Follow TV Tropes

Reviews Literature / The Belgariad

Go To

11/21/2017 16:15:01 •••

Fans are going to hate me for this.

The Belgariad/Malloreon is a Crapsaccharine Series. It starts off looking like a great fantasy epic, and then you reread it and catch all the bits you missed. Most of these bits lie with the characters. My chief complaint can be summed up as 'They pulled this kind of shit, and they're the good guys? We're supposed to support *them?*' Want some examples? Sure thing!

  • Barak raped his wife. But of course it turns out fine, because she becomes a much better person and sees the error of her ways and their marriage becomes better and- NO. I don't give a fuck what happens as the result, rape is still rape.
  • Zakath tried to commit genocide. Did he repent? Yes. Does it make a difference? No. I don't give a damn how sorry he was, try telling that to all those Murgos he had killed for no other reason than that they were Murgos.
  • Polgara is supposedly a warm, motherly character, when in reality she's a massive bitch. I personally would not allow her to care for a child, because she raised Garion to be completely dependent on her and didn't prepare him for any kind of responsibility, even when she knew his destiny, and refused to answer any of his questions, even the harmless ones. Her smug superiority makes her almost totally unlikable.
  • Ce'Nedra. Apart from her managing to pull a fast one and bring in the Western Armies, her entire contribution is to be a bitchy, whiny, useless, hypocritical lump. If she was supposed to be some kind of strong female role model, that went epically wrong.
  • Sadi. Likable? Oh, sure. Good? Hey, remember all those people he poisoned? And all the drugs he was handing out like candy?
  • Silk: Likable? Absolutely. Good? Yeah, remember how he killed all those Honeths for no other reason than that they happened to be related to a family who killed someone he liked? There's a difference between 'make an example of the murderers' and 'wipe out the whole family', dude.
  • Zedar gets encased in rock forever. His crime was doing exactly what the prophecy said he would do. He killed Durnik in self defense. Does Belgarath care? No, of course not. He's a hero, he can do no wrong. Drunken lecherous pervert.

I cannot like this series any more. The Protagonist Centered Morality angers me so much that I can't read any of the books. It's like trying to eat something you're allergic to without a reaction. I give up.

11/07/2011 00:00:00

Zakath tried to commit genocide. Did he repent? Yes. Does it make a difference? No. I don't give a damn how sorry he was, try telling that to all those Murgos he had killed for no other reason than that they were Murgos.

Lol, sorry if the author won't outright kill the character?

11/07/2011 00:00:00

Not my point. My problem is that we're supposed to view him as good, and it's hard to do that, but everyone in-universe seems to have no problem forgetting that he tried to wipe out an entire race.

04/04/2012 00:00:00

I do want to hate you, but since you said your argument in such a reasonable light...well, it's hard to hate someone who's not just mindlessly bashing the story, you know? You're actually giving us good reasons with examples.

10/25/2012 00:00:00

hee ^^ i really love villian protagonists and flawed main characters (like, REA Ll Y flawed. total jerkass rapist genocide murderer yeah all that sounds good), so im kind of taking this as i will really enjoy this book. but i guess not everyone sees it that way, so thanks for the heads up.

11/09/2012 00:00:00

Heh. I like a good villain protagonist too, I just don't like it when the story tries to pretend that they're not villains. If they admitted that they'd done bad things and tried to atone, I'd be right there with them, but everyone basically acts as though they've never done anything wrong. You probably will enjoy the books- despite the flaws, Eddings really was a good writer, and he did do a rather good epic tale.

08/15/2013 00:00:00

Response - while this Troper generally agree with Polgara and the result of Zedar, there are others i object to. I think the issue stems mostly of Blue And Orange Morality regarding the cultures involved.

  • Zakath - he was only focused on a very specific form of genocide, the bloodline of Taur Urgas. The Murgos just happened to be in his way of accomplishing that. Evil, no, Ruthless, yes. Now, if you want to talk about indiscriminant killing, look at Hettar, who this Troper is frankly surprised you didn't mention. (What was it Cho-hag said to hettar? "You went to Cthol Murgos and we're NOT at war? Remarkable!")
  • Sadi - A product of his culture. The Nyissans celebrate drugs of all sorts and he was extremely efficient at running Salmissra's palace while she was still human, not an easy task to be sure. He wasn't cruel, destructive, or manipulative, simply efficient at politics and surviving. The only poisonings I can specifically recall are those of fallen soldiers on the field and of Naradas, though I think I recall something about infiltrating a cadre of Malloreans to taint their food. He'd be classified, this Troper thinks, as Lawful Neutral. Everytime he was doing something or about to do something others objected to (addicting Brador, selling poisons into Zakath's administration, and whatnot, he pulled back.

As for Silk, the one thing you mention is his Roaring Rampage of Revenge? Might as well call out Durnik for chasing a man into quicksand and watching him sink. What about his cheating at games, dallying with other men's wives, and is quite distinctly described as being "one of the most corrupt people I know" by someone (Sadi, I think).

09/01/2013 00:00:00

I actually agree with you quite a bit here. This series, the Mallorean, and the prequels were all things that I read, enjoyed the ride, and then Fridge Horror hit me like a ton of bricks. I think what drives me crazy about it isn't that they're flawed characters, but that whenever anyone stands in their way for any reason they are practically sociopathic in how they revel in the amorality of their actions.

10/02/2013 00:00:00

I agree on Polgara (who IS motherly but seems to have more emphasis on the controlling/smothering aspects of motherhood). But Wolf is playing a cosmic chess game where he needs certain pieces in certain places. The morality of those pieces, aside from Garion, is of little consequence- what's more important is simply that they all survive to play their roles. It's "the greater good."

I mean on a certain level it's similar to saying something like "OMG how could Obi Wan and Luke hire a SMUGGLER? Don't they know that guy is a criminal?!"

I can't remember the scene with Barak very accurately, but I don't recall thinking of it as rape, more like ravishing. The "not quite rape" is a pretty typical trope in romance fiction, and is totally cool & 100% understood when written by a woman, but if a man writes it he's glorifying rape because I guess that one difference in the author is the thing that crosses the line for a lot of readers (who don't ever bother to think that their prejudice is actually sexism on their part).

But I think my real gripe with this is that the thing I find more obnoxious and unbelievable than "protagonist centered morality" (which is not that different from the "survival trumps morality" attitude many people on this site seem to prefer) is Judeo-Christian morality foisted on stories/worlds that would never HAVE a Judeo-Christian morality.

10/02/2013 00:00:00

I completely agree about Barak and Polgara.

I don't know what possessed Eddings to think a little light-hearted rape ought to be treated like a small (and humorous from the outside) disagreement, but I always found it pretty repulsive.

I hate Polgara and I always have. She's constantly acting like a total bitch and everyone around her just pretends she's this warm, loving, sensible person.

Part of the big issue in those books is that Garion is totally kept in the dark all the time. Then, when he tries to do something and isn't very good at it, they treat it him like he's an idiot for not knowing how to change the very shape of reality. If it was once or twice, I wouldn't care, but Eddings does that in many of his books, and it screams laziness. It always comes off to me like he just can be bothered to come up with a good reason/description for something, so he just says something like "You don't need to know that, Garion" and moves on, even though Garion is the one doing the logical thing in asking. Polgara is a big part of that. She's constantly withholding EXTREMELY important information and then acting like Garion is being unthinkably rude in asking that maybe he be clued in on this celestial mystery he's involved in.

Eddings kinda loves this "tough love" thing with his characters where they are super-unsympathetic to each other and it's played for laughs. I like his books, but that aspect of his writing grates on my after a while. I just finished re-reading the Sparkhawk novels, and I'm pretty sure I'll never read them again. Eddings foibles just irritate me too much now.

04/25/2017 00:00:00

"I can't remember the scene with Barak very accurately, but I don't recall thinking of it as rape, more like ravishing."

"Ravishing"??? He breaks down Merel's locked bedroom door to get at her! He gets drunk, she wants nothing to do with him, and Barak batters down her door and rapes her. That is explicitly stated in the story, with Merel calling him a drunken brute. Every other character with any kind of knowledge of the backstory states straight out that Merel didn't want Barak, period, not even after he got the title of Clan Chief; she didn't want the marriage, didn't want Barak, yet Barak forced the arranged marriage through. That is in-story, in-text, and Eddings presents all of it as if Merel is in the wrong.

Merel's anger & treatment of Barak is not the result of "ravishing". It's from *rape*, period. The Fridge Horror truly kicks in when you realize that the Prophecy mind-fucks Merel at the end to make her "happy", just because she bore Barak a boy — and the whole hate-issue is presented as Merel's longing for a boy baby. Once she has the boy baby, she's shown as "happy". GAH. I don't care what stories say — if you truly love someone, you do not treat them like that. You do not show hate & contempt for them. Eddings's portrayal of Merel & Barak is yet another contemptible "she says no, but she really means yes" BS.

Zadia, you're totally right. None of the "heroes" in this tale are anything of the sort.

11/21/2017 00:00:00

I rather think Eddings was aware of this, as least later, since he has Belgarath dispose of the idea of good vs. evil and keeps it as us vs. them. Protagonist-Centered Morality exists here deliberately. Please remember, Tropes Are Not Bad.

Regarding all the characters\' actions you mentioned, yes, they were horrible. Did that ruin the series for me? No. I could still sympathise with the characters simply because they were always still trying to be good, whatever that meant for them, though they failed often, and did not recognise their own flaws as such. In that they were often more human than most more realistic characters in other fiction, even.

The one place I must protest is in regards Barak and Merel. One: Not that he raped her - he absolutely did - but that that somehow makes him the worst offender on this list. We know the lifelong trauma rape victims (can - see below) go through, but he didn\'t. Two: The idea that the Purpose of the Universe “mindfucked“ her is wrong. It manipulated events so everybody who helped could be happy, which in Barak\'s case meant Merel being happy, so it manipulated events in her favour, too. If the idea of her becoming happy at the birth of a son seems unrealistic, remember it had a hand in her upbringing and ancestry, too. If anything, that way out was built into her from the beginning.

Leave a Comment: