It has always bugged the crap out of me that Begarath would have a wolf (Poledra) accompanying him for a few hundred years, and NOT REALIZE something funny was going on. Oh, sure, he said he thought about it once or twice...over a few centuries. What, is he that obtuse?
All the sorcerers except Polgara and Durnik are usually like that.
Sadi: "It chills my blood, the way you people just shrug off eons like that."
And Belgarath's tendency to lose track of time and not pay attention to what is going on around him is lampshaded several times. So part of it probably is that he's that obtuse.
At one point, Belgarath mentions that he realized something funny was going on when he actually thought about just how long the wolf had been hanging around. Being, as others have said, a bit out of touch with the passage of time and having a tendency to not pay attention to what is going on around him, it took a while for him to get to that.
It was also implied that the Voice of the Prophecy was influencing his brain away from such thoughts so he didn't think about it too much.
He lampshades this himself in his memoirs, but simply says that he disregarded it as unimportant, same as when he began his relationship with Poledra, and it was pretty obvious who she really was. Belgarath knew, he just didnt see fit to vocalize his thoughts.
Why the heck didn't he just transform into a more attractive man? We've seen Belgarath take all kinds of other human forms.
He could have, but he would have known it was a lie. It's why Beldin and Polgara greet each other with horrific insults, since Polgara saying "You look well," could only sound like an insult. But taking an animal form wouldn't feel like lying to him, since it was something completely different, and he felt free in his hawk form.
Did Belgarath ever actually take a human form? I'm pretty sure he used illusions to make himself look different, and Beldin did as well, but I don't think anyone ever actually transformed into another human.
Yes. It's mentioned in "Belgarath the Sorcerer" a couple of times.
I thought it was actually transforming, especially since that's the subtly stated/heavily implied answer as to why Polgara looks young while Belgarath looks old, that the sorcerers could subconsciously choose their appearances. But even if they can't actually transform and Belgarath was only using illusions, the same answer would apply to "why didn't Beldin cast an illusion of himself as a more attractive man?". Because it would have been lying, and he's too blunt and too defiant to cave to others' expectations.
It's interesting to note that it extends to more than just their outward appearance, because they're both physically very strong, even without enhancing themselves sorcerously. They look like old men but they're as fit as young ones.
"Asharak snarled and struck the bowman a crushing blow to the side of the head. The bowman fell twitching to the stone floor." Hardly evidence by itself, but it also supports the theory, since Asharak is a Grolim priest, and is unlikely to have received any 'job perks' Aldur might have handed out. While this troper has never actually tested it, she assumes you would have to be pretty strong to do that to an armoured Cherek warrior (do they wear helmets?) and the choice in language implies the same.
They can change their physical appearance—Beldin does it for a prolonged period of time in the Malloreon—but it takes significant effort to maintain. (When he's intoxicated, Beldin nearly reverts to his own form.) That might be why Polgara never changed HER physical appearance while hiding the heirs of the Rivan King, but instead tried (unsuccessfully) to use mundane disguises like hair dye.
At one point in the Malloreon, Polgara takes wolf form and the white lock carries over. We never see Garion's forepaw to see if his birthmark appears in other forms, but it's certainly possible that Polgara's stuck with that lock no matter what form she takes.
Here's a thought: why doesn't she change the colour of the rest of her hair, instead? The lock wouldn't be nearly so suspicious when combined with white-blonde hair instead. I'm sure even Polgara would agree that the safety of the Rivan line is more important than any personal ego issues she may have about changing her appearance. Of course, logic exists in the Belgariad-verse only when Eddings thinks he can make it do something for him.
Actually the books do mention that it's difficult to magically alter your hair color because you need to focus on each strand. EVERY STRAND. I don't blame her for not being thrilled at the thought.
That specific passage refers to turning hair grey, since the "grey" colour is the result of a mixture of normal-coloured and white-coloured hairs together.
Why did Beldin transform him and his new... wife? into a hawk at the end of the Malloreon? Why would they never see them again? What was the point of that part of the story? Were they incapable of having a fufilling relationship without forever forsaking their human forms and cutting every relationship they ever had forever? That is something that annoyed me that Eddings ended his works with such asspulling actions, with no rime or background.
I think it was because what really attracted Vella to Beldin was that he could fly. Turning them both into hawks worked because Beldin wouldn't be ugly and Vella would get to fly again. As for why they were never seen again- they probably lived as hawks for the rest of their lives and weren't easy to find.
I believe he answers this in the book: he prefers to stay ugly because people underestimate him. They don't expect him to be as brilliant as he is. Plus, people are much less likely to notice him.
It was mentioned that Belgarath and Belzedar were almost indistinguishable from Aldur due to their long association, could we expect that Beldin may have actually grown better looking by slowly taking on Aldur's appearance? His hunched form, of course, would remain intact.
The way the books were written, Garion had to win at Cthol Mishrak or otherwise the Prophecy would never be completed. Throughout the Malloreon we're basically given to understand that Geran was always destined to be the Ultimate Child of Dark, who had an equal chance of becoming God of Angarak. But if Garion had lost, Geran would never have been born, Torak would still have been running around (and what would have happened to him had Cyradis chosen Geran?) there would be no king of Riva, the West would pretty much collapse, and Durnik would never have been raised from the dead. In other words, was there ever a doubt that Garion would win? Especially when Polgara says that 'the Mrin Codex doesn't stop at Cthol Mishrak'?
Remember, the bad guys have their own prophecy too, and it's just as powerful and accurate as the good guys'. The prophecy and the dark prophecy have been at it for milennia with each trying to become the sole destiny of the universe- the things in, say, the Mrin Codex therefore aren't absolutely perfect predictions of what will happen no matter what, they're predictions of what has to happen for the light to win. At least, that was always my take on it.
That was my interpretation as well; we're following one side of the equation, watching as their prophecies are fulfilled. What we don't get to see is the bad guys running around fulfilling their prophecies, or watching them go up in smoke.
There was also a brief moment near the end where the King of Hell could have created a third option. Accidents can happen again, too, which throws the whole universe out of whack.
While Belgarath admits that a lot of his "third option" rhetoric was insubstantial, we do know that human (or divine) error could have screwed things up immensely; it's why the Prophecies panicked when Torak tried to recover the orb himself, and hastily negotiated a suspension of the rules (the theft itself wasn't an EVENT, and therefore was supposed to be predetermined). The Prophecy also mentions offhand once, to Belgarath's question, that their side typically wins about half of the EVENTs that occur...most losses are simply off-screen.
Not only does the other side have their own prophecies, it's hinted in (I believe) Belgarath the Sorcerer that the prophecies only reveal details when they're necessary. This lets the two sides react to victories and losses and alter their plans accordingly. Given the chess motif of the whole series, it's not a stretch to say that some of the events as they happen in the novels were not in the Light Prophecy's original plans and had to be changed as a result of the Dark Prophecy winning an EVENT offscreen.
We do also have an implicit mention of where the Dark Prophecy was working with no counter. While the Light Prophecy fully expected and planned for the assassination of Gorek (and the hiding of the Rivan line), how everyone responded wasn't part of it. Zedar's method for the assassination was partly to try killing the line, but mostly to keep Belgarath and the other sorcerers from responding to events in Mallorea (the unification of the empire was very much a prophesied thing).
Then again, it's also explicitly mentioned that had the battle of Vo Mimbre not ended on a certain day (the third), events favoring the Dark Prophecy would have gone forward instead. It's possible that either the Mrin could be wrong, or it had contingency prophecies embedded in it (and more for the Light Prophecy itself).
At one point Ctuchik comments to Belgarath about how he finds it interesting the way that he's interpreted the prophecy, and several Grolims refer to Polgara as "The Queen of the World". It's likey that they have their own versions of the prophecy that they're following, which has some occasional overlap. That's why both Polgara and Ce'Nedra had to be present during the duel between Torak and Garion: both prophecies called for their repsective "Queens Of The World" to be there. Heck the Grolims might even be working off the Mrin or Darine Codex's, and finding their own people who fit the various titles from the prophecy (who knows what Ctuchik or Zedar, or any of the other main villains may have been referenced as).
I always took it that if Torak had won at the end of the Belgariad, Geran would still have to come into existance. The Dark Propercy would know that the final meeting needed Eriond and Geran, therefore it would make sure that Geran would still be born so he could play his part.
Torak wasn't destined to kill Garion, but to have him submit to him. If that had happened, Pol would have married Torak, and Garion would probably still have been with Ce'Nedra.
Nightmare fuel - what if instead of Geran, it would have been Torak and Polgara's.... offspring? (though admittedly, if that were possible Belar would have probably already accomplished it, based on Belgarath's accounts.)
Re-read The Mallorean, specifically the last chapter of Melcena in Book 4: Torak leaves a message for Belgarion at the end of The Ashabine Chronicles that pretty much makes it clear that, had Belgarion failed, Torak would have been the new Child of Light, with Polgara as his wife and either Belgarion or Errand/Eriond becoming their "son".
Additionally, the Dark Prophecy DOES have it's own, um, prophecies, which are equal to the prophecies of the Light.
Remember that throughout Belgarath the Sorcerer, Torak is shown to repeatedly rewrite the prophecies to show him in a better light. So whilst he might have believed that he would become the Child of Light had he won, the two Voices of Prophecy would have had different ideas. Therefore, it is most likely that had Torak won, part of the deal the Voices of Prophecy had would be that Garion and Ce'Nedra would have to be spared so they could successfully have Geran, so both he and Errand/Eriond could play their roles later on.
Of course it's a foregone conclusion. In the preword of the Belgariad books (the ones where books 1-3 and 4-5 are combined), the author straight up tells the reader that the hero wins, and it's not really much of a spoiler, is it? Still, Garion still has to ACTUALLY go through the journey and face Torak, which is what we read.
Polgara and Ce'Nedra
This troper gets that Polgara and Ce'Nedra are supposed to be strong, confident, powerful women who stand out in a world where women aren't generally viewed as such. OK, fine. The problem is that they come off as something quite different. Polgara comes off as strict, controlling, always certain she's in the right, unable to take any criticism and something of a bitch, and no one ever calls her out on it (OK, there was that one time in Queen of Sorcery, but then she turned around and gave a Garion a "The Reason You Suck" Speech right afterwards.) Ce'Nedra is a spoiled brat who never thinks of the consequences of her actions and puts herself above everyone else and gets called out occasionally, but otherwise, everyone pretty much does whatever they say and don't argue. That bugs me, because half the time when I'm reading the books I keep wishing that someone would stand up and give them a Reason You Suck Speech.
I guess it makes sense that no one really talks back to Polgara considering that she's a essentially disciple of a god. I mean, it would be like giving lip to Moses or something. C'Nedra, on the other hand, seems to receive an awful amount of tolerance from such no nonsense people. I mean, Silk is a veritable wellspring of snide remarks - you would think he would have a few for C'Nedra. As it is, Garion's the only one who ever really argues with her, and everyone else seems to put that down as teenage bickering.
It might be worth noting on that point that when Ce'Nedra initially joins the group, Silk is the only person (other than Polgara, who outright threatened her) that she is remotely intimidated by. It's explicitly stated that she consciously avoids him because she's afraid he can "read her like a book".
Ce'Nedra's tantrum victims generally fall into three categories: Tolnedrans (who suffer in silence because she is their Imperial Princess and Tolnedra is a place where social precedence matters, not to mention that her father has the power of summary execution), Rivans (who are much less subservient to authority but also come from a culture where stoicism is one of the highest virtues and thus won't give her the satisfaction of reacting, plus she's queen of the place), and her fellow protagonists (who don't hesitate to put her in her place if they think she's going too far, and just laugh it off the rest of the time because they find Ce'Nedra about as intimidating as a newborn kitten).
The protagonists (bar Durnik and Garion) have a ongoing need to keep her on side and on prophecy, if they start ragging her too much she may try to run away (again) and while they can catch her again while this is a minor irritation it would alienate her from The Cause
Additionally, Ce'Nedra's main talent seems to be manipulating people - she's often described as devious, for example. However, this is mainly an Informed Ability. The protagonists all see through her, and someone who should know how to tell a decent lie does a woeful job when she runs away from the palace. She should know better than to keep changing her story, at least.
Fridge Brilliance(?) - Tolnedrans are, generally, portrayed as not very bright, at least when it comes to things not related to money (and even then, look at what happened to Maragor). So it would make sense for her to be able to seem like a champion liar to Tolnedrans. If it helps, Mandorellen and even Garion seem to fall for it, and the latter at least had the benefit of Belgarath around to teach him how to lie, plus Jeebers got out of there pretty damn fast once they were found out, AND fell for Ce'Nedra's previous incredibly obvious lie.
It bothers me that the women always get the last word in any bickering/snarkfest. If they're trading witty barbs, the women will win. Polgara and the queens are especially bad at this. Smug little twerps.
On the author's behalf, this was probably to make up for the fact that the women weren't usually fighters, and it would have been easy for them to come off as damsels. It's still annoying when the men are reduced to idiots for no good reason.
What bugs me is that conversation about the tree in the woods. The women said that yes, it's still a sound, which is fine ... but their answers were stupid and missing the point. There's a much better answer. If Polgara had said "Yes, because a sound is simply vibrations in the air caused by the tree hitting the ground, and those vibrations will occur whether or not there is anything to hear them. If you think it shouldn't be called a sound unless there's someone to hear it, then you are discussing semantics, not physics." I don't mind the women winning the arguments, so long as they earn their victories. In this case, they really didn't. "Trees can hear, too," honestly. It's a hypothetical situation. That's got nothing to do with it.
Durnik had already been arguing the fact that a sound is a sound. Beldin wasn't taking any of it, so it fell on the one who talks with birds and the one who talks with trees to present the facts that small critters, birds, and trees can all hear sounds too. Also, you seem to be forgetting that the world of The Belgariad and The Mallorean is basically Medieval times. Even if the Melcenes had discovered what is now common knowledge regarding the physics of sound, it is unlikely anyone else would know or care about it, especially when you factor in most of the Kingdoms of the West lumping all of Mallorea under the same heading as the Murgos, Nadraks, and Thulls.
The books themselves were written in the late 80's/early 90's when the tropes revolving around the lady of the house always getting her way and women being wiser and the menfolk all being semi-literate apes were both common and popular comedic fodder for both sitcoms and stand-up comedy, they simply look bad now because those tropes have started falling out of favor. Compare them to the tropes they themselves supplanted of women being imbeciles who regularly needed a man to point-out and correct their silly notions even in areas they were considered to have full responsibility for and competence with.
Polgara the Sorceress shows the genesis of her attitude, and demonstrates that a fair amount of it is false. She's quite content with her father, her ragging on him is a sort of game they play together. Her dominant posture over everyone else stems from her knowledge of the prophecies and her own (immense) power, sure, but it derives even more from her private identification with her mother's wolfish heritage. She's the Alpha and it's important for her to assert that. When the chips are down, she doesn't stand back and let the men do all the work, she's right in there with them, and is an excellent example of a confident woman.
Perhaps, but the protagonists are human (and so are the readers!), and by human standards she's just bossy.
Yes, but you wouldn't tell her so. Ce'Nedra should have been taken down a notch or three, but Polgara is really the only one who can, and for all we know, she does.
True, but why do we have to put up with them?
What always bugged me was that bit in Queen of Sorcery where Ce'Nedra was teaching Garion to read. Polgara sees them and tells Garion to pay attention, because knowledge was important and he should learn as much as he can. Well, uh...if she thought learning to read was so important, why didn't she teach him before that?
Well, that was discussed in "Polgara the Sorceress", when she tells Belgarath that she'll solve the issue of the child Garion accidentally learning who he is before the time is right by not teaching him how to read; when Belgarath blusters about how necessary it would be for the Godslayer to be able to read the Prophecies, Pol reminds him that she didn't learn how to read until she was 18.
Or Polgara planned it this way - the business of teaching Garion to read would keep Ce'Nedra occupied, and would also give them another reason to relate to each other.
I haven't read Polgara the Sorceress, so maybe this is discussed there, but something that's always gotten to me in Pawn of Prophecy is how, in Val Alorn, Polgara just destroys Martje's ability to see the future so casually and in such a high-handed manner. It's a serious case of her being arrogant. I suppose it's a good example of a character flaw, which most good characters need, but . . . I wish we had seen the consequences, or something, anything that resulted from that. Besides further establishing Polgara as incredibly arrogant, the act seems worthless.
I agree. It's a serious case of Protagonist-Centered Morality- Martje might have been annoying, and she shouldn't have kept harassing Barak, but that's no excuse for Polgara to just fuck her over like that. (BTW, no, it's not mentioned in Polgara the Sorceress- the book ends before Pawn of Prophecy.)
If I'm not mistaken, Garion reacts to this event pretty negatively. It's one of the things he mulls over at the beginning of the next book when he's dealing with the isolation that comes with learning that both Polgara and Belgarath aren't the "Aunt Pol" and "Mister Wolf" he grew up with. Polgara is a callous person from time to time, but I think that comes from thousands of years of watching loved ones and family members die and being forced to harden her heart in the name of the mission.
One thing that confuses me in Pawn of Prophecy specifically and to a lesser extent in the others extent is how Polgara is on a first name relationship with the queens. She'd been undercover for nearly fifteen years raising Garion. Would she have even had a chance to even meet some of them?
The whole world knows who Polgara is and Belgarath properly kept her up to date on current events during his various visits to the farms, such as various royal marriages. Plus, you have to bear in mind that this world they live in is based on a medieval society, where people didn't really have last names. So the concept of "first name basis" didn't really exist then. The only other thing Polgara could have called the Queens is "Your Majesty", and as we have seen in the series, she doesn't really pay attention to titles.
In addition, look at the personality of the queens in particular. Layla is super-friendly, completely non-haughty, and on a first-name basis with damn near everyone anyway. Islena is haughty and formal, but is also a sorceress-wannabe and total Polgara fangirl — she's just happy Polgara is talking to her at all. Porenn, like all other Drasnian royals, is a trained spymaster; she's far too professional to risk alienating someone of Polgara's power over something as trivial as forms of address (and in addition, finds Polgara personally amusing because she appreciates sarcastic wit). And Silar is not only The Stoic but is from Algaria, where they place the least emphasis on pomp and circumstance out of all the Alorn kingdoms. Not a single one of them has any reason to give a damn that Polgara speaks to them informally. And this is entirely aside from the political consideration that when someone is capable of single-handedly nuking your capital city with their mind, they can offend you all they want and you have two options; nothing and like it.
In Polgara the Sorceress, Polgara mentions early on that she had to hide her signature white lock of hair with a bow so no one could recognise her. So why didn't she do that throughout the whole time hiding the heirs. It can't have been difficult to just put a bow in her hair every time she had to go outside
It actually says that she created a hairstyle involving white satin ribbons and a lot of elaborate braiding. That would have been trickier to maintain over a long period of time.
The Orb of Aldur
The Sardion/Cthrag Sardius was called 'one half of the stone that was divided' by Cyradis. The Orb/Cthrag Yaska, we are given to understand, was the other half. So why does everyone keep saying that the Orb was an ordinary stone until Aldur picked it up, or created by Aldur?
It's a Retcon. In story explanation, Aldur knew its true nature and was studying it, but his disciples were confused. They naturally thought their god and master was responsible for all the awesome going on and they taught Garion wrong.
Understand that the in-universe book excerpts at the beginning of each book are written by people who don't really have the whole story, and neither do some of the protagonists. Cyradis is right, the others are wrong.
Another example of the Prophecies tampering, maybe. If they can make the entire world change the pronunciation of Korim to Turim then tinkering with a few authors to obscure the truth and not point every single would be Ruler of the World to the "other" stone of power would be child's play.
Better question: if they're both half of the stone, why is the Sardion explicitly described as being larger than the Orb?
This troper gets that gods can't heal naturally and that Torak was asleep, so he couldn't wake up and heal himself... but why didn't Urvon or Zedar try to heal him?
Because he's a god maimed by the Orb; that's far too much injury for a pair of human wizards to even make a dent on. If all it took was magic, he could have magically healed himself even without a natural healing system.
The only part the Orb played was that it was one of few things in the Universe able to actually wound a god. If UL or the Universe created a super-powered thorn which would be able to scratch the gods, they still wouldn't heal. No matter how much healing magic you throw at the gods, they just won't heal. Period. And, I didn't see much, if any, healing magic in the books, anyway.
Also explicitly pointed out, the only thing that could heal Torak was the thing that had hurt him in the first place, ie. the Orb of Aldur - and it was angry about Torak's misuse. At the end of the Belgariad, it did heal Torak, albeit posthumously.
The other sorcerers
So what exactly was the point of Beldin, Belsambar and Belmakor? Belgarath says that Beltira and Belkira were basically the translators of the Mrin/Darine Codexes, but it's never really mentioned what the others were meant to do.
Belsambar and Belmakor both committed suicide after the first Angarak war, so they never got a chance to achieve their purposes. As a Mallorean Angarak and a Melcene respectively, they were probably intended for operations on the Mallorean continent — instead, Aldur had to yield that field of play entirely to Torak for about three millenia.
Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! I have, no joke, read the Belgariad and the Malloreon more than thirty times, but never once put together Belksambar and Belmakor's particular significance with respect to specific theaters of the War of the Gods. That makes such great sense now!
It's also possible that with Belmakor and Belsambar dead, Beldin had to pick up some of the slack with regards to Mallorean operations. He spent a lot of time over there, for one, while Belgarath and Polgara had to do most of the heavy lifting on the western continent instead, possibly doing what Beldin had been intended to do. After all, we didn't get the prophecies until after Belmakor and Belsambar were dead, so the Prophecy Of Light may have done some reshuffling of roles in the wake of their deaths.
It occurred to this troper to wonder the same thing about Belmakor, although she couldn't come up with any answers, except maybe that he was there to invent catapults (which seemed like a stupid purpose, since Beldin probably could have managed that on his own). With Belsambar, she just figured he was there to show them how to beat Torak in the first war.
I had a rather depressing theory, but it is quite possible that Belmakor and Belsambar's entire Purpose *was* to die, for two reasons: 1/ Having known how it felt to lose those special brothers stayed Belgarath's hand during the EVENT that pitted him and Zedar in the Morindland wastes while he was on his way to retrieve the Orb. He even states he'd lost too many brothers to do that to Zedar, even after his betrayal. Since Zedar is necessary later on, to find Eriond and to steal the Orb (again) it is imperative that Belgarath NOT kill him. 2/ Their deaths prepared Beldin to deal with Belgarath's reaction to Poledra's apparent death. We know that Beldin and the twins watched him carefully and stopped him a few times as he gathered his will to obliterate himself while he was chained to his bed.
As for Beldin, note that he was the one who guarded Torak's slumbering body against premature awakening for the entire duration between his defeat at Vo Mimbre and the start of the Belgariad. Also, Belgarath called on him for support several times, or to check things out in one part of the world while he was busy in another.
Beldin was basically there to be The Lancer for Belgarath.
He was pretty awesome in that, too.
Here's a thought: Remember those EVENTs the Prophecy of Light mentioned they lost?
This actually makes a lot of sense. The consequence of losing some EVENT or another costs the Prophecy of Light two sorcerers. It fits in with the chess motif of the series and how the two Destinies are playing the very long game. It also makes this troper wonder if it was an intentional sacrifice on the part of the Light to set up Belgarath's hatred of Zedar and the apostate's eventual fate.
It just bugs me in this as well as in other works of Eddings the brutal punishments dished out to bad guys. For example, what Belgarath did to Zedar which was implied would go on forever? I mean, that's just not cool, especially when it's never pointed out as being problematic in the text at all.
There is a quote floating around from Belgarath about Zedar. Something along the lines of "Every once in a while I feel guilty, but then I remember all the horrible things he did." And if I remember correctly, Garion has nightmares about how he burned his parents' murderer alive. I agree that it seems brutal to our society, but it's probably less so for a medieval-esque society that's been engaged in divine warfare for a few hundred centuries.
What had Zedar done that was worse than some of the things Belgarath and co had done over the years? Besides, just look at him - it's pretty obvious he was broken by Torak as soon as they met - pretty much everything he says in Enchanter's Endgame is tinged with regret, and he has that breakdown in Belgarath the Sorcerer that cements him as someone hating his job but who is literally incapable of going against the god who mind-raped him in any way.
This argument is sliding into Draco in Leather Pants territory. Even if you believe that Zedar was broken by Torak, it was entirely his own fault. Zedar betrayed his brothers and his God, entirely of his own volition, simply because his impulsiveness and hubris led him to go off half-cocked and try to outsmart Torak. Not even Belgarath was so arrogant as to believe he could outwit a God, even one as single-minded as Torak. It wasn't even about good intentions, because Zedar was also shown to have an unhealthy obsession with the Orb long before he turned heel; Belgarath notes it several times in Belgarath the Sorcerer, and the other disciples saw it too. It was also implied that Zedar's betrayal was one of the major factors in the depression that led to Belmakor committing suicide. And if we're talking about regret? Despite everything Zedar did, Belgarath does admit to feeling a great deal of guilt over what he did to him on some level.
This troper thinks she recalls that, at some point, Belgarath points out that it's not exactly a Good vs. Evil fight. It's more like Us vs. Them, and the protagonists will occasionally have to do bad things.
One thing that has always struck this troper about Belgarath is his ability to commit unthinkable crimes in furtherance of his divine mission. There's a scene in Demon Lord of Karanda where he and Silk waylay and butcher a few townspeople just to get regional dress to move around in. It makes an interesting point to me, since I'm also an author (not to the scale of the Eddingses): if the fate of the universe were at stake, how far would YOU go?
Re-read Demon Lord of Karanda. Belgarath and Silk don't waylay and butcher any townspeople. Silk just goes off, knocks out some demon-worshiping religious fanatics, and steals their clothes. The protagonists only kill when necessary. [[Nakama Or when Zandramas]] threatens Geran.
On the other hand, Belgarath himself points out in Belgarath the Sorcerer that he spent a few hundred years (if not more) running around the west making sure to always arrange marriages, ensure people survived (even leading them away from the battlefield if necessary, to prevent them from encountering people they shouldn't), and assassinate some. He makes no pretext of being a saint, and does what is necessary. He doesn't necessarily like doing it (although he's probably demolished quite a few Grolims in his time, even then he doesn't take pleasure in slaughtering them), but he'll do it all the same.
In the same book, while sneaking into Ctuchik's tower, he knocks out a Grolim guard to steal his robe, and briefly contemplates shoving him over the cliff nearby...before deciding the guy hadn't done anything and wasn't dangerous unconscious, and left him alive where others could find him. He notes that he's not above necessary killing (assassinations or lethal self-defense), but he doesn't like random murder.
Still, this troper had difficulty sympathising with the characters a lot of the time, because their extreme Protagonist-Centered Morality effectively alienated them. And since she's here, she'll mention Beldin. Everyone says that he's actually very gentle - but he's one of the most violent and vindictive of the 'good guys'. He thinks Zedar got off too easy (this troper falls into the 'feels sorry for Zedar' camp). I'm supposed to believe he's a sweet and caring guy? I see why he became that way, sure, but . . . get real.
Remember, most of the people who view Beldin as gentle are fellow sorcerers who A, have known both Beldin and Zedar for a long time, and B, have had to deal with everything Zedar has done. They know how Beldin feels about himself, they know the problems he has had to face, and based on that, along with all the bad shit Zedar did, they're more inclined to view Beldin as the gentle one who does what he has to do in the service of Aldur and Zedar as the monster.
Which doesn't help me any, since I haven't known Beldin and Zedar for eons, and I'm being told this stuff by people whose own morality (or rather, the lack thereof) is also alienating me. Their opinions about Beldin may be justified, or at least understandable, but I can't share them and that limits how much I can sympathise. I do enjoy the books, but often when I'm reading them I find myself wanting to shake the characters and scream "It's not all about you! Other people matter! Just because you don't personally know and like someone, doesn't mean they're not important! YOU AREN'T THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD!" Also, what Belgarath did to Zedar was both stupid and unnecessary. Kill him, sure; it's impractical to leave one of your greatest enemies around to stab you in the back (though I don't think Zedar would have bothered unless Torak told him to, and he probably would've been quite relieved if the boss kicked it). It was vengeance, pure and simple, for a murder of a guy who was asking for it, which he regretted. A guy who didn't even stay dead. Yes, in-story it was revenge for a whole heap of other stuff as well, but nothing that we the audience get to see. Which means that he hasn't really done enough for us (or me) to take a twisted, sadistic pleasure in his suffering, and the whole thing reflects poorly on Belgarath. Which also means that it's sloppy story-telling on behalf of David Eddings, since he's made no secret that this is meant to be the literary equivalent of peddling dope, and so he should be trying to entertain and connect with the reader. That should take priority over Belgarath getting his vengeance on. Note: as much as I feel sorry for Zedar, under the circumstances I would not have blamed Belgarath for killing him. The old guy just takes it too far.
Remember, though, that it's determined that during major EVENTs, people tend to go off their rockers. What Belgarath does to Zedar is even used as an example of that insanity when they're discussing it in Seeress of Kell. Yes, that doesn't excuse his not returning to undo what he did, but after all, it's never denied that "'Grat is not nice."
Belgarath the Sorcerer gives a great deal of context to the entire backstory with Aldur's disciples, and spells out just why Zedar's actions were so inexcusable. Belgarath never claims to be a saint but he does deeply regret that whole situation and wishes he could have stopped it from ever escalating that far (he even goes so far as to admit he probably shouldn't blame Zedar for his actions, Because Destiny Says So, though plain old human weakness gets to him). That said, where these Belgarath the Death-Eater arguments fall flat is that Aldur's disciples live almost in an entirely different world because of their roles as the Chosen Ones. They really are the Center of the World, as instruments of the Light Prophecy—right along with the Dark Prophecy's Rogues Gallery. That's the one of the major points of the series, the whole story revolves around their dueling, eons-long plans. Belgarath freely cops to his Jerkass tendencies all throughout the books, and says point blank that Good Is Not Nice because it can't afford to be; being driven by Necessity inherently means being somewhat of a Magnificent Bastard at times, and you have to harden yourself on some level to be able to do your job properly (those who still lambaste Polgara for refusing to coddle Garion, take note.). Not only that, sorcerers' immortality means they relate to each other on a far deeper level than ordinary people do, particularly Aldur's disciples. They'd been a family for thousands of years, and lived through all kinds of traumas, including their Master's grief over being betrayed by His brother, countless wars (the original cracking of the world foremost among them), and so on. They'd already lost two brothers to suicide, and it's heavily implied that Belmakor caught onto Zedar's Mole turn before the rest of them, contributing to the depression that ultimately killed him. Given all of this, it becomes much clearer just how deeply Zedar's betrayal affected them all, but none so great as Belgarath, who was the eldest of them all and who clearly was still carrying several eons worth of survivor's guilt with him despite appearances. Belgarath himself notes the intensity of their bonds in his book, when he discusses the aftermath of Belsambar's suicide. Combine that with the above point about people having a tendency to go nuts during EVENTs and it starts to become blindingly obvious what Belgarath was going through during that final confrontation.
Belgarath: "Ordinary people who live ordinary lives can't begin to understand just how deeply you can become involved with another person over the course of thousands of years. In a peculiar sort of way, Belsambar's self-obliteration maimed me. I think I'd have preferred to lose an arm or a leg rather than my mystic Angarak brother, and I know that my other brothers felt much the same."
The prequel book also makes it clear that they were bonded on some sort of mental and spiritual level. They probably were maimed spiritually, and not the metaphorical kind. Belsambar's death was something that every single disciple of Aldur felt, even the ones who were almost literally on the other side of the planet and couldn't possibly have sensed any build-up of his Will. They knew that he had died in the exact instant Belgarath knew, and for the rest of their (more or less immortal) lives they have to carry a giant hole in their mind/spirit/heart that was once their brother. And Belgarath, as the eldest of them and the one who taught the vast majority of the other disciples at one point or another, would carry that even more heavily than the others.
The morality question is something that makes the series more "realistic". The characters are three dimensional characters that have the drives and failings of real people rather than being "good" or "evil". They live in the far more densely populated gray area between those extremes. Basically, bad people do good things and good people do bad things. Then, when you add in all the extraordinary things that these good and bad people do, you have a whole different scale of morality. If you have it in your power to trap someone in a wall for eternity because they helped kill your brothers or because they caused countless deaths then wouldn't you do it? Part of this troper's love of the Belgariad stems from the deep characterisations in the whole tale and the fact that it highlights the rashness of an action and the consequences for that person when the cold light of day hits. It Is Written that Garion agonised for decades about what he did to Asharak, and that Belgarath was still guilty about what he did to Zedar two decades after he did it. David Eddings was aware that morality is a thin veneer of civilisation that we all cover ourselves in, and that comes through in how he writes his characters.
It really bugs me that whenever Garion gets upset, everyone else is just like 'Garion, stop whining and live with it. You're being immature.' Why couldn't someone just try comforting him and explaining things to him instead of being snarky bitches all the time?
No one else in the party has ever been "normal" (even if Polgara's intimately familiar with how a normal life progresses), nor have they ever particularly wanted to be. Their lack of empathy with Garion's desires is entirely understandable, and even Garion stops wanting to be normal eventually.
Also, the two people in the group who would normally be most inclined to be sympathetic to him — Belgarath & Polgara — are also intimately aware that the fate of the entire universe literally hangs on Garion learning how to be as abnormal as possible, and right quickly. Hence their repeatedly kicking him in the pants.
Belgareth does want to explain things to Garion, but he gave complete control over raising him to Polgara who doesn't understand that life would be simpler if she explained things to Garion.
Polgara's trying to hurry him into learning how to be abnormal, and keep him completely ignorant and under her thumb. She seems dead set on having him as her puppet.
The last time one of the Rivan heirs had been told how important he was, he turned into a retarded egomaniac that Asharak almost manipulated into leading a resurgence of the Bear-Cult. Polgara and Belgarath were seriously discussing mindwiping him, they were that desperate. Polgara's reaction to that near-miss was 'Never again!'. And so, enforced normality and major humility lifestyles.
Actually, even before and after that they did tell the heirs (and their wives) the truth, but it was only after they became adults because, as is clearly stated in at least Belgarath's book, kids and teenagers tend to go off and blab about shit, especially shit that's supposed to stay SECRET. Garion was still too young, and, as is stated countless times in The Belgariad, a lot of their foes had the ability to pluck the truth right out from someone's mind. That's why not even the Companions save Belgarath and Polgara know the truth.
How about when Garion kills Asharak? When he burns another human being alive? Yes, Asharak probably deserved it, but it's still a big thing, and Polgara brushes off his guilt like it's nothing. In her defense, they didn't have much time, but surely things would go faster if she helped him work through that, instead of belittling his feelings and glorifying his act.
Until you realize that Polgara is essentially centuries old and has seen many, many people die. Plus Asharak killed Garion's parents (and tried to kill Garion), a family she has been protecting for a number of said centuries and the only connection she had left to her beloved sister. To Garion, his parents were people he never met, having been raised by Polgara. To Polgara they were people she helped raise and protect their entire lives. Of course she's less than inclined to be kind to their murderer.
But she should have been kinder to Garion, or at least actually considered that he wouldn't feel the same way as her.
Also keep in mind that Asharak/Chamdar had been Ctuchik's errand boy for centuries before this. He's got a lot of innocent blood on his hands, directly or indirectly.
Which would not have changed how Garion felt, since Polgara refused to tell him anything and so he couldn't have known about everything Asharak got up to.
Might not help Garion, but from Polgara's perspective the man richly deserved what he got, which would make the whole situation rather difficult for her to deal with.
It seems to me that one of Polgara's most glaring flaws is her inability to relate to the concerns of ordinary people, so there is a reason, just not an excuse.
Immortality does weird things to your ability to relate to mortals. Much of the good the prequel books do is humanize Belgarath and Polgara. You see how much hardship and loss the two characters have to soldier through in service to Destiny, so it's no wonder that they don't tolerate the "Why me?"s from Garion, very much in a "Life isn't fair. Get used to it." kind of vein. Plus, Destiny rewards those who do their jobs and Garion is happy by the end of the story.
The linguistic situation
In an otherwise good series this is one that sticks out a bit. Everyone in the world seems to be speak the same language (except the Ulgos) but there are strange inconsistencies along the way. Given that Torak like setting himself and his people apart it makes sense for Angaraks to speak a separate language (referenced as Old Angarak) to the other people of the world but why do modern Angaraks speak the same language as the Kingdoms of the West? Also the Proto-Ulgos spoke a different language to everyone else as well and this state of affairs pre-dated the first Gorim getting them accepted by UL. Also fair enough but then why do the Melcenes, the Dals, the Morindim and the Karands all speak the communal language?
The Murgos etc are said to speak the Western tongue with a "harsh accent". Since the only Murgos we really interact with are a) high-ranking, or b) Grolims, they've probably learned the language so as to communicate with Westerners.
Torak, his disciples (sans Urvon post-Cthol Mishrak), and the various Angarak Kings aren't morons. They all knew they'd eventually have to be diplomatic with the West, however reluctantly, in order to further their goals of killing off the line of Riva and stealing the Orb. Makes sense that they would adopt the language of the West, and force it on their subject peoples (Dals, Melcenes, Karands). Morindim probably picked it up from the Nadraks.
We know Torak banned the teaching of Old Angarak (presumably the Grolims got an exemption, since every copy of the Book of Torak we encounter is written in Old Angarak). Simply altering the language a bit wouldn't have taken care of matters from his viewpoint; 21st century English-speakers can still read Shakespeare and get most of the jokes, and I can get most of the sense of Chaucer in the original. A hypothetical "New Angarak" language would still have allowed anyone literate to read and comprehend Old Angarak. He could have devised a completely unrelated language, but using the common tongue of the West was probably simpler. As for the Dals, in one of the prequel novels Polgara greets the Gorim in Dalish, because she hasn't studied the Ulgo language yet. The Dals probably switched languages to make their tasks easier.
As far as English comparisons, Old English is the language of Beowulf, and is practically a separate language (especially the older runic script). If the comparison holds true, speakers of "New Angarak" would be unable to read Old Angarak, protecting Torak's writings and edict. That being said, Anheg learned to at least read Old Angarak, so presumably there's some sort of written translation somewhere - the King of Cherek seems unlikely to take a Grolim tutor.
Seriously, dear young, useless Lelldorin. If you think about it a little, the whole saga could have been written even without him and still being perfectly working. Not that I dislike Eddings or anything, but come on! All he did was drop out of nowhere near the beginning of the second book, chat with Garion and provide some firepower in a couple of battles and then being Put on a Bus and making mess offscreen. Seriously, why he even bothere putting him as one of the prophetized warriors in the first place!?
While Leldorin did not really contribute to the Quest, his friendship with Mandorallen may and certainly will contribute to removing grudges and hatred between Asturians and Mimbrates. It is the same with Relg and Taiba, Purpose of the Universe stated that their courtship and marriage have very little to do with Garion but is very important nonetheless.
Lelldorin's primary purpose seems to be to help Ce'Nedra's first recruitment speech in Asturia go well. Seriously, it's the only thing he does in the whole series that couldn't just as easily have been done by someone else.
Well, for one, he's good comic relief; his sheer stupidity actually makes him funny without being insufferable (mostly). Besides that, he's related to prominent Asturian nobility, so his frienship and marriage to two prominent Mimbrates will help bridge the gap between the two regions, and his realization of the flaws of Arendia's serfdom might become important to the kingdom later on (it likely would have helped if Eddings brought this stuff up like he did with Taiba and Relg). Finally, he participate a little more in the Mallorean. That said, it's true he's definitely not a main character, even though he seems to be billed as such, since he's mentioned in the Prophecy and all.
Remember, as the Prophecy tells Garion, not everything is about him. The Prophecy is setting up the whole world for the long game and people like Lelldorin, Relg, and Taiba have their parts to play but aren't necessarily part of the main struggle. It's heavily hinted that Lelldorin and Mandorallen's friendship will help to close the breach between the Mimbrates and Asturians.
There's also that Lelldorin has another piece of the main plot; he's part of the Grolim-manipulated plot to assassinate the Mimbrate royal family, and so he's the only one who can tell Garion about it. Which leads to the first great act of courage Garion does without either lucking into it or having someone else encourage him to do it, an important step in Garion's character development. Lelldorin might only have had one or two little pieces of the Prophecy, but they were not optional pieces.
Silk and Chamdar
Given his cameo towards the end of Belgarath the Sorcerer, shouldn't Silk have known who Chamdar was? He explicitly knows that Asharak is an alias of Chamdar's, and that Belgarath was (and presumably still is) interested in Chamdar's movements.
I believe it's explicitly stated by Belgarath that Chamdar subtly influenced Silk's mind, much like he did with Garion's, to keep him from putting two and two together.
Eriond the non-character
Eriond turns into a bit of a non-character in the latter half of the Malloreon. Not simply that he doesn't do anything, but rather that every time he's mentioned it evokes a "Oh, I forgot about him" response. Given how important he is to the story, and that he's the protagonist of the Malloreon's opening chapters, his extended period Out of Focus makes the ending feel almost (but not quite) like a Deus ex Machina.
It's a bit of a quick and dirty way of springing the choice as something other than a no-brainer. On a first read, his odd behavior in the first two books can easily be forgotten as he's shunted to the background (though there are still plenty of clues thrust through out the last 3), and are even passed off by the characters as possibly a side effect of his long contact with the Orb. Belgarath shows signs of curiosity about Eriond's abilities, but he even says that every time he wants to investigate it he gets "neatly diverted." The Prophecy of the Light is purposefully trying to downplay Eriond in that respect. On a re-read, knowing the turnout, all the clues pop out in glaring relief, but pushing him to the back gives the ending some suspense instead of zero.
In The Mallorean, the possible outcome is supposed to be 50/50, right? Nobody knows ahead of time which side will win. The loser will become the stars to fill in the gap caused by the original accident. Afterward, Garion is told by the Purpose that if he had lost, he and the Orb would be heading for a new address. So... how come only Zandramas started looking starry throughout the series? Shouldn't they both have? It makes it seem like there was only one possible outcome, and the heroes needn't have worried.
I think that the Purpose was just messing with Garion when he said that him and the Orb would be heading for a new address if Cyradis has chosen differently (or it is a mistake on Eddings part). Part of the Mallorean Gospels states how the Child of Dark will look as though "all the stary universe was contained within", the Codex said no such thing since it didn't apply to the Child of Light. Plus, Cyradis said that Zandramas would have the same fate regardless of her choice.
The heroes didn't know about this, but do know that the other side is working off its own set of prophecies. Starry Zandramas could've been for another purpose had she won. It might've just been a thing to point her out as the Child of Dark, like Garion's mark did for him.
Salmissra had sorcerous power. Shouldn't that have made her immortal, thus rendering both the youth-giving drugs and her scheming unnecessary?
It seems to be a matter of power, or maybe of divine intervention. If you think about it, the only immortal sorcerers have been the disciples of Aldur and the most powerful Grolims, who are all either Torak's disciples or the disciples of Torak's disciples (Asharak). Failing that, it could easily be that they simply live that long because the Prophecy needs them to, which I believe is hinted at in the story. Salmissra, on the other hand, has relatively minor powers and isn't necessary to the prophecy (well, this particular one isn't, because as Polgara states, all Salmissra's are basically the same and thus the Prophecy needn't bother preserving her).
Salmissra never demonstrated sorcery, just a disciple's ability to summon her god. It is mentioned that Issa forgot to give her immortality, and failed to notice because the priests kept installing look-alikes.
Polgara the Sorceress mentions quite a few times that the various Salmissra's do have some gifts in that area, it just isn't on the scale that the Disciples have. The only one we really see is a form of seeing into the future since it specifically mentions that Salmissra knows that at some point Polgara will do something to one of them
The alchemist that accidentally discovered sorcery became long lived. The experiment to test for actually immortality through defenestration was unable to be completed.
Do the books specifically state that Salmissra is a sorceress? If she has that power, she'd have immortality. Beldin and Belgarath state that other sorcerers crop up from time to time and gain immortality because of it. Senji is a notable example, though most seem to remove themselves from the equation by trying to unmake something. This suggests that there's nothing else required to become an immortal, that if Salmissra were a proper sorceress, Issa wouldn't have had to do anything else to her. Given the other forms of "magic" beyond Will and the Word sorcery that exist in the world such as magic, witchcraft, divination, and such perhaps one of these is where her powers come from.
She's not a sorceress, but there's one scene where she manages to summon the spirit of Issa. No idea if that's a witch power or something every Salmissra is taught to do.
Salmissra explicitly uses sorcery in the book. Garion notes that it's like a snake striking, rather than the slow build of will he's used to.
There is one explanation offered by Belgarath's book, though it's somewhat problematic: ordinary people can be trained to use sorcery, but they must have the patronage of a god to do so. This is how the Grolims can do basic tricks. For such people, sorcery can only be used in an area where their god is worshiped, which is supposedly why Torak sent all those Angaraks onto the western continent: so that his Grolims could continue to do their work. And only a high priest or disciple of a god has true immortality. This explains the line about Issa "forgetting" to make Salmissra immortal. By contrast, some people, such as Belgarath or Senji, have innate sorcery, and only need to unlock it. Their gift is far more powerful, so they naturally live much longer.
Note that Senji is not a good counterexample to that theory: Senji was one of Eriond's disciples, as mentioned in the epilogue. Keep in mind that in the last book the successor to the light prophecy was reaching into the past to set things up.
Mordja and the Sardion
The purpose of the Demon Lords, Nahaz and Mordja, was to try to get their hands on the stones of power, the Orb and the Sardion. Mordja was able to enter the cave where the Sardion was waiting, and seems to have been in there for some time (having apparently been sent in by Zandramas to possess the dragon and ambush the good guys). Why didn't he just take the Sardion then?
It is properly a rule of the cosmos that states that a human has to be the first one to touch it. Mordja specifically states that the Sardion will only be taken once Zandramas has touched it.
Torak and Aldur
It's mentioned that Torak felt the fire of the Orb from the moment he cracked the world until the moment of his death, because Gods aren't capable of healing. But there's no mention of Aldur suffering for a similar amount of time, despite the fact that Torak punched him to get the Orb in the first place. Why?
Because Aldur was attacked by another god, equal to him in strength, and Torak was attacked by the Orb, which was far, far stronger than he was. Plus, getting punched is like, a bruise. Getting set on fire? Worse.
Or, could it be that Aldur simply used some makeup?
In the very first book, it's mentioned that the red gold of Cthol Murgos calls to itself - the more you have, the more you want. This is how the Earl of Jarvik was subverted into treason. But later on we're shown people who have large amounts of the stuff with no visible effects. Ctuchick had a room full of the stuff and had no reputation for wanting more. In "King of the Murgos", the party ends up with half a bucket of Murgo gold, and nobody goes super-greedy lusting for more. The Dagashi they got the gold from also didn't seem affected. Does this property of red gold only apply to specially treated coins that are distributed to the in the West for purposes of subversion?
My personal explanation is plain Gold Fever and that the quasi-magical properties of Murgo are a folkloric fiction to explain away why people who were to all appearances loyal and trusted have been taking massive and highly obvious bribes.
After Garion and Belgarath meet Asharak for the first time in Pawn of Prophecy, we have Belgarath saying that Grolims can put magic on coins. So the idea that most red gold is normal alloy and that the Grolims enchant coins to corrupt difficult targets is plausible.
The New Generation of Sorcerers
Both Garion and Durnik are considered disciples of Aldur. Garion gets his Bel. I don't remember if Durnik officially gets one, but he does get called a disciple. They're both sorcerers. Does this mean they live forever? I imagine Garion would eventually pass the Rivan throne onto his son, but does that mean his son is immortal? Will he outlive Ce'Nedra and his kids? Are Durnik and Polgara's kids immortal? The only reason I ask this is several times throughout the story, its mentioned that the Light Destiny rewards the people it uses for its purposes with happiness. I can't imagine outliving your non-sorcerous loved ones is much of a reward in the end.
It is established that Dryads live as long as their tree does, which can be for centuries. I don't know if Garion will outlive his children, but considering that Belgarath had a sorceress, daughter, it's not too far of a stretch to assume that even if most of the kids aren't immortal, at least some of them will be.
But Polgara isn't immortal because her father's a sorcerer, she's immortal because SHE is a sorceress. It's not automatically inherited; Polgara had to learn sorcery and her twin sister never did (and died). Belgarion's children won't have immortality unless he teaches them the will and the word.
If its true that the female descendants of Dryads are Dryads (which is almost explicitly said a couple of times), then the only one Garion would need to teach for a long life would be Geran, as Garion's going to possibly have more daughters.
Durnik is 'The Man With Two Lives'. At the end of the series, all the Gods and Garion have to work together to bring him back. But if Torak had won, then why the hell would he have wanted to bring Durnik back? Torak specifically wanted to marry Polgara, so why wouldn't he just leave Durnik dead?
I believe Polgara is referred to by a different title in the Angarak prophecies. Perhaps all of them are? The only people who ever refer to Durnik as the Man With Two Lives are familiar with the Western prophecies.
Correct. The two different Prophecies do not always use the same names for the same people. For example, Polgara is referred to as 'The Queen of the World' in the Prophecy of Dark because she's intended to marry Torak but the Prophecy of Light uses that same title for Ce'Nedra, because she's intended to marry Garion. Likewise, Ctuchik refers to Silk as the "Nimble Thief" (which is presumably Silk's designation in the Prophecy of Dark), while the Prophecy of Light calls him "The Guide".
Exactly. Sovereign SPECIFIC. That's telling everyone that it's a "cure-all" for poison. I would imagine Polgara did a lot of research and testing after the adventures, though, after finding out how to actually administer it.