An Audio-Book Review: Strrrrretch!


Sorceress of Darshiva

Book 4 of the Malloreon

By David Eddings
Published by American Printing House for the Blind
Read by Hal Tenny

The Book:

Every story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. This entire book definitely counts as a part of the middle. In fact, it is so “Middle” that I got to the end thinking that not much had actually happened. Oh, sure the central cast of characters went places and did things, but the plot points of this particular volume would have filled a much thinner book (and the books of this series tend to be fairly thick) so that much of the time the book is filled with the chatter of the characters pretty much going on about the same things they had been going on about earlier in the series.

For example, as has been the case in the previous books, they are all in a hurry to catch up to Zandramas who had kidnapped Garion and Cenedra’s son. So, do they move with all due haste? You might think so, but once again, we see Silk getting repeatedly obsessed over his business matters, even to take the time to haggle with and cheat the people he is doing business with when he might save time with a straight answer or two. We see various conversations with pig farmers, idle fishermen and drunken noblewomen that while, yes, some vital information is gained, the character then go back and repeat what they learned to others, often with unnecessary details. There is a lot of repeated conversations on the philosophy of quests and prophecies, most of which is a rehash from earlier too, so that by the time I reached the climactic scene at the end I could see that most of the book was filler so that this would be a five book series, rather than a tetralogy.

About the only other purpose for all the filler scenes is to show the reader just how large the world is and how long it takes to get from one place to the next when on horseback. That, by the way, sounds a lot like stuff my high school teachers might have told us to make dusty and poorly written books of the 19th and early 20th Century sound like great works of literature. (Side note: have you ever noticed how high school reading lists seem to have been crafted to actually discourage literacy? I could give examples, but I’ll save that for some other time).

All those gripes aside, I did enjoy the story even if all the characters appear to be too clever by half at times and somewhat two dimensional. It is a perfect example of how character development is not always a requirement for decent fantasy and science fiction. However, I have found that this particular part of the story is less interesting now that I have read the entire series, although even on first reading, I knew where they were ultimately heading (the “Place that is No More”) the moment I opened the third volume. Actually, I knew that the first time the phrase was used, but did not know where it was and wondered why they did not, especially Belgarath who had been around at the time when it was sort-of destroyed. Well, at 6,000 years of age, I suppose he must be prone to memory lapses when the plot requires it.

So, anyway, I think the series in general tells a fairly interesting story, but this part of it lags at times and if I had to guess, I’d say it was badly stretched out so it would be over 400 pages and roughly as thick as the rest of the series.

 

The Audiobook:

My copy is of the same series as the previous volumes of this series and Hal Tenney is both a talented reader. So, everything I’ve said before about him still applies. He reads very well and is easy to listen to although I do disagree with some of his vocal choices. Belgarath sounds more and more like a confused old man which is in opposition to how he is portrayed in Eddings’ writing, although Silk no longer sounds like a human weasel as he did in earlier books. That mean no points of consistency, but I appreciate not hearing the voice Tenney used for him earlier. However, most characters sound fairly normal most of the time and while I still disagree with his pronunciation of Zandramas, I’ll admit that maybe I’m wrong.

So, while very stretched and full of verbal fluff, it’s not a bad continuation of the series and Tenny reads it well.

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