Title: Feast of Souls (Magister Trilogy #1)
Author: C.S. Friedman
Ugh. My feelings on this book are so incredibly mixed!
On the one hand, if you’re looking for a good, solid fantasy novel: this is it. It’s got a good world, some interesting characters and a decent enough set up. It’s a more substantive book than most, but not quite on the same level if epic fantasy as say Robert Jordan or George R. R. Martin – which honestly isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, it makes it a good entry point in that sub-genre, because if you think this is too dense you’re not going to be handle the other books.
That said, this book invited trouble by being marketed as the “spiritual successor” to the Coldfire Trilogy. But doing so invites comparison between the two books, and when you compare them, this book falls flat.
None of the characters in Feast of Souls are as interesting or as complex as Damian Vryce or Gerald Tarrant. The world in Feast of Souls is a typical alternate-Earth-medieval times kind of setting where as Erna was a whole new planet with a whole new set of rules. The magic in Feast of Souls – is actually a pretty basic system once you take away the aspect that you literally give up minutes of your life for every spell you cast (not a spoiler, it’s given away on the back cover of the book). It’s not nearly as compelling as the Fae of the other series, it doesn’t feel as dangerous, it doesn’t feel as fleshed out. It just…is. It’s supposed to be this big thing but it just doesn’t grab the reader in the same way.
At the end of the day, Feast of Souls is just a more generic series. If you can find the other books, I’d recommend those over this. If you still want to read both, or get a feel for Friedman (I think these are easier to find) I’d read these first and then the other ones so you don’t get that nagging sense of disappointment that I did.
Verdict: Buy it if you are a fan of the genre and haven’t read Friedman before. Borrow it if you have read the Coldfire Trilogy so you can decide for yourself if this will satisfy you.