I remembered this book being my favorite of the series when I was younger, but I couldn’t really remember why. Then, as I started reading it again, I realized it was because this is the first book where you get a female narrator. The change of narration is refreshing, and the female narration, in particular, has a different voice than Garion, the main male narrator.
This book picks up right where Queen of Sorcery ends. I recommend reading the two books back to back so that you can keep up with continuity. If you liked the first two books in the series, then you’ll like this one. The story keeps moving along, following our merry band of adventurers.
You might also like: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson; The Sword of Shannara, by Terry Brooks; The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien
I don’t think I appreciated this book in The Belgariad series when I read it as youth. I didn’t connect with some of the new characters, and I didn’t really understand some of the detours that the group of main characters took. However, as an adult, I can see that Eddings took this book as an opportunity to have fun with the genre. I think the dialogue is wittier than the first book, and the new characters are well-worn types of the genre that Eddings breathes life into in a tongue-in-cheek way.
As I mentioned before, Eddings is well aware that this book/series is formulaic, and you start to see him playing with that formula in this book. The characters start to realize that they are cogs in a larger machine and that each of them is there because they have a specific purpose to fill. Eddings knows exactly what he’s writing and rather than apologize for that, he leans into it and creates a masterful, if predictable, world. And because you think it’s predictable, he’s able to throw in delightful surprises (such as when one of the protagonists starts a magical duel a bad guy, but it gets cut short by another protagonist sneaking up and knocking the bad guy out cold. As a reader, you gear up for a fantastic duel that is cut short by something far more practical and efficient).
You might also like: The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson; The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss; The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan
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