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REVIEW: The Belgariad series

By in Culture

Arts Writer

The goal for my summer reading was to read as few academic texts from June until August as possible.
I accomplished that by reading David Eddings’s first cycle. I had just started Pawn of Prophecy when news reached me that David Eddings had passed away. This motivated my reading as an act of tribute to read about the characters and the first world he and his wife had created and given birth to — like the gods they often wrote about.

It did not take long for me to realize that, although I had read one of Eddings’s cycles before (The Elenium and The Tamuli), a lot of hard work had gone into making the first 13 books by the husband and wife writing duo. Never before have I read so many books by the same author which made me laugh out loud so many times or have gotten me so many strange looks from other passengers on public transit.

Eddings’s style of narrating directly to the reader, as if the narrator and reader are close friends with many inside jokes, is refreshing to someone used to slogging through mountains of academic texts.

For someone not used to reading large works of fiction, The Belgariad, The Mallorean and their accompanying books Belgarath the Sorcerer, Polgara the Sorceress and The Rivan Codex can be a daunting challenge especially to read them all within a few months.

All the books together are well over 3,000 pages long (and sorry, the only pictures are the sparse maps of the fictional world). However, the exercise of page-turning is well worth it for any fantasy fan.

Eddings uses different styles throughout the cycle. Both The Belgariad and The Mallorean group of books are written in third person limited. Those stories are mainly told by a narrator that seems to live on the shoulder of the main character, Garion, and can also see inside his head.

At certain chapters throughout both series of books, the narrator sits on someone else’s shoulder, so to speak, and the reader is allowed a glimpse into the world of yet another interesting and dynamic character.

Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress are both written in first person, from the perspective of those named in the titles. Fictional writing from the first-person perspective can go horribly wrong, but Eddings manages to do a spectacular job of making us see the world through the very different eyes of both Belgarath and Polgara as they narrate their life stories.

Some have said that Eddings’s writing is a bit formulaic, that if you have read one of his books and cycles you have read them all. True, his plots are a bit cookie cutter — massive heroic adventure with divine interference. But in The Mallorean cycle, Garion comes up with a reason for all the repetitions in his world, which are relevant to the plot. And as many can see from the recent movies coming out of Hollywood, it is difficult coming up with totally unique plotlines all the time.

No matter if Eddings’s cycle plots follow along similar paths, most of the bumps and twists and literary turns are different. If the plot does not satisfy the reader, then hopefully the great character writing and development make up for it. I thoroughly enjoy Eddings’s literary characters and I wish I could find more fictional characters I like as much.


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