I am not even sure how many times I have read this book and series. I first read it when I was probably 11 or 12, and it became a type of escapism for me. There are ten books in all, across two series, and I became intimately acquainted with the characters while in my youth. But I had not read the series for probably 10 years before picking it up again recently. I wasn’t sure if it would hold up as well as I imagined from my youth. I’m still not sure that I am able to read it impartially enough to give a good judgment on it. However, I am re-reading it now on the tail end of reading a number of The Wheel of Time books, and as I’ve posted in another post, that series does not sit well with me. (One major positive characteristic of Pawn of Prophecy and subsequent books is that Eddings collaborated heavily with his wife, Leigh. Later books also bear her name as co-author. I think because of that, the women, though they are few, are written much better than the women of The Wheel of Time. Jordan should have let his wife read his manuscripts before publication.)
Pawn of Prophecy introduces us to our prototypical fantasy hero — the young boy of humble origins who sets off on a trek to rescue something of great value. Eddings has admitted that this story is a rote fantasy, and it is extremely formulaic. However, as a youth, I think I found comfort in that. (**Spoiler**) I knew that the hero would win by the end, and good would prevail. As an adult reading it again, I still oddly find that familiarity comforting. What sets this book and series apart, in my opinion, is the characters. And the fact that Eddings doesn’t take himself too seriously in this genre. It is not a silly book, but as you progress through the story, you get the sense that the characters know they are part of a formula, and Eddings plays with that idea (almost breaking the fourth wall but not quite). It creates a world that is easily understandable, a plot that is not too confusing, and characters who have surprising depth and instant familiarity.
Pawn of Prophecy is a foundation book. Not much happens to advance the plot, but there is a lot of world building and character building. The good news is that it is a very quick read, and you don’t feel bogged down by details. There is enough action to keep you entertained, and the banter between characters is engaging.
Violence: Very mild
You might also like: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson; The Hobbit, by J.R.R Tolkien; A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin