Title: Magicians Gambit
Author: David Eddings
Published By: Del Rey Books
Publish Date: 2002
Length: 320 Pages in Original Paperback
Purchase From: Amazon @ $12.21
Magicians Gambit was originally published in 1983 by the Random House Publishing Group as part of The Belgariad series by David Eddings. In 1995 a hardcover first edition was published which incorporated the first three books of this series. In 2002 a trade edition (large format paperback) was published. This review covers the 2002 trade release and all information above is in reference to this particular publication.
In a continuation from Queen of Sorcery, Garion and his party continue on their quest to retrieve the Orb of Aldur. We learn that along the way, Apostate Zedar has had the orb stolen from him by an evil sorcerer named Ctuchik. This changes the direction of the story slightly, but the group trudges on.
As they trek through a mountain region, they are slowly becoming overtaken by the weather. A dry voice in Garion’s mind tells him that there is a cave nearby where they can get out of the weather and allow their horses time to rest. One of the horses, as it turns out, is about to give birth.
After some trouble, the mare gives birth to a colt that is not strong enough to live. Sadness overtakes the group as they stare and the dead colt lying in the room. In a fit, Garion moves towards the colt and forces his will into the dead animal. After warnings from his Aunt Pol, Garion continues and eventually forces the colt back through the barrier of death and into the land of the living.
Once the party is well rested, they continue on with their journey. In an effort to save time, they travel through a haunted land and all but Belgarath (Mister Wolf or Old Wolf) and Aunt Pol (Polgara) need to be put into a magical sort of hypnosis. This state of mind allows the members of the party to travel through the haunted land without going insane from the frightening actions of the dead.
After traveling through the haunted land of Maragor, the party arrives in the Vale of Aldur. While in the Vale, Garion learns more about his grandfather (Belgarath), and his Aunt Pol. He is given a small tour of the area and gets to see first hand where his grandfather and aunt grew up.
It is at this time that Garion decides that he must learn to control his gift. While Belgarath and Aunt Pol are occupied holding a conversation with the God Aldur, Garion goes off on his own to practice. Seeing a rock that his grandfather once moved with his mind, when he was Garion’s age, he tried to do the same. In a comedic twist, Garion winds up burying himself into the soil up to his neck and has to rely on Silk to dig him back out.
When business is concluded in the Vale of Aldur, the party sets out for Ulgoland. It is here that another member of the party is found and Princess Ce’Nedra is left behind. While in Ulgoland, the princess learns a few life lessons and realizes that she is in love with Garion.
After leaving Ulgoland, the party trudges on to find the Orb of Aldur. In the conclusion of the book, the orb is discovered and a huge magical battle takes place between Belgarath and Ctuchik. The Orb is recovered and yet another party member is added in the form of a very young child nicknamed Errand.
After reading the first three books in The Belgariad series, I’m finding that I’m slowly finding it more and more difficult to read for long periods of time. While the innocence and boyhood trials and tribulations are fun, they just are not engaging enough to hook me. I find that after a chapter of reading, I’m ready to set the book down and find something else to occupy my time.
If I were reading this book when I was about 15, I could see this as being something I would be absolutely glued to until the series was complete. I’m determined to finish this series, but am hoping that it begins to develop a little more substance along the way. While the characters are very likable, the storyline seems a little too predictable and doesn’t have much in the way of plot twists.