Tag Archives: David Eddings

Review: The Seeress of Kell (The Mallorean 5)

The Seeress of Kell (The Mallorean 5)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

Garion and his companions have entered the final stage of their quest to rescue his son from the clutches of Zandramas and foil the Dark Prophecy’s designs to keep the world in stasis. All they need to do is to find out where the High Places of Korim are. A location lost 5000 years ago when Torak cracked the world.

Only the Seeress of Kell, the enigmatic Cyradis, can guide them to the final pieces of their quest. Zandramas desperation only mounts. But she has her last weapons ready to delay Garion and Ce’Nedra from reuniting with their son.

Knights, dragons, curses, and demons await in the conclusion to the Mallorean series.

The philosophy that underpins Eddings’s world comes to the forefront. What does it mean to live in a universe where everything should happen for a reason and then something doesn’t. What are the consequences to causality being violated and how do you fix it. What is better for the world: stasis and order, or change and chaos?

In the finale, all of this comes out as Eddings builds on what the previous nine books (yes, I’m counting the Belgariad) have laid out before him. In the High Places of Korim, all choices are finale, including the fate of the universe.

Eddings ends his two series wonderfully. Everything flows from that confrontation then burst out into the denouement. He doesn’t rush the conclusion to his series. He lets us have one last chance to say goodbye to all his characters while giving us one last chance to expound on the theme of this entire series.

Change is good. We can’t grow if we don’t change. Getting stuck in a loop, repeating bad decisions again and again, doesn’t do the world any good. We need to look to history and learn from the mistakes of those who came before us instead of allowing stasis to hold us in place while the world passes us by. It is a great theme for a fantasy series and a satisfying conclusion to this epic series.

If you’ve never read these two series, then you need to go and buy Pawn of Prophecy. This series has great characters, fun adventure, and even interesting philosophy. From the witty one lines to the exciting action, you will find something to love in Eddings work.

You can buy Seeress of Kell from Amazon!

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Review: The Sorceress of Darshiva (The Mallorean 4)

The Sorceress of Darshiva (The Mallorean 4)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The fourth book of the Mallorean brings Garion, CeNedra, and their companions closer to stopping Zandramas from sacrificing their infant son to cause the rebirth of the Dark God of Angerak. Their journey has taken them across the vast continent of Mallorea to the ancient, island nation of Melecene. Here they may finally lean some clues to aid them on their quest.

Because not only do they have to track down Zandramas, but they have to find out where she is going and beat her there. They have to follow a trail scattered through prophecies and esoteric tales. Once they have their trail, they will have to plunge into war-torn Darshiva.

The home of Zandramas herself.

The penultimate novel of the Mallorean continues the journey through the lands of Mallorea. No longer are they truly hunting Zandramas any more. Destiny is ensuring that both groups will arrive at the fateful meeting. It’s just a matter of which of Garion’s friends and companions will survive the encounter now. Things only grow more complicated as all the story-lines Eddings has been spinning—Zandramas’s bid to power, Emperor Zakath seeking to restore order, and Urvon’s alliance with the demons—are colliding together in Darshiva.

The stakes are high as they companions creep across Darshiva.

While I enjoy the Sorceress of Darshiva, it is my least favorite of the ten books of the Belgariad/Mallorean saga. While the characters are great, and there are some great writing and events, the pacing is a little wonky. While the first series had a sense of immediacy about it, with this series it’s clear that they won’t get the upper hand on Zandramas until they get to “The Place Which is No More.” Putting Destiny, which has always played such a big role in the series, so much in control is really showing the lack of agency on our heroes as they come to accept this reality. Not even CeNedra is getting frustrated any longer.

Still, it is a great book, and it leads us into the final volume in the Saga! Next up, The Seeres of Kell and the end of Garion’s story!

You can purchase Sorceress of Darshiva from Amazon!

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Review: The Demon Lord of Karanda (The Mallorean 3)

The Demon Lord of Karanda (The Mallorean 3)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The third book of the Mallorean sees Garion, Ce’Nedra, and their companions captured by the forces of Zakath, the emperor of Mallorea. Instead of continuing their pursuit of Zandramas, who stole Garion and Ce’Nedra’s infant son months ago, they find themselves embroiled in the politics of the emperor’s court.

In a part of Mallorea known as Karanda, demons are once again being seen. One more threat to the world grows while Garion suffers the frustration of being a “guest” to the Emperor of Mallorea. Despite the strange relationship growing between the two monarchs, Garion needs to get back in pursuit of his son and stop the growing threat of the demons.

But how can convince the atheistic Zakath that the demons are more than just a fantasy, and that the threat to the Empire is a true one and not just political maneuvering on Garion’s part to escape? Will Garion and his diverse, and skilled, companions have to employ other means to escape?

Demon Lord of Karanda dives deeper into the growing schism among the Grolims as the various factions vie for control over both the mysterious Sardion and Garion’s own son, the sacrifice to bring about their Dark God’s rebirth. Zakath, a minor, though interesting, character from the final book of the Belgariad is back and fleshed out even more. What’s clear is that Eddings had a solid backstory for Zakath and his enmity in place for the Murgos in the last series but never could organically explain it. Until know. It is rich world-building at its best.

Even better, we finally get to see this Boundless Mallorea as the characters travel to the largest city in the world, its capital, and then venture into the dispirited lands that make it up, united through fear of the imperial throne and the glue of the Melcene bureaucracy. All of our characters get to shine. Unlike with the Belgariad where some of the prophesied companions (Taiba and Lelldorin especially) get little to do, Eddings has roles for all the characters to play in the political machinations of the Mallorean court.

This book brims with danger, political machinations, and adventure. Fans of the Belgariad and the first two books of the Mallorean series will be delighted by what they read here!

You can purchase The Demon Lord of Karanda from Amazon!

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Review: King of the Murgos (The Mallorean 2)

King of the Murgos (The Mallorean 2)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The infant son of Garion and Ce’Nedra has been kidnapped by Zandramas, the new Child of Dark, to be used as a sacrifce to awaken a new God of Angerak. With Polgara, Belgarath, Durnik, Silk, Errnd, and the mute Toth, Garion and his wife set off on a new quest at the behest of prophecy to stop Zandramas’s plan and to rescue their son.

But the trail will take them far from their homes. They travel south to find it once more in the land of the snake people and from their, into the land of the Murgos. Out of all the four Angerak races, the Murgos were the most ferverant in their devotion to Torak and the most under the control of the Grolim priests. Steeped in barbarism and sacrifice, Garion and his companions find themselves in the court of the beseiged Murgo King.

They are in for one interesting revelation. Prejudices must be adjusted and old enmities put aside for Garion, Ce’Nedra, and their companions, including those new allies they pick up along their way south, to have any hompe of saving the infant Geran before it is too late. Can Garion and his companions escape the machinations of the Grolim priesthood, dark assassins, and petty grievances?

After spending the last series characterizing the Murgos as this despicable race, Eddings peels back the onions to reveal that, in fact, they are just people. Flawed and varied as any other only suffering beneath terrible despotism of mad kings and power-hungry priests. Loosing a war, King Urgit is desperate for any aid, and Garion might prove his salvation or his undoing.

The second book is a great read, building on the first book. It covers most of the original book 2’s contents (traveling through Arendia, Tol Nedra, and Nyissa) within the first third, meeting old characters, encountering new threats, and exposing the existence of the three powers all vying to awaken the new Agerak God. New characters join the party to add a nice counterbalance to the core ones (it’s no coincidence that the group with the most screen time from the last series made it into the party in this one). Velvet, in particular, is a great addition.

Eddings is clearly having fun writing this series, and it shows in the fun diologue, exciting situations, and tense showdowns. He has an entire world to play in and is mixing and matching the threats, combining old foes with new while foreshadowing things to come. Garion and Ce’Nedra are the most changed from the last quest, both grown up and both dealing with the kidnapping of their son in different ways. The vibrant and even aggressive Ce’Nedra is shrunken and withdrawn, verging on depression, while the normally friendly Garion has an anger brewing inside of him that explodes out of him, fueled by frustration and fear.

All in all, the Mallorean continues to be excellent and leaves you wanting to find out what happens next! Luckilly, these books came out in the 80s, so you don’t have to wait long at all!

You can purchase King of the Murgos from Amazon!

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Review: Guardians of the West (The Mallorean 1)

Guardians of the West (The Mallorean 1)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The Guardians of the West picks up almost immediately after the end of the Belgariad. It’s been a few months since Garion and Ce’Nedra’s wedding, and the young boy Errand find himself moving to the vale with his new adopted parents Durnik and Polgara the Sorceress. The group is accompanied by the vagabond sorcerer, Belgarath. After he and Polgara spent thousands of years working to see Torak and the Dark Prophecy defeated, they think they can rest. But hints and rumors begin to stir of a new force awakening in the east while the Angeraks struggle to come to grips with the death of their god.

Over the next five or so years, Garion and Ce’Nedra settle into their married. With a few bumps along they way, they grow to find a balance in their relationship. A balance that is disrupted when Ce’Nedra’s lack of pregnancy begins to worry the other monarchs of the world. Stability is needed for the world after the trauma it’s endured, and there are those who seek to take advantage of it.

Once again, Garion and his companions have to defend the West as new threats arise and hints that there is still more to come in the fight between the two halves of the original Purpose of the Universe. That though Torak was defeated, the Dark Prophecy still moves pieces on the board and a new threat boils beneath the surface.

Guardians of the West is a great follow up to Eddings outstanding Belgariad. He returns to his world and spends an entire book on the buildup to the new threat. He’s subtle, showing us our characters as they fit into their new roles in life, growing into full adulthood (like Garion and Ce’Nedra) while shifting many of Garion’s story role onto Errand’s shoulders. For fans of the Belgariad, it’s a great reunion with old friends.

The build up is handled well. It’s a mystery that has you, thinking you already know everything about the world, wondering what is going on. That moment of realization that there is more to “Boundless Mallorea” than that little slice we saw in Enchanters End Game. The misdirects and the plot twists are great. Guardians of the West is like the first few chapters of Pawn of Prophecy stretched into nearly a whole book.

And it works.

This is a great start to a new series with our old character. Eddings has to do little retconning to make it work, just tweaking the expectation that the final battle wasn’t as final as everyone (our characters included) believed. It follows on those dangling plot threads left over from the last series while setting the stage for the new adventure to come. If you enjoyed the Belgariad, then you have to read the Mallorean!

You can purchase Guardians of the West from Amazon!

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Review: Enchanter’s End Game (The Belgariad 5)

Enchanter’s End Game (The Belgariad 5)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The final volume of the Belgariad has begun. The dark god Torak stirs in the east and Garion travels with the sorcerer Belgarath and the thief Silk to confront him. But standing between him and the god lies the lands of his followers, the Agerzaks.

In the south, Garion’s fiancee, acting in his name, leads the army she’s raised to distract the Agerzaks. She will keep the world’s attention on her to give her fiancee the chance to slip through and defeat the dark god once and for all.

Danger swells for everyone. War has come to the West while Garion and his small group has to dodge trackers, demons, and Grolim priests eager for new sacrifices for their altars. Two prophecies hurtle towards each other and their titanic conclusion.

Enchanters End Game brings all the story threads together. The book is epic, bouncing around most of the world, seeing the impact of the impending war. Last book was Garion’s coming into adulthood and responsibility, and now Ce’Nedra has her own lessons to learn. War isn’t a game. It’s deadly and serious, and those she cares for will suffer for the decisions she makes.

Garion’s arc is much… simpler. He has already reached the pinnacle of his character growth is nearly over. He’s made his choice in the last book, now he’s marching towards his fate, facing the fear and dread as he comes closer and closer. His final lesson is a profound one, though.

Compassion.

Eddings does a phenomenal job bringing this series to a close satisfactory. I particularly enjoy his epilogue and the efficiency of which he gives all the characters their codas without bogging the narrative down with scene after scene by using a dream as a framing device, allowing him to spend a few paragraphs sketching out the important details and flowing onto the next. The only complaint I have is how little Garion we get in this with half the novel devoted to the war. I also would have wished him to have a more active role in the decisions. Eddings had him grow up into a man, ruling Riva and making decisions only to have him surrender to Belgarath and Silk again. I can see why, but it would have been nice for him to be more in command as our hero.

There are a few loose threads which Eddings uses to take us into a second series. He must have been thinking about the Mallorean because there is enough seeds planted to make the second series mostly work without having to do any major retconning of the ending (this is billed as THE final battle, but there’s an extra round still to come).

All in all, the Belgariad was an amazing experience. It’s always a pleasure to revisit Eddings in his prime. Fans of Fantasy, especially boys, will enjoy this series.

You can purchase Enchanters End Game from Amazon!

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Review: Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad 3)

Magician’s Gambit (The Belgariad 3)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

As ash falls on Nyssa, Garion grapples with his sorcerous powers. Wracked with guilt for what he did to the man who killed his parents, Garion needs to understand his new abilities. How he can live with the consequences.

As Garion deals with what type of man he will become, Ce’Nedra can’t help the burgeoning attraction swelling in her heart for the young man. She knows nothing can come of it, as a Tolnedran Princess, she’ll marry a man to enhance the empire and her family’s goals. How can she love a peasant? What future can they have?

As the company heads north into the haunted lands of Maragor, Garion and Ce’Nedra must both come to terms with adult responsibilities. All while dealing with mad gods, dangerous assassins, and bloodthirsty monsters.

The Magician’s Gambit continues the growth of Garion. Adult responsibilities, represented by sorcery, are thrust upon him. And now he has to figure out what to do with them. The decisions he makes will shape the sort of man he’ll become. Eddings weaves these themes into his story with skill, tying the coming of age plots into the fantasy quest adventure narrative he is weaving.

The characters continue to be delightful. As always, Eddings can straddle that line between the humors and the serious, between the dark and the bright. The Belgariad series is one that both young people can read and enjoy but has more mature themes for us older folks to enjoy.

This is a fantasy series for all ages to enjoy, but it will especially resonate with young boys!

You can purchase Magician’s Gambit from Amazon!

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Review: Queen of Prophecy (The Belgariad 2)

Queen of Prophecy (The Belgariad 2)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

The quest to recover the Orb of Aldur continues. Garion, once a simple farm boy, finds himself thrust into the company of sorcerers, warriors, and conniving princes on a journey to save the world. As he struggles to find his place in the world, his true destiny begins rearing its head.

While traveling south through new lands, new members join Garion’s party. From the resolute Mandrollan to the flighty princess Ce’Nedra, the company continues following the thief into the dangerous lands of the serpent queen.

Those who know Garion’s destiny seek to seize him. He will have to grow into a man if he wishes to survive!

Queen of Sorcery picks up a few weeks after Pawn of Prophecy. Eddings skips us a farther south, not treading over familiar ground of Sendaria and setting us into a new country. His world building expands even more as he takes us into cultures new and varied from the solid lands Garion grew up in. Edding’s sardonic humor can tread into the macabre from time to time, but the series continues to be fun and adventurous.

Garion continues growing up, on the verge of true adulthood on this book. He’s in the last stages of that rebellious teenage phase as responsibilities of the world began to weigh on his shoulders. This series continues to be a fun romp and a great series for young boys to read as well as older fans. Eddings dialogue continues to be some of my favorite in Fantasy.

You can purchase Queen of Sorcery from Amazon!

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Review: Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad 1)

Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad 1)

by David Eddings

Reviewed by JMD Reid

On a remote farm in the back end of nowhere, Garion grows up under the watch of his Aunt Pol. He has no idea of his true heritage or his true destiny. Nor does he know of the great adventure about to be thrust upon him when the traveling storyteller he’s nicknamed Mr. Wolf shows up with urgent news for his Aunt.

News that sees Garion setting off from the farm he grew up on and out into the world. Confused by events and realizing his Aunt Pol is more than a simple cook at a farm, Garion will have to grapple with a world of magic as he comes of age!

Pawn of Prophecy is a book I first read in the sixth grade. It was the perfect book to read. I was only a few years younger than Garion, just moved and had no friends, and was in need of escape. Garion’s quest resonated with me. Even now, twenty years later, the book retains all its charm.

Is the story of the farm boy with a secret destiny played out? It is now. But when David Eddings penned this story, he was creating something special. Drawing on the grand romances of the Middle Ages, he pens a Fantasy quest with skill few other authors lack. His world is rich, full of colorful characters that Eddings quickly endears you to. He straddles the line between the dark and the light-hearted.

Pawn of Prophecy is a wonderful escapist fantasy, particularly for a young boy. If you’re looking for a fantasy novel for a preteen or teenage boy, this is a book I’d recommend! Action, adventure, magic, danger, and a flight princess with a temper!

You can purchase Pawn of Prophecy from Amazon!

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Lessons From Writers – David Eddings

Every book you read can teach you something to help improve your writing from pitfalls to avoid to examples to follow, and in this series of blog posts I’m going to talk about the authors that have had the most impact on me and my writing, and what I took away from them. Today is David Eddings.

PawnIf you don’t know, David Eddings wrote several popular fantasy series first by himself and later with his wife, Leigh, sharing a co-author credit. He also says his wife deserves the co-author credit for all his writings. Like me, David Eddings grew up near the Puget Sound and it definitively showed in his writing. It rains a lot in his books, and his characters are always worrying about the weather. If you didn’t know it, the Seattle region from October through May is almost always gray skies and drizzling rain.

I was introduced to David Eddings by my mother. I was in the sixth grade and we had just moved back to South Hill, Washington. My dad was in the Air Force and we had just spend the last two-and-a-half years in Alamagordo, New Mexico. Previously we had lived in Washington and my parents had rented out the house they owned in 1South Hill while we were exiled (as I thought of it) to New Mexico. When we moved back, I thought my life was back on track and I was finally free of that hot, dry, and very dust state. Only I had friends in New Mexico, and when I moved back I learned my best friend had in Washington had moved away, and the only kid in the neighborhood I didn’t get along with before moving. I was getting picked on at school and was miserable, so my mom, knowing I had just gotten into the Lord of the Rings, went to the local Waldonbooks and asked the clerk what a good fantasy book would be. And he recommended ‘Pawn of Prophecy’.

‘Pawn of Prophecy’ would probably be counted as Young Adult these days, and it and its sequels were the perfect books for a lonely, preteen boy. You follow Garion as he goes from anonymous scullion to saving the world in the five book ‘Belgariad’ series. It’s a fun series with great characters, and is one of the best quest-driven fantasy series I have ever read as you follow Garion and his companions on a journey around their world.

Castle of WizardryI learned two lessons in writing from David Eddings and the first was dialogue. David Eddings was a master at witty, bantering dialogue. His characters have great personality and they display them in their words, often to humorous effect. My poor DM (Dungeon Master or the guy who runs a Roleplaying Game session, such as D&D) can attest to my love of banter and mocking my enemies as I fight them, mocking his enemies as they try and reveal their evil plans, and it’s all because of David Eddings. His heroes always make light in the face of their enemies with a fun bravado worthy of a hero of an epic story.

Great dialogue makes your characters come alive and feel like real, fleshed out people. And if you can make people believe your characters are real, guess what, they come to care about them. They want your characters to succeed, to be happy, their rooting for them. An emotional connection is formed, an investment that will keep your readers coming back for more. You can have the idea for the most amazing, thought-provoking, never-been-done story, but if your character dialogue is flat and boring, people might never make it far enough into your book to discover this fact.

imagesThe second lesson I learned is the love of the journey. David Eddings is most known for two universes the Belgariad/Mallorean (consisting of two pentalogies, two stand-alone novels, and a book on the world building) and the Elenium/Tamuli (consisting of two trilogies). The four series are all quests stories with our heroes traveling across the known world in the hunt of their goals. They travel, they see the world, and experience diverse cultures. When you open a David Eddings novel there’s a map, and by the time the series is over, the heroes will have traveled through every land depicted, sharing you the world he’s created, and doing so in a very logical manner. It doesn’t feel forced as his characters somehow travel through ever local for the sake of it, his story plotting was very well done.

So a lot of his novels are about the journey. What the characters experience and learn as they travel in the pursuit of their goals. They make you want to go out and wander through the world and just experience life. His books had a sense of adventure and life to them that made you want to keep reading and find out what happens next. With a book, it’s not the destination that really matters, it’s how you get your characters to that point. If you don’t write them a great journey, your readers will not stay on the road with them. So give them the best journey you can, full of interesting obstacles, clever enemies, and dangers for them to overcome.

6025089321_ea41a3f02d_zYour journey doesn’t have to be crossing the known world, it could be as simple as going to the local store, navigating through politics, exploring an excavated ruin, traversing the minutiae of the legal system, or even a trip through the shattered psyche of your character. Make it interesting and keep your readers engaged!

Great dialogue and a great journey are what I took away from David Eddings work. Make your characters seem real and give them an interesting journey and your readers will stick with you to the end, then will look forward to the next book you write. And that’s what all of us struggling writers are looking for, fans who will love the worlds we share with them.

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