The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Riftwar Saga chronicles the adventures of a number of characters as they become embroiled in a war between Midkemia and Kelewan, different worlds connected by a “rift,” or magical gateway. In the course of the struggle, it gradually becomes clear that another force poses a greater threat than the war itself. The action is centered in Midkemia, a world with a traditional fantasy milieu: Humans, elves, dwarves, and assorted “enemy races” exist in a quasi-European medieval social structure. Kelewan is a more exotic setting, reminiscent in many ways of medieval Japan.

Magician: Apprentice introduces the series’ main characters and describes the beginning of the Rift War. Pug, an orphan being raised at Crydee, the provincial seat of Duke Borric, is accepted as an apprentice by Kulgan, the duke’s magician. Tomas, Pug’s best friend, enters training as a guard. Both boys are swept up in events as they encounter a wrecked ship of alien construction. It becomes clear that the ship’s builders, a people who call themselves the Tsurani, have established a foothold on Midkemia and plan a conquest.

Borric assembles a party to travel east and warn the king. The party—Pug, Tomas, Borric, Borric’s sons Arutha and Lyam, and his huntmaster, Martin—are diverted from their intended route by attacking moredhel, or dark elves, apparently being displaced south by the actions of the Tsurani invaders. The party becomes split while traveling through abandoned dwarven mines to avoid groups of enemies. Tomas is left wandering the mines while the rest escape.

Tomas encounters a dying dragon, who gives him an ancient suit of magical armor before expiring. The armor infuses him with the spirit of its original owner, Ashen-Shugar, a member of a vanished, extremely powerful race known as the Valheru, or dragonlords. Although the armor gives Tomas fantastic fighting ability, it also leaves him on the brink of insanity.

Pug and the rest of the party, meanwhile, barely manage to acquire aid from the king, who is himself not sane, and return to fight the Tsurani. While en route, they encounter an enigmatic magician, Macros the Black, who hints that the conflict is not what...

(The entire section is 905 words.)