want. There were battles, an invading alien army, magic, dragons, dwarves and elves, but most of all it had amazing world building and characters.

There is no doubt that my writing in most influenced by the many books set in Midkemia. There is no doubt my characters are influenced by the characters I grew to love from Magician. I have not recommended a book more than this one. I would never hesitate to recommend it. It is, in my opinion, a perfect example of the emotion, excitement and enjoyment that the fantasy genre is capable of. If I were deserted on an island, it is the one book I would want to have with me.

 

To see my other posts in this series click below.

My Top Picks – Part One

My Top Picks – Part Two

Review: Magician’s End by Raymond E Feist

 

There is something profoundly sad about finishing the last book in a series. When that book is the culmination of a lifetime of stories, in a world that has become a second reality to so many readers, there is an even greater sense of loss. I turned the final page of Magician’s End last night and did not know what to do with myself.

There is no single author whose books I have read more of. Raymond E Feist will remain my biggest inspiration and the reason for my urge to write fantasy. He has managed to spend thirty years crafting the tales of Pug and the world of Midkemia. And it has finally come to an end.

Without spoiling any of the story, I have to say that the most enjoyable part of this book was the way in which Feist revisited characters and elements from the many books of the past. It was fantastic to be taken back to all of the stories that I have read over the years. The brief mention of Erik and Roo from the Serpentwar Saga or Kulgan and Meecham from the very beginning was enough to remind me of the long journey that Pug has taken.  This is well placed in a book that is set to end Feist’s time in Midkemia.

The plot itself holds the grand scope that one would expect, with cataclysmic destruction looming on the horizon and Pug yet again called on to save the universe. It is a tried and tested formula that Feist has received much criticism for. But I say if it aint broke, don’t fix it. The very reason that this series has continued to sell and be loved, is that Feist is a master of approachable epic fantasy. The kind where action and strong character relationships come to the fore and the grander struggles remain in the mix. He avoids the heavy description and at times dry reading of many fantasy series, yet creates a rich and believable world.

I will be honest and say that the first two novels of the Chaoswar saga did not grip me as did his earlier works. Characters such as Hal and his brothers did not provide the same appeal as Arutha and Jimmy the hand from Magician. But as this book progressed I began to appreciate them more. And by the end I was glad to have known the next generation of conDoin’s. They provided a grounded view of the issues presented, whilst Pug and his companions showed us the bigger picture.

I feel that Feist has done justice to his stories with Magician’s End. Finishing a story is often the hardest part, and will always receive criticism. How many novels, movies and shows receive harsh criticism for their choice of ending. With this story I feel Feist has managed to end his foray into Midkemia on a high note and though not everyone will be pleased, I think that the majority will.

For all those who have at some point taken the journey with Pug, this is a must read. For those who have not, I encourage you to pick up the very first story, ‘Magician’ and treat yourself to a masterpiece of fantasy writing.

To Pug, Tomas and Midkemia I said goodbye. To Raymond E Feist I say thank you.

Rating: 4.5/5