Not that we got free time for that. I don't know that I even opened Pawn of Prophecy on that trip. I had another week long trip a few weeks later, and I took the books on that trip with me, too. Somewhere during the summer, I made it through the first three books, and, then, just after school started, I got sick and missed a couple of days, and I read the last two books on those two days I was home from school. I laid in bed and read, and it was awesome. It was awesome because The Belgariad is awesome. Seriously, The Belgariad may be the greatest fantasy series ever written other than The Lord of the Rings. Eddings had a lifelong fan. At least, that's what I thought.
[I could go into why Belgariad is so great, but there's not really time to do that in this post. You should just go read it. Unless you don't like fantasy, but, then, I don't know what to say to you, anyway.]
A couple of years later, Guardians of the West came out, part one of The Malloreon, a new five part series. Because I didn't want to have to wait a year or more between books, I waited until the entire series was out before I read it (although I bought them as each was released), then I re-read The Belgariad (just as good!) followed by The Malloreon. Now, The Malloreon was good, but it was good mostly because of getting to visit characters I loved again. It didn't cover any new ground; in fact, it was pretty much the same plot as the first series. But, you know what, I didn't care.
The problem came with the next series... The Elenium (3 books instead of 5 and not related to Belgariad) had come out during the same time period as The Malloreon, but I hadn't read that one, either, because I wanted to read Malloreon first. I went right into it, though, after I read Malloreon. And it was the same thing I'd already read. Eddings juggled the characters up some, but, essentially, it was The Belgariad all over again. I liked it well enough, but The Belegariad had been awesome! while The Elenium was just a pale copy.
And that was followed by The Tamuli, the 3-book sequel to Elenium, and it was also the same thing! Just the same plot over and over again. I was getting frustrated, especially since the characters from the two trilogies weren't as engaging as the ones from Belgariad.
But I stuck with him.
Let's jump back a bit. One of the reasons I was able to hold on is that while I was waiting for The Tamuli, I went back and read his first two books. The first was High Hunt, which came out almost a full decade before Pawn of Prophecy. It was about a group of guys on a hunting trip and, while not great, it was a good book. The other was a book called The Losers about a football player (if I'm remembering correctly) that lost his legs in a car accident. This book was also written in the 70s, but it wasn't published until Eddings had met with success through Belgariad. The Losers was an incredible book, and I'd actually like to go back and read it again. As soon as I figure out where my copy is. What I learned is that Eddings was actually capable of some other plot beyond the plot from Belgariad which, by the end of Tamuli, he'd used four times, so, see, I had hope.
And I thought that hope had paid off.
Two books came out in 2000: Regina's Song and The Redemption of Althalus. Regina's Song was actually an attempt at a different genre, so I really hoped for something good. And, true, the plot was new (for Eddings), BUT!
There was this character from Belgariad that was just everyone's favorite: Silk. Silk is the smart mouthed rogue of the group. Witty. Clever. Bad boy. I can count on two fingers the number of people I've known that would name any other character as their favorite. Where Eddings got Silk right, though, was not that witty banter but the flaws. Silk was not a perfect character. But the reaction to the character was all about the charisma and the cleverness, and the farther along in Eddings career we got from Silk the more every character became Silk, I assume from an effort by Eddings to recreate that chemistry from Belgariad. However, none of these newer characters were flawed. What we got was clever, perfect characters.
And that came to a critical mass in Song as every character spent their time trying to out clever every other character, and it was just too much. No one talks like that all the time, but all of these characters did, and it drove me crazy. It was a constant one-upmanship. [Remember this bit, because it's going to be important in an upcoming review. Yes, I will refer back to just this topic of too much cleverness.] Basically, it drove all the realism from the story and was the first time the writing in a book was "too clever" for me. Of course, it was clever in a completely predictable manner, so, maybe, it wasn't clever at all. So there was all of that and the fact that, although a horror novel was new to Eddings, he did nothing new with it, and the whole thing was completely predictable, and, if it hadn't been Eddings, I would have thrown it against the wall.
For some unknown reason, I read Althalus when that came up, and, even though it was just the one book, it was Belgariad all over again, coupled with every character attempting to be like Silk, and I probably should have jumped up and down and screamed, but, instead, I just wanted to cry, because... because... well, THE BELGARIAD! And that was when I quit calling Eddings one of my favorite authors and only started saying that The Belgariad was one of my favorite series of books.
But it was a hard thing. And I wonder why, now, but, at the same time, I understand why.
At any rate, when his final series came out, The Dreamers, I looked at it long enough to verify that it was, once again, The Belgariad, and I put it back.See, you would never put back a book by your favorite author, right? And that was the end. I wouldn't suggest Eddings, as an author, to anyone, although I still think that anyone that likes fantasy should Belgariad. Both of my boys have read it, upon my suggestion, and loved it. My younger son has gone on to some of his other stuff but has agreed that, other than Malloreon (because you get to spend more time with Garion and company), there's not much point.
Why am I talking about all of this? A couple of reasons, actually:
- As I said, I have a book review coming up that reminded me of my experience with Song, and I figured I should supply some background as to why the whole "too clever" thing annoyed me.
- Eddings, through Belgariad, had a huge impact on me, but, then, the thought of the way I want to write came up, and I do not want to be like Eddings. I don't want to get stuck on one thing because it was successful, and I want to reproduce it. Eddings just stopped growing as a writer, and I don't want to be that way.
- Which is not to say I wouldn't want to write something as wonderful as The Belgariad, because I totally would. But I don't want to do it by accident, which, really, is what I think happened with Eddings. It's sort of like making the perfect chocolate cake because you measured something incorrectly and, then, spending the rest of your life trying to reproduce your error.