The Exile’s return picks up immediately after the events in the King of Foxes. This time however the focus shifts from Tal to Kaspar (the exile of the title).
Stripped of his title and wealth, the former Duke of Olasko is forced to evaluate his life choices so far and begin anew. Essentially, the Exile’s return is a story of redemption.
The reason I love Raymond E Feist is because he tells a traditional fantasy story brilliantly. Yes the Likes of Martin and Abercrombie write far more engaging stories but no one surpasses Raymond when telling a story of the underdog grinding his way to the top.
Kaspar was a vile person in the first two novels of the Conclave of Shadows series and so I wasn’t overly looking forward to reading about him. Within pages Raymond changed my mind.
Reading how Kaspar goes from being pampered and thoughtless, to fending for himself made for a great yarn. He had a rough idea how the real world works but had never bothered to learn the practicalities of manual labour for example.
His transformation from the man hell-bent on revenge to one of the anti-hero is fascinating. However, the story is not as predictable as you would assume. Around of a third of the way through, Kaspar is forced on a different path entirely. One that he is forced to see through and one that brings him into contact with those he swore to act vengeance on.
For ¾ of the novel, the Exile’s return is an excellent novel. The final quarter felt a bit too rushed to me. There are some philosophical debates concerning the Gods, that whilst interesting, slow the speed of the plot down tremendously. The conclusion is wrapped up far too quickly and the cliffhanger of the ending leaves a bit of a sore aftertaste. Instead of wanting to rush out to buy the next series (although I do want to) I felt more disappointed that the final quarter of the novel was used to set things nicely rather than concentrate on the concluding the plot I was reading in a satisfactory manner. Many old characters return and although Raymond briefly summarises they past, if you haven’t read those books you will wish you had – I certainly did having only read the SerpentWar Saga. My rating: 8.3