When I was a kid, I fell in love with a pc game called Betrayal at Krondor. It was an RPG where you traveled with a merry band of dudes around a quasi-medieval world, killing enemies one strategic turn at a time, gathering loot, upgrading gear, and unraveling a wonderful fantasy narrative.
It was based on the world of Midkemia, from the books by Raymond E Feist, though I wasn’t aware of this when I started playing the game. So when I saw this at a bookshop…
…I absolutely lost my shit. Feist had written a book specifically based on the game! I had to have it immediately. Not only did I love the book in its own right, it also acted as a guide for the game, which, like most games of yore, was ridiculously hard. Seriously one time I got stuck so badly in a dungeon I had to completely restart the game.
Two more books followed in the series, one of which was tied to another game (which I really should play sometime). I adored them and read them over and over. I read other Feist books too but none ever compared to these ones for me. They formed a huge part of my early teen years. Plus, I was hopelessly in love with Squire James. I think part of the reason I didn’t like many other Feist books was because James wasn’t in them enough.
Apparently there were issues with the game developers, resulting in further games, and books, in the series being scrapped. So I was left without any real conclusion to the series for a very long time.
Recently, Feist released a novella to finish the series. Finally, I have a conclusion to the most beloved book series of my childhood…
… and it’s shit.
This book reads like a first draft that has hardly been edited. It rehashes the same information repetitively for two thirds of the book and then ends abruptly with a bunch of awful damsel in distress tropes that made me want to retch. And my darling James? He’s little more than a shallow male Mary Sue.
I feel so let down, almost heartbroken, and now I’m full of terrible doubts about my childhood love. What if the other books were never that good either? What if James was always kind of lame? I feel like I can never read them again now, in case I break the spell of nostalgia and ruin them forever.
Maybe I’m being too harsh because I’m feeling so betrayed right now. Those books will always be a part of me. I can’t write them off completely because of this one blight, can I? It’s like how I will always love The X-Files even though its final seasons were terrible, and how I’ll always love bands like Interpol and The Strokes even though they will never again be as good as their first albums. There are very few things in this world capable of maintaining the same level of quality throughout their existence. I mean, we can’t all be Radiohead.
So I will nurse my hurt and my anger, and fondly remember happier times in Midkemia with James, Owyn, Locklear and Gorath. Those feelings were real, and I will cherish them forever, even if I have to leave them behind now.
I’ll leave you with the scintillating graphics and riveting gameplay of Betrayal At Krondor.