I have just re-read Magician: Apprentice for the first time in over 20 years, and it still stands up after all this time. Even though the beginning may seem like a typical damsel in distress (Carline rescued by Pug from the troll), both characters quickly break out of their stereotypes. The appearance of the Tsurani near Crydee immediately sets fantasy tropes on their ear, and allows the Riftwar Saga to set its own path in the fantasy genre.
Feist does a good job of introducing and laying the foundation with the central characters of the Riftwar Saga in Pug,Tomas, Macros and Arutha. This is a fun read, and I'm planning to read the entire Riftwar Cycle (about 30 books long now) before the release of Magician's End next year.