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Polgara The Sorceress
David and Leigh Eddings
Del Rey, 643 pages

Polgara The Sorceress
David 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.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Wayne MacLaurin

David Eddings firmly established himself as one of the most popular fantasy authors with the success of the The Belgariad and The Malloreon (together encompassing ten books). This success continued into a second series, the The Elenium and The Tamuli (six books).

At that point Eddings could have written just about anything and his fans would have bought it. But, what readers really wanted were more of The Belgariad books. Since the numerous more obvious plot threads had been neatly tied up, Eddings took a different approach and gave his fans a look at the history of The Belgariad with a series of prequels. It was also at this point that David Eddings revealed that his wife Leigh had been contributing to his novels for years and, finally, got marquee billing.

Belgarath the Sorcerer was the first of these prequels and related a lengthy tale as told by the oldest of the characters, Belgarath. It was a massive hit and a great read.

This time around, Polgara (daughter of Belgarath) relates her version of the tale that led to the events of The Belgariad. Like its predecessor, this is a lengthy tale spanning thousands of years of history. Some of these years are related in detail while others rush by. Polgara's influence in the politics of Arendia and Sendaria and how she came to be Duchess of Erat take up a great deal of the novel. It serves to show how Polgara's character developed up to the point where she accepted the role of protector of the Rivan King. From that point, the novel takes on a slightly more serious tone as the harrowing tales of Polgara avoiding the agents of Torak are told.

If anybody is wondering if there is a point to telling the same tale twice, the answer is yes. Belgarath and Polgara tell two very different versions of the same story. The Eddings state right off that these are two different tales, and since they are told by two different characters, it's up to the reader to decided who's remembering a truer version of events. Of course, this makes it much easier to deal with continuity problems...

Perhaps the greatest difference is the revelation of Poledra's influence in the course of history. Belgarath had believed his wife to have died for many thousands of years. Polgara, we discover (on page nineteen, so I'm not giving anything away), knew all along that Poledra was alive and well. It does put an interesting slant on things.

The Eddings' fantasy tends to have pretty simple plots, but I've always thought the reason that the Eddings have become so popular is the strength of their characters and the fabulous way that the novels seem familiar, even on the first read. This was evident in early works by the easy-going conversation and the gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) rivalries that existed between characters throughout their books. Polgara the Sorceress is no exception. The novel feels like it is being told by Polgara and is full of seemly personal comments to Belgarath, Silk, and others that really make the book a joy to read. These interludes are indicative of the style that makes the Eddings' work such a success, time and time again.

If you haven't read anything by these authors, Polgara the Sorceress is a good introduction, although it does make a few assumptions about the reader's knowledge of events in The Belgariad and The Malloreon. For those long-time fans, Polgara the Sorceress is a worthy addition to a growing collection. One hint: watch for some subtle clues as to what the Eddings' next books might be about.

Copyright © 1997 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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