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Friday, April 06, 2007

Book Review: The Elder Gods by David & Leigh Eddings

David Eddings has earned himself a very strong reputation as a great fantasy writer. I am familiar with his earlier work simply because I have heard of it, but have not had the opportunity to read it. I imagine, though, that for those that are a fan of his work, this particular novel will read as less than amazing.
The four god siblings--Zelana, Veltan, Dahlaine, and Aracia--are on their way to going back to 'sleep' so that their counterparts can return to run the world for a while. But things have gone haywire when a long told event begins to take place. That-Called-the-Vlagh has begun assembling its armies and now wishes to control the world. But That-Called-the-Vlagh has begun in Zelana's domain first, where her people are nothing more than Native American-esque people who possess no technology whatsoever. Zelena finds she must convince her siblings and the people of their domains to help aid in the oncoming war.
(That is a severely diluted synopsis...quite frankly there is way too much going on for me to post an accurate synopsis without giving everything away).
The Elder Gods is not necessarily a terrible novel, but it is a severely lacking novel. The story begins much like a mythological tale would, which essentially is information the reader doesn't necessarily need at first. We generally can grasp the concept of multiple gods without need of explanation, and again we don't need an explanation of who the bad guys are from the start. Such information should be learned by the main characters.
The characters in this novel are varied. Some of the best characters should have remained the main human characters, but unfortunately Eddings goes off on some characters that really aren't all that important at all. Characters of note are: Captain Sorgan Hook-beak, Longbow, and Rabbit. There are secondary characters I liked too--Eleria especially. Now, Eddings runs into a problem I've mentioned before in reference to other books: he has way too many character viewpoints going on. Three would have sufficed, but Eddings switching POV not only in the beginning half, but in the second half as well. There is no clearly defined main character. Zelena, who starts as the main character, suddenly falls off into no-man's land and doesn't even get the benefit of being important towards the end of the book. Hook-beak, who should have had a greater presence, has the same issue towards the end as well. Rabbit, who we know about for a while and suddenly are thrown into his head, gains a presence half way through the book rather than having one earlier. I liked Rabbit, but the problem was that he wasn't really introduced until Longbow speaks to him. This POV jumping and what not really hurts the pace of the novel.
Another issue was that Eddings constantly has characters retell the same information to other characters. Rather than just saying "He told Hook-beak what Eleria had mentioned to him" or something of that nature, he goes on for huge paragraphs having the characters tell the information. This happens over and over until the last 30 pages when characters stop doing that and he simply does what I mentioned in the quotes. Why all of a sudden? I don't get it. But it wastes valuable time and space to have the characters do this over and over.
One thing I did notice about this book is that it is written almost as if it were intended for a younger audience. The language indicates this very much. That isn't a bad thing, but it does play out in how the individual characters speak, which comes off as somewhat unbelievable. Characters with huge reputations likely would not speak like 10 year olds.
Last of my issues was with the battles. I'm going to spoil this for everyone because I want to. Towards the end all these people from other continents have been paid to come out and fight the battle. Nothing bad happens to the army as it travels across a wide ocean. Then again, when they begin to fight the enemy, which is supposed to be somewhat of a hive mind, first a massive flood takes place that kills the first wave. Then a volcano explodes and kills the rest of the Vlagh army. Very few good guys actually die, which is disturbing because Eddings tries to make it seem like the Vlagh is actually rather sneaky, which would make for a rather prolonged and arduous battle. Needless to say, EVERYTHING GOES RIGHT FOR THE GOOD GUYS. Where's the conflict? Shouldn't something go wrong? Shouldn't something be hard?

Now, I've rambled on and on about this book. I personally would not recommend this to anyone unless you are a die hard Eddings fan. It is probably not even close to his best work. So, read at your own risk.

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  1. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Personally, I loved this one! I enjoyed how the characters would talk in such sardonic, sarcastic ways to each other; dancing around the main point. It takes a little bit off of the gloom and doom of the story. And I believe that Eddings purposely switched the POV's constantly, in order to not make the story so stuffy with just, say, Zelana's or Longbow's POV. It adds variety to how everyone in the book sees what is going on. It's like turning 1st person into 3rd person omniscient. That being said, I wonder where I can get "The Treasured One" ...

  2. Most of my issues were with the plot to be honest. I don't like stories where things are handed to the main characters.