Book Review: Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings

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:

The Story

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.

My Review

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.

Recommendations

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.


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Castle of Wizardry today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings

We’ve reached the middle of the five book series, the Belgariad and as such, one significant event must happen in the story that changes the way the main character views the overarching goal of the series.

If you’re just joining us, here are handy links to the reviews to the first two books in the series:

The Story

At the end of the Queen of Sorcery, we left Garion after he is rescued from the snake people and is reconciled with his “Aunt” Polgara, who happens to be a powerful sorceress. At this point he’s just coming into a vague understanding that he possesses the ability to do magic, through a process called the Will and the Word.

It is in Magician’s Gambit that Garion finally receives his formal magical training, as Polgara judges that if he doesn’t, he might end up killing himself or someone else by accident. The critical moment of this decision comes when Garion brings a dead foal to life, something that the sorceress didn’t believe possible.

The party, now consisting of Ce’Nedra, Polgara, Belgarath, and Garion, learn of the Orbs resting place and spend the bulk of the book traveling through strange lands to get there, including the land of Maragor, who’s vengeful god Mara drives any invader insane, the Vale of Aldur where Garion practices mastery of the Will and the Word, and then to Ulgoland where the Orb is hidden.

The dramatic ending includes lots of magical fighting between the Angarak sorcerer Ctuchik who stole the Orb and Garion’s party. There’s a nice twist in how the fighting ends, which I won’t spoil for you.

My Review

I’m partial to books with magical training and deeper dives into how the magic actually works (which is exactly why Stonebearer’s Apprentice exists – I had to have that element in my own series). In the Magician’s Gambit training sequence, there’s a hilarious bit where Garion tries to move a boulder and ends up burying himself neck deep in the ground. There’s also this idea of spending eons studying something small, such as a feather, until it becomes more than an item but a study in studying.

As with all good stories, each of the stakes are raised as the party moves into more dangerous situations among more violent people. I mentioned that there had to be a critical change in the goal because this is the middle book in the series, and that change happens in a way that doesn’t feel forced, which is always nice. The party finally recovers the Orb, and now the remaining books of the series will be spent returning it to its rightful place.

There is still a feel of a fantasy trope checklist being checked off as the story moves from land to land. A pitfall of many fantasy stories is that they get stuck in one place. Part of the wonder in any fantasy novel is the nature of the place where the characters must move closer to their goals. When there are no new elements or places to explore, the interest of the story falls solely on the shoulders of the characters and their problems, which is more challenging.

Recomendations

The story, which up to this point has plenty of adventure and some peril, takes a darker turn as we get closer to the malice of the big villain that eventually must be conqured, Torak. The monsters get uglier, the motives behind actions get more malicious, and the bad guys get stronger. That said, this is still a safe read for young teens and up.

I give Magician’s Gambit 4/5 stars for being entertaining, although there are a few slow bits.

Dive straight into the next review of the next book in the series:


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Magician’s Gambit today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings

As with most multibook series, the middle few books tend to do more than their fair share of escalating the stakes as they approach a much bigger problem, without actually facing that problem head on. Queen of Sorcery is a fun romp through all the many lands that make up Garion’s world as they come closer to recovering the legendary orb. If you missed the review of book one, click here.

The Story

Garion is no longer a naive teenager. Yay. He’s now a somewhat naive young man with a lot to prove, and not a lot of experience to draw on. So, it makes total sense for him kick off the story in a duel and then go on to try to break up an assassination attempt of neighboring duchy’s king.

They go on to travel all sorts of places following more clues to find the orb, and end up in the middle of political intrigue after political intrigue. During one of these intrigues, the Princess Ce’Nedra disguises herself and joins their party.

Throughout the story, Garion is starting to learn how to use the Will and the Word, the magic system of the universe shared by Belgarath, Polgara, and the other sorcerers. Like I said before, he’s still a bit naive and when he tries to use this magic it only causes.

They encounter dryads, snake people, and a man who can change into a bear.

My Review

There are certain expectations when it comes to fantasy titles, and for Queen of Sorcery, it feels like Eddings is going through a checklist to see if he can get them all. Magic, check. People who transform into animals, check. Kings and political intrigues, check. Lands and kingdoms with wholly unique qualities to themselves, check. A stolen princess in disguise, check. A large wandering party composed of people all with varying unique skills, check. Lots of tavern meetings, check. Swords, check.

That said, it’s still a very enjoyable book. The characters are entertaining, especially Ce’Nedra, who has always been a favorite of mine. There’s a whole boob armor scene somewhere in the series where she complains about her armor not being flattering enough and wanting it to show that she indeed is a woman.

Eddings doesn’t pull back from making life hard for Garion either. The poor kid really can’t catch a break.

Recommendations

These books are perfect for the young adult fantasy reader. There’s adventure, danger, humor, and magic to keep things entertaining and nothing I would consider objectionable.

I give Queen of Sorcery 4/5 for not giving us a strong villain to contend with directly.

For the review of the next books in the series, here are some handy links:


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Queen of Sorcery today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.

Book Review: Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

We are going way back to my childhood and perhaps one of the first fantasy series I consumed like candy. Thankfully, there were plenty of these books to keep me occupied. Pawn of Prophecy starts a five book quintology and is followed up by another five book series, The Malloreon, which is not to be confused with the Mandalorian—like at all. There are also two standalone novels.

What’s interesting is at the time of writing David Eddings didn’t really want to write fantasy. He’d been writing adventure and thriller books when he noticed how many times the Lord of the Rings had been reprinted and decided that maybe there was something to this whole fantasy genre. And the rest is history.

The Story

Garion starts his story as many fantasy heroes do, as an orphan boy living on a farm. He’s awkward, charming, and has a strange dry voice in his head separate from his own consciousness. His Aunt Pol watches over him as he does all the typical teenage boy stuff, like getting into trouble and being shy about a girl he likes.

As with any good fantasy story, there is a traveling storyteller, nicknamed Wolf, who is not what he seems. Wolf arrives with the news that a precious object has been stolen and he must recover it, with the help of Aunt Pol, who is also not what she seems. The merry band follows a trail of clues and collects quite a few interesting characters along the way, including my personal favorite, a man named Silk or Kheldar, depending on who’s asking, who just happens to be a Drasnian prince/spy/thief.

When the group is arrested, Garion spots a mysterious individual in a green cloak who he suspects might be behind their difficulties. This figure is later exposed and in the process Garion barely escapes capture. He learns later that Aunt Pol is actually a powerful sorceress, and Wolf his grandfather who is also a wizard of sorts.

My Review

I remember these books as being a delightful adventure with plenty of interesting history and dark characters lurking around every corner. Whether or not they’d hold up to my withering scrutiny now is up for debate. I’d rather not risk it. One of the elements that I appreciate in Edding’s books, this one included, is that he doesn’t shy away from hurting the main character or give them too many good skills while everyone else just has to follow along. He also makes amazingly interesting characters with a lot of personality and heart.

As this book sets up the world, there is a rather lengthy prologue that gives some much needed context to why recovering the lost object is so important. The Belgariad is an exercise in worldbuilding, where the history of the world itself, and the creation of its gods is where the original problem starts. This adds quite a bit of complexity to the story, and I’ll admit as a young teen I couldn’t really keep the history straight. All you really need to know is that Asharak is the bad buy.

Recommendations

Again, I remember these to be excellent and I loved them as a young teen. I don’t recall there being any objectional material and the adventure and sense of peril elements come through the strongest. That said, at the time I was pretty naive myself so if there was any innuendo, I probably missed it entirely.

However, for the time period this was written, most fantasy tended to be very clean, so I’m fairly confident in recommending this to readers 10 and up.

I give Pawn of Prophecy 5/5 for making my childhood magical.

For the reviews of the next books in the series, here are some handy links:


Thank you for joining me as I reviewed Pawn of Prophecy today on the blog. If you enjoyed reading this review and would like to see more, please consider connecting with me by either following the blog here on WordPress, liking my Facebook page, or subscribing to my newsletter. As an added bonus, newsletter subscribers receive free books, stories, and special offers every week.