The Sapphire Rose
By David Eddings
Published by National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Read by Jon Beryl
You cannot really judge this book without the other two of “The Elenium” series; The Diamond Throne and The Ruby Knight, and since it is one multi-volume story, that’s fair enough. And as long, long stories go, it’s pretty good, although it is a bit stretched out as though the author discovered it would only be a two-part story and wanted to make it a trilogy. That happens, I suppose, though I’ve had the opposite problem; a planned trilogy ended up filly four volumes. The hardest part is coming up with an extra title that fits the theme of the series… well, if the titles are thematic.
For the most part I liked these extended story, although most of the second book did not seem necessary and the ending of this third part stretched out almost interminably. Certainly it answered questions I, as the reader, did not have. At least it did not leave too much unsaid.
In this part, Sir Sparhawk and his friends have finally managed, with the help of a goddess, to find the Bheliom, which is the only thing in the world powerful enough to cure the poisoned Queen Ehlana. They go back, cure the queen and then are off to destroy the bad guy, who turns out to be an evil god, because in such an epic adventure, nothing but a god is big enough for such a hero… I guess. That is not to say that the villains of the previous two volumes aren’t involved as well. They’re still around.
The story, while as epic in its own way as The Lord of the Rings, is written in a less formal modern manner and the characters have a sense of humor. That’s the good part. The bad part is that sometimes the style is a little too informal, especially on several occasions when the narrator makes off-handed, first person comments to the reader (I found that both annoying and unprofessional) and also while the characters have a nice sense of humor (if a little sarcastic) they all have exactly the same sense of humor. And they all have the same speech mannerisms. That might be understandable between people who have been together for a long time, but some of them just met in the first book.
If there are any differences between them, it is in their descriptions. Unfortunately, there they are a collection of standard tropes. Well, I guess that sells and I did enjoy the story, so maybe that’s not such a bad idea, but I got the feeling that what was good could have been great. Still it’s a fun ride, especially if you like a long story.
Once again, Jon Beryl turned in a fine performance. He does not over-do it with the funny voices, but he does manage to convey the emotion the characters are feeling as they speak in a fun to listen to and engaging manner. I know I say that a lot about the readers I like listening to, but sometimes that’s the best complement I can give. This is especially refreshing to find in a book recorded by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. They record a lot of books and while some of their readers are obviously talented amateurs donating their time in a good cause, finding one of their readers who does so in such a polished and professional manner is always wonderful.
So we have a pretty good story, that while it could be improved on, is still a good read and a pretty good reading of it. If you can find a copy of this edition, I think you’ll enjoy it.