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The Elder Gods
David and Leigh Eddings
Harpercollins Voyager, 424 pages

The Elder Gods
David and Leigh Eddings
David Eddings spent much of his life in the United States Army, as a buyer for the Boeing Company, has been a grocery clerk, and has taught college English in various parts of the United States. His first novel, High Hunt (published in 1973), was a contemporary adventure story. Soon the field of fantasy called and thus began a remarkable publishing career. His series, The Belgariad -- consisting of Pawn of Prophecy (1982), Queen of Sorcery (1982), Magician's Gambit (1983), Castle of Wizardry (1984) and Enchanter's Endgame (1984) -- and The Malloreon -- Guardians of the West (1987), King of the Murgos (1988), Demon Lord of Karanda (1988), The Sorceress of Darshiva (1989), and The Seeress of Kell (1991) -- along with Belgarath the Sorcerer (1995) and Polgara the Sorceress (1997) have firmly established him and his wife, Leigh, among the best selling fantasy novelists in recent memory.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Polgara The Sorceress

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steve Lazarowitz

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I've been reviewing books for a long time and tend not to ramble. I say what I think without much apology or preamble, except perhaps to point out similarities with other books written by the same author or in the same genre. This review, is going to be a bit different. The reason for this is because I can't quite make up my mind about how I feel about The Elder Gods.

There are some extremely interesting concepts in this book. Imagine a set of gods ruling a land called Dhrall in shifts. One group of gods rules each territory, while a second group sleeps for eons, then there is sort of deity changing of the guard. Now imagine some of those sleeping gods return to the world as children called Dreamers, somehow set up by one of the waking gods, to fulfill an ancient prophecy in a time of great need. What might drive a god to such measures?

In a great wasteland in Dhrall, there is a creature referred to as "the Thing That's Called Vlaugh". Loosely put, this is the bad guy, evil on all levels, who wants to take over the world. Evil people always seem to want to take over the world and the thing that's called Vlaugh is no different, which, I suppose, is one of my problems with the fantasy genre in general in recent years. There's always something evil and it always wants to take over the world. I know a lot of evil people in real life, and they've very happy just destroying those around them without the added responsibility of governing a larger area of reality. But I digress.

The gods, of course, can't directly interfere with the Thing That's Called Vlaugh for reasons or rules of their own, which are never quite specified. This irked me a little, and I wish I knew a bit more about it. As this is the first book of a series, I'm sure I'm likely to find out more as time goes on. Please note, this is also not an uncommon theme in fantasy.

The final problem I have with the book, is that I didn't really feel tension at any time. I didn't feel the main characters were in enough danger to warrant real concern. To this point, this may seem like a negative review.

Yet there are hints of what is yet to come. This being the first book of a series, it recounts but a single battle of a longer war and the troubles surrounding that battle. The setup is perfect to do some really ingenuous things only hinted at in this book. In other words, this is the introduction to a long series of fantasy books and as such, most of the book is setup. If the series goes the way I think it's going to go, it's going to be a very good series.

Of course the characters were entertaining, well-motivated and did all the other things you've come to expect from David and Leigh Eddings. The story is only just starting, but the characters are so much fun, you won't really notice. That's until the book ends and you realize, hey wait, I was having fun!

The characters range from eccentric godlike beings, to elemental incarnations of the earth, sea and moon, from primitive tribesmen that reminded me somewhat of Native Americans to greedy pirates and Roman-like soldiers, not to mention quite a few others that are as amusing as they are well-developed. Of course, in a David and Leigh Eddings creation, I would expect nothing less.

See that's why this review is so disjointed. There were times when The Elder Gods seemed to lag and I just wanted to get on with it already and just when I was really starting to like it, it was over, which isn't a problem in a series of any length.

Overall, I enjoyed the end of the book more than the beginning and now have to wait. Will I continue reading the series? You can bet on it. But you know how that goes. I'm ready to read it NOW!

To summarize, while I feel the book got off to a slow start, it was fun anyway and I would recommend it to anyone who likes the fantasy genre. If you're looking for something a bit different or something with a bite, you won't find it here -- at least not yet. But the jury, I'm afraid, is still out until I read the rest of the series.

Copyright © 2004 Steve Lazarowitz

Steve Lazarowitz is a speculative fiction writer, an editor, a father, a husband, an animal lover and a heck of a nice guy (not necessarily in that order). Steve lives in Moonah, Tasmania with his family and four giant spiny leaf insects. You can check out his work at http://www.dream-sequence.net.


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