My husband introduced this book to me as David Eddings was the author that inspired him to read more. Intrigued I decided to give the book a go. The Belgariad – Pawn of Prophecy is an old book, published 1983 and is the first of a 5 book series. This book is the set up for an epic adventure!
The prologue is powerful which sets the atmosphere, mystery and anticipation of an adventure from the start. David has created a legend where ancient gods live with humans peacefully until one god, Torak, became obsessed with a magical Orb and steals it. Like most myths and legends power and control are central themes and Torak represents the people who always want more, want more power and riches throughout history. But with power in every story, there are consequences, danger and unhappiness. E.g. in this story a happy world’s balance is upset and in Greek mythology, King Midas turns everything to gold but is not happy. And like every legend and myth a moral lesson is taught. I think this story’s moral is be happy and not greedy. Peace prevailed until one god got greedy and war then took place. How many times are we seen this in history with dictators, and kings conquering others?
The main story follows Garion, who is looked after by Aunt Pol, and all seems normal. But then the Orb is stolen again and a man called Wolf takes them on a fascinating journey to track it down again. Garion is a perceptive boy and throughout the story we get hints that he is special and important in some way. We meet a mixed bunch of characters in the story and this indicates how diverse the lands are and how they live. Aunt Pol and Wolf are from the times of the prologue and I worked this out quickly which was a bit of a spoiler for me. All the characters represent the good side of life, friendship and loyalty, but they also represent the diverse nations of the world working together to fight evil. For me they are an unlikely bunch of so called heroes – not perfect but will give it all they have for good and that’s why we can identify with them. David has drawn on a typical legend trend where the underdogs and unlikely heroes are the lead characters in the story and we grow to like them and want them to succeed.
The Murgos represent evil. Elusive, perfect, sinister and evil they seem to be cold calculated spies in what they do and don’t make many mistakes. The money they pay people to help them seems to increase people’s greed and this ties into the moral lesson in the prologue. But the mysterious element of these characters in this book means we are never sure if they are evil or not and so through great writing David has made us intrigued.
This is a fantasy adventure story and has all the right combinations of characters, lands, intriguing stories and hints to keep us hooked. But I didn’t find much of a connection to any of the characters yet as they haven’t developed enough in this book. Also sometimes Aunt Pol’s treatment of Garion was frustrating as she was hard on him and treated him like a 4 year old sometimes. Garion seems to be a central part of the story as it develops over the books but over protection can stilt some scenes and conversations leading to us feeling left out of what was happening too. The story’s originality is questionable as it draws on the old fantasy ideas of good versus evil with a big adventure with twists and turns but Lord of the Rings it isn’t. David may have drawn on this as an influence but for me it seems he has drawn on old legends of gods and heroes. His writing is very easy to read too and the story flows logically with enough detail to set the atmosphere.
Overall this book is a good induction to the 5 book story but we are left with so many questions at the end e.g. we are not really clear on Garion’s parents except for a tale Wolf tells which leaves us with even more questions. Also how did the orb get stolen, who stole it, why are ancient people like Wolf and Aunt Pol still alive and what is Garion’s destiny? So many questions which I hope are answered in later books and also the real action starts too. So for me there are 4 more books left to read in the series and I definitely will be reading them as I want to find out what happens!
If you are into adventure fantasy books this book is for you but you have to be prepared to read the rest of books in the series. I can see why my husband loved this book as it is the perfect adventure for boys at heart and even though old it is a timeless story.