Sunday 30 July 2017

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Review: King of the Murgos by David Eddings

King of the Murgos by David EddingsKing of the Murgos by David Eddings (Borrowed) - WARNING! I cannot review this book without spoiling the others in the series. Read no further if you're planning on reading this series and don't want it spoilt for you.

In this second book of The Malloreon, Garion and Ce'Nedra continue the quest begun in Guardians of the West. In their party travel the immortal Belgarath the Sorcerer, his daughter Polgara the Sorceress, and the little Drasnian, Silk.

Garion knows that it is the mysterious figure Zandramas who is responsible for the abduction of his infant son, and he and his companions journey many miles and encounter many strange beings in their search for him.

Their way leads through the foul swamps of Nyissa, ruled over by the Snake-Queen, and on into the dark kingdom of the Murgos, where human sacrifices are still made to the dead god Torak. Further on, however, even beyond those forbidding lands, they must face the ultimate danger - not only to themselves but to all mankind...
From Goodreads.

In King of the Murgos by David Eddings, the second book in the Malloreon, Garion and his friends' quest to find find his abducted son - and the final meeting between the Child of Light and the Child or Dark, as foretold by the prophecies - finally begins. And, oooh, it's still just as exciting as it was the first time I read it!

In the first book, Guardians of the West, we learnt about Harakan, an underling of Urvon, a former disciple of Torak, who had managed to take control of the Bear-cult and scheme to murder Garion's wife Ce'Nedra and kill their son Geran - not abduct, that had Garion and the Alorn armies going after the Bear-cult. In this book, we learn about Naradas, an Angarak with only white for irides. We do not yet know who he is working for, but he has been causing all kinds of trouble in the West, throwing obstacles in Garion and his friends' path. Still, they manage to make it to Cthol Murgos under the guise of slavers, when they are captured by the Dagashi, highly trained Murgo assassins, who have a task for a group of slavers - to go to Rak Hagga by ship, including another person in their party. They end up at the Drojim palace, where they meet the King of Cthol Murgos, Urgit.

I loved this book! I loved meeting Urgit again, and having the group of friends get to know him and help him as a King. Urgit not a bad man, Garion is disappointed to find, but he is a weak King, and is bullied around by his staff. He's nothing like the Murgos the group has ever met in the past, and has no desire to be the King his father, Taur Urgas, was. I just really like him, and, knowing where the story goes from reading the series previously, I enjoyed all the surprises that occurred along the way.

However, there were a number of things that happened in this book that I had completely forgotten about. I knew that the group would meet Urgit, I just couldn't remember how that happened, so being captured by the Dagashi and the events that led to the group meeting Urgit were a surprise, as was pretty much everything that happened after leaving the Drojim palace. I remembered pieces; I knew the group would meet certain people at some point in the story, but I didn't know when - which book - or how. All those details had been lost to me over the years, so it was great to rediscover the story again. It was almost like reading it again for the first time, and I was completely captivated.

I have to say, being a feminist now, I'm noticing the misogyny in Guardians of the West and King of the Murgos than I did in previous reads. But I'm actually really enjoying how it's done. Whenever I read a male character being sexist, I immediately get angry, but as each instance goes on, it's made very clear what Eddings thinks of these characters views, and that character is always made a mockery of.  One example from Guardians of the West; King Rhodar of Drasnia dies, but his son and heir, Prince Kheva, is only six years old. The other Alorn Kings - Garion, Cho-Hag of Algeria, and Anheg of Cherek - must decide what should be done. The obvious choice to Garion and Cho-Hag is for Queen Porenn, Rhodar's wife and Kheva's mother, to act as Queen Regent until Kheva is old enough to rule, not just because of who she is, but because of how capable she is. Anheg has a problem with this, though. A woman can't rule. It's not so much that he thinks Porenn can't do it, but that he's uncomfortable with a woman ruling a country. Eddings manages to make him look such a fool as Garion and Anheg criticise his objections, and it's actually quite an amusing moment. Another example in King of the Murgos is when Polgara has to do something (can't say, spoilers) that she really struggles with. She is unhappy and feels guilty, and hates that it was something she had to do. When talking to Garion, Belgarath criticises her, putting it down to the compassion of women, implying that compassion is a weakness, and men don't bother themselves with compassion. But Garion points out some Belgarath did in the first series with Mordai's Fenlings, where he gave them the power of human speech, something that he wouldn't gain from or give him any advantage in their quest at that time, something he did for Mordai out of compassion. Being reminded makes Belgarath embarrassed, and Garion gently scolds and mocks him for his folly in criticising Polgara. Being a Medieval England based high fantasy, I think the misogyny is actually realistic (though of course, authors could write fantasy without the real life prejudices the time is inspired by), but I love that each instance of misogyny and sexism is shown to be ridiculous. It feels like Eddings is saying, "Look at these stupid men!" and is laughing with us and the characters.

I really enjoyed reading King o the Murgos, and with that ending, I'm really looking forward to where the story goes next in Demon Lord of Karanda!

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Published: 30th December 2014 (My addition 1993, originally published in 1988)
Publisher: Harper Voyager
David Eddings' Website

My other reviews from the series:
Guardians of the West (The Malloreon Book 1)

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