Science fiction and fantasy
Queen of Sorcery
by David Eddings
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.
If you like this, try:Storms of Vengeance by John Beachem
The first book in the epic fantasy series The Lorradda Stone.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
In the first episode of the Inheritance series a farm boy discovers an egg that will change his future.
Myrren's Gift by Fiona McIntosh
The first novel in the Quickening series finds a young general given a strange gift by a woman condemned for witchcraft.
Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about David Eddings