Science fiction and fantasy
by David Eddings
Some of the story is told from the point of view of the young, spoilt and none too bright Princess Ce'Nedra. She takes her time when it comes to figuring out what is going on around her, and this includes her slow recognition that Garion is more than a mere farm boy. Her growing affection for him is obvious to everyone but herself. Soon enough her obtuse nature gets tedious, however, and you end up wanting to hear the story from someone a bit more switched-on.
As in the first two books, the party of adventurers hurtle from place to place, constantly pursued by various followers of the evil god Torak. Two conflicting prophecies are due to converge, and Belgarath and Polgara are determined to save the world by ensuring that the right one will come true. So far we haven't heard many specifics other than who is supposed to be involved in them, so there's a sense that Eddings has been making things up as he goes along. For a novel that's so concerned with prophecy, there's a lot less foreshadowing than you might expect.
The villains of Magician's Gambit are disappointingly one-dimensional. Everything from their table manners to their choice of abode serves to emphasise their badness. Take, for instance, this description of the enemy fortress
"It perched, brooding, atop its peak, looking out over the savage wasteland of sand, rock, and sulfur-reeking bogs that encircled it."
This really isn't the kind of adventure that's big on subtlety, or characters with shades of grey when it comes to morality, or toned-down settings. Instead David Eddings treats readers to more of the same kind of action as he offered in the first two instalments of the series. Only by now, the formula is starting to wear thin. Ce'Nedra comes across as a little drippy, whilst most of the other characters are far too true to traditional stock types to be interesting. This episode of The Belgariad smacks of a filler novel. It's as though Eddings was merely going through the motions, and the end result is a joyless and tired story.
Review © Ros Jackson
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