Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Based on this first book in a five book series, I won’t be seeking out the rest. The overly casual narrative and generalizing descriptions made for dull reading.

Durnik had been right when he’d spoken of frost. The ground was white with it the next morning, and the horses’ breath steamed in the chill air as they set out.

Very little happens and nothing Eddings describes goes beyond first draft quality. Observations like the air was crisp, the sun was hot, and the day was overcast are simply not worth reading.

Their route skirted the edge of the foothills through rolling and sparsely settled country, and the sky hung grey and cold overhead.

That’s as detailed as it gets. And I don’t recall a single simile or metaphor.

Even the plot itself is thin and caricatured. The archetypal villain has no real motivation apart from lusting after a magic object that later maims him, making him only more obsessed over said object.

Eddings devotes lots of attention to a number of different races in his invented world, each race said to possess one trait or to practice one vice that defines that race. One race is dishonest, another is sly, yet another gullible, and so on. Good stories rely on striking personalities and individuals who stand apart. These sweeping generalizations minimize Eddings' storytelling efforts and, incidentally, render his characters cartoon-like.

The dialogue is the type Sol Stein warns against: surface remarks, first draft quality, verbal interaction that achieves nothing. I’ve written about this before in previous book reviews. Reams of common pleasantries, while wonderful in real life, make for yawn-inducing conversations in novels.

None of the characters is particularly interesting, either. The only character to root for is a passive teen left in the dark as to his true purpose or destiny throughout the entire tale. When occasionally thrown a bone about his role, he pursues it with a curiosity uncharacteristic of teens, meaning he accepts the first explanation given by the very people he knows withhold information from him. Not recommended.

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