Queen of Sorcery

[openbook booknumber=”0345335651″][rating:5/5]

The master Sorcerer Belgarath and his daughter Polgara the arch-Sorceress were on the trail of the Orb, seeking to regain its saving power before the final disaster prophesized by the legends. And with them went Garion, a simple farm boy only months before, but now the focus of the struggle. He had never believed in sorcery and wanted no part of it. Yet with every league they traveled, the power grew in him, forcing him to acts of wizardry he could not accept.

Queen of Sorcery picks up where Pawn of Prophecy left off with the ever-growing group headed by Belgarath, along with his daughter Polgara and her charge Garion, chasing the stolen Orb of Aldur. The adventure continues, and small skirmishes and battles ensue as the group travels on theie quest. Intrigue is uncovered in far off cities. Whole new cultures are shown, very different from the ones we knew before. Plus new characters are introduced that promise to delight and vex us all.

Mandorallen turned to Barak. “If it please thee, my Lord,” he requested politely, “deliver my challenge as soon as they approach us.”
       Barak shrugged. “It’s your skin,” he noted. He eyed the advancing knights and then lifted his voice in a great roar. “Sir Madorallen, Baron of Vo Mandor, desires entertainment,” he declaimed. “It would amuse him if each of your parties would select a champion to joust with him. If, however, you are all such cowardly dogs that you have no stomach for such a contest, cease this brawling and stand aside so that your betters may pass.”
       “Splendidly spoken, my Lord Barak,” Madorallen said with admiration.
       “I’ve always had a way with words,” Barak replied modestly.

The second book in the Belgariad promises to be very different from the one before because Garion is no longer just a young child as he was in the first book. Time has passed and little Garion is growing up. There are a lot more teen angst style growing pains in this book than the last as a result. Especially as he struggles with his Aunt’s true identity, and his own.

Several new cultures are introduced as well and all of them provide their own complex controversies. The Dryads who look like children but are extremely sexually active. The starving and suffering of the serfs in Mimbre is juxtaposed with the “honorable” knights that rule them. And finally Nyissa – a country that highly values snakes and the concept of immortality, when they aren’t taking drugs or poisoning one another – features another highly sexualized being in the form of their “queen” who has ruled Nyissa for generations, or has she?

In amongst all of this though there are some gems for feminists to appreciate, just a few though. The largest being Polgara herself. She sews for the enjoyment of it, loves to wear pretty dresses, and be told she is beautiful, but she is also a very powerful and very wise sorceress and when she says jump the kings of the world do so immediately. I like that this shows that you can embrace femininity and still be considered worthy of power and respect. Something not often shown in any fiction let alone an 80’s high fantasy novel.

While the beginning of this novel seems to show a repeat of some of the same events of the last one (a plot is uncovered, Garion is in the middle of things again, new characters join the quest) there are a lot of new twists and turns as well. This is an enjoyable read that builds on the world of Pawn of Prophecy and promises more to come in the next book as the quest continues to reclaim the Orb of Aldur.

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