I can’t believe that it is nearly twenty five years since I first read the Belgariad. I had “borrowed” my older sisters copy of The Diamond Throne (the first book of The Elenium), and went searching through my local library for other books by David Eddings. I sat down with Pawn of Prophecy and was immediately hooked.
Over the years, I’ve probably read the series ten times. Of all of the books I own, they are certainly the ones that have been most read. The series itself is quite short, about the length of one Brandon Sanderson door stopper, so I will whizz through it in about ten days. I don’t know why, but every couple of years I find myself picking up Pawn of Prophecy and going back to Faldor’s farm.
The Belgariad is the story of Garion, a farmboy who is part of royal line that is in hiding, who is destined to fight the God King Torak who has been in slumber for a long time. Garion becomes King of the Isle of Riva, vanquishes Torak and all is great with the world. It is your standard fantasy tale as Garion is joined by all of the troupes of a D&D party.
The Belgariad is a gateway series into the world of fantasy. The magic system (The Will and The Word), is simple and consistent, and the storyline is straight forward. This was written in the days before everything had to be a shade of grey. So, is no ambiguity; person X is good; person Y is bad. Some complain that it is too easy to read, but I keep coming back to it. Why?
First, I love the characters. This is something true of all of the Edding’s (an open secret was that David’s wife, Leigh, was heavily involved in the writing of all of his books) series that all of the main protagonists are well defined. Most of them are likeable, and are the types of people that you would want to be in a group with. I care about all of them, which leads to.
Second, I have too many bookmarks. I have written before about the idea of a clip store of some kind for books, and The Belgariad (and Mallorean) is the reason why. For most books, quotes would be a line or maybe a quick back and forth between characters. In the Belgariad, I want to quickly read a page or two, so that I can be reminded of a great scene. The prose is so consistently wonderful in these five books from describing the kitchen in Faldor’s farm, to the meeting of the gods at the end. Everything just feels so alive.
Third, sometimes you need some comfort reading. Most of the fantasy that I read these days have intricate plots which aren’t resolved until three books later. Writers today want to reward those readers that are able to keep close attention to everything that is happening. It makes my head hurt. Having a series that you don’t have to think about and just enjoy is a great palate cleaner.
I love The Belgariad, the characters and the world. It is the perfect introduction to the idea of the fantasy series. It plays with your emotions, and I guarantee that it will make you smile. If you will excuse me, I’m off to see how well Brill’s flying lessons are going.