Magician is the first novel in what is now a 21 book series. It introduces us to the world of Midkemia and the primary protagonists, Pug (the eponymous Magician) and Tomas ( the uber-warrior), and kicks off the Riftwar Saga. Emerging from the Midkemia gaming "Friday Night Sessions" when Feist taught at U.C.L.A, Magician was originally published in 1982, as two separate novels (Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master) and became a more-or-less instant best-seller. I've a feeling that this had as much to do with the fact that it was a male American writer who really looked the part, as it did to the fact that it's a cracking good read. Incidentally, Pug and Thomas are the only ones who feature in all the other books, granted as they are if not true immortality then at least a very long life-span.
Almost two decades later, Magician was re-published in 2001 as a single book, and, according to the foreword, re-written with more colour, verve and clarity by an author in his prime. The new edition was also considerably longer, with Feist now calling the shots and restoring much of the dialogue originally edited out by his editor and publisher, around 50,000 words. A lot of people wouldn't agree with me, but I personally believe that Magician and the other Midkemian Sagas ( the Riftwar Saga, the Riftwar Legacy, Krondor's Sons, and the Serpentwar Saga) rank up there along with The Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time series as a great classics of 20th century Manichean fantasy. Well, at least up until the end of the Conclave of the Shadows Saga. Everything after that is a re-hash of what went before, and reads like Feist just drew the outlines and left the colouring in to others.
Like most Manichean sagas, there is little that is truly original about Magician, in a more uncannily than fantastical or marvelous sense in terms of world-building and character and peopling. Tolkien-esque elements are clear and present; the Elves are tall, beautiful, magical forest-dwellers who live in a breathtakingly stunning city of trees, the Dwarves are ale-drinking miners, and the heroes are honorable feudalists in a pre-industrial medieval world - The Kingdom of the Isles -. Dragons are intelligent and magical, and, naturally, there's the mystery shrouded 'Black Sorcerer'. No slaves, of course. Only the orientals keep slaves. Even the magic is nothing novel, with your standard greater-path and lesser-path magicians. Todorov calls this our accustomization to the marvelous*, when magical things happen without being anything of a surprise to the reader.