Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Elder Gods by David and Leigh Eddings Review

The Eddings have often come in for some harsh criticism for their post-Belgariad books.The crux of these criticisms have been claims of recycled story line and characters. Their most recent series The Dreamers has copped this more than the other books. Nevertheless I enjoyed the ‘Sparhawk’ books when I read them probably six or seven years ago so I approached The Elder Gods with an open mind.

The basic premise of the book is this. There are two lots of four gods who each oversee their own piece of a large continent, when one lot tires they go to sleep for eons while the other lot takes over. Mother sea and Father earth are also sentient and outside the direct control of the gods and additionally There is also an ‘evil’ god which oversees another piece known as the wasteland. Instead of letting life develop in response to the local environment like the other gods did, the ‘evil’ god twisted the inhabitants of the wasteland to it’s own design creating an army of human-part-serpent-part-insect followers. The evil god ultimately wants to rule the entire world so plans to invade the other gods domain. The humans in the other gods domain aren’t particularly warlike so the gods bribe humans on other continents with promises of gold to come to their aid. In addition the other set of gods is awoken prematurely and given the form of children. In this form they can influence events and see the future/past when they dream.

Basically this was a typical fun, dialogue driven Eddings book but I did have a few issues.From a plot perspective the Elder gods is significantly different from any of their previous books. Concentrating on the defense of one of the god’s domains against an enemy which is not very human in it’s thinking and it is actually quite interesting. The only character which seems to be an exact replica from a previous book is Eleria a god in the guise of a little girl who shrewdly manipulates people into doing want she wants with kisses. This is a carbon copy of Aphrael. The main reason I believe people think that the Eddings simply write the same characters with different names is they all share the same sarcastic sense of humor. This has always bothered me and did so even more so in this book. There are two groups of humans from across the ocean the Maags and the Trogites. At one point one of the Maags observed that the Trogites were more formal and serious than them yet they used the same sense of humor throughout the book. What gives? Also a number of conversations which should have been serious were ruined by this. By the end I was completely sick of the same old sarcastic banter. I also had a few issues with the pacing, the beginning was a bit too slow and took a little too long to get going and the end was anticlimactic with the last forty pages given over completely to set ups for the next book.

Overall I found The Elder Gods to be enjoyable but had too many issues to rise above average. If these can be sorted out the rest of the series could be something special if not there will be endless pages of sarcastic banter. 6/10.

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