Mallorean by David Eddings

February 2, 2005 at 12:00 am | Posted in 3 stars, Book Reviews, Fantasy | Leave a comment

Eddings’ Mallorean is the worst kind of sequel: one that not only disappoints but diminishes the original work by its very existence. This does not build on the Belgariad in any way but is more of the same. Usually this is tolerable in followups to good books, but not here. The original was much too long to begin with so there was no need to expand even further upon it. Rather than taking the opportunity to revisit his world a chance to add much-needed depth, Eddings adds breadth. More characters, just as paper-thin as the original set, are added, more none-too-distinctive locations are added to the map so they can carefully be reached by the same sort of laborious plot token-enforced guided continental tour, and more racial stereotypes are thrown in for good measure. The only time any new ideas are expressed they contradict what was established before. For example, the most foul-tasting aspect of the original which I somehow forgot to mention in my review, the dehumanization of the Murgos, is completely waved away here in bizarre fashion, as if the author belated realized that events leading up to and including the American Civil War have rendered such attitudes out of style and hoped no one would notice if he just slipped them out. Other strange aspects, like the nineteenth century wink-blush attitude toward–gasp–sex, remain. Eddings seems to think that he’s somehow being profound if he involves destiny in his work, but after accidentally leaving some shred of suspense as to what was going to be happening in the Belgariad, here he mercilessly explains in advance everything that will happen and then spends five books making it so. In short, the series represents everything that is wrong with the plot mechanics and narrative depth of modern trash fantasy. So why three stars? Well, it is really a two star affair, but the inertia of the fifty to a hundred good pages of writing Eddings has ballooned into ten books still leaves me feeling magnanimous despite this hostile review. I give the Miles books four stars for being lighthearted procedural romps, so this gets three stars for being a fantasy version of the same thing, just more poorly executed. As one last shot across the bow of these books, let me mention that it is truly amazing that books that are so vacuous when it comes to their ideas could say in the author biography in the back that the author wrote his fantasy “to develop certain technical and philosophical ideas concerning that genre.” If I ever find out Eddings was responsible for that bio I’m going to knock this review and the Belgariad review each down to two stars out of spite.

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