We are four weeks into exploring the Belgariad and are now diving into the fourth book, Castle Wizardry by David Eddings. True to the hero’s journey, now that we’ve passed the half way mark in this five book series, the main character Garion must take charge of his destiny and start making decisions that matter.
If you want to check out my reviews on the first three books in the series, here are some handy links:
Our noble party has finally recovered the Orb at the end of the previous book, Magician’s Gambit. Yay! Their goal is to now deliver it safely back to its rightful place and ensure it remains in the right hands. Garion finally gets to lead the party, mostly because Pol and Belgarath both were incapacitated, as they work their way closer to the mythical Isle of the Winds.
Common to many long form stories, the Belgariad has a number of prophecies running about the edges that bring extra significance to events. In Castle of Wizardry, we see the culmination of a handful of these prophecies, namely, what Garion is destined to become. There was a reason he’d been brought up by a sorceress who pretended she was his aunt – he needed protecting because of his bloodline.
Also, in another twist, the same prophecy that reveals who Garion really is also spells out who he is meant to marry – someone who just happens to be traveling with them. She’s understandably enraged.
And because all good things come in threes, there is a third prophecy that Garion deciphers after the betrothal that says if he is “the special one” then he must also kill the Really Bad Guy or die himself. The story ends with Garion heading off toward his destiny to die or kill the bad guy, while his betrothed borrows a page from Tolkien and raises an army to distract the bad guy’s army and allow Garion’s safe passage.
It’s at this point in any long story where the reader can fully get behind the main character and what they are setting out to accomplish. All along the way we’d collected breadcrumbs and clues so when the prophecies started being fulfilled the resulting reveals didn’t come across as a huge surprise.
There is one super charming element I neglected to mention earlier, and that’s the character of Errand – a small boy who, through his absolute innocence, can handle the Orb of Aldur safely. Up to this point, the ensemble cast has been killing themselves to first find this Orb, then restore it to its rightful place. When they finally get it, they must take Errand as well, as none of them can handle it safely. Errand spends the entire book trying to give the Orb to anyone who will take it despite the casts efforts to tie, lock, and seal the Orb into its carrying pouch to keep him from doing it. In a story of good vs evil and light vs dark, it was nice to have this darling little boy keeping things from becoming too grim.
Where the past three books were spent exploring the nature of magic, Garion’s coming of age, as well as most of the map, it’s in Castle of Wizardry where we see a culmination of a whole lot of promises. We finally understand Garion’s role in the world and what he’s meant to do. In fact, if it were not for the fact that he had yet to beat the bad guy, it would have been a great ending to the series to finish here.
This is a series. Start at the beginning and work your way to this point. No, really. The weight of all the stuff that happens in this book relies on the reader understanding everything it took to get there.
For you parents out there trying to decide is this is an appropriate read – it’s clean as is the rest of the series. I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up for the complexity and the intensity of some of the fight scenes.
I rate Castle of Wizardry 4/5 for being a solid fantasy that should have probably been limited to a four book series.
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