Book Review: Pawn of Prophecy

Book Name: Pawn of Prophecy
Author: David Eddings
First Published: 1982

Author David Eddings grew up in Snohomish, Washington, a small town near Seattle. He displayed a talent for drama and literature, winning a national oratorical contest and acting in lead roles in junior college plays. He graduated from Reed College of Portland, Oregon in 1954. He was working on a novel that he thought would be his thesis for the university when he was drafted into the US. Army. He served his country until 1956 and moved on to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle. He gained his MA in 1961 and moved on to a job in purchasing at Boeing Aircraft, a large company in the area. It is there that he met his wife Judith Leigh Schall and he and Leigh would remain married for 45 years until a stroke took her life.

Eddings moved on from Boeing to become a tenured college professor for seven years, but in a fit of frustration, he quit his job due to a lack of a pay raise. He and his wife moved to Denver, Colorado where he took a job at a grocery store to make a living. It was during this time that he turned to writing and began work on a series of novels. After a time in Denver, he moved back to Washington, this time to Spokane. It is here where Eddings turned his attention to writing in earnest.

In Spokane, Eddings came across a copy of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings in a bookstore. He realized that the book was in its 78th printing and this fact made him sit up and re-evaluate his writing. He realized that there could be a larger market for fantasy novels than the coming of age books he had previously written. He pulled out an old doodle of a map he had scribbled a few years ago and this became the basis for the fantasy world of Aloria, the setting of the Belgariad Series.

The Belgariad is the first of Edding’s epic fantasy series. It has five volumes, each title a combination of a fantasy term and a chess term. Pawn of Prophecy is the first book. With the success of The Belgariad Series, Eddings went on to write another five volume sequel series called The Malloreon. Both series proved to be wildly popular and helped to shape the trope of epic fantasy that holds today.

Leigh Eddings is credited with being a co-author in the later novels concerning the Sorceress Polgara, but according to David Eddings, his wife was active as a co-author in all of his fantasy novels. He used her guidance with the female characters to make them more believable. He would have credited her sooner for her work, but Lester Del Rey allegedly did not like the idea, believing that a single author’s name on the books was a better selling point.

David Eddings continued to write his fantasy novels until his death of natural causes in 2009. His manuscripts and other written works have been donated to Reed University along with a sizable grant to fund “students and faculty studying languages and literature”.

“But there’s a world beyond what we can see and touch, and that world lives by its own laws. What may be impossible in this very ordinary world is very possible there, and sometimes the boundaries between the two worlds disappear, and then who can say what is possible and impossible?”
― David Eddings, Pawn of Prophecy

Pawn of Prophecy begins with a prologue about the creation of the world Aloria by the seven gods. One of them fashions an orb and puts inside it a “living soul”. The Orb of Aldur is coveted by the god Torak. The Orb is guarded by King Cherek’s family, who have the ability to hold the object.

The story is told via the eyes of young Garion, a farm boy. An old man named Belgarath, nicknamed “the wolf” arrives at Faldor Farm and enlists the help of Garion, his Aunt Pol, and Durnik the blacksmith to go out in search of a missing object. Unknown to Garion, this is the Orb of Aldur, a powerful and magical object lost to the King’s family. The group has many adventures and eventually grows to include a Drasnian Prince, an Algarian Prince, and a Cherek Earl.

During the many trials that Garion experiences, he hears a dry voice in his mind. As time goes on, Garion learns that this is the Voice of Prophecy, or “Necessity”, which is taking action through him. He is but a pawn to its will. Who is Garion? What is his connection to Aunt Pol and to the thief known as Wolf? It seems that there is more to this farmboy than what meets the eye.

Book Cover Pawn of ProphecyBack in my school days, The Belgariad Series was considered one of those “must-reads” of the fantasy genre. Although today we would consider the storyline to be a classic “chosen one” Hero’s Journey with all the cliches of the genre, at the time, it was breaking fresh ground. I remember reading the series in junior high school with pleasure and went on to read the sequel series as well. It reminded me of Tolkien’s Lord of the Kings, but without the heavy literature quality.

I found the young farm boy Garion likable and the story engaging, with a good balance of humor and intricate world building. While Eddings prose is not particularly deep, it is still a good yarn that is clean enough to recommend to younger readers.

In particular, I like that Eddings created a strong female lead in “Aunt Polgara”. Polgara is a powerful sorceress and of good character. She was one of the first strong female lead characters to come out in the 1980s fantasy, but certainly was not the last! I had not realized at the time that Polgara was a particular creation of Edding’s wife since she was not given co-author credit during the 1980s, but her input is certainly felt with Polgara and her viewpoints.

If you are an adult and are considering reading this classic series, I believe that it holds its own for adults looking for a clean fantasy with less gratuitous violence. While more YA in nature, it is a good read for all ages.

The Belgariad Series

Pawn of Prophecy (1982)
Queen of Sorcery (1982)
Magician’s Gambit (1983)
Castle of Wizardry (1984)
Enchanters’ End Game (1984)

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Here we are at another Monday.  It is time for ten writing article links from No Wasted Ink.  Most of the articles this week are general writing tips, but I tossed in a nice fountain pen article for fun.  I hope you enjoy them!

4 Proven Ways to Build Suspense

5 Ways to Write Faster

The Beginner’s Guide to Fountain Pens

A Tool for Exploring Hidden Dimensions

Turn the Beats Around

Microscopes in Sci-fi: Beginning to See the Light

Understanding the Traditional Publishing Model – 5 Facts

How to Write Stories Your Readers Will Remember

DEEP POV—What is It? Why Do Readers LOVE It?

Want to Write Romance? Layer Your Scenes for Success

Read Your Own Work by Loren Rhoads

 

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I love to read from my books in public. I love the silence that descends as the audience grows rapt.  More than that, I love to hear the crowd react to my words, noting when they gasp or if they laugh.  Best of all, I love to gauge the enthusiasm of the applause at the end.

The chief thing to keep in mind when you are asked or volunteer to do a reading is that – while the audience comes to be entertained – YOU are there to sell your book.  Whatever you read, make it the best advertisement for your book that you can.

I try to tailor what I read to its intended audience.  If I’m reading in a bar, I choose something sexy. If it’s a bookstore, I read an action scene. If I’m reading to science fiction fans, I pick something that’s undeniably SFnal.  If it’s a horror convention, I read something bloody.  I don’t try to stretch their tastes because I want them to buy the book.

It’s important to find out in advance how long your reading slot will be.  It’s rude to exceed your time limit, because then you’re stealing time from the other readers.

I’m a strong believer in reading a complete scene, whenever possible.  It’s good to end on a cliffhanger or some other place that will leave your listeners wanting more.  In my experience, it’s better to read one long piece, rather than too many short pieces, because it’s easier than most readers realize to overstay the audience’s good will.

I always practice before I perform, not only to time my selection, but also to see how it feels in my mouth.  Are some names tricky to pronounce?  Are there words I’m uncertain of? I’d rather make mistakes at home instead of in front of people.  Also, as I’m practicing, I sometimes add extra commas, so I remember to breathe or leave space for laughter.

Reading to a live audience can teach you a lot about your own work.  Sometimes what looks good on a page doesn’t sound good in performance.  Maybe the sentences are too long or convoluted. Scenes full of dialog can be hard for listeners to follow.  Long descriptions or info dumps can sound awkward out of context.

Another element to consider when you’re preparing for a reading is how you will introduce yourself.  Usually, you will be expected to provide the host, if there is one, with a short bio.  Crafting the perfect bio is a whole ‘nother essay, but briefly, this: Give your name, the title of the book you are selling, and your web address.  If there is more information that your audience will find useful, mention it.  Highlight your authority as an author and what you have in common with your listeners.  Keep it short.  You can be funny if that comes naturally, but don’t bring up your cat or your marital status – or any other personal information, for that matter – unless that’s what you’re reading about.  Otherwise, it’s obvious filler that erodes your audience’s patience.

Once you get up in front of the crowd, think about how well you can be heard.  If there’s a mic, lean toward it.  If there isn’t, pretend you’re talking to someone at the back of the room.  My voice tends to be soft, so I begin my unmiked readings by asking people to wave at me if I grow hard to hear.

Of course, that means that I have to occasionally glance up from my text.  Even after all the readings I’ve done, I’m still self-conscious enough that it’s hard to tear my eyes off the manuscript.  To get around that, I mark places in my scene to look up. I try not to meet anyone’s eyes because that would distract me from what I’m doing, but I want to get a brief glimpse of the audience to see if their eyes are on me, or if they’ve glazed over and I should wrap things up.  The glazing-over has yet to happen, but I always worry.

The (almost) final thing to think about is how to end your reading.  When I reach the end of my text, I let the words run out, take a breath, and then say thank you.  I feel it’s important to thank the audience for their attention.  I try to thank the host and the venue too, if there’s time and it’s appropriate.  Write what you plan to say on your text, so you don’t forget it.

Lastly, stand still a moment to enjoy the applause.  It can be surprisingly difficult to face your audience after you’ve done your bit.  It can feel like you’re hogging the attention, especially if you’re reading as part of a lineup.  I try to stand still long enough to make some eye contact with the crowd before I rush off the stage.  After all, the applause is why we do this.  That, and the book sales.

Loren RhoadsLoren Rhoads is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of Lost Angels and its upcoming sequel Angelus Rose, about a succubus who becomes possessed by a mortal girl’s soul. Loren has read at bookstores all down the West Coast from Seattle to Los Angeles. She’s read in bars, cafes, theaters, art galleries, an antique store, a Day of the Dead tchotchke shop, a gaming store, and at a Death Salon. She still gets nervous every single time. www.lorenrhoads.com

Author Interview: E. A. Hennessy.

As a writer, E.A. Hennessy tends to focus on two main things: exploring the personalities and relationships of her characters, and sending them on exciting adventures. All the things you would wish in a fantasy author.  Please welcome Liz to No Wasted Ink.

Author Liz HennessyMy name is Liz and I publish under the name E. A. Hennessy. By day I work as an environmental engineer, and by night I’m a dancer and a writer! I love to balance my very technical job with creative pursuits. Writing has been a necessary part of my life since I was a kid, and I’m excited to share my stories with the world.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing since I was in elementary school. I always had an active imagination, and loved coming up with fictional versions (from aliens to elves!) of myself and my friends. I wrote about our imagined adventures.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I always considered myself a writer. My thinking has always been: I write, therefore I’m a writer!

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My debut novel, Grigory’s Gadget, is Book 1 of my Gaslight Frontier Series (Book 2 is in the works!). The story follows Zoya and her friends from the bitter, hostile nation of Morozhia who set out to start a better life. On the way to their new home, they’re kidnapped by pirates. What’s more, the pirates have a particular interest in Zoya’s family heirloom: a small gadget of compacted wires and gears. Unsure what power the gadget holds, Zoya knows she must protect it with her life.

What inspired you to write this book?

I started writing the first iteration of this novel over 10 years ago, when I was going through a pirate-obsession phase. The original story involved time travel, and a necklace instead of a gadget, but the plot and characters were otherwise very similar.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to write in a very conversational way. I love writing dialogue, as it seems to be what comes most naturally to me. I also like to keep some levity in the story, to balance out when a scene gets a little dark.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I knew I wanted the word “gadget” in the title. I also tend to gravitate toward alliteration. The name Grigory, which is the Russian form of Gregory, jumped out at me. I felt the combination of “Grigory” and “Gadget” set the tone for the setting of my story: a Russian-inspired steampunk world.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is a strong theme of friendship and loyalty throughout the novel. I would say the main message is to seek out those true friends who deserve your loyalty, and not to be fooled by false friends.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Some characters were originally based on friends of mine, though I have taken many liberties since their original creation. There are also a couple scenes inspired by stories I’ve heard, such as my high school Russian teacher’s story about how she narrowly escaped the Soviet Union as it collapsed in the early 1990s and her experiences upon arriving in the United States as a refugee.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I had to think about this question a lot, and feel like I might be cheating a bit with my answer. A lot of authors have had a huge influence on my writing, but what about my life overall? I think that honor would have to go to story collectors and anthropologists! I’ve always loved mythology, and learning about different mythologies from around the world definitely influenced my worldview. I also used to read a Grimm’s fairy tale every night before bed (no wonder I tend to have weird dreams!).

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of writers who have influenced my writing. I have to acknowledge R. L. Stine and his Goosebumps books, because reading those books lead to my passion for reading and, by association, writing stories. As for my current writing style, I would say it is most influenced by Clive Barker, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gail Carriger (odd combination, I know!). I love Barker’s vivid descriptions, Vonnegut’s humor and satire, and Carriger’s overall take on the steampunk genre.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My cover was designed by Deranged Doctor Design. I shopped around a lot, and the covers by DDD really impressed me. They have a great range, and every cover is gorgeously done. They also have straightforward and affordable pricing, which is great for a self-published author like me.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t let yourself get discouraged – I know that’s easier said than done! Remember that you are your own worst critic, and that a first draft will always be far from perfect. Don’t let these things stop you from writing!

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

As a first-time, self-published author, I am so grateful for the support I’ve received so far! Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this crazy writing adventure, and I hope you enjoy my stories!

Grigorys Gadget Book CoverE. A. Hennessy
Buffalo, NY

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Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design 
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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Welcome back to another Monday of Writer’s Links here at No Wasted Ink.  I was experiencing a bit of my feminist side this week and a few of the articles reflect this, however, there are several general writing tip articles too!  Enjoy.

HOW AND WHY TO KEEP A “COMMONPLACE BOOK”

The 7 Stages of Being a Writer (How Many Have You Experienced?)

Writing Contests: How to Write to Win

How to Boost Your Career as a Writer by Creating an Irresistible Series

Foreshadowing — When and Where to Use It

Women and Words: We Have Always Lived in the Castle: How Women Remained Imprisoned by Expectations

Begin by Training Your Subconscious

Take That, AP Style! Court of Law Rules The Oxford Comma Necessary

Why I dislike the term “Strong Female Character”

Women Writers Are Over Hearing These Sexist Comments

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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