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“The Redemption of Althalus” by David and Leigh Eddings


Eddings is best known for his long three or five book series. It was therefore something of an experiment for him to try and write a stand-alone fantasy novel that resolved everything in one volume. Unfortunately it wasn't a very successful experiment.

The plot involves amiable master thief Althalus, who one day comes into contact with Emmy, a powerful Goddess. For some reason that is never satisfactorily explained she resolves to redeem him and teach him the error of his ways, while Althalus simultaneously has to teach her about deceit and subterfuge – things she thinks she needs to  know to defeat the evil God Daeva who is (inevitably) a threat to world peace. They set off on a quest to thwart his not particularly cunning plan, a quest which in the time-honoured fashion of David Eddings books involves lots of travelling around to every single location on the map and collecting assorted companions to assist in the quest.

It starts off well, Althalus is an entertaining well-drawn character and his early adventures are quite fun. Unfortunately, he is just about the only well-drawn character in the book, Eddings does have a tendency elsewhere to re-use characters but never to the extent he does here. The plot is really quite poor, there are occasional interesting ideas but there are also a host of problems. In Eddings' books the ending is usually quite predictable but in this good guys seem to have an insurmountable advantage right from the start and a lot of things they do seem frankly unnecessary. Some plot points seem to be forgotten about, others aren't exploited and some don't make much sense. It all builds up to one of the most anti-climatic endings ever, in a brief and rather dull confrontation. On the plus side the book is readable and generally reasonably entertaining, but that doesn't made up for the fact that the plot is nonsense. Eddings' strength is usually his characters, but apart from Althalus the characters in this are barely developed and the dialogue is overloaded with irritating catchphrases.

In summary, a poorly-written, poorly-plotted fantasy novel that at the times it was released was probably the worst thing the Eddings had ever written. Occasionally it is entertaining, but overall this isn't worth reading.

Rating : 4/10

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