Thursday, September 14, 2006

The David Eddings Dilemma

First and foremost I am a fan of fantasy fiction. I started this blog for no other reason than I love to read and discuss authors I have enjoyed for many years. I have also said that I am not a literary snob. And I don't think I am. But David Eddings does present me with a dilemma. I really enjoyed his first series The Belgariad and I moderately enjoyed the related series The Mallorean. But I didn't really like anything he (and his wife) wrote after that. At all. So do I recommend his books?........ I recommend the first series, the second with some qualifiers, and the rest you read at your own risk. The Belgariad is a good coming of age story. The main character, Garion, is developed really well. We get to see Garion grow up and come into his own. We are kept in the dark with him and can understand his frustrations, fears and successes. The supporting characters are pretty darn good too. The God's also take a hand in Edding's books and I feel it's well done in the Belgariad. All in all it's a well constructed and enjoyable read. I also think the 'villains' in the Belgariad are the best that Eddings ever manages to come up with. His later books really have characters of one dimensional evil. You can almost see them going "mwaahahahah" as they rub their hands together in stereotypical glee. But in this first series there is a sense of misplaced loyalty and regret about the characters that are cast as the enemy. Nothing is fully black and white in the first series. The pacing is pretty good and you care about the characters enough to want to know what happens next. The Mallorean is a continuation of The Belgariad. It's after Garion has grown into his inheritance and started his own family. This series is also pretty good and brings back many of the original characters and fleshes out some minor characters we met earlier. I think it's worth reading, but I feel it's a much more predictable series than the first. There is some good action and a lot of humor. But the characters have become kind of precious in this series. They smirk and say "be nice" an awful lot, which can get a bit old. There is very little development of the villain in this series and we're basically just along to enjoy the interplay between the characters. It's fun a lot of the time, but not nail biting. I have read that Edding's believes he has discovered the "formula" for writing fantasy fiction. As I understand it, he's a big believer in the "quest" story in the Tolkien mold. And if you read his books, this does seem to be the case. The Belgariad is very much a quest novel, as is just about everything else Eddings writes. It works in the first series but the formula wears thin in the rest. If you decide to read more Eddings and move on to The Elenium and The Tamuli, you'll see incredible similarities between the second group of books and the first set. The second series also has a group of hero's on a quest, the interest of the God's, mysterious characters and secrets hidden from the main character. I have tried to read some of the later series' he has come out with, but the preciousness that I mentioned earlier only seems to have intensified in the later books. I just haven't been able to slog my way through them. If you've read Eddings, tell me what you think. Do you think I'm being fair and accurate in describing Eddings? If not tell me why. For more information and lists of all Eddings books check out the wikipedia link.


Crunchy Carpets said...

I haven't read his stuff...I know he has a HUGE fan base.

I like Feist better for fantasy and the George RR Martin stuff is good too.

SQT said...

Feist is awesome! Martin is really good too. I haven't read beyond the second book though because I'm kind of fearful he's going to do the Jordan/Goodkind thing and write a neverending series. So I'm gonna wait it out a while.