Tag Archives: David Eddings

Old friends

I looked up an old friend this week. His name is Garion. He comes with a slew of companions, from his vagabond sorcerer grandfather, to an intensely self involved Imperial Princess,  a rather prim aunt (although you really don’t want to her mad), and his friend Silk–who knows how to get every place; and has been chased out of most of them.

When we moved to Maine in 1982, I was already addicted to reading. I blame my parents; I failed reading in second grade and they decided that was simply unacceptable. It blew up on them, however, as every time they wanted me to do something for the next 13 years, it was always “just one more page!”

My mother got a position working for some lawyers in a quaint town named Bath when we first arrived; and they generously allowed her to bring me to work for the day during my summer vacation in ’83. I wandered around town, but mostly hung out at the library. When the librarians got tired of me, I would gather my books and go back to the law firm to read quietly in the front waiting room til it was time to go home. That is the library where I found Garion. He was a young boy, just about my age, in fact, and I followed him and his companions on their six volume journey.

Being a responsible library patron, I gave the books to my mother to return to the library. Unfortunately, returning them was not high up on her priority list and after they bounced around her car for a couple of weeks (getting rather ratty in the process), I decided I might as well keep them.

And I did. I kept those specific books well into my 20s. Eventually my sister-in-law (whom I introduced to Garion) gifted me with a two-volume trade paperback set, which is what I am currently reading. She told me last year that my nephew is reading her copies of Garion’s adventures–he was right around Garion’s age too. I  introduced a few of my other friends to Garion over the years. A recent friend said he liked it, but it was a bit formulaic.

I suppose in a way it is, as there is the group of people, each with their particular talents,who are trying to find a stolen magical object. The search takes them across the entire world, with all the prerequisite  roadblocks  thrown at them by the bad guys. Of course, I was terribly offended by my friend’s review. But I realized that, yes, it has a pace to it that is reflected in a lot of the fantasy genre. The difference is that the series was written in the early days of the genre, so that every series I read after seemed repetitive. My friend had spent 20 years reading fantasy books written after my series, so when he read the Belgariad, it was the one that seemed cliché.

I have been reading (and rereading) David Eddings’ Belgariad series for thirty-three years.  The characters are extremely convoluted and their interactions are incredibly real. From the blacksmith who was horrified the first time he had to kill someone in battle (he later decided that chasing them  into a quicksand pit was preferable to running them through with a blade) to the bantering about breakfast:

“The griddle is too hot,” Garion said. “You’re going to burn the bacon.”
“Belgarath,” Silk appealed.
“Garion, come away. Silk can burn breakfast all by himself.”

 

They all have their quirks and don’t always make the right decisions, but each character is a decent person who cares about the world they are in and what they can do to fix it. It is nice to dive into a world where evil roams, but is taken down through concerted teamwork and hard choices.

One friend says that when she finished the books she feels likes she is leaving friends behind. Which is probably why I keep re-reading the series 🙂

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Cliche Sunday

It’s all in the timing, you know. I once gave a friend, an avid fantasy reader like myself, my beloved Belgarion series to read. He loved RR Martin so much, I had to give him David Eddings. David creates the best characters, and I had hooked many a person on the series already.

My friend gave it back with an “Eh, it was ok.” I was horrified. When asked why he didn’t love it as I did, he said it was too formulaic: the search, the journey, the cast of wizard, thief, young boy who would be king, etc.

It recently occurred to me, however, that he was  quite a bit younger than I am. I read the series originally in 1982, and it was the beginning of my love affair with fantasy.  Eddings was at the forefront of the fantasy “quest”, and all the ones I read later seemed copied from him (and Tolkien, of course). But my friend had already read the exposition of fantasy in the last 30 years, so to read Eddings last made him seem like the one who was cliché.

When I began Dracula, I was worried that it too might seem cliché because of all the vampire stories that have been floating around for years, and, of course, many of them started with Dracula’s legend.  But it seemed very fresh, mostly from Stoker’s writing style of diaries and letters.   I enjoyed that he used some common clichés like “take no chances,”  using quotation marks with to ensure we knew that they were phrases he had heard elsewhere. I believe he said that one was an Americanism. I would think in 1897 that would be quite a new phrase. He also used “pig in a poke,” which I had previously defined in one of my Sunday posts. He gave credit for that one to the Scots. Hope I did too!

So I was thinking, we should bring back some clichés. These phrases are no longer cliché, as no one has heard them in a donkey’s age 😉  I simply went through my cliché sources and picked some that tickled my fancy. Hope they tickle yours too.

to walk the chalk: this one has two possible meanings. First, like our present day “walk the yellow line,” it was a sobriety test. This particular test was developed by the navy: a straight chalk line was drawn along the deck and the sailor made to walk it to ascertain his sobriety and whether he was too drunk for duty or not. The repercussions of failing the test was often being stuck in the brig. The second meaning was used in both America and England, and meant for one to take a speedy departure.  ‘Mark Twain used it in Sketches, New and Old, “If anybody come meddling’ wid you, you jist make ’em walk chalk.”‘*  I say we can certainly use this nowadays, when needing to make a quick escape just say “I gotta walk chalk.” By the time they recover from their confusion, we will be gone!

to return one mutton’s: returning to a subject under discussion.  This one has its roots in France, known as revenon a nos moutons–Let us return to our sheep.  A poet, Pierre Blanchet, used it in a sixteenth century play. In a confusing turn of events, a rascal stole a length of cloth from the local draper, who then found his shepherd had stolen his sheep. The draper takes the shepherd to court, only to find out that the rascal thief is the shepherd’s lawyer! The draper is continuously distracted by the rascal, and confuses the judge by raving about his stolen cloth. The judge attempts to keep the draper on point, saying “let us return our sheep.” This could be a good way to keep a conversation on track–after one explains what “returning to one’s muttons” means, exactly.

to take time by the forelock: to seize an opportunity. A  first century Latin writer of fables, Phaedrus, described Opportunity as having a heavy forelock, but being bald in the back. Thus one must grab the opportunity at first sight, as one may have nothing to grab onto if one waits. English writers continued Phaedrus’  idea into the sixteenth century. Eventually artists used his description of opportunity as a description of Time and gradually the phrase came to be “take time by the fetlock.” I rather like the original meaning, and I suggest we all take opportunity by the fetlock 🙂

In the spirit that it is all about the timing, I wanted to point out that my nephew has discovered David Eddings on his mother’s bookshelf. He is 12, the age I was when I was first entranced by this alternate world, and he is currently on the second book. I learned this through his Halloween choice of costume: he was Garion, the main character in the series. Love it ❤

*A Hog on Ice, Charles Funk

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Friday Fictioneers, Halloween edition

’tis a tale for All Hallow’s Eve that I bring you today; a tale of two heroes, fearing nought.  T’was for Castle Iskar they searched, rumors of tremendous wealth had long washed down the mountains with the storms. Bravely the men forded viciously flooded rivers, and followed obscure trails, til at last they came upon the deserted keep high in the mountains. In the highest tower of the highest corner, they found wealth untold gleaming. One started forward towards the sparkling pile, only to draw back as two ghosts appeared.”Come,” his companion remonstrated, “tis nought but spirits, they hast no power here.”

Thus fortified, the stalwart man stepped forward once more, reaching through the ghosts for treasure. No man had dared do so for centuries; and, as even spirits can be hungry, the two divided him up and ate him*, whilst his boon companion ran screaming back down the steps.

This tale was inspired by Rochelle’s prompt, but it also led me to one of my favorite books by David Eddings. One of his characters had a wonderful story about two hungry ghosts, and I did borrow his line exactly 🙂 Thanks to Rochelle for continuing to lead us each week, and thanks to Dale Rogerson for our picture as well. Check out the rest of the stories HERE.

*Pawn of Prophecy, the Belgariad

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