Review: The Elenium Trilogy, by David Eddings

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The Diamond Ring: After ten years of exile Sparhawk Elenia returns to resume his duties as Pandion Knight and Paladin queen. However, his young queen, Ehlana, suffers a fatal disease, supposedly the same that led to the tomb Aldreas the king, his father. It remains alive thanks to powerful spell invoked by Sephrenia, ageless woman who initiates the Pandion into the secrets of magic. Ehlana is sitting on his throne, petrified within a block of glass and doomed to death unless someone finds a remedy before a year has elapsed.

The Ruby Knight: Sir Sparhawk and his companions continue their quest for the Bhelliom, the legendary jewel whose power alone can save a dying queen.

The Sapphire Rose: Finally the knight Sparhawk had come to possess Bhellion, the legendary jewel of magic. With it, he frees Queen Ehalana from the crystalline cocoon that preserves her life, but Bhellion carries dangers of its own. And now Sparkhawk is being stalked by a dark lurking menace that is only the beginning of his troubles….

Title: The Diamond Ring / The Ruby Knight / The Sapphire Rose
Author: David Eddings
Publisher: Voyager
Pub Date: 1989 / 1990 / 1991
Pages: 1600
ISBN: 9780007578979 / 9780007578986 / 9780007578993

Rating: 3stars

Whilst I still worked at a publishers, I walked past the new covers for these books countless times. Each time, I promised myself I would acquire a copy and read them. Scroll forward a year and I left the company, but managed get a copy of the books.

I finally started reading The Elenium Trilogy in September and, if I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how to review them.

If  I compare the series to the recent fantasy books I’ve read, it wouldn’t get a very good rating – I probably wouldn’t even have carried on to the second book. The story is quite formulaic (good, but somewhat brutish knights save fair maidens – and the world – from bad Gods whilst being tempted by ultimate power). The characters are pretty stereotypical and don’t get me started on place names (Zemorkland?!).

But it seems unfair to compare the trilogy to books that have been written a quarter of a century later. This is old-school (can I call it retro?) high fantasy; written in a different time, place, mindset. Put simply, these books can’t be measured with the same yardstick as ‘new fantasy’.

And if you take away the awful names of places… I liked it. The Elenium Trilogy is easy to read, well-paced and – for a lack of a better term – comfortable. It’s like going back to a really comfortable old pair of pyjamas; you wouldn’t ever wear it out, or even admit you have it. But it’s still quite nice to have around.

I finished the last book in a coffee shop on Sunday and got quite emotional at one of the big events (no spoilers here!). I was so surprised; I was sure I felt nothing for this crazy old-fashioned fantasy trilogy. Somehow, I had become attached. It crept up on me so slowly, I didn’t even realise it was happening.

So now I don’t know what to say. Would I recommend it to a younger reader? Probably not, though I might recommend it to a hard-core fantasy fan. Would I read it again? Unlikely. Would I read more from David Eddings? Definitely.

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