King of Foxes : Conclave of Shadows: Book Two
by Raymond E. Feist
Harper Collins/Voyager (UK) HCVR: ISBN 0002246821 PubDate: 11/01/03
384 pgs. List price $ 17.99
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Raymond E. Feist is without doubt one of the most talented authors currently in print within the fantasy genre. His beautifully sculpted world of Midkemia has been brought to life over some sixteen novels, and with hardly a stone left unturned, Feist has offered readers a full understanding of the geographical, political and naturally magical status of its several continents.
King of Foxes is the second book in The Conclave of Shadows series and follows one Talon of the Silver Hawk, a native Americanesque tribesman who witnessed the destruction of his people - the Orosini - by Duke Kaspar of Olasko. Talon, being the sole survivor of the atrocity, naturally swears an undying oath of revenge and is recruited by the secretive and aforementioned Conclave of Shadows to wreak havoc on the forces of evil. Having become established as one Talwin Hawkins, a minor noble from the Kingdom, our hero wins the tournament as the best swordsman in the world and dispatches several baddies along the way. King of Foxes then, deals with the next section of Talís revenge.
Difficult to admit (yet honestly stated) King of Foxes is a disappointment to the Feist enthusiast. Aficionados will appreciate the depth and intensity of his previous story telling - something of which King of Foxes, indeed The Conclave of Shadows series to date, has little. Characters such as the murderous Amafi and the mysterious Laso Varen are thinly fleshed and leave the reader wanting. No doubt Feist will be giving more as requested in the continuation of the series Ė however the lack in the two books so far leaves one with the feeling that this new series is merely a production line, rather than the expected production.
The first instalment, The Conclave of Shadows, is, we are lead to believe made up of occultists from both Midkemia and Kelewan (the world so incredibly brought to life by Feist in collaboration with Janny Wurts), plus an assortment of agents from all walks of life. A delightful cameo appearance by our old friend Pug (orphan, squire, magician, Duke &etc!) as head of the conclave does give this mysterious group some substance. However, in spite of Feistís desires to ensure the conclave remains mysterious, passing references, random appearances and apparent unlimited wealth do little to satisfy the reader. It remains mere background rather than being the driving force for world (or should that be worlds?) peace that Feist surely must be heading towards.
Feist, even when not at his best is (to my mind at least) head and shoulders above much of the genre. King of Foxes may not be a classic but in spite of the faint tainting odour of franchise fantasy it remains and enjoyable and easily read yarn.