Over the years I have been at this school, a large number of our readers have been avid fantasy fans, both students and staff. The author David Eddings has a strong core of very avid readers at our school. I read today that our fantasy fans have lost this most popular of writers with his death at the age of 77, on the 4th of June. His wife Leigh, who contributed to many of his 25 or so novels, died last year. His series comprised the fantasy epics: The Belgariad, The Malloreon, The Elenium, The Tamuli, and The Dreamers. For those who are interested in something as an alternative to the paperback, audiobooks of The Belgariad series are available, in podcast form from iTunes.
David Eddings was on record as stating that, after seeing a copy of The Lord of the Rings in its 73rd printing, he switched to writing fantasy as a more viable option. However, no matter what the initial reasons were for writing fantasy, his books were well-written and captivated readers. The books were grand, majestic stories, albeit based around familiar plots. They concentrated on, in rich characterizations, the small details of the characters’ lives. These characters seemed to live and breathe for the readers.They became real. David Eddings never saw himself as an author of classic or great literature but preferred to call himself a storyteller.
From the article in the Guardian, I like this quote:
Eddings was always delighted, he said, to hear that he’d turned non-readers into readers. “I look upon this as perhaps my purpose in life,” he said in 1997. “I am here to teach a generation or two how to read. After they’ve finished with me and I don’t challenge them any more, they can move on to somebody important like Homer or Milton.”
As someone who has always tried to encourge reading (in all its forms) to everyone, I liked the fact that he focuses on telling stories and involving his readers. The fact that he wrote series is also important to encouraging our less interested readers.
Many of our (less-able/more reluctant) boys would rather read the same book (one that they enjoyed) several times over than try something new. When an author has written a series of books it allows them to feel comfortable with a new title because they already have a connection to the characters, the story or the style of writing.
David Eddings was interviewed in 2007 for the on-line magazine, SFFworld.com. In this interview he explained his motivation for setting out on the path of fantasy writing. This site also has a page that includes a biography and a bibliography of his books with links to reviews.
He will be missed and no more new titles will be published but the stories he has left behind for us make a good addition to any library.