Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Book review - The Belgariad

Firstly, an explanation as to why my blog has been so quiet lately - I've been unwell. Add to that a sick partner and that translates into not much time online. Which has probably been good for me.

Today is my second day off work and I must admit, despite feeling the worst I have in a long time last night, I am feeling a heck of a lot better now, so I'm propping myself up on the PC to share with you what I've been reading lately.

When I was a teen, I discovered fantasy novels. I think it was my friends' parents collection that really inspired me - their entire office wall was a bookcase lined with fantasy and sci-fi. Both her mum and dad were huge Piers Anthony fans, but their reading tastes ranged far and wide across the genre. It was my friend's mum who first recommended to me authors like Tad Williams, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett (thank god, the covers scared me, and imagine what I would have missed out on!), Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen Lawhead, Raymond Feist,  and Ian Irvine.

Thank goodness she also recommended Eddings -ie. David & Leigh Eddings, authors of some of my favorite fantasy series.  I haven't read Eddings in years, but a few months ago I was at the Lifeline Bookfest trawling the fantasy/sci-fi table for any Pratchett. It was a hopeless search, I knew, as nobody EVER gives away Pratchett books (you can't find them in 2nd hand bookshops either, unless you're very lucky) but what caught my eye amoungst the usual mix of 80s sci-fi novels and 700 copies of "Magician" was Eddings. The books kept popping up - one from the Mallorean there, another from the Tamuli there. So I went through with a fine tooth comb and found all five of the Belgariad series, for $2 each. Resolving to read them exclusively in order, I went home pretty pleased with myself.

[image: mine]

I was a HUGE Eddings fan back in my Uni days - back when there were newsgroups, I used to be a regular poster on  We debated casting choices for future movies, argued over characters and plots, which series was best... it was great fun. And one of my first forays into the world of fandom I might add. This was before websites were actually good and Star Wars fans used to role play via mailing lists (yes, ok, I admit I did that too).

Anyway, back to my current re-read. A few months later, I'm still plunging onwards - but happy to report that I'm finally onto the fifth and last volume. I blame my stint of driving to work, but now I'm on public transport again it's much easier to allocate reading time. Disappointingly though that I am not enjoying the books as much as I remember that I used to. The writing is simplistic to the point of being juvenile, the dialogue irritating (being full of what I refer to as "Eddings wisdom") and half of the main characters just plain unlikable.  Now, unlikable characters have never stopped me before, so I have kept reading, mainly being driven on by the overarching good vs evil story line that will result in a clash of two destinies at the culmination of the series.

And I have started to question whether this series (and the ones that followed) are in fact Young Adult Fiction.  Young protagonist, put into a dangerous situation, learns he can stand on his own two feet... those of you who have read of Garion's adventures - what do you think? I always thought it was an adult fantasy series, but is iy really what we would now consider YA?

After this I'm going to start George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books - definitely no shying away from adult themes there. It's coming highly recommended by real-life AND fandom friends, so hopefully it will wash the taste of disappointment from my mouth that I get from Eddings not living up to my memories of it.

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing wrong with YA fiction! (But most people do discover this series around the age of 13. I think I was 14. And yeah, I probably ran into you on back in the day, under some other name.)

    I have to admit, what I couldn't cope with so much when I reread this series last January was the race fail. Oh, the race fail, and trying desperately to forget everything that was written in The Rivan Codex.

    (although there is a really interesting post recently written on the series by Karen Healey on LJ: Number of times I practiced that Ce'Nedra speech in front of the mirror: OH ABOUT A BILLION)



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