When I first read Magician: Apprentice, the first novel in Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Saga, it actually wasn’t called Magician: Apprentice. It, and it’s sequel, Magician: Master (Riftwar Saga, Book 2), were published together in one massive volume simply entitled, Magician. It was first published in 1982 by Doubleday, though I didn’t stumble upon the series until 8th grade (1992) a decade later.
The main character, orphan Pug, came to the Kingdom of the Isles to study magic under a master magician. Problem was, he wasn’t very good at it. The way his master taught, wasn’t working for Pug. He ended up defining a new magic, befriending a princess, and changing the entire world.
When I look back at it now, I see the plot for what it is: the standard magician coming into his powers and changing the world trope that has permeated fantasy since Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Probably before that with the fairy tales and tales of King Arthur hundreds of years ago. The story of a boy discovering his magical powers is ancient, and yet still is popular in modern day (I’m looking at you, Harry Potter!). And yet, for all its simplicity plot wise, I loved reading about Pug and his struggle to master magic. In some ways, it reminded me of my struggle with algebra. I also identified with Pug’s struggle to fit in as I struggled to fit into a world of middle school cliques. I had one foot in popularity and the other foot landed square in the geeky. While band opened one door to me, my choice in weird friends closed yet another. Cheering for the underdog (Pug), gave me hope for my own future.
I managed to make it to Prince of the Blood before I burned out on the series, but Magician still remains my favorite novel of the epic saga to this day. Whenever I’m creating characters in my own worlds, I strive to make them as simple and as complex as Pug.
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