The Belgariad: Volume II - Queen of Sorcery
Written by: David and Leigh Eddings
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Pawn of Prophecy flows into Queen of Sorcery so fluidly that it’s easy to forget they’re separate books, but this is part of what makes The Belgariad so great; it’s one large story, but also focused and dedicated, much like the protagonists inhabiting its pages.
Considering the era when it was published, The Belgariad’s lack of adornment is unique. There is no table of contents, and nowhere will you find chapter headings, epitaphs, or prophetic quotes outside the main text. David and Leigh merely title each part of the series the area of the world the group finds itself in. This is beautifully done and gives the various countries and lands as much character as the heroes and villains. It’s slightly reminiscent of how George R.R. Martin writes his novels from the perspectives of each character without flowery chapter titles; the mood also changes with each new land, giving the story a wonderful flow and freshness as the reader travels along with the group, learning more about the cultures and why the world is the way it is with each league traveled.
The Belgariad knows what it wants to be and hammers its essence into the reader’s mind clearly and concisely. I was impressed by how much David and Leigh conveyed in such a short book throughout Pawn of Prophecy, but I expected later volumes to either be longer or less dense. I was wrong. Queen of Sorcery, if anything, conveys more information and travels even farther.
In addition to maintaining the traditions of the first volume, Queen of Sorcery also more clearly utilizes the prologue to educate the reader about the world’s history, when the gods still roamed the physical realm. Pawn of Prophecy uses its prologue, but it’s easy to forget how all the small details connect to one another while being introduced to all the new characters, places, and events; Queen of Sorcery carries on this legacy of technique, only now the reader is familiar with it, lending it an extra layer of depth.
The first two books of The Belgariad are some of the deepest, most nuanced fantasy I’ve ever read. They’re also a reminder of how much the genre has evolved. Whether you’re a new fantasy fan or an old veteran of sword and sorcery, you will love these books. Highly recommended.