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3.9 out of 5 stars
Guardians of the West (The Malloreon, Book 1)
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Here begins the second of David Eddings fantasy series' - Guardians of the West. It is the follow up on his first series - The Belgariad - and uses the same characters in much the same settings (more of this series takes place in the Angarak kingdoms). Depending on your viewpoint you will find this series inventive or repetition, funny or silly, slow paced or marvelously detailed. I find it impossible to predict who will or will not like it. For the record, I feel that, while the writing has improved considerably from the first set, characterization is fairly static, and, of course, much of the plot is borrowed from the Belgariad.

It's about fourteen years after the fall of Torak, and Polgara, Durnik, Errand and the irascible Belgarath have set up housekeeping in the Vale of Aldur and are well on their way to becoming a typical family of sorcerers. All of this is interrupted when word comes that the relationship between Belgarion and C'Nedra is on the rocks AND there is no heir to the throne of Riva. Polgara comes to the rescue (or interferes mercilessly, depending on how you feel about 3000 year old aunts butting in). But repairing the damage and getting an heir on the way creates even more problems than it solves. Once again, conflicting prophecies awaken, this time with the birth of Geran, the heir to Riva, and the world teeters on the edge of disaster.

The Bear Cult goes into high gear, the Orb warns of coming evil, and Geran is kidnapped. Once again Belgarion and C'Nedra go on a quest, this time to save there child from being sacrificed to initiate the new reign of a Child of Darkness. A race is on between two opposing forces. Whoever fails to reach 'the place that is no more' on time will lose. The instructions are hidden in countless books of prophecy which Belgarath must interpret and the party is subject to manipulation from both the Seers of Kell, and Zandramas, Geran's kidnapper.

The writing is decidedly tighter in the Malloreon than it is in the Belgariad. The early tendency to intersperse little dabs of action with endless discussion and peripheral side stories is gone. However, so are some of the human touches. Guardians of the West marches forward, telling what is a very complex set of events, but for all the time that is spent on C'Nedra's pain at the theft of her child, she never gets the respectful treatment that you would thing she merits. And with so many characters crossing over to the new series, one would expect more development. Other than some growth for Belgarion and Errand and the insertion of some new characters, the personality side of these books is very static.

Even so, this series is still better than a great deal of the fantasy fiction that competes with it that it is easy to forgive it's faults. It remains a comfortable sort of good vs. evil tale, told with a great deal of gentle (and not so gentle) sarcasm. I would recommend it over many other efforts.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Guardians of the West was a much appreciated continuation of the Belgariad series. It brought back all my favorite characters, and is also the beginning of a much better series.
While this book (and series) will never be extremely high up on my all-time greatest books list, it is extremely high on my all-time most wildly entertaining books list. Don't read this to by emotionally moved or intellectually stimulated, but read it to have a wildly fun time. The characters are somewhat flat, but make up for it with many quirks and outragous personalities. I probably laughed more reading this series than any other book, with the exception of any written by Douglas Adams.
The plot was intelligently put together, and the books read very quickly. The characters are all fun, although Ce'Nedra irritated me. She was tough and funny in the Belgariad, but she comes across as mory of a whiny wimp in this series. But aside from that the Guardians of the West, and the entire Malloreon series is Eddings' best work to date, and better than most of the fantasy's out on the market right now.
Definitely recommended for any fantasy lover.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the Belgariad we got to see Garion as a boy now we get to see him as a man. In this first book of the Mallorean he and Ce'Nedra have their first child. That interesting episode is just the start of a long and arduous quest that reunites some old friends and introduces some new. This book is a wonderful blend of fantasy and humor. Case in point, Garion's reactions when Ce'Nedra goes into labor. Just thinking about it makes me chuckle. It is a must read for Eddings fans and for new readers it is a great introduction to his work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Book 1 of the Mallorean
The Mallorean is the second 5 book series set in this world. The first was the Belgariad, which introduced us to Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, and the world of Kings, Gods and Men. Guardians of the West picks up several years after the end of Enchanter's End Game. Garion, the young farmboy from Sendaria is now King Belgarion of Riva. He is trying to rule his island nation wisely. One day he is woken during the night by the voice of the Prophecy. He is told to "Beware Zandramas!" Nobody knows who or what this Zandramas is, only that it is dangerous. Garion had thought that his adventures had come to an end when he slew the evil god Torak. The more research Garion and his family does into this Zandramas, the more it appears that it is all beginning again.
As the book progresses there are attempts on the lives of his wife and others in the Rivan government. It is clear that there is a larger conspiracy which initially implicates friends and allies of Garion, but the true evil behind this has not come out into the open. This first book of the series is rather slow moving, which is fine for a fan of the series, but might be somewhat off-putting for those who are reading this book for the first time. Eddings spends a lot of time introducing what will be the overall conflict of this series.
Reading David Eddings was what first got me interested in the fantasy genre. The Mallorean does not have the same feel of the Belgariad, the characters have grown up a bit more, but it is an enjoyable trip through a familiar world. The fantasy of David Eddings is a bit simplistic, but that is also part of the joy of reading this author. It is a pleasure to read...just make sure that you've read the Belgariad first, though.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As a Tad Williams fan who appreciates a realistic 80% mortality rate among the heroes, formidable villains, dense plotting and haunting settings, Eddings 'Mallorean' reads like a happy romp through a schoolyard on a spring day. Eddings' narrative devotes multiple pages to building up various baddies, who are then dispatched in the space of one when encountered by omnipotent heroes. Very shortly anything the villains say sounds trite and inconsequential, however threatening. The entire series should have 'Suspense Free!' stamped on it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An truly fun series...and guess what? They're all back! All of our favorite characters, Ce'Nedra, Garion, Mandorallan, Polgara, on and on...they're all here.
I found the Mallorrean even more enjoyable than the now somewhat dated Belgariad. But the real beauty of these novels, aside from the funny dialogue, good action and nice descriptions, is the fact that you didnt have to read the Belgariad to jump in and enjoy the Mallorrean. Although sometimes it helps.
Anyone looking for an entertaining and FUN series (not like those dark, semi-goth novels of late) should definitely take a chance on these...you wont be dissappointed. And if you've read the first series of 5, then good for you...these are even better.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This review is intended for those who have read Eddings's preceding series, the Belgeriad (which begins with Pawn of Prophecy). If you have NOT read the Belgeriad, you really should read it first, both because it is the better work, and because if you don't like it, you definitely won't like this book.

Guardians of the West is the first book in Eddings's second five-volume series. This second series is known as the Malloreon. Eddings is very upfront about the Malloreon being in large part a repeat of the Belgeriad. Within the series, this is explained as a facet of his universe, that the same events keep recurring because something went wrong a long time ago.

It had appeared in The Belgeriad that Garion, the "Child of Light," had triumphed once and for all over the dark god Torak, the "Child of Dark." In Guardians of the West, the reader finds that this was not the FINAL, decisive meeting between Light and Dark, but only the most recent of many. The next meeting, however, is rumored to be the final one. Torak, being dead, is no longer the Child of Dark. Garion is still the Child of Light, but he will not necessarily still hold that title at the next meeting between Light and Dark.

Once again, Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, Ce'Nedra, Durnik, Silk, and young Errand set out to save the world. There is another, more personal goal that Garion and Ce'Nedra are pursuing at the same time.

Eddings's strength is creating distinct, generally likeable characters. But the Malloreon fails to measure up to the Belgeriad in this department. Most of Garion's other old friends from the first series - Barak, Hettar, Mandorallen, Lelldorin, Adara, Relg, Taiba - make appearances in this book, but they do not accompany him on his latest quest. Eddings apparently felt that he had mined those characters for all he could get out of them in the Belgeriad. That was presumably a wise decision on his part - he would know best whether he has run out of interesting things for Hettar to do - but these popular characters were unfortunately not replaced by equally interesting ones. The characters who join this second quest fail to engage the reader's interest.

The Malloreon is of course necessary reading for hardcore fans of the Belgeriad. It may irritate readers in many spots, however. It is true that Eddings falls into patterns of having Polgara be maddeningly superior, Belgarath be a scamp in a rated-PG kind of way, Silk be an aging adolescent sarcastic wiseguy, etc. Durnik is of course just boring, as is Garion too often. The worst drawn character is Ce'Nedra, who seems not to have matured one bit since first appearing as a spoiled 15 year-old princess in the Belgeriad, despite a decade of family and political responsibility. She is alternately whiny and flirtatious.

As the series develops, Errand shares more and more of the stage with Garion. This is a positive development, as Eddings allows Errand to be a good deal less of an idiot than he often forces Garion to be.

Eddings's books are not marketed as adolescent reading, but they are definitely best read as a young teen or late preteen. If you know a fantasy reader around 12-14 - or you yourself are within a few years of that age - then the Belgeriad in particular should be a must-read.

As for Guardians of the West and the rest of the Malloreon, those who like the Belgeriad should try this first book of the second series. If you DON'T like it, however, you may want to consider simply not finishing the Malloreon. The series does not improve in later books - Guardians is in fact the best of the five - and in particular the two books which follow it really drag at times.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading the Belgariad, dealing with the well-designed world and wonderfully real characters, it's really hard not to want more of them if you enjoyed the first series. This series does just that - lets you go back to the world and the characters you know so well, and fortunately doesn't leave a huge gap of time between them.
However, this book takes a while to actually get moving. While some of it is setting up the storyline for the series, other parts feel like filler - great if you enjoy the interactions of the characters, but seem to be more for allowing time to pass without just skipping over it. It's not until the last third of the book that Eddings stops setting up the story and actually gets to it.
Looked upon as an entire series, this amount of development beforehand isn't necesarily a bad thing, but as an individual book, and compared to the beginning of the Belgariad, it is a long time - I found myself wishing things would get moving, and really enjoyed the book.
Just as with the Belgariad (and there are a LOT of similarities between the two, even involving the plot - and the characters even mention that), it's fun, enjoyable, entertaining, but not complex, deep, or thought-invoking. A great series to pass the time, a wonderful chance to visit the characters and world again, and surely a lot better than watching sitcoms on television.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This certainly isn't the best work of Eddings. The plot is basically the same as his previous novels, but the sense of wonder that was so present in the Belgariad is largely missing. The writing is workman-like as the book wanders from scene to scene revisiting old characters, never quite going anywhere. Still, I greatly enjoyed it. It was quite pleasant to read about characters many of us had grown to love and were sorry to leave at the end of the Belgariad. Anyone who read and loved the wonderful character interaction of the earlier novels will surely look fondly on this novel, but its obvious flaws would make it difficult for non-fans to enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Possible spoilers ahead

This book (and series) is the center of a lot of controversy among fantasy fans. The main issue hinges on whether this is a new and fresh series or if it's repetitious drek. The answer to this daunting question is... yes.

The problem here is that most people (I feel) don't get what Edding was trying to do here. In my reviews for the Belgariad books I said that these books resemble nothing so much as a fantasy Sitcom, or if not a sitcom, at least some kind of serialized TV. If you've ever watched a TV program in your life you will realize that ideas are recycled constantly, that's one of the reasons I picked a sitcom to compare it to. The fun comes not out of the plot but the characters' reactions to the plot and character is what Eddings does best.

Furthermore, Eddings made way for a second series in the Belgariad's last book by giving us ample signs. We met 'Zakath for the first time in the last quarter of the book for instance. There were also tantalizing hints as to Errand's identity. Enchanter's Endgame was clearly not meant to be the end of the story.

As to the repetition of ideas and settings and such, it should be said that even the characters are aware of the cyclical universe they are in more than (or just as much as) the reader is. They begin a conversation in this book that lasts through the whole series about things repeating. This awareness on the part of the characters adds a layer of what might be called metafiction, Not too much of course, this isn't Dhalgren or anything, but it's interesting that it's there.

As an individual book Guardians of the West has been criticised for its slow pacing. Those that close this book for that reason are missing out on an interesting concept. Think about this: We have Garion, the Godslayer, Lord of the West and all around megahero. We have followed him from birth to the killing of a god. Then we just leave him there.

I like the fact that we get to see this world in a state that we see very few fantasy worlds in: Peace. We get to see how the kingdom runs when there isn't a universe-ending crisis happening. This aspect of the novel hit me when my 10 year old cousin asked me what Darth Vader and the Emperor did in their spare time. I didn't even know how to answer that. That made me start thinking about whether fantasy worlds could actually function as a society during peace time or just fall apart. Now there IS a threat about in the land but it takes several years to manifest so we get a chance to stretch our legs a bit.

There is also the matter of Errand, he's going to become very important so we have to spend time with him and get to know him since, ut until now, hs's only said the word "Errand". While Errand is living with Polgara and Durnik in the vale Eddings gets to write more on one of his favorite themes which is family.

In short, read this book when you have time to take a book in at a leisurely pace. I will say that there's a bit too much Polgara and a bit too much C'Nedra in this book. I've said before that Eddings has trouble writing female characters and it stands out in this book a bit more than usual but that's my only criticism of the book.

Enjoy
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