Monday, September 16, 2013

Book Review: The Belgariad Books 1-5

Pawn of Prophecy
Queen of Sorcery
Magician's Gambit
Castle of Wizardry
Enchanter's End Game
by David Eddings

Okay, so if you haven't figured it out yet, today I'm reviewing not one book, but five books. To be precise, books 1-5 of the Belgariad series, by David Eddings. I'd had a few recommendations for this series, and it'd been on my to-read list for a while, so, last May, when I was scrolling through my library's electronic catalog looking for something to listen to and saw that Pawn of Prophecy was available for immediate download, I jumped on it.

Here's a brief summary of the whole series: Garion is a boy who has lived his whole life on a quiet farm with his Aunt Pol, thinking he is nothing but an ordinary boy. But then the mysterious and ancient sorcerer Belgarath shows up to enlist Pol's help (as it turns out, Pol is Belgarath's daughter, and is actually the mysterious and ancient sorceress Polgara) because an ancient and powerful artifact has been stolen, and they must track it down before it falls into the hands of the evil god Torac. Garion gets swept up in their quest, meeting some wonderful characters on the way, and eventually learning the crucial role he plays in this epic quest as foretold by an ancient prophecy.

I listened to books 1-4 over the following month as I packed and cleaned and prepared to move. I started book 5 about two days before we left Chicago in June, and I've been trying to finish it ever since. At first, I blamed it on the fact that I was living with my in-laws and just didn't have a lot of opportunity to listen to audio books. Then, I got distracted by other books. Every now and then I'd come back to Book 5, starting all over again because I kept forgetting what had happened. But now that I've checked it out 3 times without being able to finish it, I'm just calling it quits. I'm just not interested enough to finish the last half of this book.

I'm not exactly sure why I can't finish this series. I mean, it had all the elements I love about a good fantasy. It had some really fun and funny characters, it had the epic hero's journey storyline, it had magic and some pretty fantastic world building (seriously, Eddings has written over seven thousand years worth of history on this world, creating detailed myths and scripture and the like. He has a lot of other books, not part of this series, that are based in this world). And there was even a little romance thrown in, which is always my favorite. So really, the recipe was perfect.

But then, it wasn't. There were just too many little things that started to bug me. Garion, for one, is a pretty thick main character. It just takes him FOREVER to figure out what has been foreshadowed for the entire series. Then sometimes the quest/journey business would just drag, sometimes there were too many other characters and side-stories to keep track of, and sometimes, the romance just drove me nuts (Princess Ce'Nedra is everything that is horribly annoying about girls). So here I am at the end, and because of the formulaic nature of this genre I have a pretty good idea of how it's going to end, so I'm finding that I just have a really hard time caring about how it all gets resolved. I just don't care anymore.

And there are too many other books on that to-read list to give any more time to this series.

So, if you are a total fantasy nerd who really appreciates a well-built world and a good, solid hero's journey, feel free to check this series out. It just might float your boat. Then again, you just might sink half-way through. It's not for everyone.

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