Conclave of Shadows (3) - Exile's Return

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9780002246835: Conclave of Shadows (3) - Exile's Return

The penultimate volume in The Conclave of Shadows from worldwide bestselling author Raymond E Feist. Featuring one of the most fascinating characters and scenarios ever created in the genre. The series promises to become one of the great all-time classics in the field.

Once absolute ruler of his nation Kaspar, former Duke of Olasko, has been cast into exile. Abandoned in the wilds of a continent on the other side of the world and left with nothing but his wits and determination, he must fight merely to survive. Armed with guile, cunning and an iron will, he starts his odyssey with a single goal: to return to his home and revenge himself upon the man who cast him down, Talwin Hawkins.

But fate has other plans for Kaspar, and as he struggles against adversity, he encounters dangers greater than any he had imagined. More is at stake than he realised and Kaspar is but a single player in a far greater game than he imagined, for pitted against the Conclave of Shadows are the agents of the Dark Empire, a looming menace that threatens not only Kaspar's homeland, but the entire world of Midkemia.

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Review:

Exile's Return is book three in Raymond E. Feist's "Conclave of Shadows" fantasy sequence set in his established world of Midkemia, a hundred years after the Riftwar Saga which first made his name.

The story begins with a riches-to-rags upset for Kaspar, former Duke of Olasko, who is now punished for his villainy in a previous volume by magical teleportation to a remote, bleak desert full of hostile nomads. By strength, cunning and a little luck, he just barely survives ordeals that range from mayhem and imprisonment to near-death from heat and thirst.

For a supposed bad guy, Kaspar seems likeable enough as he resourcefully makes his way across an unknown continent. In fact he quickly becomes a reformed character, realizing in repeated flashbacks that his former magician adviser had paralysed his conscience while leading him into naughty ways. The stage seems set for interesting conflict if this ex-Duke can cross the sea and return home.

But then Kaspar wanders into another story, joining a desperate band of men who are under magical compulsion to transport a strange relic towards some uncertain destination. The thing resembles a sealed suit of armour, but is clearly much more. It constantly attracts death and disaster. After one particularly gruelling attack on the party, the "armour" rises and walks.

In unexpected interviews with two of Midkemia's gods, Kaspar learns the nature of his burden and the grave menace to the world which it represents. His homecoming turns out differently from anything he could have imagined, with unexpected good food, forgiveness and violence. The foreshadowed surprise ending promises major complications in books to come.

Despite all these bodings of doom, Exile's Return is a pleasant, unambitious, feelgood fantasy by an author who knows exactly how to please his fans. Ideal train-journey reading.--David Langford

Review:

‘Feist’s plot races along at break-neck speed… distressingly addictive.’
The Guardian

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