Thursday, October 30, 2014
Heroic Women of Speculative Fiction #3
Polgara the Sorceress
This week, we are moving from TV to the land of literature. Fantasy is filled with incredible women characters that are a wonderful inspiration. This week I am reviewing one of my favorites: Polgara the Sorceress.
David & Leigh Eddings created a wonderful magical character in his Belgariad and Mallorean series- Polgara the Sorceress. The series was so popular that it even had spin offs novels just about Belgarath the Sorcerer, and his daughter, Polgara the Sorceress. I have posted the book cover above because it is one of the better visual examples of Polgara-beautiful, proud, independent, and strong.
Polgara is a powerful natural sorceress who has devoted her life to protecting the rightful heir to the Rivan throne in Edding's epic saga. For those interested, the Belargiad is 5 books and the Mallorean is 5 books, plus the individual books on Polgara and her father, Belgarath. The books are not huge, so it is actually a good read.
Polgara is extremely complex, noble, volatile, moral, virtuous, lovely, brilliant, and the best cook in the world. She is a multi-tasker. She has sacrificed her whole life to protect what is good and the people she loves. She has sacrificed eons to this task. Polgara is devoted to saving the world from the evil god, Torak, and his followers. Magic in this world is normal, but to only a few. So Polgara is precious. She is a disciple of one of that world's seven gods, Aldur. Aldur is the supreme of all the seven gods, and the most caring. This is a secondary world, so the world is not earth, just earth-like. So in many ways she is like a great religious figure as well. Her legend in that world is long, and people adore her-and fear her a little too. She is funny-though her humor is very dry and subtle. Whether she is Aunt Pol or Mistress Pol, or Polgara the Sorceress, she is loved and respected.
Polgara is not a "save me" type of girl. She saves others. Polgara is strong and not just magically. A strong woman is jot just about her fighting capabilities or magical destructive skill. It is about what is inside and the depth of character. You had better not prick her temper too. There are passages in the series when she loses her temper and raises such a thunderstorm that kings, one of which is seven feet tall, cower and run for safety. The one quirk in this world is that it has some very old fashioned sexist attitudes. There are a number a smart and strong women in the series, but they are nudged into the shadows by the men. They still manage to shine, but it is still irritating. One character that could never be pushed into the shadows was Polgara. Her reputation one of the great heroes in her world is revered by all.
Polgara never uses "weapons" but she uses her sorcery to great effect. The concept of Edding's magic is unique. It has nothing to do with gods or chants or spells or rituals. It is the will and the word. If you have this power, you can do a great deal. But it also takes discipline and skill, and much practice. The magic also has limits and consequences too. There is almost this great element of physics and science in the magical system of Edding's works. I found this very interesting and loved its application in the novels.
Polgara's looks are unique. In the books, many remark on her being a magnificent beauty. Even her ultimate nephew, Garion, thinks his Aunt Pol is the most beautiful woman in the world. Her long lustrous black hair with the single snowy lock above her brow, fair skin, blue eyes, and voluptuous figure, melodic voice, have encouraged many a poet in her world to praise her. Despite this, Polgara is never vain about her appearance.
What is satisfying about the series is that the main characters get what they deserve. the good suffer sacrifice, loss, and trauma, but are rewarded at the end with a happy ending. The evil ones suffer the terrible end. Very satisfying.
So, so yourself a favor and check out this David Edding's classic series! as it has been around for awhile, you can find it in used or new bookstores and it is also on Kindle. The books have never been out of print. There is a reason. This is good stuff. Read it. I will not tell you how many times I have read it. That's what a good book or book series will do, keep calling you back. I usually obey.
Until next week, read more fantasy!