Exile's Return is book three in Raymond E. Feist's "Conclave of Shadows" fantasy sequence set in his established world of Midkemia, a hundred years after the Riftwar Saga which first made his name.
The story begins with a riches-to-rags upset for Kaspar, former Duke of Olasko, who is now punished for his villainy in a previous volume by magical teleportation to a remote, bleak desert full of hostile nomads. By strength, cunning and a little luck, he just barely survives ordeals that range from mayhem and imprisonment to near-death from heat and thirst.
For a supposed bad guy, Kaspar seems likeable enough as he resourcefully makes his way across an unknown continent. In fact he quickly becomes a reformed character, realizing in repeated flashbacks that his former magician adviser had paralysed his conscience while leading him into naughty ways. The stage seems set for interesting conflict if this ex-Duke can cross the sea and return home.
But then Kaspar wanders into another story, joining a desperate band of men who are under magical compulsion to transport a strange relic towards some uncertain destination. The thing resembles a sealed suit of armour, but is clearly much more. It constantly attracts death and disaster. After one particularly gruelling attack on the party, the "armour" rises and walks.
In unexpected interviews with two of Midkemia's gods, Kaspar learns the nature of his burden and the grave menace to the world which it represents. His homecoming turns out differently from anything he could have imagined, with unexpected good food, forgiveness and violence. The foreshadowed surprise ending promises major complications in books to come.
Despite all these bodings of doom, Exile's Return is a pleasant, unambitious, feelgood fantasy by an author who knows exactly how to please his fans. Ideal train-journey reading.--David Langford