Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Belgariad (and other books)

Well worn these books
I am think I was 13-14 when I first read Pawn of Prophecy, the first book in David Edding's Belgariad series.   I don't remember exactly when it was, but I do remember that I had to wait six long months towards the end for the last book to come out in paperback which places it in that time range.  I remember plowing through these books in long gulping weekends of reading and I remember they were just great fun.   I've read them a number of times since then and I've also read the follow ups and spin offs to the series which were way more formulaic and less interesting. The original run though, it was something.
I never knew that David Eddings was like 60 when he wrote this, I never would have guessed it.  For me it was exactly what 14 was meant to be and  re-reading it now makes me feel that way again.  I suppose if I was 60 I would take offense to this, 60 is probably closer to 14 than I suspect.

The Belgariad itself is a pretty straight forward journey quest, but it's well executed and the characters are fun to be around for the while you spend with them.  The writing is approachable and the world seems to hang together quite nicely.  Even the second trilogy, the Mallorean, is not a terrible read - and if you miss the characters and don't mind seeing them pace through the same character arcs again, it's not a total waste of time to read them.  It's not until the prequels that things fall into that dreaded protagonist hellbore that causes good worlds to revolve tighter and tighter around the actions of a specific group of heroes or an author driven purpose - like Heinlein's multiverse madly striving to mate with itself.  I'd stay away from the prequels.

I've been trying to get my oldest daughter to read the Belgariad series because she has been reading lots of these new tween adventure fantasy series.  She's having a grand time reading all that crap and I thought she might get a kick out of these as well.  She had her Harry Potter moment already -that  common milestone these days for kids that manage to read books.  Now that she's hooked on reading, I figured that she might like to see some of the books that blew my mind when I was young.

It's a long planned out trap actually - there are so many good books that hit me full on in the gut between 13 and 20 that I want to get her to read, and all of them had what people might consider 'Harry Potter' or 'Game of Thrones' levels of impact on me growing up.  I can't imagine being in a head space where I'd say that a single series of books was as influential as the popular opinion attributes the Hunger Games or Harry Potter - because in my experience there was a never ending stream of them.  Joel Rosenberg's Sleeping Dragon (the Guardians of the Flame series), Steven Kings's The Stand, Frank Herbert's Dune series, Asimov's Foundation series or oh my lord -  The Gods Themselves,  Robert Heinlein's Moon is a Harsh Mistress and Stranger in a Strange Land, Ursula La Guin's Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, Pohl's Heechee Saga, Anne McCaffrey's Pern books, the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - oh just way way too many books and series to even list.  I have boxes of these books that I couldn't part with because they are associated with parts of my personality growing up.  These books defined me.  I have too many of these books. I had to take some and box them up for lack of shelf space.  So many of them come from those early years, and I have pull them out on occasion and re-read them - so I can remember who I am and who I wanted to be.

And people keep coming out with new ones.


  1. See this is the problem. Not only do I have boxes of great books I want to read again, I also have boxes of books I still have yet to read a first time. And then I get waylaid in Chapters by the seductive cover of yet another tome.

    And I have that line up of books that I'd love my daughters to discover as well.

  2. There are so many great books that I wish I found earlier. I read so much bad fantasy and sf in my ten years.