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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
David Eddings: July 7, 1931 - June 2, 2009
"Call it my little gesture toward social conscience, but I like to think I'm teaching a certain number of people to read. Now that sounds pretentious!" -- David Eddings
It is not often that one reads a book and is so utterly charmed by it that he immediately puts it down upon finishing and says, "I'm going to be a writer." It was James Rigney, Jr.--known as Robert Jordan to most--who introduced me to fantasy literature and, through his work, compelled me to seek out other authors to enjoy. The first of those authors was David Eddings, and the book was Pawn of Prophecy.
Like the central characters in his venerable Belgariad series, David Eddings was in firm possession of The Will and the Word, the ability to focus one's intent and manifest it via words. Beginning with the publication of Pawn of Prophecy in 1982, the will of David Eddings begat volumes of words that enraptured readers of all ages and walks of life.
But the effect Pawn of Prophecy had on me was far different than that of Jordan's Eye of the World. Robert Jordan made me a fantasy reader, but it was David Eddings who gave me the will to find my own words as a writer.
His prose was simplistic, as basic as one could get without writing "See Spot run." Yet as someone still relatively new to fantasy literature--and admittedly weary of Mr. Jordan's affinity for descriptions, flowing though they may be--I welcomed the surface simplicity that acted as a thin veil for incredible substance.
If there's one aspect of Mr. Edding's writing that I appreciate the most, it is his dialogue. I defy you to find another writer, fantasy or otherwise, who can write dialogue as smooth, realistic, and poignant as David Eddings'. I believe he knew that, as every situation in every book progressed not through action or knee-deep description, but through dialogue. It didn't matter whether the topic of discussion was witty, grave, or as mundane as the weather -- when Eddings wrote it, it was spell-binding, and the most interesting conversation you would overhear that day.
Of course, dialogue is only believable if a cast of characters is strong enough to deliver it. Getting together with Aunt Pol, Belgarath, Belgarion, Silk, Ce'Nedra, Durnik and the gang every year or two is like flying home to visit core family members, the ones you simply couldn't do without. Every character that Eddings has ever created is distinctive, possessive of strengths that complement the weaknesses in others so that, like a real family, each is reliant upon the others.
I would be remiss in not mentioning Judith "Leigh" Eddings, David's wife and, it was later revealed, his co-author on every book the venerable author ever wrote. On June 2, 2009, David Eddings went to be with his wife, who passed away on February 28, 2007. I believe they are together again, collaborating on a new adventure for Belgarion and his family, or perhaps for the irreverent knight Sparhawk and his horse, the most charismatic equine I've ever had the pleasure of fictitiously meeting -- or maybe even something entirely new.
Selfishly, I regret that it is a story they will keep to themselves.
2:30 PM | Posted by Fantasy Book Critic | | Edit Post