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).
It had all begun with the theft of the Orb that had so long protected the West from the evil God Torak. Before that, Garion had been a simple farm boy. Afterward, he discovered that his aunt was really the Sorceress Polgara and his grandfather was Belgarath, the Eternal Man. Then, on the long quest to recover the Orb, Garion found to his dismay that he, too, was a sorcerer.
Now, at last, the Orb was regained and the quest was nearing its end. Of course, the questors still had to escape from this crumbling enemy fortress and flee across a desert filled with Murgo soldiers searching for them, while Grolim Hierarchs strove to destroy them with dark magic. Then, somehow, they must manage to be in Riva with the Orb by Erastide. After that, however, Garion was sure that his part in these great events would be finished.
But the Prophecy still held future surprises for Garion--and for the little princess Ce'Nedra.
This fourth installment of the Belgariad series plunges in exactly where the previous volume left off—there is no exposition, no reminding the reader gently what came before. Fortunately, everything is simplistic enough that even my menopausally-challenged memory was able to fish out the necessary details within the first chapter, the circumstances slowly coming back to me.
I have to say that Belgarion is a frustrating hero. He never seems to catch on to what is happening in his own life and he ends up surprised by things that the not-necessarily-astute reader has seen coming since book one. I found myself a bit offended on his behalf at several points, however, as the adults in his life kept shoving him into situations that they should have been preparing him for. They all could see that he was struggling and not understanding his role in things and I felt they should have been more forthcoming with information and support.
I do appreciate that Eddings didn’t go all “Lord of the Rings” in this series—there are no elves or orcs and the sought-after Orb doesn’t need to be destroyed. In fact, there is another “Sword in the Stone” moment as Garion accepts the Orb and it acknowledges his status as heir. Eddings does create a moderately interesting world, albeit a fairly shallow one. When reading Tolkien, I always appreciate the fact that he knew Middle Earth inside out, had created a complex history for it and designed authentic feeling languages for all of its peoples. There isn’t that same feeling of depth to Edding’s world, but how many people would go to the extremes of world-building that Tolkien did?
Even the main characters are a little wooden in the Belgariad, but a few are quite entertaining. I am always fond of Silk and his spying, conniving ways. It was also lovely to see Lord Barak settle into a more comfortable family situation. Lady Polgara and Princess Ce’Nedra provide some female main characters, but they rarely talk about anything except Garion & Ce’Nedra’s relationship, such as it is. Bechdel test fail.
One more book to go, and I hope to read it before the end of this year!
Book number 190 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.