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YMMV / The Belgariad

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The entire series has a bad case of Protagonist-Centered Morality, which blurs with Deliberate Values Dissonance, and the past crimes of characters are quickly forgotten as soon as they join the heroes. A reader might well be quite surprised at the portrayal of Zakath as a decent guy who made some bad mistakes late in the Malloreon, considering that this is the guy who tried and nearly damn succeeded in wiping out an entire race because of something their king did, and used to call himself 'Kal Zakath' ('Kal' meaning 'King and God'- i.e. the title that Torak used to use. Though it has to be said, he notes that he never really liked using it, solely doing so on political grounds) Yeah. Though it should be said that he has a full on breakdown when he realises that all he did was for nothing, and it's implied at the end that spreading the gospel of Eriond, something that will take him the rest of his life, is fate's way of getting him to make up for it.
    • Lampshaded when Belgarath tells Garion that he dislikes talking about good and evil, and prefers to just say 'us and them'.
    • Zedar. How in control of/aware of his actions was he while under Torak's control, and therefore how accountable should he be held for them? Was he a tragic character whose only mistake was thinking he could take on Torak on his own, as Zedar himself claims, or was he a Dirty Coward who used the mind control as an excuse to avoid facing up to all the terrible things he did? If it's the latter, then his final, And I Must Scream fate is Laser-Guided Karma, but if it's the former, then's both Disproportionate Retribution and cruel and unusual punishment on Belgarath's part. It certainly doesn't help analysis of his character that Belgarath, Polgara, and Beldin are all looking at him through an extremely personal and emotional point of view, and are therefore no way willing to look at him from any sort of charitable perspective, much less an objective one.
      • The story is at least somewhat aware of this, with Silk - no stranger to ruthlessness himself - being absolutely horrified by his fate.
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  • Angst? What Angst?: Taiba escapes from a lifetime of slavery, after having had her children forcibly taken from her and horrifically murdered, and yet she never seems to be sad or angry after she's rescued. It's initially implied to be a kind of emotional numbness, caused by shock, going by her breakdown following news of Ctuchik's death (avenging her children by murdering was her only reason for living up to that point), but it's still a bit jarring.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • After being a sinister looming presence during the first book and most of the second one, and in spite of his importance in the backstory as he's the one who killed Garion's parents, Asharak/Chamdar is dispatched rather easily when he tries to ambush the heroes who are trying to leave Tolnedra. He threatens Garion's life, Garion's powers are suddenly awakened and he burns him alive, Polnadra suddenly reveals that he is the one who killed Garion's parents, which give him the will to continue the spell until Chamdar dies without being able to counter-attack. This is not entirely surprising, considering that Asharak/Chamdar is a Small Name, Big Ego character, whose main threat to Garion is because until that point, Garion has no way to defend himself.
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    • Zedar is one of Torak's Co-Dragons and the one who kickstarted the entire plot by stealing the Orb. He also was one of Aldur's students and is meant to be as old and probably as powerful as Belgarath himself. When he's finally confronted, he's defeated in the span of a few pages off-screen and doesn't even get to cast one spell, as most of the battle we see is him and Belgarath fighting over a dagger to stab each other. (Although it's justified story-wise. When he and Belgarath finally meet face to face, Belgarath is so enraged and Zedar so panicked that they resort to a fistfight instead of a Wizard Duel - they do have a Wizard Duel in Belgarath's prequel, and Belgarath kicks the crap out of him.)
  • Complete Monster:
    • Magician's Gambit: Ctuchik is High Priest of the Grolims, and chief disciple of Torak, ruling Cthol Murgos in Torak's stead after the god was left comatose. Completely uninterested in awakening Torak, Ctuchik nevertheless keeps Grolim rituals of Human Sacrifice going for five hundred years, sacrificing untold thousands of slaves to a god he does not even worship in order to cement his control over the priesthood. Pursuing his own agenda, Ctuchik aims to Take Over the World in order to satiate his lust for power, and maintains a private torture chamber for his own amusement.
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    • The Malloreon:
  • Evil Is Sexy: Described by all characters as a very beautiful woman, and proves to be a very sensuous character, Salmissra attempts to seduce Garion to her side, and use him for her own most likely nefarious purposes. Very nearly succeeds.
  • Foe Yay: The paedophilic undertones to Garion and Chamdar's relationship may or may not have been intentional, but they were effective.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In Queen of Sorcery:
    "What happened to your leg?" Wolf asked [Reldegen].
    "An arrow in the knee." The count shrugged.
  • Informed Wrongness: Garion and Polgara's disagreement in Queen of Sorcery. After burning a man alive using sorcery and being traumatised by it, Garion is treated by everyone – including the Prophecy – as childish for not wanting to use sorcery again and insisting that Polgara should use his real name. After the burning-alive incident, Polgara, the only parent Garion's ever had, spitefully insists on calling him Belgarion if this was somehow significant – which it clearly isn't, as she proceeds to call him Garion through the rest of the series. She invades Garion's mind to taunt him and give him smug, condescending advice and even goes as far as manipulating his thoughts to make him write "Belgarion" as his name when Ce'Nedra is teaching him to write. The cherry on top is her (successful) attempt to emotionally manipulate him by claiming that her caring for Garion's family line has been some sort of a personal favor to him, that she's lived in squalor for hundreds of years for him and that her sister died for him – all of it false.
    • On the other hand, Polgara is notably unhappy at his moral crisis (that he's suffering) while the Prophecy is less sympathetic. And both Polgara and the Prophecy have a point, even if it isn't a very nice one or pleasantly expressed. It is made very clear that whether he likes it or not, Garion's power is finding its way out in all sorts of ways, and with the sheer scale of it, he really needs to get it under control. Additionally, getting him to accept the name Belgarion is part of getting him to accept his powers and the fact that (as he later finds out) he's the heir to the Rivan Throne, rather than just plain old Garion the farmboy. And from a point of view, what she says is correct: Beldaran did die (rather than going on to become a sorceress like Polgara, though it's deliberately left ambiguous whether she had the potential or not) founding the line of Garion's ancestors, Polgara has spent the last 1300 years watching over his family, often in rather impoverished circumstances, to ensure his birth, meaning that it's not surprising that she reacts like that when he tells her that she's a cold, unfeeling monster (cold, yes, but Polgara's the opposite of unfeeling - sometimes too much) and that the two of them are done. So she did technically do all of that for him, if originally for the abstract idea of Garion rather than Garion himself, and Beldaran did technically die for him (the latter isn't a rational claim, as such, but it's noted that Polgara has many unresolved issues over the loss of her sister).
  • Jerkass Woobie: Ce'Nedra in The Malloreon. While she's still as bossy and demanding as in The Belgariad, if having mellowed somewhat, it's hard not to feel at least a little pity towards her when she loses her father during the first book, goes through a lot of angst about fearing that she's not able to conceive, or after her son is kidnapped by Zandramas, especially since Zandramas seems to love yanking her chain.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Sadi is the Chief Eunuch at Salmissra’s court, and with the possible exception of pre Character Development 'Zakath ('Zakath changes and has an epic My God, What Have I Done? moment. Sadi doesn't), the worst person the Prophecy ever drafts into assisting Garion and his companions. A Master Poisoner and drug kingpin who had previously played both sides of the war in The Belgariad, Sadi is recruited during The Malloreon to act as Garion’s personal option of last resort. Smuggling the group into first Cthol Murgos, and then Mallorea, Sadi adeptly navigates the halls of power in both Angarak nations, and within a few weeks of their arrival in Mal Zeth, becomes the largest crime lord in the capital, capable of summoning several hundred highwaymen when Garion decides he needs a distraction. With a case full of drugs that can warp people into doing what he wants, and the ability to poison a single person at a banquet with a thousand guests, Sadi never reforms (he does become more friendly, but that's about it), but makes himself absolutely indispensable in matters of intrigue, murder, and ultimately, saving the world.
  • Moral Event Horizon
    • Zedar is portrayed as having passed this when he kills Durnik. He said was the one thing above all else that he didn't want to do, and it pushed Belgarath's Berserk Button something fierce. Considering all the other things he's done, the act itself doesn't really stand out, and it was probably more the last straw.
    • Ctuchik crosses it the second he opens his mouth, confirming all the horrible things we've heard about him up to this point.
    • Zandramas crosses it when they find the bones of the men whose legs she broke so that she could leave them for the lions. As is noted, she doesn't just kill them, she does it as horribly as possible.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Polgara and Beldaran are twin sisters, but in Polgara the Sorceress, Pol's descriptions of her love for Beldaran imply something much more Twincestuous.
    • Polgara seems to have an increasingly uncomfortable interest in the sex life of both her father and her ultimate nephew, going as far as to describe exactly what Belgarath was up to during his self-exile in Maragor as well as determining, on her own, exactly when Garion was able to impregnate Ce'Nedra - though in the former case, the Marags were famous for their liberated sexuality and she was disposed to assume the worst of Belgarath at the time, and in latter case, that was more because there were magically determined circumstances. It wouldn't be surprising (but still very squicky) to know that she was in the room making sure he 'did it right'.
  • The Scrappy: Ce'Nedra just barely misses becoming this in the first series, and that only because of her Moment of Awesome. Although, to some fans the CMOA wasn't enough to save her. In the second series, Character Development helps her out.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Eddings liked to brag about how revolutionary Ce'Nedra was as a female character in the High Fantasy genre. Nowadays, she seems like more of a cliché.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The denouement of The Malloreon, where everyone pairs off with their Love Interest and has Babies Ever After. Lampshaded by Silk.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ctuchik when he tries to unmake the Orb of Aldur in a moment of panic, the conduit for one of the Purposes of the Universe. The Universe rebounds Ctuchik's attempt back on him, deleting him from existence. Also implied to be why there are so few sorcerers who possess the Will and the Word: many who awaken it may end up unmaking themselves.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: In The Malloreon, the Big Guy Band from the first series (Barak, Hettar, Relg, Mandorallen, and Lelldorin) spends a significant portion of the story having mainly irrelevant adventures as they try to catch up with the heroes despite Cyradis' warning that it would be fatal to the prophecy. Of course, Fate was having a fun time with them, as situations seemed to conspire to keep them as far away from the heroes as possible until just after it was all over, at which point they were reunited completely unexpectedly.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Zedar. He's supposed to be a cruel, power-hungry sorcerer who betrayed his god and his fellow sorcerers to commit centuries of evil acts and whose eventual imprisonment within a rock for all eternity is richly deserved. However, this intended interpretation of him falls apart when you consider 1) His Face–Heel Turn was not his own choice, but forced on him by Torak, 2) all the evil things he did were while under Torak's mind control and not of his own volition, and 3) His killing of Durnik was in self-defense after the latter, enraged, assaulted him with intent to kill, and was the only thing that prevented Polgara from agreeing to marry Torak and give him the edge he needed to defeat Garion and conquer the world. In light of these points, Zedar's fate becomes much less Laser-Guided Karma and much more a combination of Protagonist-Centered Morality and Moral Dissonance. (And really, what was Belgarath expecting Zedar to do? Just stand there and let Durnik kill him?)
    • On the other hand, even if Torak controlled him, Zedar used the fact to make himself seem blameless for all that he did, which includes: killing a King of Riva and sparking the war that nearly annihilated the country of Nyissa, since he manipulated the Queen into engineering the assassination, and potentially engineering the suicide of Belmakor, who was essentially a brother to Belgarath. Thousands of years of atrocities would have allowed Belgarath's anger at Zedar to come to a boil: Zedar killing Durnik ( even if Durnik was intended to die as the "sacrifice" in that particular EVENT, whom he was close to, would have been the last straw for Belgarath.
    • It all ultimately comes down how aware of/in control of his actions you think Zedar was under Torak's control, and therefore how accountable he should be held for them. If he had little to no free will of his own, then he's sympathetic, but if he actually had some degree of choice in the bad things he did, then he's unsympathetic. And let's not even get into a debate of how accountable a person should be held for the actions he or she did while under mind control...
  • The Un-Twist: Garion being the Rivan King. It's blatantly obvious to everyone except him, intentionally. It's where a lot of the humour in series comes from.
  • Wangst: Happens all the time to Garion in this series, complete with his Catchphrase, which becomes a Running Gag: "Why me?" It's intentional, though — he's a teenager, and there's a lot of questions he has that Belgarath and Polgara simply won't answer. The other characters frequently tell him he needs to get over himself. In the latter past of the first series, he has, more or less, and finally does so completely in the sequel series, which takes place ten years later. He even explains it to Zakath, when he starts in with the same questions, on being told that he'll join the group or die before the end of the year.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: An in-universe example: Belgarath, in the guise of a wandering storyteller, tells a ghost story about a group of greedy miners sneaking into Maragor and eaten by the ghosts therein. Everyone looks horrified until Faldor laughs and handwaves the story as a sermon against greed and fear. This ends up becoming Harsher in Hindsight when the protagonists actually travel to Maragor, which really is filled with the ghosts of the Marags, slaughtered by the Tolnedrans ages ago for the massive gold deposits there, though the excuse was the ritualized cannibalism they performed.
  • The Woobie
    • Vordai's purpose in the books is to be a sympathetic character who manages to break through Belgarath's Jerkass Façade. The Arendish serf Lammer serves a similar purpose with respect to making Ce'Nedra (and indirectly, via Garion, Lelldorin) appreciate the plight of the serfs. And then there's the brain-damaged boy with the flute. Zedar is set up to appear as this to an extent, as his only real mistake was in daring to think he could outwit Torak, and the punishment for it was millennia of enslavement to the God's Compelling Voice and, at the end, eternal imprisonment in solid rock.
    • Zedar — period. Manipulated by both prophecies to serve their ends, his reward for finding Errand/Eriond—not to mention allowing the Light side to win the EVENT at the end of The Belgariad, (if he hadn't (in self defense) killed Durnik, Polgara would've submitted to Torak and Garion would've lost the fight)—is eternal entombment in solid rock... and Durnik got better. The prequels give him lots of Kick the Dog moments to try and justify this but it still comes off as harsh, especially considering Belgarath, who entombs him, has done some seriously questionable things himself. It's also implied that he's little more than Torak's puppet - his will so totally overwhelmed by the insane evil god's that he wasn't in control of his own actions. None of that matters, Belgarath happily condemns him to an And I Must Scream fate without much in the way of qualm (he considers letting Zedar out a couple of times, but Beldin bluntly states that if he did, he'd put Zedar right back a moment later).
      • YMMV depending on how much control he has of himself.


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