Before Christopher Paolini with Eragon, Robert Jordan with The Wheel of Time and Holly Black with The Spiderwick Chronicles, there was David Eddings. He, Terry Brooks and Anne McCaffrey are three authors that introduced me to the fantasy genre and it’s been a strong friendship ever since. I’ve enjoyed other authors’ work, both in and outside of the Scifi/Fantasy realm, but I tend to revisit my original favorites every couple of years or so. Over this past weekend, when knocked flat with a stomach flu, I picked up David Eddings’ The Belgariad, Vol. 1 (Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician’s Gambit)to pass the time and hide from the yucks. It was like slipping on a comfortable old pair of slippers and wrapping up in a warm familiar blanket. It’d been a while and I’d forgotten how much I enjoy this book.
The Belgariad was the first group of books I read from David Eddings. I suppose that’s partially why I have such fond memories of these books. But I also consider them good reads. There are few books that I am willing to read over and over again…few authors who can engage my imagination in such a way that doesn’t leave me bored to tears. The Belgariad is typical fantasy in that “farm boy” gets caught up in a whirlwind of events that lead “him” to the eventual good vs evil confrontation where his actions ultimately save the world. And of course he’s surrounded by “champions” that protect and teach as he struggles to grow into “his” destiny. There are good wizards and bad wizards and even some that are subject to human vices. There are “monsters” both visibly and morally. And there are magical objects to be found and understood and mastered. A lot of the stuff you expect from a fantasy book. But if you’re looking for the typical fantasy Tolkien look alike, this series won’t do that for you. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why I like it so much. Tolkien is okay, but not one that I can pick up again and again.
I’m sure that there will be some who won’t agree…that’s fine…but for me I like The Belgariad for a few reasons. Eddings creates a “world” that is both vivid and complex…at least as far as a good story can go. The main group of characters journey through much of the world, touching each political territory in one way or another. I like the interaction that comes through this. I also enjoy the varied characters that dance through the pages. I need to connect to the characters of a book to enjoy it, and if that doesn’t happen within the first few pages, I’ll walk away. I’ve found it easy to enjoy the characters that Eddings creates. The only flaw that tends to get a little annoying is that some of the characters tend to be a little moody and whiney. I can understand a little of that, but when a character works through a problem and supposedly matures through that, then they need to let it go. I also like the fact that, even though this series contains 5 books, each book “ends”…and the series comes to a happy ending as well. There’s no dragging out the story to fill some unknown word quota, and there’s no major cliff-hanging that makes little sense.
All in all, I still enjoy this book (and Vol. 2) many years and many readings later, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it just as much the next time I pick it up.