If you haven’t noticed from my book choices, I’m a big fan of fantasy literature. Ever since reading The Hobbit, I’ve been hooked. So after browsing the fantasy/sci-fi section of the bookstore the other day, I decided on David Eddings’ Pawn of Prophecy. I’d heard good things about it before, so my expectations were pretty high.
I hate to say this, but I was more than a little disappointed.
(As always, there will be spoilers.)
Pawn starts off promisingly enough with an interesting (albeit slightly dry) prologue about an evil god, an orb, and a wizard. Though perhaps not entirely original, I liked the idea of real gods existing within the physical world, almost in a Greek or Norse mythology sort of way. Furthermore, it seemed like a promising setup for some fun action.
Next, we are introduced to Garion, a young boy living in a small village with his stern Aunt Pol. Both are solid characters, though Aunt Pol’s dominating personality grows tiresome as the book progresses, and Garion comes off as much younger than fourteen. His overall tone and constant acquiescence to his aunt just screams child to me, maybe an eight or nine or ten year old. Perhaps this is intentional on the part of Eddings, but either way, I feel that Garion’s behavior is inconsistent with his age.
Later on we meet a handful of other secondary players. Silk is my favorite of these; a sly, quick-witted man with a strong resemblance to a rat. Later on we find that he is a prince who has spurned his royalty in favor of a life on the road. He’s a very compelling character who is tragically underused by the author. More of that witty humor could’ve done wonders to a book that is mostly a dry travelogue.
That brings me to my next point: far too much travel, far too little action. The constant journeying of The Lord of the Rings is acceptable because there is a strong enough setting to support it. The setting of Pawn of Prophecy is decidedly less interesting, resembling a watered-down Middle Earth rather than a unique universe. Furthermore, the traveling in LOTR is broken up by moments of intense action, such as the episode in the Mines of Moria or the attack by the Uruk-Hai at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. No such action to be found in Pawn, unless you count that lame boar attack in the woods.
Furthermore, the descriptions are a bit clunky from time to time, and occasionally the dialogue feels completely ridiculous. For example, when Old Wolf comments on the attention Aunt Pol is drawing in one scene, she responds with the following: “Don’t grow parsimonious in your dotage.” I’m sorry, but when the word “parsimonious” doesn’t even have a correction on spell check, it’s time to think of a new adjective.
All in all, Pawn of Prophecy has its enjoyable moments, but they are too few and far between to make it truly compelling.