In this final book of the Belgariad, we accompany Ce’Nedra’s army into the land of the Murgos, fighting against them and the Malloreans. Wait a second, though – Ce’Nedra’s army? No, in fact it’s been taken from her by the men around her whom Eddings obviously felt much more competent to handle matters of war:
“Once she was comfortably quartered in the Stronghold, Princess Ce’Nedra found herself even more removed from the day-to-day command of her troops.”
Sadly, Ce’Nedra herself seems quite content to fall back into her cliched role as her Garion’s mindless “tiny princess”. Whenever she actually does something, she gets put firmly back into place and is scolded by whatever man is around. She never gets a real chance to learn and grow beyond what she is.
As for the others, they travel a bit, they fight a bit, some sidekicks die; forgotten as soon as they draw their last breath. Honestly, all the travelling and the pretty much non-existent hurdles were seriously boring me by now. Reading this book mostly was a chore for me.
Even the titular endgame is boring and beyond redemption. Ultimately, Garion puts it best:
““Then everything worked out for the best, didn’t it?” – “Yes, Garion. It’s as if it had all been fated to happen. Everything feels so right, somehow.” “It’s possible that it was fated,” Garion mused. “I sometimes think we have very little control over our own lives – I know I don’t.“”
After the second book at the latest, it’s crystal clear nobody of importance is going to die or even sacrifice anything. Yes, as mentioned before, an unimportant sidekick or two die (I’ve just finished this book and already forgotten who…) but at the end of the day, there’s no way things are going to go really wrong – and this makes this entire epic fantasy saga stale and bland for me.
There’s absolutely nothing I take away with me from these books. I’ve learned nothing new, I’ve felt nothing new, I’ve not noticed any new or original idea. Not even a single quote-worthy sentence is to be found in this seemingly unending bleak desert of words whereas I thirst for something that nourishes me.
If you’re young (10 to 15 maybe?) and haven’t read much fantasy before, the Belgariad may be to your liking. It does have its moments.
If you’ve read these books when you were younger and loved them, stay clear; you will be disappointed because even if these books were what you remember them to be – you are not who you were anymore.
Anyone else, stay clear as well: A seasoned reader will pretty much know the entire story very early on and there’s nothing in these books to surprise you or keep your interest for tens of thousands of words. And this in books that are about “the Word and the Will…