The Seeress of Kell, David Eddings
Much too short.
King of the Murgos, David Eddings
Book Two of The Malloreon.
This is where The Malloreon starts to feel like a "Better Belgariad."
Let's be clear: this is an escapist fantasy series. We are looking for obvious heros with obvious powers that overcome mighty enemies. But we want that to take some time. We therefore have a quest, literally laid out in advance (and I mean the word "literally" literally), which we know will take five books, and which we know will follow the same path as the previous series.
If we can accept that we will not be surprised by the outcome, then we can immerse ourselves in the details: the language of writers who are clearly amusing themselves, the interplay of caricature and developed characters, and the modernization, the moral improvement on some of the themes that left the first series with some questionable taste. Finally, it is satisfying to puzzle out the little conundra that the group of heros continually get themselves into.
If the first series was racist (towards imaginary races, but still pricipally racist), then this particular book starts to show ways to move away from that racism. Given - we are still talking about racism between imaginary races, but the message throughout both these series that racism is Ok is somewhat foul. In this this book, we get hints that the authors are re-thinking that message, even if they do not do so fully.
Likewise with sexism, directed at women. In this book we start to get hints that women are equal to men, even if those roles are not fully realized equally. It is more about potential. The trend is going in the right direction.
That re-thinking: that reconsideration of individual character over caricature is what is exciting about The Malloreon and particularly about King of the Murgos. If Leigh and David Eddings had been alive to write a third series today, one feels that there may have been potential for something truly modern.
The Unicorn Quest: Fire in the Star, Kamilla Benko
Pretty good. Some of the resolutions are contrived: like quite often a last-minute character or plot element comes in to undo all the tension.
And yet, I like how we see this writing "process" this way. I don't think all books should be made like this. It feels like Benko could have spent a little bit more time tying up some of the narrative knots and would then have had a series to rival real classics. But it also shows us that making a story is more than writing it.
So the storytelling may be slightly unpolished, but the series is imaginative, it is original, and it creatively inspiring, because the world Benko has built has potential well outside the story.
Guardians of the West, David Eddings (x2)
Book One of The Malloreon.
It starts slow, but one must put this in context: one has just finished reading the epic-fun Belgariad, and one wants more.
At that, a slow start is welcome, like a spring coiling, winding.
By the end of this book, we know we're in for a great series.