About the Author:
David Eddings was born in Spokane, Washington, USA in 1931. He worked as everything from a buyer for the Boeing company to a grocery clerk before becoming a writer. He lived with his wife, Leigh, with whom he collaborated on various books, in North West America before his death in 2009.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.7 out of 5
Castle Of Wizardry
Book four of The Belgariad. This is by far the most mature book in the series so far. It is a coming-of-age story, not only for Garion, but also Ce'Nedra. Both characters are forced to think hard on their changed situations and it's interesting to see how Garion, having been thrust into a position of command, finds himself lonely and confused, not being able to rely on others to make the decisions. Ce'Nedra also grows as a character as she slowly puts aside the spoiled brat that has plagued the other books in the series and takes the reigns of responsibility that go with power.
Eddings continues to capture that sense of myth, using the fulfilment of prophecy to do so, but at the same time, using prophecy to build the tension ahead of the impending war.
My dislike of the annoying character of Polgara came to a head with this book, however. She spent all her time talking down to people about their faults and insisting on the necessity of things and then, here she throws a magical hissy fit and trys to stand in the way of necessity. Eddings' real fault is to try and portray her as a wise character.
Followed by 'Enchanter's End Game'.
4 out of 5
Demon Lord Of Karanda
The third book of the Malloreon series. Garion and his companions are held captive by the Mallorean Emperor Kal Zakath and taken to Mallorea itself. As with the previous book I enjoyed the chance to see an Angarak nation as something other than the generic hordes of evil. This is perfectly illustrated by Zakath and the city of Mal Zeth. Zakath at first seems to be another demented servant of evil but is then revealed to be a man wracked by pain from a childhood trauma and worn down by the governing of his nation. It is Ce'Nedra's reaction to Mal Zeth that is telling, as she assumes it to be some barbarian city, only to discover it is the greatest city in the world.
The best part of the book is the plague in Mal Zeth. Eddings makes a brave decision to interrupt his characters' plans and his own story with a harsh act of nature and the gamble pays off. The plague scenes in Mal Zeth are well-written and serve as a reminder to the reader that things occur in the world beyond the influence of the main characters.
The latter half of the book is very similar to previous Eddings books (a fact which Garion notes once more), but if you've enjoyed the Belgariad and Malloreon up till now then that won't be a problem. I did enjoy the scene where all the sorcerers (Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, Durnik, Beldin and Eriond) stand shoulder to shoulder and face down the Demon Lord of the title.
Followed by 'Sorceress of Darshiva'.
4 out of 5
Enchanters' End Game
The fifth and final book of the Belgariad series. The story begins with Garion, Belgarath and Silk attempting to reach Mallorea. I enjoyed this element of the story because, whilst not terribly different from the rest of the series' travel scenes, it deals only with the three characters. Garion and Belgarath are, of course, central to the story and I felt that, of all their previous companions, that Silk was definitely the best choice to accompany them. The three-way banter shows the bond between these three men as they draw nearer to what they know will be the event that decides their fate.
The story then picks up with the vast army assembled by Ce'Nedra, en route to their invasion of Mishrak ac Thull. Although it's told from Ce'Nedra's point of view, I was disappointed that her personal development wasn't nearly as profound as it had been in the previous book. However, the actual events, and the delightful scheming of the Kings of the West makes excellent reading. I particularly enjoyed the great battle at Thull Mardu, with the well-written integration of the various armies and as each of the characters we've come to know has their own part to play. I have to say that, whilst not the best written or the most detailed, it is definitely one of my favourite battle scenes in any fantasy.
The final confrontation on Mallorea was great, as the full import of the event becomes clear to the reader, even if it is marred by a bit where Torak and Garion expand to the size of giants (a la Power Rangers). The epilogue is slightly tedious, but is essential to resolving the fates of the various characters we've come to know and (with the exception of Polgara) love. In that way it's a bit like the end of the movie of 'The Return of the King'; you want it to hurry up and end, but you need that complete feeling of closure too (sorry, I just watched 'RotK' on DVD today, so the reference is fresh in my mind).
An excellent end to a generally good series. Here's hoping the Mallorean will live up to it.
5 out of 5
Guardians Of The West
The first book of the Malloreon series, the sequel to the Belgariad. In the years following the death of Torak, the lives of the main characters settle down into domesticity. However, slowly evidence comes to light that suggests that the Dark Prophecy was not destroyed with the Dragon God, but has found a new servant by the name of Zandramas.
Eddings does a great job of showing the passage of years with the death of King Rhodar, the maturing of both Garion and Errand and with the birth of Garion's son Geran. However, the peaceful lives of the heroes is shattered when assassins enter the palace at Riva. The mysterious Bear Cult attempts to seize control of all Aloria and the Kingdoms of the West launch a campaign to defeat the religious fanatics.
As ever, Eddings writes the battle scenes well and I continue to enjoy the way in which the varied perspectives of the people involved leads to novel combinations of tactics. The only real fault with the book (other than Polgara and Ce'Nedra being as insufferable as ever) is that the storyline involving Zandramas' kidnap of Geran is all too similar to Zedar's theft of the Orb in The Belgariad.
Followed by 'King of the Murgos'.
4 out of 5
King Of The Murgos
The second book of the Malloreon series. This book is pretty much what you'll have come to expect from Eddings having flaws (particularly in certain characters) but providing a solidly entertaining experience overall.
The first part of the book is fairly disappointing, being something of a rehash of the pursuit of Zedar and the Orb from the Belgariad books. In fact, at one point Garion even comments about how familiar things are and Belgarath's response is less a comment on destiny than it is Eddings trying to explain away a lapse in originality.
However, with this book Eddings begins to take us into unfamiliar territory and once the heroes are out of Nyissa and enter the previously unseen southern Murgo states, it gets far better. We get to see the actual organisation of the much-talked about fanatics who control the Murgos and meet an interesting new character, the king of the title. King Urgit is a well rounded character being both likeably humourous and edgily dangerous. We see more of those sides of Silk's character here too (and there's a reason why Urgit and Silk share characteristics).
Sadly the other characters, particularly the female ones, are twice as annoying as the other characters think and half as amusing Eddings thinks.
Followed by 'Demon Lord of Karanda'.
4 out of 5
The third book of The Belgariad. In this book, the somewhat nebulous quest of the first two becomes far more focused. Also the author begins to introduce wider issues than simply what dangers face the characters on the road.
I enjoyed reading Garion's reactions to the three gods he encounters here and we begin to get a deeper sense of the practicalities of sorcery. I like that Eddings examines sorcery from a cause-and-effect point of view as it means his characters have to give surprisingly deep thought to their actions, unlike some other fantasy stories where magic is all lighning bolts from the fingers with no explanation.
This book resolves the quest for the Orb of Aldur too, meaning it is a much more rounded story than any of the previous ones.
Followed by 'Castle of Wizardry'.
4 out of 5
Pawn Of Prophecy
The first book of The Belgariad series. With this series Eddings has managed to do something that few fantasy authors since Tolkien have managed; he makes the story psuedo-mythical. All too many fantasy books these days try to be a gritty modern story using a fantasy setting, but personally, I prefer the sort of fantasy that harkens back to the fireside storytelling of our own ancient history. Eddings does have his characters in the main story act in modern ways, but the background to the story, such as the prologue, is wonderfully mythical.
The problem with this book, however, is that it is a good first episode, but a poor novel in and of itself. Very little actually occurs in the story aside from prolonged travel sequences and it raises a great many questions that aren't answered here.
Followed by 'Queen of Sorcery'.
3 out of 5
Queen Of Sorcery
The Belgariad book two. This book is very much akin to the first in its positive points and its faults. It has a great mythological basis, but entirely too little is actually added to what we already know. However, having been a teenage boy myself long ago, I find reading Garion's struggles with his feelings for Ce'Nedra and the slightly different set of feelings aroused by Salmissra to be very insightful references to adolescence.
A criticism I would make is the way Eddings seems to be leading us through his various fantasy nations one at a time, like some sort of guided tour, picking up unique local heroes on the way.
Followed by 'Magician's Gambit'.
3 out of 5
Seeress Of Kell
The fifth and final book of the Malloreon. The heroes enter Kell and from there travel to the island of Perivor, where the dialogue is filled with tedious archaic language. The story then takes us to the High Places of Korim for the final confrontation between the Child of Light and the Child of Dark. There's a certain inevitability about the outcome of this meeting, which detracts from its import to the series. I mean, it's very hard to be surprised by who Cyradis sides with and that Eriond has a grand destiny.
The last quarter of the book deals with the fallout of the fateful meeting as the rulers of the world attempt to forge a lasting peace after millennia of war. I did enjoy this book and it rounds out the story of Garion and his companions nicely. However, it does have some failings meaning that its not the stunning conclusion that we could have hoped for. An example of these failings lies in which of the companions dies at Korim. Eddings manages to choose to off a character who never really had much character to him, so therefore it lacks any real impact.
There are more of these minor annoyances, but they're mostly things that crop up in Eddings' previous books too and if you've gotten this far, you should be able to forgive most of them.
4 out of 5
Sorceress Of Darshiva
The fourth book of the Malloreon. The heroes continue their journey through Mallorea, hot on the trail of Zandramas. Whilst there is nothing overtly wrong with this book, in fact I rather enjoyed it, it doesn't seem to bring much to the series that is either new or enlightening. This means we are presented with one of those awkward transition novels which has no real beginning or ending and fails to stand independently of the books either side of it.
Also, there is the ever-present banter between the main characters which is neither funny nor witty and starts to grate on you in no time (particularly when every one of the conversations ends with 'Never mind' or 'Be nice' or some such platitude). I did enjoy the character of Senji, an eccentric alchemist who accidentally discovered an aptitude for sorcery. Ultimately, whilst not being a bad book, this isn't a very good one either.
Followed by 'Seeress of Kell'.
3 out of 5