Author: David Eddings
Series: The Malorean #1
Rating: 2/5 stars
The Overview: A sequel to THE BELGARIAD, Garion has slain the evil God Torak, and fulfilled the prophecy. But suddenly another prophecy is foretold. Again a great evil is brewing in the East. And again Garion finds himself caught between two ancient Prophecies, with the fate of the world resting on him….
If my best friend ever sees this post I am going to be in big trouble! David Eddings is her all-time favorite author I feel like this review is going to come across as one big slap in the face. I certainly don’t mean it that way, but I also just did not enjoy Guardians of the West as much as I thought I was going to.
I read the Belgariad (the first five books in the saga) at least a decade ago and really liked them, so much so that I reread a couple of them before diving into this series (the Malorean). I knew the Malorean took place chronologically after the Belgariad, but had I known the storyline started almost immediately, containing all of the beloved characters from the first series, I would’ve picked it up a hell of a lot sooner. And I bet I would have enjoyed it a lot more, too. Back in the day, Eddings was one of the best fantasy authors I’d read. Now however, I still think he is a wonderful author, but he is nowhere near the top of my list.
I should start out by saying that I really enjoyed the essence of the story, and that’s probably the only reason why the book received two stars. So, while I thought it had great story elements, I did not enjoy some of the aspects regarding character. This was definitely a plot-driven novel, and I felt myself missing that inner growth and character development I’ve come to expect. Don’t get me wrong – the characters were all a lot of fun, maintaining the basics that made us fall in love with them in the first series, but I don’t remember a single passage where they were explored more than just on the surface level. It was kind of a bummer.
A similar issue revolved around the main character, Garion. The first series portrayed him as a humble boy destined to rid the world of evil. He asked a lot of questions and always had the knack for figuring things out. In this series that inquisitive nature was still with him, but there were several places within the story where he was so frustratingly dense I wanted to smack him. It was all things regarding his wife (and women in general), and I have a suspicion the author was going for comedic effect (i.e. even a really smart man can’t comprehend women). The problem is, in my eyes it regressed his character all the way back to when he was a juvenile. Then when the plot needed him to be his old, logical self, he was miraculously back to normal… and he wasn’t the only one I noticed this with. I could sum up all of my issues by saying: the characterization was inconsistent.
The final nail in the coffin was the pacing and plot structure. A whole lot of dialogue happens and a whole lot of tangents occur, but the basic plot points that make up the arc of the story filled up very little of the text. I have no problem with slow moving books, but unless a majority of the scenes are advancing the plot or developing character, I seldom enjoy them. And here I am, back to that character thing again – it really does make all the difference.
I wish I could say I liked this one a lot more than I did. I probably will not be continuing on in the series for a very long time (if at all). The good news is, I think this is yet another case where my opinion will be in the minority. If you’re in the mood for a decent fantasy story without a lot of depth, this would be a great one to try, although make sure you start with Pawn of Prophecy (which I actually really liked).
Other books you might like:
I actually read the Mallorean series first and then went back to read the Belgariad, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it works better that way round. The two series (as I recall) mirror each other closely, which may be why the pacing and structure and even characterisation seem oddly slow and shallow.
But I was young, and I loved the wizardry and gods and shape-changing and demons, blended with romance and humour. The ball of string that only had one end…
You know, I think if I’d continued reading right after finishing the Belgariad I would have really enjoyed this one, mostly because I was young as well when I first read it. I like the way you’ve describe it though, and wish I had focused more on the positives.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I find myself agreeing with all you say, I read the Belgariad when I was at school and loved it, for many of the same reasons as you, did not enjoy this as much, i think to be fair thought i have to say my tastes in what I read have changed as well.