Friday 28 July 2017

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Review: Guardians of the West by David Eddings

Guardians of the West by David EddingsGuardians of the West by David Eddings (Borrowed) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the previous series, the Belgariad. Read no further if you're planning on reading the Belgariad and don't want it spoilt for you.

Warned by the prophecy that a new and greater danger threatens the lands of the west, Garion, Belgarath and Polgara must begin another quest to save the lands from great evil.

Three years have passed since Garion's killing of the evil god Torak and his marriage to Ce'Nedra. He is now Overlord of the West, slowly learning how to cope with the duties of a king and to overcome the difficulties within his marriage.

When the Orb of Aldur warns Garion to 'Beware Zandramas!' the Voice of Prophecy reveals that somewhere in the unknown land of the East the Dark Prophecy still exists and that great new dangers threaten.

While Belgarath and Garion seek to uncover the nature of this threat, Garion's baby son is kidnapped. All evidence points to the loathsome Bear-cult, which has gained power once more, and Garion leads an army bent on its destruction. But there are even more sinister forces at work, and Garion and his followers must look towards the malign and mysterious evil of Zandramas. Their quest must begin again.
From Goodreads.

Up until now, every book I've read this month has been a disappointment, one way or the other. Wanting to read something I knew I would enjoy, I decided to go for a re-read of an old favourite. Guardians of the West by David Eddings is the first book in the Malloreon, a follow up series to the Belgariad. I re-read the Belgariad a couple of years back, without continuing to the Malloreon, and so decided to read this series this time round.

Guardians of the West starts off with a prologue, which is an extract from a history book about events of the world, and it's basically a summary of what happened in the last series, including the history that led to those events. This is pretty awesome, because if it's been a while since you read the Belgariad, you get a nice refresher going in. However, the Belgariad is the series that got me into reading, so I've re-read it a number of times now, and the storyline, for the most part, is pretty firmly in mind. I still enjoyed reading it, and think it's a nice touch.

For about half the book, nothing much really happens, and I felt a little disappointed. I've also re-read this series a number of times, and knowing what happens, I was eager for the story to get going, but things have to be set up. It's interesting to see the day to day lives of the characters we've come to know - first with Errand's first person narration, and then back to Garion's - but it was a bit slow. It's only once a close adviser to Garion is murdered, and later, his and Ce'Nedra's son Geran is abducted that things start to get moving. Along with the Alorn Kings, they wage war on the Bear-cult who they believe to be responsible - the Bear-cult tried to frame King Anheg of Cherek of the murder, and a group of Chereks were found after the Orb followed Geran's trail on Riva. Informed that the Bear-cult want Geran to raise him to be the mighty King the Alorns need to conquer all of the West - Tolnedra and Nyissa, especially - who will come back and kill Garion and Ce'Nedra.

The battle on Rheon in Drasnia, where the stronghold of the Bear-cult is based, is awesome! It's so well thought-out and strategised, and even when it looks like things are going to go terribly wrong for them, it's just so clever! It's one of the things I love about Eddings' books; while they generally focus on a small cast of characters on a quest, when it comes to war, there's so much clever strategy; the Kings coming together to have their forces come at an enemy from different sides, or different methods of warfare favoured by the various peoples allied with Garion, and how they use them together to get the upper hand. I just find it so fascinating and clever. I think it's one thing to write a fantasy quest story, but to write a war is something else. And I think Eddings does it brilliantly.

However, as I've read this story before a few times, I know where it's going, and so, although I enjoyed Guardians of the West, I was more eager for the quest side of things to get moving. That side of things I find the most exciting, but it did take a while. Even so, I still enjoyed Eddings' writing, being back in this world, and being back with these characters I love so much. I pretty much flew through it, and immediately started the second book, King of the Murgos. I'm home again.

Add to Goodreads

Published: 6th December 2012 (1992 my edition - originally published in 1985)
Publisher: Corgi Books
David Eddings' Website

My reviews of the Belgariad:
Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad Book 1)
Queen of Sorcery (The Belgariad Book 2)
Magician's Gambit (The Belgariad Book 3)
Castle of Wizardry (The Belgariad Book 4)
Enchanter's Endgame (The Belgariad Book 5)

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