|The Belgariad, Vol. 1|
Date: 27 August, 2002 — $11.02 — Book
Have you ever heard the saying that an author's first novel is the best because that's the one he really wanted to write? This is one of those cases. Nothing that Eddings has written comes as close to sheer greatness as the books set in this first world of his. It's the high epic fantasy told through a style of today's. People (except for the Mimbrate Arends) speak in a normal manner. They're sarcastic and witty and cool. They live what we would consider to be normal lifespans (and which definitely were NOT normal lifespans during the apparent period.) They get married primarily for love, except in matters of state, when in fact the concept of marriage for anything other than property is a comparatively recent occurrence.
That's all unimportant in the long run, though. It's just background noise to anyone other than a historian, but the primary reason it's interesting at all is that it gets the culture shock out of the way and a reader can identify with the characters directly without having to do any heavy mental work. And that's useful to know because it means that a junior high student can pick these up and love them, while an adult with an eye to fun (like, say, Evil Rob) can pick these up fo rthe first time and also fall in love with them.
You'll notice a distinct lack of story detail in this review. It's because if you haven't read these before, it's best to approach them with a fresh eye. In fact, do what Evil Rob did and skip the Prologue to the first book. It's not really necessary and it will make for some dramatic reveals in the text itself. (That is one spoilerish prologue!)
|The Belgariad, Vol. 2|
Date: 27 August, 2002 — $10.37 — Book
The publishing industry has an interesting effect on what books are published, and, more precisely how they are published. The classic example is The Lord of the Rings, intended as one monolithic novel but split into three at the insistence of the publishers— and, incidentally, creating the concept of the fantasy trilogy.
In the early 80s, the publishing industry decided that the maximum cost of a paperback was to be no more than $3.99 (I think), or, in essence, three hundred pages. Fantasy and science fiction alike abided by this rule, and as a result there are numerous books that are no longer in print because they cannot hope to be noticed on shelves full of six-hundred page monsters, as very large books happen to be the fashion now. (Us speedy readers thank you.) I am very much in favor of omnibus editions for those little novels no longer in print— please, please collate the rest of Tepper's True Game series!— but I am always interested in the side effects.
The Belgariad was originally intended to be a trilogy. Three books, Garion, Ce'Nedra, and Torak. But Eddings' publisher had him split it into five so that the books would fall under three hundred pages apiece, and came up with the chess-related titles. So instead of a lengthy trilogy, you have what appears to be an even lengthier pentology, and Eddings' reputation for long-windedness was secure until Robert Jordan came along.
Again, no spoilers. Go read. Have fun. Giggling is fully warranted.