Pawn Of Prophecy (New Year’s Resolution, Book Nineteen)

9780345335517How far behind am I on my resolution? I’m sure that I should be in the twenties by now, not one short of twenty.

So anyway… Pawn of Prophecy. It’s a bit of foundational document for the modern, multi-volume fantasy cycle, but no one really talks about it. Doesn’t have the cult following of some others. But certainly, there would be no Wheel of Time without it.

It has the usual trappings, an ordinary seeming boy who is far more than that. A guardian who is secretly an ancient sorceress. An old man who visits frequently, tells stories, and is actually a great wizard and shameless appropriation of poor old Gandalf. What David Eddings added is ordinary language. It’s deliberately down to earth. None of Tolkien’s rumbling influences of old Anglo-Saxon epics. Nor any of Michael Moorcock’s New Wave decadence. Nope. This is plain writing, and not it in a bad way. Yeah. I’ll say it, it’s better written than Jordan’s Wheel of Time.

It’s also a lot shorter. This first volume is just over 25o pages. It’s not breathlessly propulsive, but has a (cliche warning) brisk pace. I most admire the beginning. Seventy odd pages of the boy who will be something great (his name’s Garion, by the way) growing up on a farm. And it goes by quickly and pleasantly, not feeling like it’s slowing down the story nor wasting the reader’s time. And that’s an accomplishment not to be sniffed at.

So yeah, I’ll be reading book two.

I wanted to read this, in spite of desperately wanting not to get sucked into another multi-volume sci-fi/fantasy series because, if  you haunted the science fiction and fantasy shelves of Waldenbooks in Countryside in the eighties and nineties or browsed those sections in countless used bookstores, you saw these all the time. Their cover art is emblazoned on memory. Why didn’t I read them earlier? I don’t know. I picked up other books instead. I read book reviews from RPG magazines and exchanged suggestions with my chum, Matt. Somehow, Eddings, who was fairly prolific (he only died in 2009, though Pawn of Prophecy was published in 1982), never made it onto the list. So maybe I’m rectifying a youthful error.

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