This review will be shorter than usual because I broke my elbow and have one hand in a cast.
I read this because I remember reading a later book in the series, The Warrior Returns, featuring Amalric's sister, Rali, as the narrator. I don't think I ever read The Far Kingdoms itself, so I decided to go back and give it a try. I don't regret this, but it didn't do much for me either.
In many ways, this is a generic fantasy quest novel. My younger self probably would have loved it, as I cut my teeth on Modesitt's Recluce books or Eddings' Belgariad. This is in that same mould. Indeed, Amalric comes off as a Marty Stu in some ways, or at least a more mature version of Harry Potter. Everything just works out for him, and his only flaw is trusting too much.
This book is progressive, but only in very clear-cut, male-gazing ways. Amalric becomes an abolitionist—low bar, that. He can acknowledge that women are as capable as men, yet he still objectifies them, even his sister. And of course, she is a lesbian, but only in the most Amazonian way of portraying it. Lots of discussion of loins and sexytimes and whatnot.
The plot is episodic in nature and fairly predictable in overall notes and character development. That doesn't diminish the potential for enjoyment, but don't expect too much from it.
Fun for nostalgia purposes. Not all that interesting beyond that.