Voyager Books, £10.99

Pirates, princes, priests and heroes come together in this tale of magic, dark gods and piracy on the high seas. Squire James, of Prince Arutha's court, is sent to recover the stolen gem known as the Tear of the Gods. The gem is said to be the conduit through which man can talk to the gods and if it is lost it could lead to terrible suffering throughout the land.

The gem is in a sunken ship at the bottom of the sea and a race is on to see whether the light or dark side can get to it first. Accompanying James on his quest is the formidable mage Jazhara and together they shall strive to overcome the obstacles of evil placed before them.

Raymond E. Feist introduced the world of Midkemia in his first novel, 'Magician', in 1982. Now with thirteen books in print and two computer games on the market he has a global fan base and is a regular on the New York Times Bestseller List. Considering all this success it's quite surprising that his writing is just so poor.

Feist's earlier novels are nowhere near as bad as this one. He put more heart and soul into them and it was clear he was developing his world and his characters for the love of it. Certainly his target audience were teenagers but his writing was of sufficient quality that it made acceptable adult fiction.

What followed was success, money and a guaranteed audience. A note at the start of the book gives you due warning for what's to come. This book is based on the plot of a computer game co-devised by Feist. The characters are shallow, the dialogue used only to repeat over and over again the key elements of the plot as the characters talk to each like idiot robots. The plot itself is linear and compartmentalised, like a mini-series. Even the editing is poor, with the same phrase appearing twice or three times in paragraphs throughout the book.

Feist was really phoning it in for this one and his previous success is no excuse for publishing this kind of wasted paper. Still and all I expect it will do quite well and make the money for both the publishers and Feist, which is presumably the only reason he bothered to write this book.

March Rogers