Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Enchanters' End Game

by David Eddings


At the start of this novel, after the characteristic Biblical-style prologue, our hero Garion is once again on the road. There's a Prophecy to fulfil, and if Garion doesn't make it come true then a second, conflicting Prophecy will prevail and the dark god Torak will rise up and take over. Having two Prophecies does seem like cheating a little bit, but at least it allows some uncertainty to creep in to the proceedings.

So Garion, the wizard Belgarath and the spy Silk are up to their old tricks once more: sneaking around in disguise, riding out, and generally questing. Their party is much smaller than before, the larger part having split off to do other things. This leads to plenty of opportunities for getting into trouble with enemy priests, tribal summoners and army recruiters, and having to get by without much backup.

Elsewhere Princess Ce'Nedra is busy raising an army and moving it into position. The kings and queens of the west are busy making treaties and politicking for all they're worth in readiness for the battles to come, so for readers who love intrigue there's plenty to get stuck into. Ce'Nedra is still rather naive and easily bored, and in no way a born war leader. But if her armies can't hold back the forces of the Angaraks then all of their earlier struggles will have been futile. And even if the western armies prevail, does Garion have what it takes to kill a god?

Enchanters' End Game is well-paced, and it offers up a decent range of imaginative situations. You're never at a loss for a magical artefact, a metamorphosis, an evil priest or a demonic creature. There's a lot happening. At the same time the story is extremely simple. It's a struggle between good and evil, where the question of who is righteous and why we should root for one side over the other is very sharply defined. Readers aren't asked to think critically about the story. It's all about the escapism, and leaving knotty moral dilemmas for the drab old real world.

Even the atmosphere is dealt with in a heavy-handed way. The closer we get to evil, the more rotten, decaying and forbidding a place will become. There's no mistaking how we're meant to feel about Torak and his minions.

So in spite of all the magic that gets chucked around, the Belgariad concludes with a whole lot of drama and fanfare, but few real surprises. It's somewhat stirring, sickly-sweet on occasion, and intellectually undemanding.

16th April 2010

Book Details

Decade: 1980s

Categories: Books

  Male Protagonist  

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