The Diamond Throne by David Eddings - Sparhawk, Pandion Knight and Queen's Champion, returns from a long spell of exile to find his native land overrun with evil and intrigue - and his young Queen grievously ill. Indeed, Ehlana lies magically entombed within a block of crystal, doomed to die unless a cure can be found within the year.
But as Sparhawk and his allies - who include Sephrenia, he ageless sorceress, and Flute, the strange and powerful girl-child - seek to save Ehlana and the land, they discover that evil is even greater and more pervasive than they had feared...
Truly a gem of epic fantasy from the modern master of the genre, The Diamond Throne will delight existing legions of Eddings fans - and gain him further devoted myriads of enchanted readers. From the blurb.
I've been having trouble with reading lately, with nothing quite grabbing my interest or seeming to have inconsequential problems in relation to what's going on in my own life. So I decided to pick up The Diamond Throne by David Eddings, the first in the Elenium trilogy, and re-read series I knew would allow me to escape my own head and bring me comfort.
After the death of her father, Queen Ehlana is now on the throne, and so Sparhawk, Pandion knight and Queen's champion, returns from exile to serve his Queen. Only upon his return he finds Ehlana ill, on the verge of death, and kept alive through sorcerery, encased in diamond on her throne. Primate Annias of Cimmura has named Ehlana's bastard cousin Lycheas Prince Regent, and has a firm hold on him and his hands in the royal coffers, plotting, scheming and bribing to make sure he's elected as Archprelate of Elenia when the current Archprelate Cluvonus dies. It's a race against time to find a cure for Ehlana and stop Annias, but a cure is hard to find. The more Sparhawk and his companions search, the more they unearth about how far Annias has gone and that evil is stalking the land, and Sparhawk, once more.
Oh, how I love these books! It must be over ten years since I last read this trilogy, and so, although I remember the general story arc of the series, I had forgotten the finer details of each individual book. So re-reading The Diamond Throne, apart from a few aspects, was almost like picking up a completely new book. I do love the intrigue and politics that Eddings is able to weave into his high fantasy, along with the magic and the fighting. Edding's truly knew how to write an epic story.
The Diamond Throne is very much a character led story, and the band of characters we have here are awesome. Sparhawk, our protagonist, is strong and sometimes ruthless, but he's got a good head on his shoulders and is deeply loyal to the Queen and his faction of knights. Kalten, a fellow Pandion and Sparhawk's childhood friend, provides most of the humour in this book, being one who doesn't take life too seriously. Kurik, Sparhawk's squire, is strong and dependable, a solid, responsible (ish) man. Talen, a young thief that falls into their company along the way, is so funny, sneaky and cheeky, but good at what he does. Berit, the novice knight who's heart is in the right place, but sometimes makes mistakes. The magical element of this story is that all church knights are taught the secrets of Stricum, the Styrics being a race that practise magic. Sephrenia, the Pandion knights tutor in the secrets, is a wonderful, wonderful character you can't help but love; small and motherly, she cares deeply for those around her, but is incredibly powerful! And then the mysterious, mute little Styric child they call Flute. She's adorable! And I'm really looking forward to discovering more about her (again!) in the books to come! And a few other knights from the other Church knights factions join them, who are also pretty amazing.
The Diamond Throne is 496 pages long, but from what I remember of the trilogy, it seems this is just starting the trilogy off. Saying that, though, a lot does happen in this novel, and I was gripped all over again. Such a fantastic trilogy, so looking forward to continuing it!
Published: 1990 (my copy)
David Eddings' Website