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23 February 2013 @ 10:33 am
Recent Reads: Enchanters’ End Game  

Turns out ENCHANTERS’ END GAME has all kinds of POVs in it, mostly, in fact, of women. Well, no, not mostly: mostly it’s Garion. But every other POV is a female, because Eddings dips in around the West and visits the queens who are holding the thrones while their husbands are off fighting the big war.

Re-reading as an adult, I found that interesting for two reasons: one, it means every POV in the Belgariad that is not Garion’s is female, which–from the adult perspective–is fairly awesome. One wonders if that was his wife Leigh’s (whose name went on the much later Eddings books) doing, or if–well, honestly, it does simply make the most sense. Ce’Nedra’s a fairly obvious viewpoint character, since she’s the most important of them whose storyline doesn’t follow the same physical path as Garion’s, and the kings’ activities can be related through her gaze, since she’s with them. The queens, however, are entirely out of either Garion or Ce’Nedra’s line of sight, and they’re doing important things, so bringing them in as viewpoint characters makes sense.

Two, it means that Eddings presented a totally different series of points of view in the final book, which is, like, Not Allowed. Readers have certain expectations, dammit! You can’t go around messing with them! …except apparently you can. So that’s kind of cool from a writer’s POV, ’cause hey, look, perhaps one can get away with that kind of thing.

I also realized on this re-read that although my youthful perception was that this story was done, upon reflection it’s clear Eddings never intended The Belgariad to be the whole story. He always intended The Malloreon to follow it. All the threads are in place, and while I, like many others, might object to the fact that he wrote the same story again (and again, and again; Eddings is an excellent demonstration of Robin McKinley’s theory that perhaps at the heart of it we all only have one story to tell), there is the fact that he wrote that same story many times to huge success. His books, and that story, with its faintly different trappings, were and are immensely popular. There may be a lesson there, for those of us who do this for a living.

Lastly, my reaction to the whole series is: my goodness, those are straight-forward books. I’d forgotten how much of them is about Collecting Each Token (a character from each race), Visiting Each King, etc. There’s nothing really devious about any of it, though this is not meant as a slight: I spent a little while imagining these books as written today, GRRM-style, and while you could *do* it…

…well, you wouldn’t have the Belgariad when you were done, and that would be a shame, because despite their flaws, these are still entertaining, delightful reads that I would not hesitate to recommend to any fantasy reader.

(x-posted from The Essential Kit)

Jason Drakejasondrake on February 23rd, 2013 01:33 pm (UTC)
Formula stories aren't necessarily bad ones
No Xtink is Xtink.: readinggoingferal on February 23rd, 2013 05:50 pm (UTC)
I've enjoyed your re-read reviews. I read this series many years ago and remember loving them--but really have had no idea how it would hold up on re-read.
Catherinesharpwords on February 23rd, 2013 11:19 pm (UTC)
I'm re-reading the Belgariad now. This is all your fault. Only read 'Pawn of Prophecy' so far but it's really interesting to read it with a writer's eye rather than an accepting-of-anything-teenager's eye.

You're right, it's all very simple. And very tick the boxes. But fantasy has advanced so far since it was written, that it's one of those series which we look at as being cliched now... but is cliched because an awful lot of later work owes it a debt. IMO, anyway.
Herefoxherefox on February 25th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
I was always amused by the fact the CHARACTERS in the Mallorean realize it's the same story and present a reason for this being the case.

I do love the Mallorean though, it's nice to revisit the characters.

One thing that always....well, not bothered me, exactly, but made me wonder...

Ce'Nedra is likely, barring accidents to live several hundred years and Garion is likely immortal...do they really NEED an heir to the throne that badly? Although on suspects after 20-30 years of being king Garion might get tired of it and want Geran to take over. Who knows if Ce'Nedra will have mellowed enough by then to let him ;-)