Book Review: POLGARA THE SORCERESS by David and Leigh Eddings

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - second companion book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains mild spoilers for The Belgariad and The Malloreon, mostly for SEERESS OF KELL*

Synopsis:

Book cover for POLGARA THE SORCERESS: title in brown on

She soars above a world of warriors, kings, and priests. The daughter of Belgarath and the shape-shifter Poledra, she has fought wars, plotted palace coups, and worked her powerful magic for three thousand years. Now, Polgara looks back at her magnificent life.

Her hair streaked white by her father’s first touch, her mind guided by a mother she will not see again for centuries, Polgara begins life in her Uncle Beldin’s tower, and in the prehistorical, magical Tree that stands in the middle of the Vale. There, she first learns the reaches of her powers. There she assumes the bird shapes that will serve her on her adventures. And there she starts on the path toward her destiny as Duchess of Erat, shepherdess of the cause of good, adversary of Torak the One-Eyed Dragon God, and guardian of the world’s last, best hope: the heir to the Rivan throne.

Here is the legendary life story of a woman of wit, passion, and complex emotions, a woman born of two majestic parents who could not have been more unlike one another. Ordained to make peace and make war, to gain love and lose love, Polgara lives out her family’s rich prophecy in the ceaseless struggle between the Light and the Dark.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I was sceptical going into this book about whether it would really add anything to the world. Polgara has been around for far fewer years than her father, so her book would be narrating pretty much all the events he saw. And I was right.

This book barely felt like it was adding, unlike his book that really expanded upon the history. Pretty much all we see in this book that we didn’t in his was events in Arendia that she has a big hand in, more of her childhood, and more of her life hiding the heirs. I have no idea what Ce’nedra was talking about when she said that “Polgara’s story filled in all the holes and told the other half of the story.” There isn’t really much extra in there.

I did like the events in Arendia – that’s the big part of the book that is new. Intrigue and tragedy all rolled into one, exploring a part of the world that was pretty much overlooked by the other books.

The hiding the heirs felt pretty repetitive. I’m sure the idea was that we were supposed to understand Polgara’s sorrow from centuries of hiding their family, looking after them and watching them die. However, because I knew that would happen (and also BELGARATH THE SORCERER had “spoilt” the big events there), I never bothered connecting to their characters, so it was just a cycle of the same names growing up, marrying, having a son, and dying.

My big question is “what was the whole Poledra thing? Polgara knew her mother was alive along and was getting her instructions from her?” That felt really odd and felt even more awkwardly jammed in than the “surprise, Poledra is alive and involved” from SEERESS OF KELL (I know we meet a ghostly form of her in either CASTLE OF WIZARDRY or ENCHANTER’S END GAME, but that ghost didn’t feel real and crammed in.)

Polgara’s narrative tone also felt off, unlike the woman who’d been so central to the other 10 books. She was this very snarky person, rather than dignified. There was lots of fourth wall breaks along the line of “got you there, didn’t I, X?” when she said something insulting.

There is a new narrator for this book, which makes sense. Polgara is a woman so using the man who’d narrated the previous books would be a little odd. However, the new narrator uses wildly different pronunciations for things and I rather wish she’d listened to the previous books and used those for continuity as it’s pretty jarring having something so radically different being said for key names in the world.


Read my reviews of other books by David Eddings (with Leigh Eddings):

The Belgariad (first series in this world):

The Malloreon (second series in this world):

Companions to The Belgariad and The Malloreon:

The Elenium:

The Tamuli (chronologically after the Elenium):

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