This is the second half of Magician, and second book in the Riftwar Saga (followed by Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon).
After four years a slave in the great swamps of Kelewan, harvesting ngaggi trees the wood and resin of which the Tsurani use for paper, tools, or weapons, Pug discovers soon enough that one of those trees is rotten to save the place from devastation. Along with his slave mate and former minstrel Laurie, he is then hired by a noble Tsurani family: that of the Lord of the Shinzawai.
The lord's son Kasumi wants to be taught the barbaric ways of men on Midkemia, and especially to ride the horses that were captured in the invasion. As time goes by, this slave-master relationship will slowly become less formal. There Pug also meets a slave girl whom he will soon fall in love with: Katana.
One day though, a Great One, as are called the highly revered Kelewan magicians, upon visiting the Shinzawai discovers Pug's potential and decides to take him to the Assembly. Pug will spend another four years in the cells of this academy of sorts, repetedly questioned and brainwashed into a loyal servent of the Empire. After a final test on a vertiginously high tower where he dreams the whole History of Tsuranuanni, discovering the planet is in fact doomed, he finally becomes Milamber, a magician of immense power.
In the meantime on Midkemia Tomas, having donned the Dragon Lord's armour, is now a warrior hero, living with the elves and his boyhood love: the Elf Queen. But his Valheru armour of white and gold holds a strange power and Tomas is constantly tormented by terrible dreams.
After mourning Pug for years, Carline has finally turned her love towards Roland. Crydee is under siege, and with the help of Amos Trask the pirate, Prince Arutha goes to Krondor to seek help, only to discover the overambitious and treacherous Duke Guy du Bas-Tyra is now ruling.
In this book the reader discovers the Tsurani harsh climate and learns more about its Far-East-like society. This second part is a great improvement compared to the first: all bits fall into place, on both worlds people converge through political struggles to the final climax. However as a lover of long and minutious descriptions, I would have liked to see the characters being developed deeper, and in the end I realised I actually didn't care much for them.
Originally written as a stand-alone, Magician could easily be read as such, and I wonder what awaits me in the next two books.
This report prepared by crooty