Book review – Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

2015-03-24 07.39.03For me, today was the last day of the Easter holiday. I have been off since Friday and today is Wednesday, so it wasn’t a long break, but nothing to be sniffed at :) As usual, my aims for the holiday were high; I managed to some how finish Pawn of Prophecy really quite quickly and so optimistically lined up the next 3 books as well as a list of blog posts I needed to finish. To be honest, I managed to finish one book (Fated by Benedict Jacka) and got quite a few of the posts finished, so I didn’t do that badly really. With the exception of the Fated review that I now need to do, this review of Pawn of Prophecy brings me almost up to date.

I suppose the best way to review the Pawn of Prophecy is to say that my first thought on finishing the book was “I must read book 2 of the Belgariad!” As you know, I try to mix my genres as I read through my books. I therefore forced myself to read different book after Pawn of Prophecy, but I’m straight back into the series with Queen of Sorcery later this evening.

So it’s now a given that I really liked the book. “Why? Why PoCo? What did you like” I hear you… murmur a bit.

The quality of the writing was great. In stark contrast to some of the other fantasy that I have read both before and since starting this blog, David Edding’s prose was simple, direct, descriptive where required and a joy to read. The best way that I can describe David’s writing is “clean”. There is not anything that gets in the way, it is well polished and is one of the most direct, well implemented texts that I have read. The story arc moved between sections of history where centuries passed at a time and the intricate detail of the current situation; these changes were smooth and the various parts of the story were told very well. I was always kept interested to find out what the next part of the story was and that story was believable and engaging.

I also liked the way that the legends surrounding some of the characters (obviously Mr.Wolf and Aunt Poll) were well integrated with the other sub stories. This built understanding through the book as Garion (the main character) finds out himself. This not only built a good story, but also performed a fantastic job of setting up those epic characters that will live through a lot of David Eddings’ work. I know that I want to read a lot more about Belgarath the Sorcerer!

I must add that I was introduced to David’s books a very long time ago by my friend Mike. He suggested that I read one of the later books that David wrote called Belgarath the Sorcerer. This book was written after the Belgariad quintet and after the next series too! It is essentially a memoir that charts Belgarath’s life before the main books start. Chronologically speaking this was a good recommendation, but it didn’t sit well with me. I think these prequels will be good to read once I have developed a wonder for the characters, seen them wield their might a few times: without properly knowing who they were, the prequel was a bit dry to be honest. Maybe my previous experience can be seen as a reason why I liked the Pawn of Prophecy so much? I have put off reading David Eddings for a long time. I knew they should be good, but I didn’t quite trust them. I was almost scared to read the book because I wanted it to be good, but a large part of me thought that it wouldn’t be. Thankfully I was OK and to book was so good that I wanted to read the next one straight away :)

A thing that slightly annoyed me that was done for no apparent reason

My memory is really poor. For the odd, wierd thing it is the best, but for most things it is below par. Now, as you should know if you have read almost anything I have written on this blog (?), I have read a lot of fantasy, and fantasy usually has a lot of odd names that are hard to remember and harder to pronounce. That;s fine, I can deal with that: Drizzt Do’Urden’s cat in R.A Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms books is a case in point. Firstly, I never even tried to pronounce it for most of the books, I just mentally said “placeholder for the name of the cat.” I did eventually take the time to work out the pronunciation only to find that I pronounced it completely differently to my friend! (other friend, I have more than 2…) Anyway, my point is, picking names is important. I found 2 name based similarities in the book that could have tripped me up and I can’t see any reason for making the names so similar? If there is in future books, then I will take this back (I won’t) but check these out:-

  • The story started on Faldor’s farm, so called because it is owned my Faldor. The first Sendarian king was called Fundor and to make matters worse he was also a farmer!
  • Barak is one of the main characters and has quite bear like, especially in one important part of the story. Cherek Bear-shoulders was the last King of all Aloria.

So you see, there is some issue not just with the similarity of the names, but also the context in which they are to be remembered!

Details checked at the David Eddings Codex Wiki. Thanks a lot :)

A final note on politics  and religion (because why wouldn’t you if you could?)

I really wanted to talk about socialism a bit in the Bourne Identity review, but didn’t get the time to do it justice. In that case I wanted to cover quite a wide subject where as my comment on the Pawn of Prophecy is more of an observation:

Faldor’s Farm where we the story begins is essentially a depiction of socialism. There is a leader, but there are multiple descriptions of everyone contributing, of the communal good and the shared prosperity of the group. There is no real need for David to push the point, but he does with the introduction of Faldor;s Daughter and Son-in-Law. They live in the town and work to make money to buy “stuff” and see the farm as backwards. Not making the staff work for their money is seen as deficient. Faldor is obviously in charge, so nothing is going to change for a while.

Religion wise, Faldor is also adamant that everyone should observe the religious festival when it comes around. There is a huge slug of tradition intimated in this part of the book. I was surprised to see that the majority of characters bowed their heads, said the words and got on with their lives. Religion was more of a custom than a belief. I think this was true for many people 50 years ago and more??

I haven’t managed to blog as much as I would like about the ISMs and their related subjects, but I really do find it interesting that each book I read has it’s own take on the political spectrum, and I think that maybe more than some other aspects of writing, political views and ideology are a little more personal to the writer than characters or plot. The more subtle truisms leak through? I have always felt that fantasy as a genre was a way to return to our pagan nomadic routes; make the magic real and sit round a camp fire. Pawn of Prophecy managed to do that amazingly well :)

Rating 9/10

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