I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.
But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved--but did not know...?
PoP is truly a lovely amalgam of Tolkien and T.H. White. When I read about the Orb of Aldur, I couldn’t help but think about Tolkien and the Silmarils of Fëanor, stolen by Melkor, and burning his hands. It parallels Torak’s theft of the Orb and it’s destruction of the left side of his body.
Reputedly, Eddings was inspired to write fantasy when he saw a copy of LOTR on sale and learned that it was on its 78th printing—he went home and started to renovate a previously drawn doodle of a map into a fantasy tale that lasted a great many volumes!
But there is also very much a Sword-in-the-Stone vibe about this book, as Garion, our farm boy main character, dangles along with Mr. Wolf and Aunt Pol. He has very little information about his parents, his background, or what will be required of him and they are in no hurry to enlighten him. Very reminiscent of T.H. White’s young Wart who has no idea that he is Arthur, the King’s son.
The writing is adequate—not bad as a first stab at high fantasy. I’m hoping that will improve as the series progresses. Since I am a fan of both Tolkien and White, I’m finding the tale enjoyable, even if the plot points are a bit obvious.