I’m currently reading The King of Ashes by Raymond Feist. I was getting through the Kane Chronicles by Karl Edward Wagner, but then I got gifted the new Feist book for Christmas and couldn’t keep my hands off it. Sorry, Wagner, but I’ll finish reading about Kane later. The Kane Chronicles, by the by, are rather old now and thus slightly old-fashioned in their style of writing, but the storylines are pretty cool – sentient gemstones and frogmen and such. Kane is a badass. That’s all he is, which makes him a slightly flat character. I think more modern stories have rounder characters. Anyway, let’s get back on track.
The King of Ashes. It is interesting. It’s about a prince, of sorts, whose whole royal family is slaughtered when he is a babe at the tit and who alone survives. This prince is shipped off to assassin school, not even knowing who he is, and the story picks up as he reaches maturity.
It seems a little heavy-handed for Feist. Maybe I’m misremembering, but I thought I remembered more deftness in the weaving of his stories in Midkemia. This new story seems about as subtle as a brick to the face. The hints that the girl and boy are interested in one another are not hints at all; they practically jump out and slap you in the face and demand your attention. Maybe I’m just getting cynical.
And there’s no world-ending threat as yet. Maybe Feist is building up to one, but so far it seems like it’s just going to be a good old-fashioned revenge story, which I’ve read by the dozen now. As I’m sure you can tell, I’m getting a little jaded, which is not something I’m pleased about. I want to go back to that wide-eyed sense of innocence I can vaguely remember. I want to suspend my disbelief for these books, but it seems like it’s getting harder. I think I just know what I want to read as I get older, and sometimes when something doesn’t quite hit the mark it grates on you a little bit. I want to like King of Ashes, so it grates on me a little that it’s so unsubtle thus far.
Also, as writers, we’re always told – show, don’t tell. Whereas Feist seems to be doing the opposite in his new book. We are told Hatu is always angry and that Donte is always joking, rather than being shown much of them getting angry or joking. It just seems a little bit backward to me, now that I think about these things – now that I can’t stop thinking about these things.
One great bit is the smithing. I like reading about the jewel steel – which I believe Feist got the inspiration for from tamahagane, the steel the Japanese fold and use for swords. Very cool stuff.
To sum up, I don’t mean to be hard on it. It does have my interest, and I will finish it, and I expect to enjoy it. I just hope there’s a twist or two I’m not expecting, that’s all. Maybe a Dragon hiding somewhere … Check under that rock.