Friday, January 9, 2015

Pawn of Prophecy, David Eddings

Pawn of Prophecy by the late David Eddings is a watershed book in the fantasy pantheon. It is the opening book in a 5-book series ultimately called The Belgariad. First published in 1982, I have read five paperback copies of this book to death.

But first, THE BLURB:

Long ago, the Storyteller claimed, in this first book of THE BELGARIAD, the evil god Torak drove men and Gods to war. But Belgarath the Sorcerer led men to reclaim the Orb that protected men of the West. So long as it lay at Riva, the prophecy went, men would be safe.

But Garion did not believe in such stories. Brought up on a quiet farm by his Aunt Pol, how could he know that the Apostate planned to wake dread Torak, or that he would be led on a quest of unparalleled magic and danger by those he loved--but did not know...?

Many times I see authors try to force an exact, detailed picture of their world on the reader, and it ruins the story for me. An author doesn't have to beat me over the head with minute detail; that sort of thing bores me. David Eddings never fell into that trap. Eddings had the ability to convey a sense of place in a few well-chosen words.

The book opens in the kitchen of a farmhouse with Garion's memories of playing under the table in a kitchen as small child. He, is being raised by his Aunt Pol who works as the cook on a prosperous farm in a place called Sendaria. Garion has friends, and as time progresses he even has a wistful almost-romance with one of the girls there. But all is not as it appears, and Garion knows nothing of the reality of his family or the world he lives in.

He has other friends; Durnik the smith who is in love with Garion's Aunt Pol, and a strange old traveling storyteller, Mr. Wolf whom his aunt seems to know well and whom she grudgingly tolerates despite his strange attire and love of ale.

News arrives at the farm that causes Aunt Pol to abruptly leave, embarking with Garion on a journey of far more than merely a week or two, and he suffers a long period of doubt and depression. Fifteen-year-old Garion is poised on the edge of manhood--half child, and half adult. Obviously they are on the run, and he is fearful and angry at being kept in the dark--and not knowing the truth, be begins to believe his life to that point was nothing but a lie. 

In this first book, he doesn't discover who he is, but knowing who he is not is important. This is a vivid book, written from the heart. What David Eddings does in the first chapters of this book is truly magical. He immediately drew me in and within two paragraphs I was immersed in this world--I could smell the smell scents of the kitchen and visualize the people who worked there so companionably in the generous employ of Farmer Faldor. I felt I knew them, and I felt I knew that farm.

If you have never read the Belgariad, try the the first book, and you will be swept away. Be prepared to sit down and read, because this book is a truly great, immersive read.

3 comments: said...

I've loved David Eddings 'Belgariad' for years, and recently read the companion novels telling the same story from both Polgara's and Belgarath's viewpoints. Amazing how different the same story can be, depending on who is telling it!

Connie J Jasperson said...

I agree! Eddings managed to keep the sense of mystery and wonder throughout all that series of books.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I love this series! It's been years since the last time I read it though.