Cause I might. This readathon is hosted by Shannon from leaninglights and will run from 25-31th July. The tasks are the same as last time, so let's get started!
1. An unread sequel sitting on your TBR shelf: Enchanter's End Game by David Eddings
2. A first book in a series: Guardians of the West by David Eddings
3. An "out of your comfort zone" book: Fairy Tales by Ludwig Bechstein
4. A book that's been on your TBR shelf over a year: Alan Turing by Rolf Hochhuth
5. A book from your most recent book haul: Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman
This list isn't settled, but I'm quite excited to get to these books, and in July. If you're participating as well, let me know! I'd love to see your reading plans.
Note: This is one of my favorite series. I read this series, it’s sequel The Mallorean, and Belgarath the Sorcerer yearly.
Queen of Sorcery is the second book in The Belgariad series by David Eddings. In comparison to the first book, Queen of Sorcery gives the reader a lot more information and a greater incentive to continue the series. One of the things I liked the most about this book is that the reader starts to get to know the side characters a lot better – and a lot of the things left unexplained in book one are cleared up in book two. Eddings is not one for a lot of loose ends, which I greatly appreciate.
Queen of Sorcery starts the same way Pawn of Prophecy does – with an info dump prologue – and then it proceeds into another info dump. The prologue tells of a famous battle that happened centuries in the past and the second info dump gives the reader a rehash of Pawn of Prophecy. It also reminds the reader that Garion is anguished and that the adults are keeping secrets from him.
Unlike Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery tells the questing group (and the reader) the exact nature of their quest at the beginning of the book: The Orb of Aldur has been stolen by Zedar the Apostate. They have to retrieve the Orb before Zedar can deliver it to the evil god Torak, waking Torak from an ensorcelled sleep to take over the world.
Queen of Sorcery also gives the reader a better sense of Eddings’ world. Each country is populated by a different racial stock and each racial stock is a stereotype. Thus far we have met the Sendars (who are sensible) and the Chereks (who are rowdy, drunks and war-like). Queen of Sorcery introduces us to the Arends (who are “not very bright but very brave” and who’s nobles engage in almost casual warfare while severely mistreating their serfs), the Tolnedrans (materialistic and obsessed with stature) and the Nyissans who emulate the snake. The Nyissans are also drug users and dealers, they sell poisons, are untrustworthy and are also slavers. Got all that? Good.
One of the things that the reader notices is that although Garion now knows Belgarath and Polgara’s real names, Garion and the text still refer to them as “Mister Wolf” and “Aunt Pol.” I feel like the text reflects Garion’s mental state with the name usage. Garion has not fully accepted the real identities of his aunt and grandfather – so neither has the text. Some of Garion’s anguish is settled, however – he knows that Polgara is his (many times great) aunt and thus Belgarath is his (many times great) grandfather – so he is not alone in the world as he feared.
We also learn a lot more about the magic system. The rules are rather basic but it seems that those who have “talent” usually are nearly immortal. These talented people have the ability to do almost anything that they can imagine as long as they have the willpower. Eddings names this system “the Will and the Word” and it appears to have few limitations: It takes as much energy or more to do something magically as to do it physically, they cannot try to “unmake” things as it will cause the person attempting the unmaking to be obliterated and magic use makes a “noise” that other talented people can hear. This noise can be heard for long distances and can help enemies locate them.
Garion has started to show that he has this talent. He hears a “noise” when his family or others use the Will and the Word. He also uses his ability several times instinctively but with no control. Although the adults are still keeping him in the dark regarding his heritage, he’s slowly coming to realize something is strange about his parentage. People keep trying to kidnap him – including the Queen of Nyissa, Salmissra. I’m not sure why Eddings decided to make Garion so ignorant as to almost be stupid. Of course something is special about him. He’s the only descendent of Belgarath and Polgara – who are both powerful sorcerers.
One of my favorite things about this book is that you get a chance to really know all of the characters. Barak and Silk are two of my favorite characters and I really enjoy the banter between them. Silk is a prince, a spy, a thief, a merchant, an acrobat and a martial artist skilled in both hand to hand combat as well as knife work. He’s a small man with a smart mouth and a sarcastic sense of humor but as many bad traits that Silk has he’s very loyal and dependable. Barak is a huge, hairy man. He looks rather brutish and he’s a deadly warrior but he’s a gentle person with a great sense of humor. Some of the humor feels a little forced but in general it’s rather amusing.
Queen of Sorcery starts in Arendia. The group (Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, Silk, Barak and Durnik) joins with Hettar, son of the Algarian Chief; Lelldorin, son of Baron of Wildantor (Arendia) and Sir Mandorallen, Baron of Vo Mandor (Arendia). Lelldorin is an Austurian Arend and Mandorallen is a Mimbrate Arend. The Mimbrates and Austurians have been in the midst of civil war and/or hostilities for centuries and Lelldorin is an Austurian “patriot.” There isn’t much to Lelldorion: he is impetuous, emotional, flighty, an astounding bowman, a loyal friend and a walking disaster. Lelldorin was involved in a plot to kill off the King of Arendia – since the King is a Mimbrate – when he needs to depart with the group. Lelldorin tells Garion about this plot in confidence.
The company travels the length of Arendia while on their search for the Orb. During their travels Lelldorin is poisoned during a monster attack near the border of Ulgoland which requires him to stay in Mimbre. Once he realized he would have to stay behind, Lelldorin has Garion promise that he will stop the attack on the King.
Pawn of Prophecy is the first of five books in The Belgariad series. In this book we meet our hero, Garion and most of his companions: Polgara, Belgarath, Durnik, Silk, Barak and Hettar. Garion is an orphan farmboy who is being raised on a farm (of course) in Sendaria by his aunt, Pol. This trope – the orphan farmboy – is one that the seasoned fantasy reader is quite familiar with. The big difference here is that Eddings’ Garion is one of the first of his kind. Pawn of Prophecy was published in 1982 – a time when fantasy had very few titles and readers were clamoring for this type of epic fantasy.
I absolutely love this series. I read this series and the sequel – The Mallorean – at least once a year (sometimes more). As much as I love this series I feel that I see it with [somewhat] clear eyes – I can see some faults. I can also say that reviewing this book (and the series) will be difficult for me. I’ve read it too many times – the entire series is basically one book to me – and I like it too much. Every time I read this (book and series) I feel like I’m visiting old friends. It’s like…one big, warm and comfortable hug to me.
The Belgariad (and The Mallorean) has a quest based plot. This plot requires a character/group of characters to go on a search for some item/person/information that is considered extremely important – often the fate of the world depends on the outcome of the quest. The Belgariad is also something like a travelogue as well – the characters’ quest will eventually take them through most of the countries in Eddings’ world.
Pawn of Prophecy starts with Garion’s earliest memories but quickly moves to the beginning of Garion’s quest. It begins with Garion, his Aunt Pol, an old vagabond storyteller that Garion calls Mister Wolf and the farm’s blacksmith Durnik hurriedly leaving the farm one night. Garion is not sure why – only that something important has been stolen and must be recovered. After a long and exhausting walk the trio join with two others: Silk, a small and wiry man from Drasnia and Barak, a large warrior from Cherek. As the group sneaks its way thorough Sendaria in search of this unknown item, Garion knows that his life is changing but he’s given absolutely no information. Aunt Pol refuses to tell him anything about who or what [race] he is, his parents are a mystery to him and he doesn’t know where they are going or why. By this point the reader has been given several hints that all is not as it seems. Aunt Pol mentions “waiting one hundred years for the circumstances to be right again.” Mister Wolf is able to follow this important item with his mind alone and the group is chased by enemies.