The Redemption of Althalus
by David and Leigh Eddings
Ballantine Books, copyright © 200 David and Leigh Eddings
Despite their large body of work, I have not read much of David and/or Leigh Eddings. This may have shaped my opinion of this book when compared to others who have religiously read each of their works.
The Redemption of Althalus is a one-volume saga, certainly something worth looking into for that fact alone in this era of trilogies. And at close to 800 pages, it is hefty enough for a good read without the reader having to free up the next few weeks in order to read it.
The story revolves around a supposedly wicked man, the Althalus of the title, and his efforts to save the world, mankind, and life as we know it. Althalus is hired to steal a book in House at the End of the World. When he finally gets there, he finds a talking cat who traps him there for 2,500 years as he learns to use the books magic powers. The cat is actually Dweia, one of three sibling gods who are getting ready to battle for the world. Dweia convinces Althalus to find a knife with runes on it which can only be read by companions who will fight for the good. With this knife, Althalus and Dweia, in her guise as the cat Emmy, gather a group of ragtag individuals: a priest, a witch, a small boy, a warrior, and a princess, and this groups goes off on an epic adventure to save the world.
I found much in the book to be quite good and enjoyable. The writing is witty, and it did elicit more than a few chuckles. The character development on Althalus was good, and he became a thoroughly likable character. The action sequences were well-paced and enjoyable. And the peripheral characters were more interesting and believable than in many works.
On the other hand, the book does have some flaws. First of all, the title of the book indicates that this is supposed to the redemption of this man, so Althalus must have been a bad man at first. But he isn't. Yes he is a thief and a rouge, and yes he has killed some men, but those men probably deserved killing, and Althalus is written as no more evil than some frat boys. A better trnasformation would have been if he had truly been a bad man.
Character development is also weak. Other than Althalus, we never really get into the heads of the others. I really wanted to learn more about Leitha, the witch. She had an entire novel buried in her alone, and I wanted to see some of that.
One character I despised was the young boy, Gher. As written, he was totally unbelievable as a boy. His language and demeanor was forced and awkward. His sole purpose in the book seemed to be to be constantly hungry in order to elicit wry laughs from the rest of the group. That got old very quickly.
Overall, I enjoyed the book with the caveat that it could have been much, much better. I would recommend it, but after speaking to friends who have read all of the Eddings' novels, perhaps only to people who have not read them.
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