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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Will and the Word: A Tribute to David Eddings

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.


Austin said...

You'll be missed. I'd like to thank the random man in the used book store that recommended Pawn of prophecy to a dorky 12 year old in 1989. I remember shaking with delight when The Seeres of Kell arrived on my door step. Rest in Peace.

Robert said...

David Eddings was introduced to me in college a couple of years after I had really started getting into fantasy. I don't think I would enjoy his books as much today, but at the time, they were a lot of fun to read, and really helped nurture my love for the genre. So for that Mr. Eddings, thank you and rest in peace...

Stormy70 said...

RIP. Eddings introduced me to the fantasy genre, and I love to revisit his books from time to time. They are great friends to me, and I always find them comforting.

No other fantasy series has held a candle to the Belgariad for me.

Maree said...

Lord of the Rings introduced me to fantasy, which led me to picking up Pawn of Prophecy in a bookstore when I was about 14. I still remember that moment.
Thank you for that, Mr Eddings.

Errant Knave said...

I'd only read LOTR, Shannara, and WoT books when I picked up Pawn of Prophecy. I think what I liked best about his writing was how the adventures were almost secondary to the characters. They were so fleshed out, and so funny. He showed me the humourous side of fantasy. RIP Mr Eddings.

Justin said...

RIP David Eddings! I think I need to revisit some of my old friends lying on that bookcase at home in your honour... In fact I'll do just that tonight and the next night and the next night...

Jo said...

I came across your post via Bella's A Tribute to David Eddings. That was such a wonderful tribute, and lovely to read. Eddings was such an amazing author, and his books will always have a place on my bookshelf. It's sad to know he's gone.

Alexander Knight said...

David Eddings was one of the writers who inspired me to write. His passing was a sad day indeed. Thank you, David, for all of the wonderful imagery and inspiration.

Anonymous said...

My english teacher introduced me to David Eddings in high school with the Belgariad and the Mallorean. He re-read each book and would pass it on to me to devour afterwards. I sit here now almost 10 years later re-reading them, sad that Eddings passing went without my knowing until now. Truly, these books get better with age and I have to admit this series in particular has in many ways changed my world view. I remember reaching the end of saga the first time and not wanting to finish book ten as I knew it would mean the end of my journey with these lively and unforgettable characters. I again reach the same dilemma. RIP dear Eddings, your writings will live on not only in my mind, but the minds of my future children. Now I just need to find myself a small, fiery wife. :)


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