Eddings (was George R. R. Martin)

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Jun 28 13:11:19 EDT 2002

On Fri, 28 Jun 2002 16:58:10 +1000, Kathleen Jennings wrote:

>Read the Belgariad in 3 days while visiting relatives and touring Sydney
>which may have coloured my memories of it. I remember enjoying it in a
>fairly light way, but it all seemed so horribly derivative. Is it? Or has it
>been copied? Or is it Fantasyland over again?

Derivative of what, dare I ask?  :)  I think--I can't remember really--that
he was one of the first to take this kind of approach to epic fantasy.  It's
not derivative of any one work in particular, like (for example) Terry
Brooks is of Tolkien, but he takes a whole lot of familiar elements and
whips them together into one series.  Like the fact that the countries all
have unique cultural traits--Tolnedrans are mercantile, the Northern guys
are, um, Scandinavian guys, there's that one country where everyone has
stepped straight out of a medieval French romance...I can't remember all the
names, but I do remember that.  The bad guys are brooding.  The heroes are
all psychopathic killers (got that one from Dave Duncan's _The Seventh
Sword_ trilogy).  The gods are built along the Greek model: human, but
divinely powerful.  Sometimes I wonder why it seems so familiar when I know
there were bits of it that hadn't really been done before in epic fantasy
(for example, the magic system).

Anyway, the first book of the Belgariad came out in 1982.  Lin Carter
started making the big push for publishing more fantasy in 1970 (my source
for this is the introductory note to _Red Moon and Black Mountain_,
published 1971).  The Lord of the Rings was published starting in 1954 and
had that revival about ten or fifteen years later, I don't remember when.  I
think it would be possible to look at other publication dates to see if
Eddings really is being derivative, or if he's the one being ripped off (or
if he's just the first wave of the trend toward Tough Guide fantasy).  It
reminds me of the joke about the teenager who reads LotR for the first time,
and is disdainful because Tolkien totally ripped off Dungeons and Dragons.
:)  I've done that before, thinking a book was so boring and derivative,
when it was just that I hadn't read it before I read all the sequels it

The whole thing is interesting to me because I didn't realize just how
recent a development "fantasy literature" is, in the form we know it today.
And now it's huge.

Melissa Proffitt
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