Wednesday, 23 January 2002

David Eddings: The Ruby Knight (1990)

Edition: Grafton, 1990
Review number: 1049

The second volume of the Elenium trilogy carries the story forward from the discovery that the touch of the magic jewel named Bhelliom is the only thing which can save poisoned and dying Queen Ehlana of Elenia. It basically describes a quest to find the sapphire, which has been lost for hundreds of years. This is led by Sparhawk, champion of the throne of Elenia, and the novel is named for him and the ruby he carries as a token of his position.

While Eddings avoids the usual mid-trilogy trap of the fantasy genre (his series are carefully enough plotted that new developments appear throughout to maintain the interest), he does end up writing a poorer novel than those around it. For a start, there are unlikely coincidences: in The Diamond Throne, Sparhawk and his tutor in magic witness several people leaving a house in which they have participated in evil rites to gain power; now, they meet up with some of them as hindrances en route to their goal. As well as this, as Eddings describes the journey made by a small group of travellers, a stock situation in his fantasy novels (and in the genre as a whole), he falls back on some of the too often repeated stock elements of his writing, particularly the annoying arch humour.

The Ruby Knight may be the weakest link in Eddings' best series, but is remains an enjoyable and exciting piece of fantasy.

No comments: