Rides a Dread Legion: Book One of the Demonwar Saga

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The last remnants of an ancient advanced race, the Clan of the Seven Stars, are returning at long last to their lost homeworld, Midkemia—not as friends, but as would-be conquerors. Led by the conjurer Laromendis, they are fleeing the relentless demon hordes that are sweeping through their galaxy and destroying the elves' vast empire planet by planet. Only by escaping to Midkemia and brutally overtaking the war-weary world can the last remnants of a mighty civilization hope to survive . . . if the Dread Legion does not pursue them through the rift.

The magician Pug, Midkemia's brave and constant defender, is all too familiar with the Demon King Maarg and his minions and their foul capacity for savagery and horror, and he recognizes the even graver threat that is following on the heels of the elven invasion. The onslaught to come will dwarf every dire catastrophe his imperiled world has previously withstood, and there is no magical champion in all of Midkemia powerful enough to prevent it. Only one path remains for Pug and Midkemia's clandestine protectors, the Conclave of Shadows: forging an alliance of formidable magical talents, from the demon-dealing warlock Amirantha, brother of Pug's hated foe, and the demon-taming cleric Sandreena, to the elven Queen Miranda, to the warrior Tomas. However, uniting enemies and bitter, vengeful former lovers will be no easy task, and even together they may ultimately be unable to turn the death tide. But a failure to do so will most certainly ensure Midkemia's doom.

Customer Reviews:

  • Good but Short
    This is the first book without major typos, so congrats to the editors for getting it right finally. However, the Book Jacket does have errors. For instance, Miranda is not an Elf Queen.

    This book is actually pretty short at 365 pages or so. The description leads you to believe there is a lot of angst between the characters and everyone is plotting to backstab everyone else. However, with a couple of exceptions that really doesn't come through in the book and even in those exceptions it's mild unless you have a great imagination.

    Overall the book is obviously a setup book. The characters kind of amble around performing minor tasks, meeting with each other, and basically setting up the final couple chapters.

    I liked the book and as Feist says we start to see the big picture, but it's definitely not a novel that could live on it's own. I anxiously await the next book in the series. Now if we could only get Mr. Feist to write faster!...more info
  • The Next Tale in the Midkemia Multiverse
    Rides a Dread Legion (2009) is the first fantasy novel in the Demonwar Saga within the Midkemia series. In the previous subseries, Pug, Macros, Magnus and Nakor reconnoitered the Dasati domain. Macros and Nakor did not return, but Pug and Magnus came back with warning of an imminent invasion. The invasion rift was destroyed together with the planet Kelewan.

    In this novel, Amirantha is a demon summoner. He is the third of three sons from a woman who was known as a witch. With his companion Brandos, Amirantha has been conning rural villagers with false demon invasions staged by his own tame demons, but he has also tracked down and banished several other ravaging demons.

    Sandreena is a Knight-Adamant of the Order of the Shield of the Weak, serving in the name of the Goddess Dala. She was born to a prostitute in Krondor and followed her mother into that profession. But Brother Mathias had brought her into the temple.

    Father-Bishop Creegan is head of the Order of the Shield in Krondor. Only the Grand Master in Rillanon is higher within the hierarchy of the Order, but the Grand Master leaves administrative duties to the seven Father-Bishops. Creegan is the single most powerful Father-Bishop and is probably going to be the next Grand Master.

    Undalyn is the Regnant Lord of the Taradhel, the People of the Seven Stars. Their ancestors had been Eldar -- Lorekeepers -- and had fled Midkemia during the Chaos Wars prior to the freeing of all Elves by the Valheru Ashen-Shugar. The Taradhel had planted their Seven Stars -- trees from the sacred grove at Home -- and then had spread to other planets. Now their worlds are being overrun by the Demon Legion.

    Laromendis is a Taradhel Conjurer -- an illusionist -- and the head of the council of Taradhel magic users. The Clansfolk don't usually like magicians, although those who raise and maintain the Portals -- rifts -- are acceptable.

    Gulamendis is a Master of Demons -- a demon summoner -- and the brother of Laromendis. Since the Taradhel believe that the demon summoners paved the way for the Demon Legion to come into their realm, he and others of his nature are hated by their fellow Elves. He has been imprisoned by the Regent Lord while his brother scouts for a new home.

    In this story, Laromendis brings word of the location of Home, the planet from which the Taradhel had fled many centuries ago. Undalyn frees Gulamendis to check out signs of demons on the planet, but sends Laromendis back to Ancardia to help hold back the demons attacking their capitol.

    Meanwhile, Laromendis was seen in a valley near the Grey Towers. The news of this strange Elf is passed to Elvandar by Alystan of Natal and Dolgan, King of the Western Dwarves. Aglaranna and her consort Tomas discuss the sighting with their advisors.

    Then Gulamendis arrives in Elvandar and meets with Aglaranna and her consort. At first, he is believed to be his brother because of his strange red hair. After discussing the Taradhel with their advisors, Tomas arranges to meet Gulamendis in the sacred grove. Gulamendis is stunned by the presence of a Valheru in full armor and revises his strategy, telling Tomas virtually everything about his people.

    Amirantha prepares another demonic scam, but his summoning spell is subverted and a spellcasting demon warrior appears instead of the expected monster. After destroying the demon, Amirantha receives his reward at the palace. He also gains an audience with General Kaspar to inform him of his encounter with a deadly demon.

    When the demon was destroyed, Amirantha had detected in the summoning spell the familiar signature of his next older brother Belasco. Then he tells Kaspar that his eldest brother is Sidi, also known to the Conclave as Leso Varen. Kaspar takes him to Sorcerer's Isle to meet Pug.

    Sandreena receives an assignment from Father-Bishop Creegan. He sends her to check out a report of bandits near the village of Akrakon near the Peaks of Quor. He chooses her because of her experience with magicians and demons.

    In the village of Akrakon, Sandreena learns of the Black Caps from the family that runs what passes for an inn. She is soon attacked by men wearing black headgear, knocked unconscious and thrown from a cliff into the sea. An old man rescues her and nurses her back to health. Then she leaves to track her attackers.

    Pug brings Amirantha, Sandreena, Creegan and Gulamendis to confer over the Black Cap incident. Jommy also attends the conference and mentions his prior encounter with Black Caps and a demon summoner. From these separate pieces of data, they conclude that Belasco has been searching for a way to bring demons to Midkemia. They start discussing means of gaining further information so that they can devise countermeasures.

    Then the Regnant's Meet encounters Tomas, holder of the power of the Valheru Ashen-Shugar. Undalyn is not totally overwhelmed by the presence of a Valheru, but he is somewhat humbled. Tomas informs him of the freeing of the Edhel and asks his cooperation in planning a defense of Midkemia from the Demon Legion.

    This tale presents the Conclave of Shadows and their new allies with a huge problem. They need to find out how the demons are coming into the Taradhel realm and block the rift if they can. They start where Pug has previously encountered the Demon King Maarg.

    This volume is only the first in a trilogy (or more), so it merely introduces the problem and relates the initial events. Even so, there are numerous armed and magical conflicts -- and many deaths -- in this novel. The next work in this series is: At The Gates of Darkness. Read and enjoy!

    Highly recommended for Feist fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of demonic forces, cultural conflicts, and high magic. Anyone who has not previously read the Midkemia sagas should start with the first volume: Magician: Apprentice.

    -Arthur W. Jordin...more info
  • Awesome
    For those of us that were disappointed by the Serpentwar, Darkwar, and all the books in between, this book offers a return to form. Its riveting, grabbing your attention in an iron grip and never letting go. The hardships promised by the Death Goddess to Pug began to manifest, and the ending sees the death of a certain annoying character that we've been hoping for since she first annoyed us in Shadow of a Dark Queen. Excellent book and back on track to greatness. ...more info
  • Can't quite give it a 5
    I've read all of feist's books (except for Wrath of a Mad God because I think that series went downhill - but now I have to read it because there were so many references to what happened in it) and I loved the Riftwar, Serpent war and the two in-between books which I thought were excellent. I would give all of them 5 stars. Then it started to go downhill. I saw this book at the store and decided to give him another try.

    I think he's getting back into form but not quite there yet. He's started fleshing out the characters better than in the last series but I felt there was something missing. Having said that, I'm intrigued enough to read the next book coming out (but the story is getting very convoluted). I did finish the book in one day and I only do that with good reads. However, I will say that I was extremely, extremely dissapointed with the ending. I won't spoil it but something happens at the end that really just takes down the tone of the story and actually made me sad. That's good and bad because a writer who can emotionally affect you with the written word is good - but I don't like how he did it.

    One can always hope that Lims-Kragma puts this character back for another turn of the wheel....more info
  • Ray, the time for Midkemia to die is long past
    Time to retire. I have long been a fan of Raymond Feist, but when a series is dead. It is dead. This series lives on its characters now, not on any plot device, or story, or interaction between plot lines, for all basic plots are now the same.

    The last series the characters defeat the worst evil imaginable that threatens them in the worst horrific way, and then a new series starts linking the characters together again. This time the evil is worse than the previous evil and it will result in the same total eradication of all life.

    That device is now done to death again. (SPOILER)

    But this time he at least kills some primary characters. The problem I have here is the is main hero has become virtually immortal because Pug, the magician, remains in all the books. That takes us away from something that Feist is good at, developing new characters. But what he also needs to do is develop a new world.

    Then he runs into the problem of having all characters together at once. Ever have a party in your living room? Does everyone stop talking and just listen to one speak? Usually it is small groups of conversation, but for Feist he does not really capture how to relate this, often bringing all the characters together and then we have the repetition of information since characters he has arrive at different times. Soon we have hear the characters tale so many times that we jump ahead since why waste the effort to read it again.

    Then should other characters arrive just after that one has told his tale, well a case in point, Pug has some of the new good guys together when his old friends Tomas shows up. We already know why he is showing up, and Pug and others have eaten lunch, but we waste a few moments as Pug offers Tomas and his companion a meal. Did we need that? Does it add to the book or again slow us up.

    Feist may be well sold in the field after all these years, assigned to an editor that just rubber stamps his work. But this is really getting sad.

    When will the next generation take over? When will we have just a regular evil that is hard enough to deal with like a war between nations, rather than something that is going to once again eradicate all life on Midkemia unless the Superheroes of the Planet (His Conclave of Shadows) rides forth once more.

    Unless you are a dies hard fan of all things Midkemia, read a snyopsis. There is less than 100 pages of entertaining material here, the rest is just a rehash of his warm fuzzy friendships that a reread of Magician will be much better use of your time....more info
  • Feist's best work since Magician
    I enjoy all of Feist's Midkemia series, but this one is better than most. The quality of the characters is very high, and it's my favorite Feist since his first. If you like Feist's books, buy it. If you haven't tried Feist, buy Magician....more info
  • The beginning of what could be a great series.
    Rides A Dread Legion is the first book in The Demonwar Saga. And I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to find that is quite a good novel with a great many mind blowing SUPRISES. However when I look back to Magician or the Serpent War Saga the quality just isn't there, that being said so far the beginning to this series has much better promise than that of the Wrath Of A Mad God. So maybe there is hope for The Demonwar Saga.

    On an unknown world far from Midkemia there is a terrible war being waged between an Elf race (the Tarendhel) and the armies of the the Demon King. Over three worlds the Elves have fought with the death of of millions of their people, finally the Elves make their last stand. Behind the scene the Lord of the Tarendhel's chief mage opened a rift to their legendary home world of Midkemia to evacuate the remains of their race. How will the people of Midkemia except the refuges or will the refuges simply take what they want.
    ...more info
  • An improvement over the Darkwar series
    Definitely an improvement over the Darkwar series. Fewer parallel storylines. With the Darkwar series there were some completely uninteresting storylines that I glossed over. Here everything was well paced and kept me engaged. More magic users is always a plus. No wholesale destruction of previous plots, worlds and characters. This book actually builds its base on previous books. Tomas is my favorite character and I was intrigued by his role in this series. Shorter in length than previous books but definitely left me wanting more and looking forward to the next book in the series....more info
  • Back to What Works for Feist
    The awkwardly-titled Rides a Dread Legion is a more promising beginning than Feist's last several series have started with. Although new characters, even a newly discovered people, play an important part in the story, old favorites Pug and Tomas again assume important roles in the story.

    Most readers who have stuck with Feist since the 1980s have become accepting of his style, reminiscent of the space opera of Doc Smith, of following up a universe-saving battle in one book with a far more vital multi-universe struggle ten years later in the next series. That's been the Feist pattern so long that it can't be regarded as a bug, it's simply a feature.

    We're back to the threat to Midkemia and other worlds coming from the various demon circles, and this book makes use of several new demon raising characters to more systematically explore what these beings are and what they want. There's a fair amount of conferencing between the various principals and experts, but action is not neglected either. The book does bog down in such scenes at times when Feist suddenly jumps to a fight between obscure characters or peoples who were only briefly introduced in prior series.

    Really this book's strengths lie in the interplay between the various characters - especially Tomas, Pug and his family, and new additions Amirantha and Gulamendis, a being with a very different background than most of Midkemia's races, despite his people's connection to the world. Tomas again gets to flex his Valheru muscles on the side of good.

    If you have no idea what that last sentence means, this would NOT be a good place to start reading Feist. He's written over 25 books set in or based on the Midkemia world, and although not all are vital to understanding this story, at the very least the first series, known as the Riftwar Saga, should be the starting point for anyone attempting Feist. It kicks off with Magician, which you may find split into two parts beginning with Magician: Apprentice. The Riftwar Saga, and the Empire Trilogy co-written with Janny Wurts, are classic fantasy series, even if not every Midkemia sequel has been up to those standards. But a new reader who does like Riftwar could do worse than to follow up by reading this book and its forthcoming continuation as well.

    I might have given Dread Legion another star if it had more resolution. It's become (too) typical in fantasy for the individual books in multi-volume series to simply be long chapters, with the end of each book prior to the final one not particularly resolving anything. And because it's now the standard, if Feist were a 26 year-old newcomer I'd accept the 2009 style without comment. However, Feist is not that newcomer, and this what I consider lazy and sloppy new trend represents a backward step for writers of his generation. Magician had a point as a novel, despite being part of a series. So did Silverthorn, and Daughter of the Empire. I'm judging Feist by Feist standards rather than Brandon Sanderson standards, which I don't think is unfair. Feist is still published at all simply because he is grandfathered in as an established fantasy stalwart. If he had never been published and he walked into a publisher's office cold today with a Midkemia manuscript, he'd get it tossed back with a scornful comment about this not being 1983 and DelRey Books. Now I don't have a problem with my old favorite authors still writing sequels to those 1983 classics - obviously or I wouldn't still be reading them - but they can't have it both ways. If you're going to still live off 1983 fantasy, then give us self-contained 1983-style novels, not 2009 installments.

    As is apparent, I regard 3 stars as an above-average rating. I have no quarrel with those who seldom give anything below a 4, but for my purposes I find it works best to save more room at the top while crowding all the average and poor stuff into the 1-2 range....more info
  • Oh so promising, and then ...
    I have to start by saying that I am a long term fan and have read the entire series from that first book from the SciFi/Fantasy Book Club many years ago. I would have loved to give this book a 5, or even a 4, but I just couldn't do it.
    First off, there just is not that much to the book. Ray (Hey, I've been a fan long enough to use a personal version of his name) must at this point believe that his fans know all about Midkemia and therefore does not need to waste much time with world building. Not that it was ever a strong feature of earlier works, but it was far better than represented here. Maybe that explains why the book is so short. In a time when I am reading contemporaries of R.F. (some newer to the scene) and finding massive stories loaded with rich characters and easily twice the length, I just have to ask, "What's up!"
    I will, of course, continue to read the stories, just to know where Pug goes next. And I will admit that in the last few pages, he finally starts to realize that he has to not be just a player in the grand opera understanding only his part, but he needs to understand the opera itself. Launching himself towards godhood perhaps?
    Anyway, read it, enjoy it, just don't get too disappointed when after a few hours of reading you turn the page and realize the book is done and you now have to wait for another year for the next, short installment....more info
  • Verrrry slow build up for a series
    As soon as the "biggest threat ever" is vanquished, Feist's next series introduces a bigger threat. This is part of his formula, and his ultra-powerful protagonists struggle mightily before winning the day, while the world around them is slowly wrecked.

    In this book, Feist takes a very long time to set up his pieces on the board and introduces the massive danger that is so bad it is destroying the newly introduced race of super-elves.

    While the reading is good, it does take a long time to set up, without much of the action I've come to expect.

    Which is why the ending seems so strong and shocking. There is a twist which I didn't see coming, and a reminder that the reader shouldn't rely on the preconceptions which might be brought from earlier Feist novels.

    My review is 3.5 stars, boosted up by the better than expected close to the story. In fact, I think the ending is the only thing that salvaged a book which sort of dragged. ...more info
  • Less painful than recent atrocities
    Considering the appalling dross that Feist has attempted to pass off as fiction in the last decade I approached this, his latest work, with a massive amounts of skepticism and resignation: let's note for the record that I continue to purchase (and read) Feist's works because I am 'complete-ist' - a less kindly inclined individual would probably label me a masochist but that's neither here nor there.

    I'm not going to waste people's time with a brief precis of the plot for Feist has relied on his usual tropes and stylistic elements to guide us through yet another Midkemian saga - he's found more elves though, we can only guess at how many books into the future we will go before he runs out of nouns ending in 'dhel'?

    Let's be frank, people - at least those who've grown up with Feist's world - have continued to follow the story out of a dogged loyalty to a beloved set of characters and a world that helped establish a benchmark for fantasy writing. At least that's my reasoning. I'm not entirely sure what else could explain the massive sales Feist continues to enjoy as he has, over the years, continued to peddle erratically constructed narratives with no focus, less plot and about as much resonance as the latest HBO 'disease of the month' special.

    You can forgive much if the story make some semblance of sense - I can't say I retained much in the way of forgiveness when approaching 'Rides a Dread Legion'. But, lo (and these are the major, salient points of note I could list other more minor elements):

    - Feist has rediscovered the art of plotting inasmuch as we have cause and effect instead of the ILM school of 'isn't that whizzy' of writing.

    - Feist has rediscovered internal consistency: characters not only do things for a reason but that reason makes sense in the present and into the future; further, future actions referencing past actions are logically consistent with those actions/ decisions.

    - The virtual obliteration of the throwaway/ one-dimensional/ pointless characters that so marred his previous trilogy: it's so much easier to to care about what the characters are doing if the author has actually taken the time to invest something, other than apathy, in their development/ creation.

    Of course, this being Feist, there is some incredibly trite dialogue, some ridiculously obvious foreshadowing and a reliance on a bucketload of cliches, however, given past efforts this is a worthy return to (something that could be considered to be) form and well worth long-time fans taking the time to return to the nest.

    3.5 stars [It's better than a 3 but not a 4] ...more info
  • Great Book, fast moving.
    Loved this book, I have been a Feist fan since Magician. This is one of the better books he has wrote. Makes for a more interesting read when you know that no character is immune to the authors death pen....more info
  • Good Read
    I enjoyed reading Rides a Dread Legion, I found the story entertaining and engaging without being repetitive from previous novels. Feist has an ability to maintain a generational story-line without the characters being carbon-copies of their predecessors. I enjoyed the new plot twists that new groups bring to Midkemia and look forward to the next installment in this story-line....more info
  • Not quite up to par
    Pug is an old friend. I saw him grow to manhood, as so many of you did, in Magician, and then enter the realms of power. He has grown puissant and wise over the years, and he is, ultimately, the cornerstone of Feist's neverending Midkemia series. But I think I'm reaching my limit. This review is for the fans, newcomers beware -- this is not the place to start.

    Guess what, we're fighting Demons again (or are we?). As you may have already gleaned, the first reviewer has most of the facts wrong, so that's not going to be much of help.

    Power-hungry elves...oh, we've seen those already.

    Sidi is back, well not really, but the next best (worst?) thing.

    Fundamentally, Midkemia is again at risk of extinction (how is this worse, as proclaimed in the book jacket, then each time before?) and it's up to Pug, the ever ready for battle, Tomas, and a few others to again save it.

    Prior revieweers have been generous, but I empathize. You see, this latest installment in the Midkemia world IS in fact better than several prior. The characters seem (only seem, mind you) to have some depth, the storyline is sufficiently intriguing to turn the pages, and the pace moves quick enough to avoid being painful (albeit not by much).

    Unfortunately, the return to an earlier, more exciting form, is limited in scope as this novel merely "sets up" the underlying conflicts that one can only hope will be expanded in future books.

    I'll finish reading this saga, but I may start waiting for paperback.

    ...more info
  • Can't wait for the next book
    Another great chapter in this saga.

    It amazes me how Mr Feist is able to keep his books so fresh and enthralling...I cannot put them down until I have finished them. Other sets of books often fall in the quality of writing as they progress but not these. Of course there are some shocking moments but I don't want to spoil it for anybody....more info


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