Body Double–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 4)

Body Double, the fourth of the Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen.

Amazon DVD links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD). Rizzoli & Isles: Season 2 DVDs and Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete Second Season (Amazon Play). Ahem.

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. I have previous reviews of The Surgeon, The Apprentice and The Sinner.

Hmmm. A lot of pregnancy in this one. And the meaning of family. The second of those points I can relate to. The former? Not so much. Again, the chief protagonist of this novel is Dr Maura Isles, with Detective Jane Rizzoli relegated to a more supporting role. Rizzoli is currently happily married, massively pregnant, and completely unwilling to compromise on, well, anything. After hints dropped in the last novel about Isles’ mysterious parentage (we knew that she was adopted, and very little else), this is essentially the focus of the novel. Her birth mother (or not, the story takes a pretty impressive twist) has been revealed to be a particularly unpleasant woman. Her murdered (twin?) sister was very likeable indeed, but unfortunately crime novels need a healthy supply of unhealthy acts. Pregnant women are being kidnapped, murdered, and the fetusses (fetii?) are being sold. Isles’ “family” are intimately tied up with this rather nasty business.

The majority of this novel was read on a train journey to and from Sydney. I went up for a tech expo. I have no buying power for my work for tech stuff, mind you, I was attending as a curious enthusiast, even if I have no need for POS machines, servers, embedded devices, marketing … stuff, 3D printing, connectivity, startups, and a crazy myriad of other things. This aside was brought to you by the ridiculous amount of sugar I consumed that day, and the effect it had on my note-taking ability.

The book was good. I remain a little squeamish about some of the surgery scenes. The characterisation is solid, the pacing steady, the romance not too intrusive (though Isles lusting after a priest is … odd. Disconcerting, even.)

Amazon linky

The Sinner–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 3)

The Sinner by Tess Gerritsen, is the third book of the Rizzoli & Isles series.

Amazon DVD links to the TV Series. Click on them. Buy stuff. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD) Alright, enough of that!

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. (Of interest, her first name is actually Terry, but she feminized it when she was writing romance novels. Source.) She initially wrote Romantic Suspense, through the 80s to the mid-90s, changed to Medical Thrillers, before embarking in 2001 into Crime Thrillers with the (at time of writing) eleven-book series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles.

The third of Gerritsen’s series of novels focusing on the Boston police department, detectives, medical examiners, murder and mayhem. Book 1 (The Surgeon) focused on Thomas Moore, with Detective Jane Rizzoli a secondary character, and Dr Maura Isles not appearing at all. Book 2 (The Apprentice) has Jane Rizzoli taking over protagonist duties, and the Queen of the Dead, Dr Maura Isles making her debut. Here, with the The Sinner, Isles is finally sharing co-star duties with Rizzoli.

Note how I said finally? I’m still expecting somehow that the novels will spontaneously acquire the characters of the TV series. It’s definitely not going to happen. The glossy TV versions are too far away from the flawed novel characters.

A brutal attack on two nuns has left one of them dead, and the other in a coma. It is the depths of winter, and everything and everyone is affected by the cold, the snow, and the ice. Dr Isles’ ex-husband returns, and manages to worm his way back into her life, much to her libido’s pleasure common sense’s horror. Detective Rizzoli is trying to convince herself that her affair with Gabriel Dean ending is for the best. A state of affairs complicated by a, uh, complication. The majority of the novel is much more complicated and nuanced than the romantic highlights I’m giving. A Jane Doe who was murdered and then dismembered was found to have leprosy, and probably had been present in a village massacre where one of the nuns was performing aid work. (Good grief that was a complicated sentence.) Isles’ ex-husband is connected as well.

The plotting is improved over the first two books. The characterisation is better too–the characters are better-described, more nuanced, and the story is more complex. Gerritsen still has moments where a scene plays out, and then the characters react to the scene, and there is something of a disconnect between the two. It’s clear that the reaction is what is required for narrative purposes, but the writing wasn’t quite there on the scene.

My mind wandered a bit whilst I was reading this. It’s A Wonderful Life and Slumdog Millionaire (snow and winter, and poverty in India, respectively). It was an odd combination to be sure. There was a lot of religion in general, and Catholicism in particular, which I have opinions on. These opinions vary dramatically given the day and the length of time it’s been since I read about any of the horrors committed by members of the clergy or in the name of the church.

The book ends in a most unexpected way. Not wishing to spoil anything, but Rizzoli’s complication could be quite dramatic, and Dean appears more permanently present.

Amazon linky!

The Apprentice–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 2)

In brief: Second novel in the series by Tess Gerritsen focusing on the Boston police department homicide detectives. Again, my reading is a little perturbed by comparisons with the TV series, Rizzoli & Isles. (Y’know, here are some Amazon linkies. Rizzoli & Isles: The Complete First Season (Amazon Play) and Rizzoli & Isles: Season 1 (DVD))

Alright, enough shameless whoring of myself.

Author notes in brief: Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. (Of interest, her first name is actually Terry, but she feminized it when she was writing romance novels. Source.) She initially wrote Romantic Suspense, through the 80s to the mid-90s, changed to Medical Thrillers, before embarking in 2001 into Crime Thrillers with the (at time of writing) eleven-book series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles.

Link to my review of The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen.

Jane Rizzoli, a Boston Police Department homicide detective is struggling to prove that she is just as capable as her male counterparts. A new serial killer is sexually assaulting and murdering couples, and Rizzoli is lead on the investigation.

We are introduced to Dr. Maura Isles, the state medical examiner, who is portrayed as a gothic Queen of the Dead, nothing like her character in the TV Series. This was most disconcerting. I felt as though I knew these characters. Also introduced is Detective Vince Korsak, an overweight smoker with poor personal habits, again, not the friendly mentor character of the TV series. (I think the divergence between book and screen for Korsak was even more jarring than for Rizzoli or Isles.) The third new main character is FBI agent, Gabriel Deans, who has been assigned to the case directly from the Washington FBI office. Deans knows a lot more than he is letting on, and spends most of the book antagonising Rizzoli.

When the Surgeon, the killer from the first book, escapes from gaol (jail for any Americans reading this), he teams up with the new killer, and together they wreck havoc. Rizzoli is the target, and they are getting worryingly close.

The language and imagery is just as gruesome and graphic as the first book. There are passages that are not for the squeamish. There is also a lot of sexual politics and the challenges of being a female in a male-dominated field. These points (I’m sorry to say) are rather belaboured, despite being part of the story’s progression. (Or possibly I’m just saying that as an indoctrinated tool of the patriarchy.)

It’s a good sequel to The Surgeon. The characterisation is much better and more detailed, for example. Whilst you may not actually like the characters, they are far better developed this time around.

There is no strict need to read the first book for this sequel to be enjoyable. Well, as enjoyable as detective thrillers about serial killers can be.

Amazon linkies.

The Surgeon–Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 1)

Gruesome. There are no other words that so succinctly summarise this book. The graphic descriptions and depictions of surgical torture left me somewhat nauseated.

Tess Gerritsen is a living Chinese-American author. Her Amazon page, Wikipedia page, and personal page have plenty of personal details. (Of interest, her first name is actually Terry, but she feminized it when she was writing romance novels. Source.) She initially wrote Romantic Suspense, through the 80s to the mid-90s, changed to Medical Thrillers, before embarking in 2001 into Crime Thrillers with the (at time of writing) eleven-book series featuring Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr Maura Isles.

I’m something of a fan of the TV series Rizzoli & Isles. It was a coincidental glance at the DVD set (do I really mean coincidental? Incidental, perhaps?) that led to testing out the show, which has proved quite enjoyable. It’s a bit formulaic, and the producers should focus far more of the relationship of the titular characters (and possibly some actual crime stories), but it’s good enough.

The point? It’s based (very loosely if this novel is anything to go by!) on the series of books by Gerritsen.

The Boston Police homicide detectives are searching for a killer who preys on sexually assaulted women. He assaults them again, surgically removes their womb, and then slashes their throat. It’s quite horrid.

Our main character is essentially Detective Thomas Moore, recently widowed and a good guy. We also have Jane Rizzoli, who is far less likeable or well-described here compared to the TV show. Also featuring is Dr Catherine Cordell, a trauma surgeon, and victim of a crime with an identical modus operandi. This is most concerning, as she shot and killed the perpetrator. Moore grows close to Cordell, despite her not being completely cleared for the current series of murders. Through anonymous point-of-view descriptions, we see the killer’s obsessions, and his focus on Cordell as unfinished business. The conclusion arrived in a graphic manner, with a semi-satisfying outcome.

I was at a disadvantage, as I was unaware of just how separate the book and TV show were going to be. I can see that the book tells ome of the events that were only referred to in flashbacks.

Is it good? Yes, more or less. As noted, it’s a bit gruesome, and some of the characters are a bit cartoonish. (By which I mean only partly described; sufficient to form a vague image, and advance the plot, but nothing too substantial.) There are at least seven other books in the series. I suspect that the leading role of Moore and the involvement of Dr Cordell will be relegated to Jane Rizzoli. I am hopeful of this outcome. Additionally, further characterisation would be appreciated. I suppose I have another few thousand pages of reading to determine the veracity of that hypothesis. (I have the eight-volume omnibus.) There is quite a lot of focus on sexual politics; both Rizzoli’s struggle to be accepted in the male-dominated police force, her standards about male behaviour, as well as the horrors of sexual abuses and the psychology of such ordeals. It’s hard reading at times.

Amazon links.
Tess Gerritsen overview

(There is, of course, a Kindle version, but Amazon are still not allowing direct linking to Kindle pages!)

Saturn–Ben Bova

I was first introduced to Ben Bova about a decade ago by a friend at University. She lent me a book, I read it, gave my feedback, “seems fairly mediocre space trash soap opera” (I was insufferable, I know), and that was that. I knew that he was a purveyor of fairly popular space-themed science fiction. For a somewhat more detailed biography check out either his Wikipedia page or his Amazon page. He is ridiculously prolific, having written more than 120 works.

Summarising the blurb: “Earth groans under the thumb of fundamentalist political regimes. Crisis after crisis has given authoritarians the upper hand. Freedom and opportunity exist in space, for those with the nerve and skill to run the risks. Now the governments of Earth are encouraging many of their most incorrigible dissidents to join a great ark on a one-way expedition, twice Jupiter’s distance from the Sun, to Saturn, the ringed planet that baffled Galileo and has fascinated astronomers ever since. But humans will be human, on Earth or in the heavens-so amidst the idealism permeating Space Habitat Goddard are many individuals with long-term schemes, each awaiting the tight moment. And hidden from them is the greatest secret of all, the real purpose of this expedition, known to only a few….”

This was the paperback thrown in my bag whilst traveling last month (whilst I do prefer my Kindle Paperwhite 3G, sometimes you need a dead-tree backup). It was secondhand, and I recognised the author name, and that’s about all the motivation I need. Actually, sometimes that’s even more than I need!

The book was reasonable, but nothing exceptional. My rather rude comment about space trash soap opera probably holds true–we have a bunch of caricature characters who don’t really develop as the story progresses, a background of a space ship that doesn’t really add to the story it seems to only be present to provide a backdrop to the events that unfold. The story isn’t bad, but is rather a stretch to believe at times.

It’s light reading, the denouement proceeds fairly much as once would expect (with one rather small, jarring exception). It didn’t feel like time wasted, reading this, as I really don’t get an opportunity to read much hard science fiction.

It is available, of course, in a wide variety of formats via Amazon. For some inexplicable and rather irritating reason, I can’t link directly to the Kindle version. Here’s the paperback, and you can find the other versions from there.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy–Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers #1)

We have a slight problem here; the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series is very possibly one of the most beloved series to me. There is absolutely no way that I am able to review this in a fashion that is anything approximate to impartial. Though, since this is a blog purporting to be about my love of books, and my subjective opinion, I suppose that it will be okay.

A little on Douglas Adams: (he’s brilliant…. wait, you need more?) His Wikipedia page and his Amazon page have some fairly standard biographical detail: he was an author and a technophile, a lover of music, a visionary, and passed away 11th May, 2001, at the gym. Hence, don’t go to the gym. It leads to dead authors. (Sidenote: 11th May is now International Towel Day in Adams’ memory.) He wrote the radio play, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the subsequent trilogy-in-five-parts of books that are tangentially related to the radio series, the TV series with the same name (also, tangentially related to the radio series and the books), was a writer for Dr Who, as well as a gifted public speaker and advocate on environmental issues. In fact, whilst I love and adore the Hitchhikers series, it is his work (Last Chance To See) with zoologist Mark Carwadine that I rate most highly. He is also responsible for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and its sequel The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

“But the plans were on display . . .”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

Arthur Dent is about to have a very bad day. He is attempting to stop the local council from demolishing his house to build a new bypass, when he discovers that his friend, Ford Prefect (a name chosen to be “nicely inconspicuous”, a joke that makes a whole lot more sense when you know that the Ford car company made a car named the Prefect) is not, as previously suspected, human, but from a small planet near Betelguese. This is terribly helpful, as the Earth is about to be demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels.
A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value — you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble‐sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand‐to‐hand‐combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindbogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.
More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might have accidentally “lost.”. What the strag will think is that any man that can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

Hence fans celebrating Adams’ death by declaring it Towel Day.

Arthur and Ford are rescued, and then flung into space to die (after being subjected to the third-worst poetry in the Universe), only to be rescued by Galactic President, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Tricia MacMillan (“an awfully nice girl that Arthur completely failed to get off with at a party”.)

Same as you, Arthur. I hitched a ride. After all, with a degree in maths and another in astrophysics it was either that or back to the dole queue on Monday. Sorry I missed the Wednesday lunch date, but I was in a black hole all morning.

That really concerned me when I first read the novels, given that a degree in mathematics was the Big Plan.

We are introduced to Marvin, the Paranoid Android, brain the size of a planet, and only ever needed for menial tasks. Together, in a stolen spaceship based on an Infinite Probability Drive (there’s a good quote here on the extension of a finite improbability drive to an infinite improbability drive, but I’m going to make you read the book yourself!)

The books other main influence on popular culture, and it’s a big one, is that 42 is important. Like, really important.

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm. “The Answer to the Great Question, of Life, the Universe and Everything”

That quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.

“I checked it very thoroughly,” said the computer, “and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is.”
“But it was the Great Question! The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything,” howled Loonquawl.
“Yes,” said Deep Thought with the air of one who suffers fools gladly, “but what actually is it?”
A slow stupefied silence crept over the men as they stared at the computer and then at each other.
“Well, you know, it’s just Everything … Everything …” offered Phouchg weakly.
“Exactly!” said Deep Thought. “So once you know what the question actually is, you’ll know what the answer means.”

(We find out later what the question is, in another book. It’s … well, that would spoil the surprise.)

I read these novels so much that my first copy wore out. I love them to pieces (literally!)

Douglas Adams books on Amazon

(Usual rant about Amazon and not allowing me to link to the Kindle version…)

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.

Amazon links!

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: