Thursday, December 3, 2015

Pawn of Prophecy Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: David Eddings
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Belgariad Book One
Pages: 262

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David Eddings’ five book Belgariad series begins here.  Pawn of Prophecy is a straightforward Tolkien styled fantasy – ordinary boy on a farm gets caught up in a world’s at stake adventure.  This book is as straight forward and conventional as good vs. evil fantasy comes … and despite it’s tendency to be predictable, it’s very enjoyable and nostalgic to read.

I would recommend this book to people who are first looking to get into reading classic epic fantasy.  It’s especially recommended to people who are intimidated by the lengthy page counts of Lord of the Rings and the Sword of Shannara.

Thousands of years ago a God named Torak stole the Orb of Aldur which he used to break the world.  It was eventually stolen back from him by a wizard named Belgarath and King Cherek.  Torak’s attempted re-recovery was thwarted and he mysteriously disappeared.  Belgarath and the heir’s to Cherek’s line must protect the orb at all costs in case the God comes back.

Set in the present many thousands of years later, a boy named Garion grows up on a farm while being raised by his Aunt Pol.  His world is upturned when strange happenings begin to occur near the farm, and Garion’s taken on a quest with his aunt when the mysterious Mr. Wolf shows up.

If there’s one thing that surprised me it was the depth of the mythology and the scope of the story.  No the scope’s not larger than Lord of the Rings, but for a book that’s under 300 pages there’s an extensive mythological background and a lot of characters.  The overall major story, the one dealing with stealing the orb, reminds me of the quest of the Silmarils from Tolkien’s Silmarillion, but this story is a lot easier to follow and a lot simpler than that.

The world building is pretty tremendous.  A detailed map accompanies the story, thousands of years of history exist, and there are potentially a lot of different cultures – although these culture’s are only touched upon in this book.  As of the first book there aren’t any non-human’s – so no Elves, Dwarves, or T’Lan Imass.  Magic is present, the rules of working it are discussed.Who can use magic and what its limitations are, are not fully explained, which creates a nice enigmatic aspect to the story.

The chief problem with the book is its predictability.  Major reveals about characters like Garion, Aunt Pol, and Mr. Wolf can be spotted far in advance. As is typical of good vs. evil fantasy, the larger overall plot is also predictable, but I’m a fan of these type’s of fantasy’s so this aspect doesn’t bother me as much.

Another irritating aspect was that the characters have a tendency to keep basic information from each other. Although it makes logical sense for these characters to be secretive in the wider world, it doesn’t make sense for them to be secretive with each other, especially Garion.  It creates a melodramatic tension that I’m not a fan of, and at times it feels like the story seems to suggest that ignorance is bliss is not necessarily a bad thing.

The character’s on the quest are straightforward but likeable.  Garion starts growing up, Aunt Pol has an endearing motherly attachment to Garion, and Mr. Wolf is a temperamental but oftentimes friendly old man. The prose is solid and consistent, it’s not better than Tolkien’s, but it is better than Brooks’. Pawn of Prophecy is an excellent start to a fantasy series that’s written in the tradition of Tolkien.

Score: 7.0

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