Time was, I used to be a huge Feist fan. So I want nothing more than to see him produce the sort of ripping yarns on which is fame and success are based. Flight of the Nighthawks did generate some lofty expectations among readers, and I for one was really excited. And yet, the sequel all but destroyed them. Still, there was a silver lining, for Feist set the stage for a promising final installment. Unfortunately, though my own expectations were far from high, Wrath of a Mad God failed to live up to the potential displayed by the opening chapter of this trilogy.
A pity, since all the ingredients appeared to be in place for one great fantasy adventure. Pug, Nakor and their companions are still trying to make sense of the Dasati universe, and what they'll discover will make them realize that there is much more at stake than what they ever envisioned. Miranda finds herself a prisoner of Leso Varen, and she must find a way to warn the Great Ones and the aristocracy of Kelewan of the threat they now face. Back in Midkemia, Kaspar and his men make a startling discovery, something that might change everything.
The premise underlying this novel is one of Feist's most ambitious storylines. The main problem plaguing Wrath of a Mad God lies in the execution, which is decidedly flat in several portions of the tale. The threat of destruction of three different worlds is never truly portayed in a believable manner. Feist has had a problem with writing scenes and plotlines of epic proportions in the past, and I feel that he was unable to capture the emotional impact associated with such an all-encompassing menace. The heroic vibe throughout this one has a YA feel that prevented me to get into the story. Most characters don't react in credible fashion, and at times I thought I was reading a Forgotten Realms sword and sorcery tale. Their actions and dialogues don't ring true, and the implausibility of it all never lets the reader feel how dire the situation really is.
One of the biggest shortcomings of Wrath of a Mad God is the fact that Feist is incapable to convey his ideas and concepts through the narratives. As was the case in Into a Dark Realm, we are forced to read through heaps of dialogues in which the characters explain what is occurring, etc. There is a lot of internal musing by many of the characters, especially from Miranda, which becomes annoying because it breaks the rhythm of the novel.
Much to my relief, things take a turn for the better late in the book. A few unexpected surprises toward the end help elevate this one above its predecessor, which was a blessing. Yet the ending is terribly rushed and prevents us from enjoying it to the fullest. I found that extremely weird, considering that many of the plotlines have been building up for over two volumes as well as the better part of this third installment. But their culmination is over in the blink of an eye.
Once more, Feist demonstrates that he doesn't fear killing major characters. Though I should have known better, what with the death of characters such as Jimmy the Hand and Arutha in past books, I must admit that I never expected the death of such a long time player. . .
Although everything is rushed, Feist brings this one to a somewhat satisfying end. But 2/3of this novel nevertheless suffers from uneven pacing and occasionally poor execution. Characterization, an aspect in which Feist habitually excels, is more or less subpar throughout. Even if the last hundred pages or so saved this one for me, Wrath of a Mad God is still a far cry from the Riftwar and Serpentwar books.
Has Feist lost his touch? I get the feeling that -- like Eddings, Salvatore, Brooks, Weis and Hickman, etc -- Raymond E. Feist's best years might be behind him. Which is a shame if that's the case, because at his best Feist could compete with virtually any SFF authors out there.
The final verdict: 7/10