The setting and the scene of the novel
The setting is medieval fantasy complete with castles, humans, dwarves, elves and all kinds of wondrous creatures. It would seem at first glance to be standard fantasy fare but there is a nice twist; in this world magicians can open portals called rifts between worlds and it is through one of these rifts that an invading army passes. And this is where our story begins, with two young men called Pug and Tomas in the beginning of an invasion into their world called Midkemia. Pug is struggling with the challenge and mystery of becoming a magician and this is where the title of the book is taken from.
About the Story: Just a darn good story and in no time at all you are going to be engrossed in the story and the characters. What more can you ask for? This is not your typical pulp fiction. It is well written and very satisfying. I don't want to tell you much more but there is adventure, traveling, magic, introspection, questions, battles, and even a castle siege. If you give this book 30 pages you will be hooked.
About the Magic: The title of the book ( Magician: Apprentice ) is almost a warning bell for me because I have read too much fantasy where magicians and wizards cast all kinds of fireballs, spells, and what not - and it tends to be an easy way for the writer to get out of a tough plot point - just create a new spell that gets you out of a jam! Not so in this book ; the magic is subdued and makes a lot of sense. It is just a job well done in this regard.
Reverence to Dwarves and Elves: This book predates the Lord of the Rings movies so these races of creatures weren't the household names they are today. Feist presents them to us in the way they should be presented; as mysterious and wondrous creatures to be admired. He very clearly expresses this awe and you feel it.
Only really half a book: This book is actually only half of what Feist wrote for his first book. It was a big book so the publisher broke it up into two halves. The first half is Magician: Apprentice and the second half is Magician: Master. So if you decide to get this book I highly recommend you get the second one too. You are going to want to start on it right away because the first book does come to a good climax there is still a lot to be resolved. You will need the second book for this.
About the Riftwar Cycle:
The Riftwar Cycle is a series of books that revolve around the battle between Midkemia and Kelewan. These are the two worlds where the rift has been opened. And the books in the series take place on both worlds with a variety of characters and stories. Magician: Apprentice is the first book of a series called the Riftwar Saga After apprentice comes Magician: Master then Silverthorn and finally A Darkness at Sethanon.
If you are looking for a big story to sink your teeth into this is perfect. Well written and lots of the books are already out so you don't have to wait for the next one. And there are more coming. Book 3 of his Darkwar Saga is scheduled for release in March 2009 and book 1 of his new series (the DemonWar Saga) is scheduled for release later in 2009.