Eddings, David 1931- (David Carroll Eddings)
Eddings, David 1931- (David Carroll Eddings)
Born July 7, 1931, in Spokane, WA; son of George Wayne and Theone Eddings; married Judith Leigh Schall, October 27, 1962. Education: Attended Everett Junior College, 1950-52; Reed College, B.A., 1954; University of Washington, Seattle, M.A., 1961.
Writer; worked variously for Boeing Co., Seattle, WA, as a buyer; for a grocery store as a manager; and as a college English teacher. Military service: U.S. Army, 1954-56.
"BELGARIAD" FANTASY SERIES
Pawn of Prophecy, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1982, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2004.
Queen of Sorcery, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1982.
Magician's Gambit, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1984.
Castle of Wizardry, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1984.
Enchanter's Endgame, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1984.
The Belgariad (omnibus), Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.
(With wife, Leigh Eddings) Belgarath the Sorcerer, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1995.
Polgara the Sorceress, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1997.
(With Leigh Eddings) The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of the Belgariad and the Malloreon, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1998.
"MALLOREON" FANTASY SERIES
Guardians of the West, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1987.
King of the Murgos, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1988.
Demon Lord of Karanda, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1988.
Sorceress of Darshiva, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1989.
The Seeress of Kell, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1991.
The Malloreon (omnibus), Del Rey (New York, NY), 2005.
"ELENIUM" FANTASY SERIES
The Diamond Throne, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1989.
The Ruby Knight, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1990.
The Sapphire Rose, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1991.
The Elenium (omnibus), Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.
"TAMULI" FANTASY SERIES
Domes of Fire, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1993.
The Shining Ones, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1993.
The Hidden City, Del Rey (New York, NY), 1994.
The Tamuli, Del Rey/Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2008.
"THE DREAMERS" FANTASTY SERIES; WITH LEIGH EDDINGS
The Elder Gods, Aspect (New York, NY), 2003.
The Treasured One, Aspect (New York, NY), 2004.
Crystal Gorge, Aspect/Warner Books (New York, NY), 2005.
The Younger Gods, Aspect/Warner Books (New York, NY), 2006.
High Hunt, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.
The Losers, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1992.
Two Complete Novels (contains Losers and High Hunt), Wings (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Leigh Eddings) The Redemption of Althalus, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2000.
Regina's Song, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2002.
David Eddings is a prolific and widely read fantasy writer whose books offer winning characters, persuasive dialogue, and plenty of humor. Though he has occasionally been taken to task for lacking originality, his well-plotted stories that feature war, politics, and intriguing situations have earned him a loyal readership. In Fantasy Review, Dale F. Martin commended Eddings for his characters, "who are skillfully presented and deftly developed." The reviewer added: "Along with the sorcery and derring-do, there is wry humor and loving domesticity and credible dialogue."
Born in Spokane, Washington, Eddings graduated from Reed College and got his M.A. at the University of Washington. His first book was High Hunt, an adventure set in the present. While working at a series of jobs that included teaching college English, working in a grocery store, and a stint with the Boeing aircraft company, Eddings continued to write. As Eddings once commented: "I have tried my hand at a wide variety of subgenres with more interest in the technical problems presented by each type than in commercial success." His advice to aspiring writers is blunt: "Never be afraid to discard a day's work—or a month's, or even a year's. Attachment to one's own brilliance is the worst form of juvenile self-indulgence."
Eddings's second novel, Pawn of Prophecy, which appeared nine years after High Hunt, was the first to have a fantasy setting. Its success allowed him to write full-time, and he launched both the "Belgariad" and "Malloreon" series. These series chronicle the adventures of Garion, a young orphan, who gradually recognizes his own magic abilities as extraordinary events begin to overtake the ordinary occurrences of his world. By accepting his own powers, Garion is able to enlist the aid of warriors and sorcerers to combat the followers of the evil god Torak. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked that Pawn of Prophecy was "obviously part of a longer work" and noted that Eddings's first volume was "a promising start."
The first book in the "Malloreon" series, Guardians of the West, was also given a positive reception. In the "Malloreon" books, King Garion is locked in battle with the sorceress Zandramas. A Publishers Weekly reviewer, considering the fourth book in the series, Sorceress of Darshiva, noted of the author: "Eddings depicts a complex, believable and colorful society filled with nobles, rogues, and common people, the latter characters ringing particularly true."
Critics have pointed out that Eddings's fantasy worlds and plots are fairly standard: parallels to Imperial Romans, ancient Egyptians, and Vikings are readily apparent, for example. For his part, Eddings stressed the credibility factor in any story. His "basic formula" for believable fantasy, as he once stated, is to "take a bit of magic, mix well with a few open-ended Jungian archetypal myths, make your people sweat and smell and get hungry at inopportune moments, throw in a ponderous prehistory, and let nature take its course."
His third series, the "Elenium" books, was hailed by Booklist contributor Roland Green for its "well-wrought world" and "originality." The trilogy depicts the adventures of Sparhawk, a knight on a quest for the jewel Bhelliom, whose powers will free the Queen Ehlana from prison. Reviewing The Sapphire Rose, the last book in the series, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that Eddings "adroitly mixes the exalted with the mundane in a tale that should satisfy his many fans."
Rather than embarking on another series, Eddings took a different direction with The Losers. The novel's protagonist, Raphael Taylor, is a present-day senior at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Under the influence of his wealthy, reckless roommate, Damon Flood, Taylor plummets from a peak of academic and athletic success to an unhappy affair with an older woman and a series of alcoholic binges. Taylor then crashes his car, resulting in an amputated leg. Eddings found little favor among critics for his foray into realistic fiction. Writing in Voice of Youth Advocates, Cecilia Swanson warned that readers looking for more of Eddings's "wonderful fantasies" would be disappointed and that the book was "basically a variation on good vs. evil," though she praised The Losers for being "well written."
The writer returned to fantasy for his next series, which he titled "Tamuli." The first of these books was Domes of Fire, which reprised Sir Sparhawk and Queen Ehlana of the "Elenium" series. The far-away Tamul Empire pleads with Sparhawk to help them, and he sets off with his wife Ehlana and their daughter in tow. They encounter several incidents that lead Sparhawk to suspect magical or godly opposition to his cause. Publishers Weekly welcomed the writer's "likable, spirited characters," which "reflect his original touch." In the second book of the series, The Shining Ones, Eddings threw yet another obstacle in the way of Sparhawk and his entourage. The Shining Ones of the title seem human and friendly, but the knight strongly suspects that they are true to the Bhelliom stone rather than to him and his cause. Booklist reviewer Candace Smith highlighted the "well-drawn, likable characters" and "complex but not unwieldy plots" of the story. In Library Journal, Cassada noted Eddings's "talent for creating appealing, erudite characters and vivid cultures" in this second installment of the trilogy, and a reviewer in Publishers Weekly termed the novel "vintage Eddings." The final installment of the "Tamuli" books is titled The Hidden City. In it, Sir Sparhawk must rescue Queen Ehlana, now captive of the followers of the demented god Cyrgon. A Publishers Weekly reviewer remarked on a "new note of introspection" which gives "a fuller dimension to Eddings's rousing adventure."
The Redemption of Althalus introduces a new character. Althalus is a thief who has gained quite a bit of notoriety for his success in his profession. But as the story opens, he has been suffering through a long spell of bad luck. Contacted by a mysterious stranger and asked to steal a book from a place called the House at the End of the World, Althalus gamely sets out, even though he has never seen a book in his life. When he reaches his destination, he finds the book and seizes it, only to discover it was all an elaborate set-up. He is trapped in a chamber with a catlike deity who enlists him to save the world from her brother, who is determined to destroy all creation. "Plenty of derring-do spices up the first two-thirds of this jolly romp, and some zingy flashes of wit hone in neatly on stuffy human institutions like overorganized religion and landed aristocracies," commended a Publishers Weekly writer. Jackie Cassada, reviewing The Redemption of Althalus in Library Journal, recommended the book for its "cast of engaging characters, some fanciful plot twists, and a light-hearted atmosphere that should appeal strongly" to established Eddings fans and those discovering them for the first time.
The source material for many of Eddings's books is revealed in The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of the Belgariad and the Malloreon. Beginning with an autobiographical foreword, the author explains the influence that medieval epics, his wife, and renowned editor Lester Del Rey exerted on his work. It tells how Eddings began with a doodled map of an imaginary world, then went on to create a huge cast of villains, wizards, heroes, magic items, and legends related to it. From this imaginative outpouring came the "Belgariad," "Malloreon," "Elenium," and "Tamuli" series. The Rivan Codex contains the original outline for these stories, some of which had been greatly altered by the time they were published. "This book may be unintelligible to those who are not Eddings fans, but it will be irresistible to those who are," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Karen Simonetti endorsed the book strongly in a Booklist review in which she called The Rivan Codex "dazzling fantasy that will captivate those uninitiated in any of the series and beguile old series hands with its storytelling."
With Regina's Song, Eddings offers readers a stand-alone fantasy story about Regina and Renata Greenleaf, identical twins so perfectly alike that their mother cannot tell which is which. Over the course of the book, one twin is raped and murdered, while the other twin—ostensibly Renata—suffers from the traumatic experience. Mark Austin, a close friend of the twins' father, helps Renata as she mourns and also as the situation turns and she finds herself a major suspect in her sister's murder. Booklist reviewer Roland Green found the book to be "outstandingly well paced and tightly plotted."
"The Dreamers" fantasy series, which Eddings wrote with his wife, Leigh, begins with The Elder Gods, published in 2003. In this fantastical opening volume, the land of Dhrall is being threatened by the Vlagh, an insect-like creature with an army that resembles an entire hive of both other insects and reptilian beings at her disposal. She and her horde are stationed in the middle of the world's four regions, in a territory known as the Wasteland. Because the Elder Gods are forbidden from killing in the name of protecting these lands, they must leave their defense to others—namely to various human allies. Among those chosen are the men known for their seafaring abilities, even those who have become pirates. The gods have dreamers at their disposal, one for each god, and they appear to be the true hope for humanity, who will one day inherit the mantle of the gods, but in the meantime they enjoy wreaking havoc with the general population. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly criticized the book's leisurely pacing and also noted that "despite a variety of characters …, all speak in the same unlikely, bland manner, and dialogue generally replaces action." Roland Green, reviewing for Booklist, commented that the book was a change of pace compared to some of Eddings's earlier series, and declared that "this light but not lightweight, understated and sardonic series-opener bodes well for its successors."
The Treasured One continues Eddings "Dreamer" series as a new danger threatens Dhrall, and the four elder gods introduced in the first installment find themselves battling against a new threat as the Vlagh they faced in the previous adventure shifts focus and attempts to attack their power base from a new angle. The dreamers, or younger gods, are successful in predicting such a move, and because of this the head god, Dahlaine, his brother Veltan, and their two sisters are able to get ready for the approaching assault. As did its predecessor, this novel received mixed reactions from critics. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that, "filled with second- or even third-hand action, the story lacks urgency." Jackie Cassada, however, in a review for Library Journal, dubbed the book "a winning combination of congenial characters, beastly villains, and topnotch storytelling."
Eddings has emphasized the need for total credibility in fantasy writing. He once explained: "My magic is at best a kind of pragmatic cop-out. Many of my explanations of how magic is supposed to work are absurdities—but my characters all accept these explanations.… and if the characters believe, then the readers seem also to believe."
Eddings once told CA: "I have noted that no form is, of itself, trite or hackneyed. Those faults lie in the writer, not the form. The mystery, the western, the gothic horror, the thriller, the oversized historical novel—all are susceptible to that artistry which lifts the efforts of a given writer above those of his contemporaries, no matter what form he chooses.
"My advice to the young writer is likely to be unpalatable in an age of instant successes and meteoric falls. I tell the neophyte: Write a million words—the absolute best you can write, then throw it all away and bravely turn your back on what you have written. At that point, you're ready to begin.
"When you are with people, listen; don't talk. Writers are boring people. What are you going to talk about so brilliantly? Typewriters? The construction of paragraphs? Shut your mouth and listen. Listen to the cadences of speech. Engrave the sound of language on your mind. Language is our medium, and the spoken language is the sharp cutting edge of our art. Make your people sound human. The most tedious story will leap into life if the reader can hear the human voices in it. The most brilliant and profound of stories will sink unnoticed if the characters talk like sticks.
"Most of all, enjoy what you're doing. If you don't enjoy it, it's not worth doing at all. If hard and unrewarding work bothers you, do something else. If rejection withers your soul, do something else. If the work itself is not reward enough, stop wasting paper. But if you absolutely have to write—if you're compelled to do it even without hope of reward or recognition—then I welcome you to our sorry, exalted fraternity."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Booklist, December 1, 1991, Roland Green, review of The Sapphire Rose, p. 659; August, 1993, Candace Smith, review of The Shining Ones, p. 2012; October 15, 1998, Karen Simonetti, review of The Rivan Codex: Ancient Texts of the Belgariad and the Malloreon, p. 407; October 15, 2000, Candace Smith, review of The Redemption of Althalus, p. 390; May 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Regina's Song, p. 1443; September 1, 2003, Roland Green, review of The Elder Gods, p. 74.
Books, October, 1997, review of Polgara the Sorceress, p. 19; summer, 1998, review of Polgara the Sorceress, p. R2.
Fantasy Review, June, 1987, Dale F. Martin, review of Guardians of the West, pp. 35-36.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1997, review of Polgara the Sorceress, p. 1346; September 1, 1998, review of The Rivan Codex, p. 1242; November 15, 2000, review of The Redemption of Althalus, p. 1582.
Library Journal, June 15, 1992, Jackie Cassada, review of The Shining Ones, p. 100; November 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of The Redemption of Althalus, p. 100; November 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of The Treasured One, p. 54.
Publishers Weekly, March 19, 1982, review of Pawn of Prophecy, p. 69; October 27, 1989, review of Sorceress of Darshiva, p. 60; October 25, 1991, review of The Sapphire Rose, p. 49; May 18, 1992, review of The Losers, pp. 59-60; October 19, 1992, review of Domes of Fire, p. 62; August 2, 1993, review of The Shining Ones, p. 66; August 29, 1994, review of The Hidden City, p. 65; October 13, 1997, review of Polgara the Sorceress, p. 60; September 21, 1998, review of The Rivan Codex, p. 78; November 6, 2000, review of The Redemption of Althalus, p. 74; August 4, 2003, review of The Elder Gods, p. 59; September 27, 2004, review of The Treasured One, p. 42.
Science Fiction Chronicle, May, 1999, review of The Rivan Codex, p. 47.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1993, Cecilia Swanson, review of The Losers, p. 348; August, 1998, review of Polgara the Sorceress, p. 208; April, 1999, review of The Rivan Codex, p. 46.
David Eddings and Role-Playing MUD's,http://www.prophecy.lu/david_eddings (February 27, 2001).
David Eddings Home Page,http://www.eddingschronicles.com (October 14, 2008).
Unofficial David Eddings Bookpage,http://hem.passagen.se/fredricp/Eddings (February 27, 2001).