The Belgariad, by David Eddings

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Earlier this fall I posted a review of Pawn of Prophecy, the first book in David Edding's fantasy epic The Begariad.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I think that it is high fantasy at its best.  It had the usual cast of characters-sorcerers, knights, princesses, and the like-but it was smart and engaging.  I also reviewed the second book in the series, Queen of Sorcery, which I thought was a very good next step in describing the quest to find the Orb of Aldur and defeat the evil god Torak.

I have since finished he entire cycle-including Magician's GambitCastle of Wizardry and Enchanter's End Game-and I am please to say that the epic story of Garion and his journey from scullery boy to King of Riva and champion of the west was every bit as fun and exciting as the first two books led me to believe.  Eddings did a great job creating characters that were at once universal archetypes of western literary fantasy and completely individual.  While there was never really any doubt of the outcome-this is a classic good v. evil story after all, and we all know how those come out-there were enough twists and turns to keep you guessing.

One of the frequent complaints about high fantasy is how sexist it can be.  The men are warriors, the women are witches or princesses.  Eddings addresses that issue head on, acknowledging in this male characters that those attitudes exists, but countering them with his female characters, who he shows to be every bit as resourceful, strong, and capable as his male characters.  Unlike Tolkien, who's female characters were very one dimensional, Eddings shows women to be an integral part of the world that he created, and each has her own strengths and foibles.  All in all The Belgariad is a fine example of good storytelling-gently flowing language, interesting turns of phrase, characters that are believable even when they are doing unbelievable things, and exciting action sequences that stir the blood and the heart.

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