Honored Enemy & Murder in LaMut by Raymond E. Feist, William R. Forstchen & Joel Rosenberg
Raymond E. Feist has always been notable for his willingness to share the world of Midkemia. In all his acknowledgments and dedications, Feist notes that from its very inception the world has been a collaborative effort. His Empire trilogy was a collaboration with Janny Wurts, and the computer game Betrayal at Krondor had to be shared, by its very nature. He has returned to the tradition of collaborative effort in his Legends of the Riftwar series.
Taking Feist’s world of Midkemia and using his name and notoriety, as well as that of other noted authors, (William R. Forstchen, Joel Rosenberg, S.M. Stirling), Legends of the Riftwar returns to the time of the first Riftwar, wherein the Tsurani have invaded Midkemia from their own world of Kelewan. Each book is a stand-alone novel.
Honored Enemy is notable for its military descriptions, and for the strange situation two small companies of Tsurani and Kingdom soldiers find themselves in. It almost seems like the story could have been taken from a historical event in any of Earth’s wars. (Which makes sense since the co-author, William R. Forstchen, is a military historian and author of the acclaimed Gettysburg series co-written with Newt Gingrich.) Fans of military history or survival stories might find some appeal in this book, though fantasy fans are the most likely to benefit.
Murder in LaMut takes three of Joel Rosenberg’s characters from his own fantasy series, renames them, and transplants them into Midkemia. Sort of like The Three Musketeers of fantasy, these mercenary soldiers find themselves caught up in a web of political intrigue that they are wholly unprepared for. The murder of the title doesn’t take place until the last 50 pages, but the mystery of the murder begins from page 1. Although not really comparable with genre mystery novels, and probably not appealing to those who read them, Murder in LaMut will appeal to fans of suspense fantasy and to any readers who enjoy a long slow build-up of mystery and don’t mind a rather simple conclusion to it.
The writing in both novels is classic Feist. The story is simple and usually revolves around the growth or change of key characters and the challenging of their preconceptions. Honored Enemy does this more than Murder in LaMut, but both see characters taking on roles they had not expected to, or making life changes that only their circumstances could have forced.
The novels themselves will make little sense to someone not already familiar with the world of Midkemia. There are references to characters from other books, oblique allusions to events described in the original Riftwar series are prevalent, and background on these events is lacking. Still, these novels could be read by someone with only a basic knowledge of Midkemia, and still be enjoyed.
I do recommend Honored Enemy and Murder in LaMut as fun sword and sorcery stories set within the world of Midkemia. The events and plot are not world-shattering, but they were fun to read. Best comparisons would be some of the shared world novels like Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance wherein authors write about localized events and stories within the grand scope of a developed world. Feist fans will love these stories, as it will develop the world of Midkemia further, but those new to it should start with Feist’s first novel, Magician.
FanLit thanks John Ottinger III from Grasping for the Wind for contributing this guest review.