Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Queen of Sorcery

by David Eddings


Queen of Sorcery takes up the story of Garion, Belgarath and Polgara as they journey around the kingdoms of the west. They're on the trail of Zedar, a sorcerer who has stolen a magical artefact known as the Orb of Aldur. If the prophecies are accurate, the evil god Torak is due to awaken and try to take over the world, and the Orb has something to do with it.

So the small party are on the move, gathering intelligence and allies. These include Hettar, a ninja-like man able to communicate eith horses on a psychic level, and an impulsive and somewhat dumb young swordsman called Lelldorin. They also meet Ce'Nedra, a tiny and spoilt princess with a touch of Dryad blood.

Another character to join the party is Sir Mandorallen, and overbearing and egotistical Mimbrate knight. David Eddings almost seems to be sending himself up with this creation, a man who appears to be a caricature of the ideal knight from the age of courtly love. The Mimbrates are people who affect exaggerated courtly manners and antiquated speech with lots of "thee" and "thou" and so on. Even in his love affairs Sir Mandorallen is like something out of Thomas Malory's Arthurian tales, tragic and unrequited thanks to an excess of honour.

This knight is a little more subtle than he seems at first, however. The same can be said of Queen of Sorcery, which develops the Belgariad series into something more than the pale imitation of Tolkien that it started out as. As the characters travel through the various kingdoms an element of political intrigue creeps into the narrative. However, each country is so different that there isn't much of a unifying theme to bind their adventures together. In Arendia issues of class and racial tolerance predominate, whereas the country of Tolnedra is affected by corruption and greed, and in the southern land of Nyissa slavery is the national vice. The way each country seems to represent a distinct political problem is a little formulaic, although they each in some way teach Garion something about life and leadership.

The group are hounded by Grolim priests, followers of Torak who go in for mind manipulation. Their quest also attracts the attention of Salmissra, the snake queen of Sthiss Tor. Salmissra has her own agenda, and part of the mystery is whether she will help or hinder the Grolims.

Garion is growing and changing, giving this novel a coming-of-age theme, and he's forced to confront aspects of himself that he's extremely uncomfortable with. Meanwhile Polgara engineers some obvious matchmaking, which more or less kills any suspense about the direction any romantic relationships will take during this series.

Queen of Sorcery follows Garion's adventures in ever more exotic places, and tension mounts as he approaches more challenging confrontations. The romance is quite flat, but there is at least an increased sense of mystery that makes this novel a slight improvement on Pawn of Prophecy. However, no matter how colourful its characters, many of the villains are too one-dimensional to truly engage readers, and as a whole the story falls short of being deep. It's light entertainment of passable quality, and that's as far as it goes.

Book Details

Decade: 1980s

Categories: Books

  YA     Fantasy
  Male Protagonist  

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3 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson

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