Friday, September 16, 2011

David Eddings, The Belgariad; and Neil Hancock, The Circle of Light

Pawn of Prophecy – David Eddings – The Belgariad

The Belgariad is series of 5 books by the late David Eddings. This series of tales takes a kitchen boy, Garion, from the gawky age of 15 to manhood, and meeting his destiny in a prophesied battle with Torak, the demented God who had cracked the world.

The first book is called ‘Pawn of Prophecy’ and was first published in 1982.  I was hooked immediately. 

Pawn of Prophecy opens with a brief prologue which details the war of the gods.  It then jumps the kitchen of Faldor’s farm in the country of Sendaria, where Garion toils away in obscurity under the watchful and loving eye of his Aunt Pol.  A chance visit by an old story teller, Mr. Wolf changes everything, and Garion finds himself and his Aunt leaving the farm in search of something which has been stolen; traveling in the company of Durnik the Smith, and Mr. Wolf. 

As they travel, they meet up with Silk, a Drasnian spy, and Barak, Cherek Warrior.  Garion soon finds out that no one is what they seem to be.  Silk is actually Prince Kheldar of Drasnia; and Barak is actually the Earl of Trellheim of Cherek.  Only Durnik is who he always was; a good honest man of Sendaria, who just happens to be in love with Pol.

Not long after they leave Faldor’s farm they are arrested and brought to King Fulrach, who insists that Aunt Pol and Mr. Wolf go to a meeting of Monarchs in the northern country of Cherek. Once in Cherek Garion’s talent for trouble kicks in, and he finds himself involved in a series of dangerous adventures. 

Toward the end, of Pawn of Prophecy, Garion witnesses his Aunt Pol resolving a problem, and at that point he discovers that in reality his aunt is Polgara the Sorceress, who is 3000 years old; and Mr. Wolf is Belgarath the Sorcerer, Polgara’s Father who is 7000 years old.  He begins to doubt his actual relationship to Pol, and becomes angry that she had not been truthful with him and troubled because he now doubts everything he has been told. He worries that he is an unwanted burden to her.  He discovers that Belgarath is in reality his grandfather, just many generations removed; that he is the ultimate grandson of Belgarath’s other daughter who had been the first queen of Riva.  He then accepts Belgarath, calling him Grandfather. 

As I said before, this is book one in a series of five amazing books, covering Garion’s journey into adulthood and taking him to the meeting for which he was born.  They are none of them long by today’s standards; and they comprise a wonderful, absorbing series that is great epic fantasy at its best.   I highly recommend this series of books to anyone who loves great adventure, mystery, epic battles and of course, sorcery.

Neil Hancock – the Circle of Light – Greyfax Grimwald

This week I was saddened to hear that one of my all time favorite authors, Neil Hancock had passed away in May of this year.  I read his epic fantasy series, the Circle of Light beginning in 1977 when he first published ‘Greyfax Grimwald’. 

Hancock’s books are written out of chronological order; with the first series of four books being actually the end of the story. They deal with karma and the cycle of death and rebirth.  There is a strong spiritual overtone to his books.  The characters are talking animals, elves, dwarves, men and wizards; and there is a wide river that runs though all the realms: Calix Stay.  Once swept into it, characters find themselves on the next step in their journey to enlightenment. 

The technology of Hancock’s books is interestingly mixed – at some points it is a mix of swords and magic and the technology and horror of World War I. There are terrifying beasts, and there is true evil that must be dealt with.  The plot twists are surprising.  Politics, religion, sorcery and their place in the cycle of death and rebirth are the core of the series.  Jealousy, love, greed, hate and forgiveness also figure prominently in setting the backdrop of the action.

One issue that some have had with this series of books is that the plot is hard to follow at times if one is unfamiliar with the basic tenets of Buddhism; but despite that issue, the characters and the vividly drawn worlds they inhabit compel you stay with it.

These thirteen books have been out of print since 2004, and are now set to be reprinted in three groups of four by Tor within the next few months.  I will be getting my Kindle download, you can be sure of that!

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