Now this might sound odd to some because there are so many great Midkemia books out there, but Silverthorn is my all-time favourite single volume in Raymond E Feist’s series.
Before writing this review I tried to figure out why it’s a favourite and I’ve come up with something – it’s partly because Silverthorn touches upon a couple more genres than other Feist stories. Aside from the fantasy core, readers experience quest, rescue and heist/secret society elements, in addition to the almost surprising horror aspects. Further, there’s a race against time that really ratchets up the tension. I often fly through this novel, it’s a bit like a thriller, with shocks and surprises aplenty.
Perhaps it is also because Silverthorn is the book where Jimmy the Hand takes centre stage – and the boy within me once again gets to follow along as a clever young thief develops into someone a little wiser. Having taken Pug and Tomas well along the path to manhood in the previous volume (Magician), Feist again gives readers a young boy to cheer on. This approach has been popular in fantasy (in all genres really) for a long time, but I often think of Raymond Feist, David Eddings and others using it during the 1980s in a kind of collective ‘tour de force’ that championed the coming of age approach to fantasy storytelling.
Obviously having a young character is a great way for an author to impart knowledge to the reader in a natural manner, but it’s also fun to experience the same awe the younger characters do.
Having said that, Silverthorn is full of a surprising darkness. Prince Arutha’s fight against cult leader Murmandamus really begins here and the mystery of the Nighthawks combined with the Black Slayers adds to the bleak tone. I doubt I’ll forget the basement or interrogation scenes either. At times the story is chilling, but perfectly so.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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