C.S. Friedman, acclaimed author of The Coldfire Trilogy, returns to the epic style which has made her one of the most popular fantasy writers in the genre. In this first book of the trilogy, Friedman introduces listeners to a world of high fantasy, replete with vampire-like magical powers, erotic interludes, treachery, war, sorcery, and a draconic creature of horrific power and evil that will have listeners eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series.
©2007 C.S. Friedman (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"[I]maginative, deftly plotted fantasy." (Publishers Weekly)
"Powerful, intricate plotting and gripping characters distinguish a book in which ethical dilemmas are essential and engrossing." (Booklist)
C.S Friedman is the author of my favorite fantasy series, The Coldfire Trilogy so I was excited to begin the Magister series. Friedman writes anti-heroes like no other. I never knew there could be so many shades of gray.
Feast of Souls introduces us to a world of magic where the cost is high, your soul or in the case of some, the souls of others. There are two different practitioners of magic, witches (both male and female) who power their art with their own soul fire, but the human soul is finite and once consumed means death. Then there are the mysterious Magisters, an elite group of males that power their sorcery with the souls of others, thus giving them almost unlimited power, but at what ultimate cost?
Friedman excels at creating a world in which the powerful rule by manipulating others, and yet you feel sorry for them. The varied cast of characters all had separate stories yet seemed to be guided to the same end. Friedman weaves a complicated net drawing each character closer and closer together for an exciting climax.
Elisabeth Rogers does an excellent job creating individual personalities for each character. I have read Feast of Souls twice before but listening to it felt like reading it for the first time again. I am looking forward to listening to the next two in the series.
If you liked Feast of Souls, I highly recommend Friedman's Coldfire trilogy, which is also available on Audible.
As my title suggests, my first impulse is that this story was the most twisted and perverted tale of women's empowerment imaginable. Basically, most magic users have to expend some of their own life every time they cast a spell but a few mages, called magisters, have discovered (**HEREAFTER CONTAINS A SEMI-SPOILER THAT IS REVEALED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY IN THE BOOK AND IS INTEGRAL TO REVIEW THE BOOK IN A MEANINGFUL WAY**) a way to steal other peoples' lives instead. Up to the book's time, no woman has successfully become a magister because they could not bear the injustice of the arrangement or some such (a strange sort of back-handed compliment implying women are more moral but more limited in a way some might call "weak") but the main character succeeds. Thus, the protagonist breaks this glass ceiling by proving she can be every bit as despicable as a man.
That weirdness aside, this book has a very rich and interesting set of ideas for magic, politics, and morality. I dare not guess how derivative any of it might be since I don't pretend to have read every book in existence so I will judge the ideas on their own merit.
The magister's magical source is an endless fount of fascination to me. It is intriguing how liberally different magisters apply their magic considering it's violent nature. Some spend it without any care at all while others feel the pain they cause with every spell but choose to do it anyway. Perhaps the most interesting facet is that the magister will die if they lose the will to continue drawing power from others, making callousness and cruelty necessary to survival.
Then there's the way in which, upon the death of the current "consort" another target is chosen for draining automatically and without input from the magister on who it will be. In fact, they don't even know who it is. This anonymity is a brilliant addition giving rise to the idea that a magister should avoid trying to find their consort for fear of putting a face to their indiscriminate murders and sapping their resolve to continue. It also leads one to wonder about many intriguing what-if situations. What if another magister was selected as a consort? What if one of the magisters discovered every other magister's current consort and killed them to have the opportunity to enslave the other magisters in their moment of weakness?
There's also the odd magical system wherein spells can be cast that cure diseases and save years of life at the cost of just a few minutes of the witch or consort's life. Meaning the magisters could spend relatively few lives in order to create a utopia for the rest of humanity if they wished but such does not occur because it is inherent in being a magister that you not place much value on other people's lives. What an incredible dichotomy :D The politics between the magisters were, likewise, interesting to me.
The narrator did a decent job differentiating characters and giving them emotion. Nothing spectacular but also nothing that distracted me from the story.
IN SUMMARY, though there isn't a great deal of action in the story and much of the time is spent on political discussions, I never really felt bored throughout this novel because the world and the magic are so intriguing that every time a new element is introduced it sets me to wondering. There is a very brief and very... odd romance, multiple characters to follow, each of which are entertaining in their own right, some action and adventure, and a promising story arc opened in the later part of the book that clearly will carry through the series. I have not read the other books yet so I can't speak to the efficacy of it but I plan to continue this series in short order. The author clearly thought this one through and the result was a novel about magic and morality that had me thinking as much as any scifi I've ever read.
The premise is interesting, but for the first 2/3 of the book, you don't really care that much about the characters, and the plot is not interesting. Sure, there are characters you like (the prince, the queen, and the anti-heroine), but you don't care that deeply about them. And there aren't any villains that you care much about. Worst of all, the plot isn't interesting or captivating.
Basically, an interesting premise, with ok writing, but boring characters and a boring plot.
Now, the last four hours of the book are enjoyable. So if you don't mind plodding through 14 hours of boredom, to get to a good ending, than maybe this book is for you. If I had not been on a 22 hour drive when I started this book on my iPod, I would not have finished it.
I will not continue with the series.
Mysterious, captivating, and dark!
I enjoyed the way C.S. Friedman portrays internal struggle of a tormented young woman determined to survive by any means. Even if it means killing a part of herself.
Elisabeth Rodgers has done an outstanding job with this narration. Each personality comes through clearly and never had an issue with confusing voices during conversations.
I really have no ideas.... Sorry for the lack of creativity here...
This is a brilliant idea taking concepts from childhood fairy tails and turning them into realistic and for the most part horrifying realities. C.S. is always a good read when you want to identify with the darker half of your imagination and fall in love with an evil protagonist.
Favorite books: Mysteries Amelia Peabody & Inspector Gamache, supernatural novels by Laurel K. Hamilton, Ilona Andrews and many more!
In the beginning I thought this book was interesting and well written. That interest began to fade due to the sexist overtones, that not only continued throughout the book but intensified.
There's an elite group consisting only of men based on their ruthlessness and tenacity, which women do not possess in this book. The female character comes from low origins, is impulsive, consistently loses control and is seen as a sex object one time too many. There's a secondary female character who has a bevy of male lovers who indulge her, allowing her to have her own realm in return for her sexual favors. One female is sexually abused in the book. Needless to say, the males in the book are smart, cunning, ruthless and fearless (whether or not they choose to use these traits for good or bad). I'm sure the females will evolve over time, but I'm not interested in reading three books to see this come about. I was also disappointed with the lack of worth placed on human life. I know its fiction but it still feels wrong to so freely sacrifice lives as a means to an end, and the ones that practice this are accepted and even revered within the society.
My frustration reached its peak when the book ended abruptly, so I have to buy the next book to find out what comes next. I prefer that each book stand alone. Although I have read and enjoyed books that do not, I do not enjoy books that are completely open-ended.
Enjoy the adventure
I enjoyed Feast of Souls. Admittedly, I have read / listened to few fantasy books, but this one seemed inventive and original. Importantly, the book includes everything you would expect; magic, intrigue, romance, a villain trying to take over the world and invincible dragon-like creatures.
The central character, Kamala, is a young, attractive woman who has a defiant, against the world attitude. She is self-assured and in a hurry. Kamala lives in a world of mortals, witches and sorcerers, and she is determined to survive, no matter the cost.
This review covers the trilogy as each book in quality and content is about the same, so if you're going to listen to the first book you may as well listen to them all as they are consistent throughout.
I like Friedman for the darkness she portrays in the human soul. This series is one along the lines of "soul sucking vampire" types as her excellent Coldfire series was. This series however doesn't quite reach the heights of that one.
The problem I have with this series is that there are too many central characters for development and thus each is lacking something despite their importance to the storyline. In particular, the main character, Kamala has significant gaps in her story and in some places her story lines end quite abruptly and unsatisfyingly. The feeling of "loose ends" is evident in a number of places. One gets the feeling she isn't fleshed out enough.
Despite this, the story ideas are solid and overall it's a good series to listen to if you are a fantasy fan. Had this series been longer to allow full development of the characters it would have scored 5's across the board.
The narration was good although with an even mix of male and female roles it may have been better done by a man and woman as Elisabeth did struggle on some of the male voices.
This is worth a listen to as there are some great ideas and concepts with a solid story line and telling of it.
Imaginative, Intriguing, Original
I would say Feast of Souls compares well to Robert Jordan books and other fantasy books of the same type. Though the entire thing may seem a bit wordy, it's refreshing to me since most books lately, especially self-published, lack the quality, intelligence and wit that had always been in literature before. If you like fantasy but don't like the YA aspect that seems to have overrun much of recently written fantasy, you'll definitely enjoy this.
I usually enjoy scenes when Kamala is locked in a battle of minds with any of the other Magisters. They're extremely entertaining and charged with an addicting sort of energy.
Not until the last book, and because that is so far away, I don't want to spoil it. Just know that many of the characters will take you by surprise. It's refreshing to read about people who aren't entirely predictable.
If you don't like reading for the sake of reading, don't admire when an author weaves words together artfully and instead prefer unoriginal plots and unimpressive language, this series is not for you. If, however, you love when an entirely new world unfolds before you filled with characters unlike any others, you will adore this series.
This is a story more easily followed if you are reading it rather than listening. So many things can be said in writing that............simply do not come across in narration. The story jumps around because there are many main characters who are also telling the story from their point of view all converging later in the other books.
I was originally drawn to the book because of the narrator. She did a great job in this series. Still I found the that listing to this story twice was almost an essential thing to pick up all the things you would have understood reading it. Changes in places and who is talking and even time issues overlap. It was confusing at the start. After listening to the whole series I can appreciate all of it. I will have to say I did enjoy the series but this first book was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. In the end I am glad I finished the series. At some time later I would listen to the whole series again.
The realistic Character portrayals.
Ripping off the head of a child!?!
Her voice gave me a different mental picture of the leading lady than just the words would have done...more approachable.
The ending was a real cliff-hanger.
Well written and read.
"Epic Adventure, refreshingly stars a female hero"
I would recommend this audiobook because it's a good, epic, (what I would call) low-fantasy story. Lots of great characters and solid consistent world, with believable heroes, doing the best they can. The story moves from the micro to the macro covering both individual tales and wider, world-effecting events.
I love the completeness of the world, the consistency and reality of the characters and the strength of the female characters, particularly Kamala, through whom we can explore the trials and tribulations facing a woman in a man's world.
Toss up between Kamala and Colivar, arguably the main characters but Elisabeth Rodgers gives them both clearly distinctive tones and characters despite being female and male. Something she does all the way through with all of the characters. Elisabeth narrates this story excellently, and it's no nice to hear a woman narrating an epic fantasy novel for a change!
Is the true price of immortality too high?
I think Friedman is an excellent writer, this is the second of her books that I've listened to, the first being Black Sun Rising. I will definitely be back for the sequels in each trilogy. However, I've taken a break from each. Friedman is skilled at creating a consistent world and believable multi-faceted characters. She clearly has a depth of understanding for her stories that is all to often missing. However, I find that there is a little too waxing lyrical from those characters. In both this and Black Sun Rising, the key characters, like so many of us, have various problems and concerns that they worry at when they have chance, but in these stories I found it got repetitive and tedious and detracted from the pace and urgency of what are, frankly, fantastic story lines. I feel that if a quarter of the story was edited out then it would make for an equally in-depth and real story, that moved along at a more reader-friendly rate. It's this that makes me reluctantly reduce the story rating to 4 stars, when otherwise and overall I think it is more than worthy of 5.
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