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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

There is a quote that (loosely) goes something like this: All modern fantasy is an imitation of Tolkien: either for the better or worse.

Pawn of Prophecy is a fair imitation. It reaches neither the heights nor depths of entertainment. It has a fantasy world that begins in an idyllic farm community. There lives a young boy who is being hidden until he is ready to face his destiny which only starts to be uncovered in this first book. His Aunt Pol, who has the powers of a sorceress, has cared for him until the day they leave their farming town. Their journey begins about the time Murgos show up in the guise of traders… and ask too many questions about the young boy. This spurs them on to a quest to find a stolen sphere with destructive powers.

The end of the first book leaves us with the main characters (Garion and companions) still in pursuit of stolen sacred rock. The reference to an old prophecy regarding Garion is not fully explained; clearly, though, he will be the one needed to return the stone to its rightful place.

The story veers off the Tolkien path soon enough. Remember those few chaste and charming romantic entanglements in Tolkien? Hold fast to that vision. You’re taken for a bumpier ride here.

First, Garion is caught in the barn by his Aunt Pol kissing the little “minx” that was his former childhood friend. In a page straight out of a modern sex-ed. course, Aunt Pol fully expected nothing but a full-fledged sexual relationship to follow. I guess you can give her credit for straying from conventional wisdom by at least expecting to supervise Garion closely (always a good idea), and expecting him to man-up and marry her. Still, the idea that abstinence is not even an option is an assumption certainly to be discussed with your tween.

When Garion and his companions reach the town of Drasnia, we get descriptions of “bold” maidens with obvious bosoms, obvious intent, and flagrant invitations. Makes me glad this story is not destined to be a classic. I really couldn’t muster much admiration for this crowd of juvenile characters.

Buried later in the book is this quote… “the conservatives who have not yet figured out that women are people.” It’s not explained, just assumed you’ll get it.

Tolkien is truly a romantic. But this book heads into adult fare that is neither romantic nor necessary... Barak and his wife cannot stand each other, and in one scene, in front of Garion, she makes it clear that she is disgusted that Barak came to her room the previous night, drunk, and forced himself upon her. Hmm… Isn’t that rape? Since they are not amongst arch-conservatives at this point, shouldn’t some alarm be raised? Surely the non-conservatives will come to Merel's defense. Nope. Moments later, the two are a united front, racing to tell the king vital information revealed to them by Garion. And Barak's wife, Merel, comes clearly to the defense of her rapist-husband. Once all that is taken care of… back to business as usual and the strained, disrespectful relationship between the two resumes.

My older tween read this review, and she didn't notice these points until we discussed them. Some would argue that this makes the book fine for tweens. I would say that is exactly the quiet proselytism of a new era that you need to point out and discuss...and probably skip entirely for the young.



elm May 25, 2010 at 3:40 PM  

WOW! So glad that I asked about this book and told Pops to hold off on accepting any more of this series for Bud from an acquaintance. I think we'll just skip the rest of the series. WOW - I sure hope that all this stuff went right over his head! Sheesh. Thanks SOOOoooooooo much for taking a look at this one!

Tween Lit Crit June 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM  

So glad I could help you review it... there just isn't gobs of time, and God apparently wanted me to do something with the gift of speed-reading. Thanks for the feedback.

I'll bet it did mostly go over his head... and as I learned from Bishop Vasa, when a child has a good relationship with a parent, even when exposed to things you'd rather they avoid, they will talk to you and are much less likely to be under bad influences. I know, he was talking about people, but I think it applies to books too.

This book wasn't real explicit, but it's more mature, for sure.

We'll keep looking for good books for Bud~

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