Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings, the second book of David Eddings’ Belgariad series.
For author biography and series background, see my previous post. In brief: David Eddings was an American fantasy writer. His Wikipedia page is here and his Amazon page is here. The Belgariad is the first of Eddings’ fantasy series: it follows the exploits of the sorcerers Belgarath, Belgarion, Polgara, and their family and companions.
We run into a common issue with multi-volume fantasy tales. That is, it is not a story in the traditional sense. Normally, we have an introduction, the story develops, the characters progress, and there is a denouement. Often fantasy novels span a few thousand pages, and are roughly chopped into book-sized chunks. This means that the second, third, fourth books don’t really see that beginning, middle, end structure–it’s all middle. Queen of Sorcery definitely “suffers” (whether it’s really a problem or not is a little debatable) from this “problem”.
Queen of Sorcery sees our petulant hero (he’s a teenager who is struggling with his destiny, is permanently sulking, and is fairly constantly in denial), Garion, lost and bewildered, but realising that he is a sorcerer. And then denying this fact. Honestly, a smack around the head would be a kindness (he does collect a few along the way).
We continue our journey across the lands, finding races of people who are distinguishable so easily by one over-arching personality trait. It allows got simple, cookie-cutter characters. The stereotypes aren’t too offensive: the sneaky types, the brave heroic types, the snake-people, the political types, the honest solid types, and so on.
We meet Lelldorin, a very silly young man (but very skilled archer) who becomes a firm friend to Garion. Unfortunately, he is only briefly in the story. Lelldorin has a serious effect on Garion, but only so far as what not to do. His other foil is a spoilt princess, named Ce’Nedra. She has the unquestionable ego and sense of self that is stereotypically typical to princesses. It is most unfortunate that her will and command over the common people is completely worthless against Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, and their companions. These companions helpfully provide a mirror for us to consider Garion and the plot. Not that we need help seeing that he’s struggling.
There is something of a climatic scene to close the book, but the Big Picture plot doesn’t really feel like it has advanced all that far. The Orb of Aldur is still kidnapped, our heroes are still trekking across the world.
Like I says previously, it’s light fantasy, quite straightforward, and perfect for holiday reading. (At time of writing, my flight home departs in just over 18 hours.) Eddings’ books can generally be found in second-hand book shops, or in dead-tree editions in most book shops (or can easily be ordered in, most of them are still in print), or you can click on these Amazon links! Here to look at some options for the series, or a collection of the first three books of the Belgariad series: