The Thief Who Learned Magic

Enter the world of fantasy writers: Althalus was a thief, a crook, and an occasional murderer; he was probably the best thief in the world. And this fantasy story book is all about his adventures in a world of make believe. Or it should be about his adventures, but a few things went wrong along the way. That might seem normal for any story worth writing about. But a few things went wrong with writing the book itself. Which makes it either a bad book, or an interesting one. It depends on your point of view.

The idea behind the story is quite intriguing. Fantasy writing with gods and magic makes good reading and whiles away a rainy afternoon. But The Redemption of Althalus failed to deliver on several accounts. There were several reasons, why it went so horribly wrong. I managed to read the book through from cover to end, which means it's not a total write off. But my reason for reading can't be what David and Leigh Eddings intended when they wrote the book: I was hunting mistakes.

What hit me in the face all over the book were the repetitions. Yes, part of the plot is the rewriting of the past, but that doesn't mean the authors had to repeat the same stories over and over and again for good measure. Some of the repetitions were just pages apart and obviously intended to pick up a thread from a previous sequel. The positioning a few pages apart left me with the fatal feeling that whole chapters had been cut out. The book in the printed form gave the impression that it was laid out and written as a five part series of books. And then someone took a very big carving knife and cut it down to one book. Whoever did it was no surgeon. The jumps are clearly visible and jar the reader virtually out of the story.

The reason why it was slashed down was probably because the story went all wrong. Magic got out of hand. The goddess Dweia playing support act to Althalus was endowed with unlimited power. And she ran a house with doors to every where and every when. Under these assumptions, the plot of the book got derailed to the point of becoming irritating in its inconsistency. Many actions get played out at length and are crucial to the story that make absolutely no sense anymore once you know it could have been done differently.

Once you get irritated with a book, there is probably no end to being irritated at all kinds of other minor flaws. The jokes and the humor in the book were uninspiring. Many of the jokes fall flat because the whole build up to the punchline was slashed out when shortening it down to size. Some of the jokes were completely incomprehensible. Add to this all the instances where the wrong person said or did something, and you see why readers might become hunters.

The Redemption of Althalus by David and Leigh Eddings is available on Kindle. For the casual reader, there are better books, but it would still be good enough for a rainy weekend. For anybody who wants to dabble in fantasy writing, it is an absolutely must read. This is how it is not done. If ever you were under the illusion that fantasy writing means that no rules apply, learn what happens if you do that. Fantasy writing needs even tighter rules than reality or the story goes haywire. That the book is overlong doesn't help its appeal, either.

Further reading
Magic is Dangerous
The Little Prince
Jim Button and Luke The Engine Driver