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The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of THE BELGARIAD and THE MALLOREON. [Hardcover]

Leigh Eddings
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

So you want to write a multivolume, bestselling epic fantasy? Here's the book to help you. The Rivan Codex was published to answer the many letters David and Leigh Eddings have received from students, teachers, and aspiring writers. It's a companion to the 12-book fantasy series comprised of The Belgariad (five books), The Malloreon (five books), Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress. In David Eddings's words, The Rivan Codex "may give the student of our genre some insights into the creative process--something on the order of 'connect wire A to wire B. Warning! Do not connect wire A to wire C, because that will cause the whole thing to blow up in your face." This is a collection of the groundwork David and Leigh Eddings laid for the Belgariad and Malloreon series. On this firm foundation they imagined and built their world in book after book.

There's a fascinating introduction, a personal history of Belgarath the sorcerer, Holy Books, Gospels, Histories, King Anheg's diary, and an afterword. Footnotes tell how the authors used and changed these materials in writing the books. And of course, there are plenty of maps (the starting point for all epic fantasies). --Nona Vero

From Publishers Weekly

Though full of treasures, this farewell to the world of the authors' bestselling Belgariad and Mallorean sagas is rather a mixed bag. The book contains an autobiographical foreword, explaining the roots of the double saga in David Eddings's reading of medieval epics, the editorial influence of the late Lester del Rey, the longstanding but only recently acknowledged role of the author's wife as "unindicted collaborator" and the perils of writing high fantasy in general. The volume then presents a variety of well-crafted pseudobiblia, such as Belgarath's autobiography and many of the Holy Books. It goes on to the historical, economic and ethnographic background of the major nations of the sagas. There are many other pieces that reflect well on the Eddingses' world-building skillsAas if the novels themselves had not already demonstrated their craft. This book may be unintelligible to those who are not Eddings fans, but it will be irresistible to those who are. It is also of some scholarly interest in revealing the roots of one of the founding megasagas in modern English-language fantasy. Science Fiction Book Club alternate selection.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Twenty years ago, David Eddings doodled "a map of a place that never was" and began the creative process for the four best-selling fantasy series, the Belgariad, the Malloreon, the Elenium, and the Tamuli. He created a myriad of plots, stories, "magic thingamajigs," heroes, wizards, villains, and worlds that were used to midwife the birth of each novel. This book contains the original, structural outline of the stories, each of which is annotated, for all the fantasy series. Naturally, details vary from those of the published sagas, and still it is spellbinding--all of it: the various characters' own summaries of their worlds and problems, the maps, the other illustrations, the glossary, and the Eddings' frequent quips and comments. Dazzling fantasy that will captivate those uninitiated in any of the series and beguile old series hands with its storytelling. Karen Simonetti

From Kirkus Reviews

Already a smash hit in the UK, this latest addition to the Belgariad and Malloreon cycles (most recently, Polgara the Sorceress, 1997), featuring evil gods, kings, sorcerers, orbs, and whatnots, comprises a wretched jumble of unreconstructed notes together with gnarled, gnomic utterances - that is to say, background material accumulated before the authors wrote the stories themselves. It consists of an introduction, a preface, six headed sections, and an afterword (``This collection provides a kind of running description of a process'') that's a sort of ``how-to'' for budding fantasists. The headed sections weigh in, variously, as: ``The Holy Books'' (of Alom, of Torak, etc.: ``And so passed the companions again unto the north and returned they unto the west''); ``The Histories'' (of The Alorn Kingdoms, of Sendaria, of Ulgoland, and so forth - luckily, ``The caves of the Ulgos are naturally heated by geothermal forces''); ``The Battle of Vo Mimbre'' (``And great was the wrath of the Accursed One, and fire was in his right eye and also in the eye that was not''); ``Preliminary Studies to the Malloreon'' (``When speaking of this era, some confusion is possible''); ``The Malloreon Gospels'' (``Sit no more upon the earth in vain and foolish lamentation''); and ``A Summary of Current Events.'' Fanatics only. (Science Fiction Book Club alternate selection) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Review

"DAZZLING FANTASY THAT WILL CAPTIVATE THOSE UNINITIATED IN ANY OF THE SERIES AND BEGUILE OLD SERIES HANDS WITH ITS STORYTELLING."
--Booklist

"IRRESISTIBLE . . . FULL OF TREASURES."
--Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Publisher


Truth to tell, I'd give anything for a new Eddings novel, a new world where David and Leigh can work the magic they did with The Belgariad and The Malloreon, The Elenium and The Tamuli. There's nothing like an Eddings adventure.
        But while the Eddings are busy inventing a new world and peopling it with heroes and vallains and just-plain-folks (skulking and otherwise), it's nice to peek behind the scenes and see what went into inventing the world of The Belgariad. It helps you appreciate why it does take so long to start a truly new series. And, as one of the first people to see the rough material of this book said--how did she put it?--it's actually very giving of Dave to share this much of the creative process with his readers. And as impatient as we all are for a new adventure, I think we've got time to sit and reminisce with old friends...

--Veronica Chapman, Senior Editor

From the Inside Flap

Ancient Texts of The Belgariad and The Malloreon

When David Eddings sketched a strange map one morning before work, he took the first step in an extraordinary imaginative journey that would last for years and result in a majestic saga of Gods, Kings, and Sorcerers--one loved by millions of readers the world over. Now David and Leigh Eddings take us on a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the extensive background materials they compiled before beginning the masterpiece of epic fantasy unforgettably set down in The Belgariad and The Malloreon and their two companion volumes, Belgarath the Sorcerer and Polgara the Sorceress.

Our tour stretches from the wealthy Empire of Tolnedra to the remote Isle of the Winds, from the mysterious mountains of Ulgoland to the forbidding reaches of darkest Mallorea. We will visit the time before Time when two opposing Destinies began the cataclysmic struggle for supremacy that would involve Gods and men alike, crack a world asunder, and threaten to unravel the fabric of the universe itself. We will see the origin of the Orb of Aldur and glimpse the final act upon the Sardion Stone.

Along the way, we will stop to greet old friends: Belgarath, the Old Wolf, disciple of the god Aldur; Polgara, his enigmatic daughter; brave Belgarion, the Rivan King; and his beautiful Queen, Ce'Nedra. Old enemies will be waiting, too: the maimed god Torak, evil incarnate; Zandramas, fearsome Child of the Dark; and the tragically corrupted traitor, Belzedar.

Rare volumes will be opened to your eyes. Sacred holy books in which you may read the secrets of the Gods themselves and of their prophets. Scholarly histories of the rise and fall of empires from the Imperial Library at Tol Honeth. The profound mysteries of the Malloreon Gospels.

Brimming with the adventure, romance, and excitement readers have come to expect from David and Leigh Eddings--including invaluable advice for aspiring writers on how and how not to create their own fantasy worlds--The Rivan Codex will enrich your understanding of all that has gone before . . . and whet your appetite for all that is yet to come.

From the Back Cover


"DAZZLING FANTASY THAT WILL CAPTIVATE THOSE UNINITIATED IN ANY OF THE SERIES AND BEGUILE OLD SERIES HANDS WITH ITS STORYTELLING."
--Booklist

"IRRESISTIBLE . . . FULL OF TREASURES."
--Publishers Weekly
--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Eddings published his first novel, High Hunt, in 1973, before turning to the field of fantasy and The Belgariad, soon followed by The Malloreon. Born in Spokane, Washington, in 1931, and raised in the Puget Sound area north of Seattle, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1954 and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1961. He has served in the United States Army, has worked as a buyer for the Boeing Company, and has been a grocery clerk and a college English teacher.

Leigh Eddings has collaborated with her husband for more than a dozen years.

David and Leigh Eddings live in the Southwest.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

My decision to publish this volume was made in part because of a goodly
number of flattering letters I've received over the past several years.
Some of these letters have come from students at various levels, and to
make matters worse, I've also received letters from teachers who inform me that they're actually encouraging this sort of thing. Aren't they aware that they're supposed to wait until I'm safely in the ground before they do this?

The students, naturally, ask questions. The teachers hint around the edges of an invitation to stop by and address the class. I'm very flattered, as I mentioned, but I don't write--or grade--term papers any more, and I don't travel. To put it idiomatically, 'I ain't going no place; I been where I'm going.'

Then there are those other letters, the ones which rather bashfully
confide an intention to 'try writing fantasy myself'. I don't worry too
much about those correspondents. They'll get over that notion rather
quickly once they discover what's involved. I'm sure that most of them
will eventually decide to take up something simpler--brain surgery or
rocket science, perhaps.

I'd more or less decided to just file those letters and keep my mouth
shut. A prolonged silence might be the best way to encourage a passing
fancy to do just that--pass.

Then I recalled a conversation I had with Lester del Rey on one occasion. When I'd first submitted my proposal for the Belgariad, I'd expected the usual leisurely reaction-time, but Lester responded with what I felt to be unseemly haste. He wanted to see this thing--now, but I wasn't ready to let him see it--now. I was in revision of what I thought would be Book I, and since I was still doing honest work in those days, my time was somewhat curtailed. I wanted

to keep him interested, however, so I sent him my 'Preliminary Studies'
instead--'So that you'll have the necessary background material.' Lester
later told me that while he was reading those studies, he kept telling
himself, 'There's no way we can publish this stuff,' but then he admitted, 'but I kept reading.' We were fairly far along in the Belgariad when he made this confession, and he went on to say, 'Maybe when we've got the whole story finished, we might want to think about releasing those studies.'

Eventually, the two ideas clicked together. I had people out there asking questions, and I had the answers readily at hand since nobody in his right mind takes on a multi-book project without some fairly extensive preparation. My Preliminary Studies were right there taking up space, I'd just finished a five-book contract, and I had nothing else currently on the fire. All this thing needed was a brief
introduction and some footnotes, and we were off to press. (Just in
passing I should advise you that my definition of 'brief' and yours might differ just a bit. It takes me a hundred pages just to clear my throat. Had you noticed that? I thought you might have.)

Please bear in mind the fact that these studies are almost twenty years
old, and there are going to be gaps. There are places where some great
leaps occurred, frequently flowing out of the point of my pen during that actual writing, and I wasn't keeping a diary to report these bursts of inspired creativity. I'll candidly admit that probably no more than half of these 'strokes of genius' actually worked. Some of them would have been disastrous. Fortunately, my collaborator was there to catch those blunders. Trial and error enters into any form of invention, I suppose. This book may help others to avoid some of the missteps we made along the way, and it may give the student of our genre some insights into the creative process--something on the order of 'connect wire A to wire B. Warning! Do not connect wire A to wire C, because that will cause the whole thing to blow up in your face.'

Now that I've explained what I'm up to here, let's get the lecture out of the way. (Did you really think I'd let you get away without one?)

After I graduated from the US Army in 1956, one of my veteran's benefits
was the now famous GI Bill. My government had decided to pay me to go to
graduate school. I worked for a year to save up enough for some
incidentals (food, clothing, and shelter) and then enrolled in the
graduate school of the University of Washington in Seattle. (A good day in Seattle is a day when it isn't raining up.) My area of concentration was supposed to be modern American fiction (Hemingway, Faulkner, and
Steinbeck), but I had those Ph.D exams lurking out in the future, so I
knew that I'd better spend some time with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton as well. Once I'd mastered Middle English, I fell in love with Chaucer and somewhat by extension with Sir Thomas Malory.

Since what is called 'Epic Fantasy' in the contemporary world descends in an almost direct line from medieval romance, my studies of Chaucer and Malory gave me a running head start in the field. 'Medieval Romance' had a long and honorable history, stretching from about the eleventh century to the sixteenth, when Don Quixote finally put it to sleep. It was a genre that spoke of the dark ages in glowing terms, elevating a number of truly barbaric people to near sainthood. The group that is of most interest to the English-speaking world, of course, is King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. There may or may not have been a real King Arthur, but that's beside the point. We should never permit historical reality to get in the way of a good story, should we?

Since the issue's come up, though, let's take a look at someone who was
historically verifiable and who had a great deal of impact on the
fledgling genre in its earliest of days. The lady in question was the
infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Eleanor was related to five (count 'em) different kings (or pseudo-kings) during the twelfth century. Her father was the Duke of Aquitaine (now known as Gascony) and, since he controlled more land than the King of France, he routinely signed official documents as 'the King of Aquitaine'. In 1137, Louis of France arranged a marriage between his son, Prince Louis and 'princess' Eleanor. Eleanor wasn't a good wife, since she had what's politely known as a 'roving eye'. Evidently, it was more than her eye that roved.

Her husband, who soon became Louis VII of France, was a pious man, and his wandering wife not only failed to produce an heir to his throne, but also became notorious as an adulteress. He finally managed to have their
marriage annulled in 1152, and two months later Eleanor married Henry
Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy, who incidentally also happened to be King
Henry II of England. Eleanor, as it turned out, was not barren, and she
bore Henry several sons. Aside from that, Henry and Eleanor didn't really get along together, so he took the easy way out and locked her up to keep her out of his hair. After he died, Eleanor stirred up trouble between her sons, Richard the Lionhearted and John the Incompetent, both of whom became kings of England. They also locked Mother away to keep her out of mischief.

Thus, Eleanor spent a lot of her time locked up. Embroidery didn't thrill her too much, so she read books. Books were very expensive in the twelfth century because they had to be copied by hand, but Eleanor didn't care. She had money, if not freedom, so she could afford to pay assorted indigents with literary pretensions to write the kind of books she liked. Given Eleanor's background it's understandable that she liked books about kings, knights in shining armor, pretty young fellows who played the lute and sang of love with throbbing emotion, and fair damsels cruelly imprisoned in towers. Her literary tastes gave rise to troubadour poetry, the courtly love tradition, and whole libraries of interminable French romances that concentrated heavily on 'The Matter of Britain' (King Arthur et al) and 'The Matter of France' (Charlemagne and Co.).

Now we jump forward three hundred years to the Wars of the Roses. There was a certain knight named Sir Thomas Malory (probably from Warwickshire) who sided with the Lancastrians. When the Yorkist faction gained the ascendancy, Sir Thomas was clapped into prison. He was not, strictly speaking, a political prisoner, however. He was in prison because he belonged there, since it appears that he was a career
criminal more than a political partisan. There may have been some politics involved in the various charges leveled against him, of course, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that he was a sort of medieval Jesse James, leading a gang of outlaws on a rampage through southern England. He was imprisoned for sedition, murder, the attempted murder of the Duke of Buckingham, cattle-rustling, horse theft, the looting of monasteries, jail-breaking and not infrequently of rape. Sir Thomas seems to have been a very bad boy.

He was still a nobleman, however, and a sometime member of parliament, so he was able to persuade his jailors to let him visit a nearby library
(under guard, of course). Sir Thomas was quite proud of his facility in
the French language, and he whiled away the hours of his incarceration
translating the endless French romances dealing with (what else?) King
Arthur. The end result was the work we now know as Le Morte d'Arthur.

A technological break-through along about then ensured a wide distribution of Malory's work. William Caxton had a printing press, and he evidently grew tired of grinding out religious pamphlets, so, sensing a potential market, he took Malory's manuscript and edited it in preparation for a printing run. I think we underestimate Caxton's
contribution to Le Morte d'Arthur. If we can believe most scholars,
Malory's original manuscript was pretty much a hodgepodge of disconnected tales, and Caxton organized them into a coherent whole, giving us a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Now we jump forward another four hundred years. Queen Victoria ascended
the British th...
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