Magician’s Gambit

[openbook booknumber=”0345335457″][rating:5/5]

Ce’Nedra, Imperial Princess of Tolnedra, had joined a dangerous mission to recover the stolen Orb that supposedly protected the West from the evil God Torak. And somehow, she found herself feeling quite tender for Garion, the innocent farm boy, who would be forced into the strange tower in the center of all evil to retrieve the Orb by himself.

It’s always a little difficult to review a fantasy book that is smack dab in the middle of a series and Magician’s Gambit is no exception. Fortunately it is quite different from the two books that came before it. For one the standard plot arc of entering a new kingdom and having Garion be the only one observant enough to notice a coup or a nefarious character attempting to instigate war is not present. Instead the book opens with the story being told from the view-point of Ce’Nedra, the Tolnedran princess who ran away from her father only to find herself mixed up in Belgarath’s quest for the Orb. While both Garion and Ce’Nedra have come a long way since they met, they are still very much teenagers and spend most of this book squabbling in one way or another. It is on one hand cute but on the other quickly becomes mildly annoying.

What was that?” Belgarath asked, coming back around the corner.
       “Brill,” Silk replied blandly, pulling his Murgo robe back on.
       “Again?” Belgarath demanded with exasperation. “What was he doing this time?”
       “Trying to fly, last time I saw him.” Silk smirked.
       The old man looked puzzled.
       “He wasn’t doing it very well,” Silk added.
       Belgarath shrugged. “Maybe it’ll come to him in time.”
       “He doesn’t really have all that much time.” Silk glanced out over the edge. From far below – terribly far below – there came a faint, muffled crash; then, after several seconds, another. “Does bouncing count?” Silk asked.
       Belgarath made a wry face. “Not really.”
       “Then I’d say he didn’t learn in time.” Silk said blithely.

The character that saves the day is Silk, the prince of Drasnia, he is witty and sly and is officially dubbed the Guide of the group by the prophecy that binds them all together. His one line zingers, clever machinations and jokes were very entertaining to read about and he was in danger of stealing the show as he quite nearly outshone our beloved main characters.

The quest in this book proves to take an interesting turn as they are all headed to the Vale of Aldur, Belgarath’s and Polgara’s home. Along the way new countries are discovered that are again unlike any we have seen before, Maragor is a country now devoid of people as they have all been wiped out by the Tolnedrans years and years before. Now the god of those people weeps and mourns their loss and drives anyone mad who dares enter. They also discover Ulgoland, a country that entirely lives underground and worships the god UL. A new character is introduced here, the religious zealot Relg.

Relg is another great character if for no other reason that the stuff he spouts out about his strict religion, his rigid beliefs, and his struggles with his attempts to be pious and prudish while at the same time being a bit of a disgusting man proves to be hilarious religious commentary.

This third book is truly a twist from what has come before and has the adventure kick up another notch in the quest for the Orb with some very entertaining characters brought in along the way. Several major stand offs finally came to a head and ended with a truly stunning surprise that leaves you wondering what must yet be in store for Garion and his friends.

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