Nathan's Reviews > Pawn of Prophecy

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
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's review
Jan 11, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: high-fantasy
Recommended to Nathan by: Friends, Authors
Recommended for: Nobody
Read in June, 2008 , read count: 1

When we're all looking for a good book to read, we usually look to our favourite authors and our best friends and trust their recommnendations as to what we should try next. Such as it was for me.
The Belgariad was suggested to me by just about everyone I knew who enjoyed fantasy, and a number of my favourite authors. Imagine my surprise when I start reading and keep waiting for the story's plot to begin, and it begins to dawn on me that no such relief will be arriving.
The problems I have with the Belgariad are simple: The 'story' is so cliche (An orphen boy who finds himself the subject of a prophecy to save the world, say it isn't so!), The characters are bland and the world seems impervious to logic.
Garion, the protagonist of the story, grows up an orphaned child with only his annoyingly mysterious Aunt Pol to take care of him. Despite the fact that he is at an age where he is approaching maturity, Garion demonstrates momentous stupidity several times throughout the series, and particularly in the first book. His entire childhood has been haunted by the prescence of a 'ringwraith' archetype character, a mysterious shrouded black horseman who stalks him, yet he has never once mentioned the terrifying figure to his Aunt Pol, and nor has she, who it becomes known is a powerful sorceress bordering on godly power, ever detected this figure despite being Garion's caretaker and vigilant protector.
Over the course of the story, Garion travels alongside a group of companions, every single one of whom is either Royalty, powerful Nobility or an individual regarded as an equal among Kings and Emperors. Bit odd of an adventuring party eh?
On top of all of this, the action is horribly bland and Garion's growth into the prophetic saviour is infuriatingly poor, one minute he's a lackwit child and the next he's striding along blasting enemies with torrents of magic without training and out-witting his counselors and advisors despite the fact he's never really had a proper education in statecraft.
The dialogue is similarly poor, and often cliche.
The romance between Garion and the princess of a neighboring Empire was just plain embarrassing.
In summary, I was regretful I had ever picked up the series, and was and still am confused as to how the series ever gathered the acclaim it has.
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07/11/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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Andi Nathan:

You wrote an excellent review. I actually loved the series and would love to read it again if I had the time. But it is refreshing to see someone on the flip-side of the popular. I absolutely loathe Tolkien and people cannot understand why. I thought his book the Hobbit was slow, meaningless and boring. I couldn't even think of picking up the others and only attempted 1 of the movies, which I could not make it through. You make some very valid points on this book which I did not pick up on but can see what you mean (like how powerful the aunt is but does not pick up on the shadowy figure haunting Garion.) I enjoyed reading your review.

message 2: by Laurie (new)

Laurie Your review was somewhat thought provoking, but not exactly on the mark. Given what you thought of the beginnings of Garion's childhood and the figures that surround him, it would appear at the very least a misinterpretation of what was taking place in the story. I enjoy many different genres and place The Belgariad at the top simply and mostly because it is like coming home to old friends when I re-read. There is a wonderfully comfortable and fun feel to be enjoyed when you read or re-read the book along with the always entertaining growth from child to man that you walk through with Garion.

When you say things like the romance aspect was just embarrassing, I'd recommend next time, pick-up a romance novel.

message 3: by Nathan (last edited Sep 20, 2009 01:18AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Nathan Justg wrote: "Your review was somewhat thought provoking, but not exactly on the mark. Given what you thought of the beginnings of Garion's childhood and the figures that surround him, it would appear at the ve..."

I've read the entire Belgariad and Mallorean, though I didn't enjoy them, because I have an incredible compulsion to finish a series once I've taken it up, no matter how poor I find them. Therefore I don't believe anything I wrote in my review is incorrect in terms of facts, though obviously whether another person finds the same story entertaining or boring is subjective.
I believe the reason most people enjoyed this universe is because they would have originally read it back in the 80's when it first came out and the high fantasy genre had not yet been as shamelessly abused by so many cliches as it has been today. Personally though, I don't care. Frankly, it failed to interest me and I was unable to read it without finding parts of it illogical, and to me that's all that matters.
And as far as the romance goes, while I do often enjoy it, I don't read fiction for the purpose of it, otherwise I wouldn't be reading this genre. My only complaint with regards to its presence in the Belgariad and Mallorean is that it felt tacky. To me it felt like the author simply shoe-horned it into the story because he felt no fantasy novel would be complete if the protagonist didn't end up with a beautiful princess in love with him.
I do understand what you mean when you say that a book feels like coming home to old friends. I occasionly re-read Emily Rodda's Rowan of Rin series, despite the fact its target audience was children. However, I read this series (The Belgariad) only about a year and a half ago, and as such was already familiar with a very varied and exhaustive list of high fantasy at that time.

message 4: by Chris (new)

Chris Bloom Had I read first read this as an adult, I'd probably agree with you. In fact, I read several of Eddings' other series in my 20s and found them a slog. Eddings had a set list of characters, a sheet of cliches that had to be used every few chapters, and a single story he wanted to tell, and by golly he told it every time.

Still, I didn't read Belgariad/Mallorean as an adult, but as a bored, lonely teenager, and they changed my world. Bad writing? Lord, yes, but if you haven't read any good writing you don't notice. Cliched plot? Of course, but that doesn't make it a bad one, and the Hero's Journey resonates no matter the pedestrian presentation.

I doubt I'd enjoy these series nearly as much now, but I still recommend them to every teenager I know with an interest in fantasy. I think it's a nearly perfect introduction to the genre for someone that age.

message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg I picked this off the library shelf the other day. Eddings' books have always attracted my attention in the bookstore, and I've seen lots of people recommend them. I read two pages and knew I would hate every page to follow, so I didn't even take it to the check-out.
Even for escapist fantasy there are far too many other good books and far too little time in life to waste on this kind of thing. Thanks for taking one for the team.

message 6: by Igor (new) - added it

Igor Ljubuncic Not meant to be read the first time by anyone over 21.

message 7: by Zuri (new)

Zuri C. I'm glad I came to look up reviews first. I just started listening to the audio book and could only think "what the hell" between the backstory and somewhat old English tone. I couldn't understand what was so great then I began to see that many people read this while young....Yeah, nostalgia does things to you sometimes.

Ivana Split I enjoyed your review, even if I happen to think that the book is not so bad (well at least the first one in the series and the only one I've read because I didn't like it enough to pick up on sequels)

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