Enchanters’ End Game–David Eddings (Belgariad 5)

The following quote is actually from Castle of Wizardry, not Enchanters’ End Game, but it’s a nice summary of how things stand as we get to the last book of the Belgariad series.

He would meet Torak alone. Mandorallen or Barak or Hettar could not come to his aid with their superior skill at swordsmanship; Belgarath or Aunt Pol could not intercede for him with sorcery; Silk would not be able to devise some clever ruse to allow him to escape. Titanic and enraged, the Dark God would rush upon him, eager for blood.

Just in case you want some story so far, my reviews of Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit, and Castle of Wizardry, and check out the Amazon page for David Eddings.

The pieces are in place: Belgarath and Belgarion are tramping across Mallorea towards a final confrontation with Torak, the Dark God, who is slowly stirring from his sleep after Belgarion’s coronation. Ce’Nedra, Belgarion’s betrothed, is fulfilling her part of the prophecy by raising the armies of the West as war draws closer. There is a quiet reservation from those informed that what will be will be, as it is all dictated by prophecy. The war kicks off, valiant deeds are done. The hero pieces are moved across the board by a variety of hands for the final confrontation. The final confrontation runs essentially to course, as could have been predicted. (I’m avoiding some of the more explicit details, as I’m sure the worst thing after wading through fifteen hundred pages is having the ending spoiled by a blog post.)

The resolution is good, I’ll leave it at that.

Amazon links!

Castle of Wizardry — David Eddings (Belgariad 4)

Already then! We have reached book 4 of the Belgariad series. See my previous posts on Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, and Magician’s Gambit for the Story So Far. See David Eddings’ Amazon page for some more background on the author (and use that link to purchase some books!)

Book 3, Magician’s Gambit, ended with Belgarath and Ctuchik fighting over the Orb of Aldur, and Ctuchik very foolishly trying to unmake the Orb, thereby angering the Universe, and causing himself to be unmade. (Don’t fear, if that didn’t make any sense, just know that the Universe takes the Principle of Conservation of Matter very seriously.) Garion feels that their epic quest is done, and life can get back to normal. He once again displays his complete inability to recognise the foreshadowing for the previous three books.

A long and mildly eventful journey to the Isle of Winds and the city of Riva ensues. Garion is forced to assume a leadership role, and Polgara and Belgarath are otherwise occupied and exhausted. Again, upon arrival to the ancient city and home of defenders of the west, Garion thinks that he’s done, a notion that is quickly disabused when he is crowned king over all. Yes, that’s right, all of that foreshadowing that was clear to absolutely everyone else came as a complete surprise to him. Ce’Nedra takes it quite badly, as prophecy indicates that upon her sixteenth birthday she is going to have to submit to the Rivan King and wed him. They are betrothed, but Belgarath and Belgarion (he can probably be considered to have earned his title as a sorcerer by now) recognise that the rest of the prophecy (that Torak and Belgarion will eventually duel for the fates of the world) means that it might be convenient to escape and attempt to resolve the prophecy. Ce’Nedra finally recognises her part in the prophecy, and the final pieces move into place for the resolution.

So, I recognise that I’ve been a bit uneven with my summaries of this series, and this summary was a little longer than some of the others. My opinion still stands–the series is fun, light, fairly straightforward, but quite readable.

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Magician’s Gambit — David Eddings (Belgariad 3)

“I thought Ctuchik was a sorcerer”, Garion said, puzzled. “Why do you keep calling him a magician?”

“It’s a term of contempt,” Belgarath replied. “It’s considered a deadly insult in our particular society.”

Or, as Tolkien put it: “Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.” (Fellowship of the Ring.)

Book 3 of the Belgariad series (I’m tempted to call it a saga, but that to me requires Vikings and Norse mythology.) Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings continues the adventures of Belgarath, Polgara, Garion, Silk, Barak, Durnik, and Mandorallen to recover the Orb of Aldur before it is used by the god Torak to destroy the world.

See my reviews of Pawn of Prophecy and Queen of Sorcery (the first two books of the series) for the background on the author, the series, and an overview of the story. The short version is that a Thing has been stolen, and the sorcerer Belgarath, his immortal daughter Polgara, and the boy with the mysterious background who may just save the world, Garion, (along with a bunch of companions) are attempting to recover it.

Again, there is no real beginning to the story; there is a minor attempt at introducing the characters, but we are expected to have a reasonable understanding of the situation.

The princess Ce’Nedra has been left behind (her destiny follows a different path), which isn’t the worst thing. Her stubbornness and obstinacy was almost overtaking Garion’s petulance. In her place, they acquire the religious fanatic Relg, who is very unimpressed to be there. Eddings uses him for some heavy-handed comment regarding religion and faith and extremism. But, his character is molded to fit the story, and some of the actions that he takes don’t always seem to fit the character.

I mentioned that I was reading the Belgariad, and I got the following quote from a literary friend: “[Eddings’ work is enjoyable] … despite the fact that he only has one plot, and one and a half casts of characters.”

As I’ve only read the Belgariad series, I can’t comment just yet. Feel free to add your thoughts below.

Acquisition of the novels: 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:

Queen of Sorcery – David Eddings (Belgariad 2)

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:

Pawn of Prophecy – David Eddings (Belgariad 1)

True fantasy. Not the high stuff with elves and dwarves, but gods and destiny and detailed lineages and magic and politics, mystery and intrigue. And characters that you want to reach through the page and shake. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that feeling towards the titular teenage petulant protagonist.

This series was recommended to me on the grounds that “it was highly enjoyable as a teenager, as that was the target audience”. A little unfair (but only a little). It’s fantasy, and that’s always been the realm of young men. (We dream of heroic deeds. It’s in our DNA. I don’t think that’s a big surprise to anyone!)

Author stuff: David Eddings was an American fantasy writer. His Wikipedia page is here and his Amazon page is here. Along with his wife Leigh (she gets co-author credit in his later works) he wrote more than twenty fantasy novels, most of which were best-sellers. He is regarded as a staple of the fantasy genre.

Pawn of Prophecy is the first novel in the five-book Belgariad series. This was the first of his novels in the first of his series. There were plenty of other Eddings books set in this universe, with his next series, The Malloreon, acting as a sequel. The books follow the exploits of Belgarath, Belgarion, Polgara, and their family and companions. I’m going to borrow from the Wikipedia page for a background summary: One of the seven gods, Aldur, creates an orb from stone and creates within it a “living soul”. One of the other gods, Torak, seizes the Orb from Aldur and tries to have it submit to his will. The Orb retaliates, burning and maiming Torak. The Orb of Aldur is later recovered by Belgarath the Sorcerer, King Cherek, and his children. Cherek’s youngest son Riva, is able to hold the Orb unharmed; wherefore all of his descendants are responsible for guarding the Orb from Torak.

So, over the course of the book (and its sequels) we are introduced to the lore of the land: gods squabbled, mysterious artifact was created, stolen, used, betrayed, given the a line of humans to protect. There are Heroes (with a capital H), destined to control and shape the effects of the world. To meddle. Belgarath, an ancient sorcerer (who of course wanders the land as a storyteller vagabond) (maybe there’s a school pumping out Gandalf figures for use in fantasy stories?) seeks to protect the Holy Macguffin (check TV tropes if you’re uncertain as what a Macguffin is), lest the god Torak awakens, and seeks to destroy the world. His daughter is also part of the job, but it a much more emotional manner.

Our protagonist is the young (time passes, but let’s take him as a teenager) Garion, whose role in this book is to be young, angry, petulant, moody, bewildered, lost, and generally kept in the dark for his own safety. This is, of course, anathema to a teenage boy. He doesn’t know who he is, he is ignorant of the Big Picture, and manages to be in mortal peril at nearly every turn. It’s exhausting just reading about it. He brings a lot of it upon himself, as is the way of teenagers.

The Important Object is stolen by an unnamed thief (who will remain unnamed, as he can hear his name when used, another standard device), and our story involves the storytelling vagabond (really the most powerful sorcerer alive), the over-protective aunt (the daughter of the sorcerer and immortal), the village blacksmith (ah, actually the village blacksmith), and two scruffy ruffians (a prince skilled in espionage, and a brother-to-another-region’s king who is magically connected with the bear-god of his people). And Garion, whose main purpose is to be overwhelmed.

The story gallops along, is perfectly fun, very light (I read half the book on a three-hour ferry crossing between the south and north islands of New Zealand), and was very clearly intended as part of a series. A lot of pieces are now on the board, and I’m sure that the next book (Queen of Sorcery) will advance the game.

For fantasy, it plays a lot of the tropes, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. The characters are very much hero builds, but again that’s a standard fantasy arrangement.

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:

Buying through Amazon, you support this writer (ie. me), and it costs you nothing extra. In fact, if you ever plan on buying something through Amazon, let me know, and I’ll get an Associate link for you :)