History continues to repeat itself as The Malloreon continues with Book 2, King of the Murgos. Our party treads familiar ground as the true quest for Zandramas gets underway (after a bunch of distractions in Book 1, which boiled down to nothing but an extended prologue) and finally moves into new territory about halfway through. This is good, because that's when the story really picks up.
We'll finally have some new maps in this post as we journey into southern Cthol Murgos, an area of the western continent that we have yet to explore. If you'll recall in my post for Magician's Gambit, Belgarath mentions that southern Cthol Murgos is shrouded in mystery and they don't even know all the names of the cities down there... which is clearly a mistake on Eddings's part, since Belgarath seems quite familiar with the area now. And why wouldn't he... surely he's explored the area a few times during his 7,000+ years of life?
Before you continue:
- This is part 7 of my The Belgariad and The Malloreon retrospective
- See this blog post for an overview of the retrospective
- These blogs are most effective with your own re-read of both series
- Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH SERIES
History Repeats Itself (Again)
I feel like I've written about this before... oh yeah, in my post on Guardians of the West. Once again, a similar sequence of events takes place in this book as in Book 2 of The Belgariad, Queen of Sorcery. The party starts in Arendia and moves down into Nyissa, mirroring their previous journey almost exactly. They stop at all the same places (Great Arendish Fair, Tol Honeth, Wood of the Dryads, Sthiss Tor, etc) and meet many of the same characters (or analogs of them).
|George Santayana (1863-1952)|
For example, a new character, Naradas, a Mallorean Grolim with white eyes, takes the place of Brill from The Belgariad, the footpad who was really a Dagashi. If you remember, Brill had a lazy eye or some such, and Naradas pretty much serves the same purpose in this series.
You also have them bumping into the same minor characters: Delvor at the Fair, Jeebers in Tol Honeth, Xbel in the Wood of the Dryads, Droblek and Issus in Sthiss Tor... and so on. Polgara and Garion visit Salmissra in Sthiss Tor, and that same scene is even reflected on the cover. It's not a bad section despite the repetition, as Eddings throws in some new party members to make things more interesting.
What's nice is that Garion actually realizes that everything is repeating, which I find surprising, considering how completely dense he is when it comes to carnal knowledge of his own wife. Garion mentions it to Belgarath, who says it make sense, as if he's suddenly realizing it himself. The two prophecies have met numerous times over the millennia, so it stands to reason that they would be similar each time. Obviously Eddings put this conversation in to address the reader's concerns directly, but I find the concept interesting... so does that mean that thousands of years ago, in a previous meeting, there was a group of people traveling through Arendia and Nyissa, etc etc? Exactly to what does the repetition apply to?
I'm not overly fond of this cover... it's okay, but too much like the cover for Queen of Sorcery to be interesting. It merely shows Salmissra (a snake now, compared to the woman on Queen of Sorcery) on a pathetic-looking throne, along with Polgara and Garion. A map of Nyissa in the background completes the look. No silhouette this time.
I actually like the version of Garion on this cover, though. Garion looks pretty much like I've always imagined him. Polgara I'm not as thrilled with, though it is a nice portrait of a woman. She should have longer hair and I'm not sure what's up with that headband... but oh well. I don't buy the books for their covers.
Since we left behind all of our warriors - regulars like Barak, Mandorallen, Hettar and Lelldorin - we need some new party members to fill the void. We already have Toth, the mute guardian of Cyradis, the Seer, who becomes fast fishing friends with Durnik and takes on the role of hulking brute, previously vacated by Barak. Now that we have Garion in the role of a warrior, we don't really need more. Instead, we get more "thief" types.
First up is Velvet, true name Margravine Liselle. Like Silk (Prince Kheldar), she is Drasnian and has many of the same skills and attributes Silk does. It's good to have more women, since casts in these types of fantasy novels are usually male-oriented. It's also obvious from the start that Silk is attracted to her, and their relationship blossoms over the course of the series, just one of a few love stories we'll read about when all is said and done.
Next we have Sadi, formerly Chief Eunuch of Salmissra. This is an interesting curve ball from Eddings, as he's the type of character you never thought would join our party of heroes. Nyissans are generally not to be trusted (especially from the Alorn perspective) and you're hard-pressed to find a reason why Sadi would be useful to the quest. But then the Voice of Prophecy tells Belgarath that Sadi must go, and that's that, much to Belgarath's disgust.
I couldn't find a fan picture of Sadi... but one's not really needed. He's essentially the same type of character that Varys is in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. So just imagine Conleth Hill as Varys from the TV show:
Finally, we have Zith. She's a snake of Sadi's... a small little snake he owns, who looks cute and purrs, but is the "deadliest snake in the world." That's her in the picture of Velvet, if you were wondering. I mention Zith only because she does have a role to play in the story later.
More Random Creatures
Like the previous series, Eddings throws in some random magical / mythical creatures to break the monotony of the quest. In The Belgariad, you had things like Algroth, Eldrakyn, Dryads, Hrulgin, and a lonely dragon (the only one in existence, fruitlessly searching for her dead mate) that was heard but not seen. According to Belgarath and popular lore, these creatures were "mistakes" by the Gods, created and then left to fend for themselves or die out.
In this book, we get some more. There's the reappearance of the dragon from The Belgariad, only this time it attacks our party. Later we learn that this was actually Zandramas herself (who is revealed to be a woman in this novel, much to everyone's amazement... apparently women can't be evil to them). Much like our good sorcerers have their own animal forms (wolves, owls, etc), so do the evil ones.
There's also the mysterious Raveners they encounter in the Great Southern Forest, which are essentially zombies. So out of nowhere our party is being chased down by hungry zombies and our sorcerers must shield everyone for days in order to survive.
|Raveners = Zombies|
Lastly, they encounter a madman in the woods on the Isle of Verkat, who is nothing more than a sorcerer who never had proper training and went crazy because of it. Not exactly a random mythical creature, but in the spirit of hermits I decided to include it. All these encounters are rather pointless, but add some excitement and keep the action going.