Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Redemption of Althalus – Book Review


Author – David & Leigh Eddings

A review of The Redemption of Althalus

I’ve become a reader of David Eddings recently, dating back to last spring 2012.  I read ‘The Tamuli’ which was a splendid welcoming into the fantasy realm.  I’m not an avid fantasy reader but I do pick and choose the times I’ll skip over to that world, in this case ‘The Redemption of Althalus’.  My expectation was high for this book and I don’t make a habit of doing that when I start a read.  As I read and read I began to realize that this stand alone felt like a series crammed into one book.  It’s not a terrible story but there was enough I didn’t like to keep it on the shelf for years to come.  Well I may take it off every now and then considering the cover art is actually pretty cool to look at.

Redemption?
Technically you can interpret the title of the book as being correct but I have my own thoughts on it.  Althalus did live a thief’s life to the letter before he was corralled into service by a higher being.  However his character to me was likable at the beginning and didn’t really seem evil or of a rotten nature.  Yes it did state he’d murder if the price was right but I doubt he did it often enough to be that dastardly.  My point is, to be redeemed; it would be deeper for his character if he really had done some very awful things in his past or present.  It didn’t strike me as a true redemption, now if Ghend, the antagonist, had changed his ways that would be of much more grand significance.  Again the title does work but a horrible history on Althalus might merit more emotion for him.  He ended up lying, cheating and stealing all the way to the end anyway so did he really redeem himself?

Evil stood no chance, none
Ghend is the rival to Althalus but never comes close to challenging him.  The house where Dweia, the most annoying character in the book, lives uses the ability to cheat at every turn, whether it’s screwing with the enemies mind to make them forgetful, traveling around the world in mere seconds with the use of doors or using a book to gain leverage 100% of the time evil can’t even compete.  To make a classic struggle revolving around good and evil you’d think evil would win a few battles at the very least.  It doesn’t happen, it almost did once but it didn’t.  The character Eliar from Althalus’ squad gets whacked in the head with an axe at a critical juncture in the story but survives somehow with the aid of magical surgery.  His death would have been staggering at that point since he was the operator of the doors that good used.  I wanted him to die.

                Evil was also cursed with morons, I believe every member of evil had some sort of mental setback in their brain.  Ghend had been around a very long time and could have been much more powerful than Althalus ever could have been but the evil master Daeva apparently didn’t like to train his minions.  Dweia said as much in the actual story.  I mean what is the point of evil to start an uprising if you’re not even going to really try?  In the end Dweia may not have been evil but she controlled good to do her bidding no matter what.  She was basically a puppeteer.  Also, how many times did she call Althalus pet?  That drove me crazy, hated it. 

The Good
I’ve hit the book hard so far but I did enjoy the beginning of the book (pre-Dweia) and the parts when Althalus was recruiting his fellowship.  I also will put Bheid, a holy man, as one of the better spots in the story.  He at one point killed a member of evil to avenge the loss of a young man he was grooming to become a priest of some sort.  Emotion actually filled the pages as he failed his vow and lost will to go on.  It’s not a moment set on a peak that oversees the rest of the story but it was interesting.  Bheid was a somewhat unstable character so it shook things up a little.

Wrap up  
The characters didn’t have enough to them to make you want them to succeed or continue living.  The side of evil barely had their point of view shown and when it did you’d swear Daeva was just Dweia with a mask on controlling them as well.  If you like female characters controlling males by way of verbal commands then you’d probably find this book delightful.  The high headed Dweia and her ‘I’m perfect and will always be right’ attitude is too much for me.  I could express more folly but if you’re making a decision to read this I hoped I helped.  It’s not a place I’d recommend for new Eddings readers while Eddings purists might say I’m just full of it which is fine.  Read in good health.