Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Enchanter's End Game by David Eddings

Finally! I think I started rereading this series two years ago. Why would a relatively short, simply written series of books take me, generally a quick reader, so long to get through? Part of it was the way I chose to read it. I decided to break up entries in The Belgariad with other reading and after a few books I just kept a copy by the bed to read a bit of a night before turning in. I didn't read every night, either. The other thing was that it is just so poorly written that I had problems forcing myself to read bits of it.

The first book in The Belgariad (Pawn of Prophecy) is, while cliched and simplistic, a relatively light hearted and fun read. It was somewhere in Magician's Gambit (the 3rd book) that things started to go badly wrong and the deficiencies of David Eddings as a writer became painfully obvious.

I struggled with Castle of Wizardry and things did not improve in Enchanter's End Game. Somewhere along the line Ce'Nedra turned from a bratty and self centred princess into a military genius and a female commander to rival Joan of Arc (although she never rode into battle herself). There was no bridge or explanation for this transformation. It just happened, and as Eddings so often asked his readers to do, we had to suspend disbelief and accept it.

Most of the book concerned itself with the tedium of the enormous host the charismatic Ce'Nedra had assembled, gearing itself for a huge battle. The commanders sat around and squabbled with each other, and readers were supposed to be amused by the differences between the various races and their leaders insults at each other. We were also supposed to be amazed by how 'ingeniously' they solved logistical problems by applying common sense to them. Seriously it's a wonder that these people ever even discovered fire, let alone progress to a pseudo medieval society.

The three most interesting characters in the whole mess: Garion, Belgarath and Silk, appear infrequently and are mainly moving into position for the big takedown of the demi God Torak at the book's climax.

After Torak is taken out, fairly easily considering how much effort went into just getting to confront him in the first place. The book goes on for about 40 pages too long as the author goes about dotting his i's and crossing his t's so he can wrap everything up neatly and still leave it open ended enough that he could continue the story if he were so minded. He also had to resurrect a character in a totally unbelievable manner, because it just wouldn't be an Eddings story if one of the major characters could do so much as stub their toe and sustain a bruise, let alone actually die.

When I started this I believe I advised people that they should read the series if only as an exercise to see how far the genre has come since The Belgariad. I'd like to take that back. If you're young or haven't read much fantasy and want an easy going entry into the field that won't tax your mind this is probably okay, but if you get past the first book and find it too lightweight you're really not missing much if you decide to skip the rest and move onto other authors and generally much better written works.

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