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Book Review: Feast of Souls by C.S. Friedman


Feast of Souls is the first book in the Magister Trilogy by C.S. Friedman. The story is that of the first woman to ever master the magical arts and transcend from life depleting witchery to the immortal life of a magister. Here name is Kamala.  Well, that is how the story starts anyway. Later on we learn of the threat of beasts known as Soul Eaters returning.

Ok, bluntly, I was not thrilled with the way the book shifted away from Kamala’s point of view so often. The narrative did so at the expense of making her seem like a secondary, perhaps even tertiary, character in her own story. I think that most of what the other characters were used for could have been transmitted to the reader without going in and seeing it through their eyes. That feeling still sits with me even now.

As far as characters who were interesting as POV characaters when Kamala was not the POV character? Those were basically Andovan (because he is Kamala’s consort) and Sideria (because she is an obvious source of knowledge based on her background). Ok, maybe Colivar too. But that was about it. All the other POV character I found annoyingly bland and one-dimensional.

Too much time was spent away from Kamala that, towards the end, when she starts to act what seemed to me is out of character, the real reasons why are not fleshed out enough. He actions seem almost random, especially when she decides to have sex with Andovan, who just so happens to be her consort, and who she is draining to sustain her own life.  Expected?  Yes.  Understood why?  Not really.  I figured she had to have sex with someone at some point though because her feelings about sex, having been sold as a prostitute as a young girl, sort of foreshadowed it.

I enjoyed the story so much when it was told from Kamala’s point of view that it kept me plowing ahead to the end. But the narrative was a slog at times. The ending was better than good, but it took a long, tortuous path to get there.  All the good that came from the ending was overshadowed by the problems I discussed previously.

As such, I give Feast of Souls an solidly average rating of three out of five stars.  As far as reading the rest of the series?  I will put it on my, to read when nothing else strikes my fancy list.


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