Content assessment: the Belgariad

This is a follow-up post to my recent one discussing the age suitability of epic fantasy novels by David Eddings. That post outlined themes that were common across four series of his best-known work. This one is a deep dive into one series, the Belgariad.

Book 1: Pawn of Prophecy

Violence, gore, horror

Prologue: Mythic-style description of a character being badly burned with life-changing injuries (referred back to many times later in the book and series). Reference to many  soldiers being ‘consumed by fire’.

Chapter 1: General description of long-past battle with one of the few details being that a combatant is stabbed in the head with a sword, through the eye. Two children (the protagonist, Garion, younger than 9, the other a year or two older than him) engage in a play re-enactment, and Garion loses control and beats the other unconscious with a stick.

Chapters 3-4: Mentions of armed characters hinting at their potential for violence.

Chapter 5: Tales of old, briefly mentioning cannibalism, war and genocide. They move on to a ghost story – upon seeing the ghosts people jump off a cliff to their deaths in fear (the fear and the jump are dwelt on, but not the end of the fall) and one who does not is eaten by the ghost cannibals. The ghost story is then implied to be false. In the main story, Garion (now in early teens) with a knife confronts a man with a sword, but swordsman is disarmed and knocked down by another man with a blunt instrument.

Chapter 8: There is the threat of a dangerous encounter and the men ready weapons, but the encounter is evaded. Later they encounter a spy who seems to have been following them, and some say the spy should have been killed before, or might be now.

Chapter 9: The heroes are set upon by thugs in the street. The POV is on one character who knocks down two thugs with martial arts style kicks. Others are wounded off-page by armed companions and all the thugs flee. The men in the party are pleased to have had a fight and disappointed not to have caused more serious casualties. One companion then wounds a spy with a thrown knife.

Chapter 10: We learn that in the lands of the enemy there is frequent human sacrifice using knives. Garion begins to learn to use a sword.

Chapter 14: One of the more warlike characters anticipates war as “an opportunity to get rid of [a racial group in the setting] once and for all.” Garion is verbally threatened by another youth over nothing much. Garion throws the first punch and bloodies the other boy’s nose, which is treated as a more-or-less admirable act by most other characters.

Chapter 15: One of the men loses his temper with a witch-like elderly woman, who has been telling him things he does not wish to hear, and attempts to kill her with a spear – she deflects it and is unharmed and nobody seems to find the attack problematic. Garion engages in a boar hunt and there is a detailed description of him fighting and wounding a wild boar with a spear, and of the man gorily killing the boar.

Chapter 16: There is a discussion of war and tactics, including the mass killing of enemy soldiers with avalanches and fire.

Chapter 17: It is strongly implied that one of the male characters has (in the timeframe of a slightly earlier chapter, not witnessed by Garion’s viewpoint) raped his wife; although the man seems somewhat ashamed of the incident, he retains the friendship of the other protagonists and there are hints that the couple’s relationship may be improving around this time. It is also implied towards the end of the book that the rape may have resulted in pregnancy, which is hinted at as a positive development.

The option of beheading a traitor is discussed. Violence against a spy is discussed and prepared but it is decided not to kill him so he can talk. An enemy is about to shoot Garion with a bow, but his superior prevents him, seeking to capture Garion alive, and knocks the bowman unconscious as punishment.

Chapter 18: Two unnamed soldiers kill each other gorily with swords/knives. A prisoner claims he will bite off his own tongue rather than talk. He is subjected to magical psychological torture or threat to make him talk.  He is beheaded offstage and there is a discussion of what to do with his head.

Chapter 19: In a discussion of strategy, the intention is stated by one of the allied rulers to effect genocide against the racial enemy. The phrasing is “purge the whole world of this [race] infection” and an allusion is made which (it becomes clear in a later book) refers to killing the entire race of people. Nobody criticises this.

Chapter 21: Some backstory is revealed in which two people were trapped in a burning house and died. Revenge is vowed upon the person responsible, and allusions are made to doing things worse than mere killing.

Sex

(Note that attractive female minor characters tend to be described as ‘young’, ‘maid’ or  ‘girl’ and it isn’t easy to draw a line between some of this and the next section which covers youth sexuality.)

Chapter 7: Reference to a past incident in which a male character travelled incognito with a noble lady; the lady demanded some unspecifiable kind of favours in exchange for passage.

Chapter 14: a minor character, identified as a maid or girl, appears for half a page. She is described only by hair colour, dress colour and the low cut of her bodice. She propositions one of the men – to ‘talk’ with her but it is implied by ‘direct looks’ and ‘blushes’ that she means more. A different young woman addresses a different man from an upstairs window. They have a relationship he does not wish to acknowledge: she may be an ex-girlfriend of his, or a sex worker and he a past customer, but young readers may not pick up on this.

Child abuse and youth sexuality

Prologue: Girl aged 16 is sent to marry a mature adult man (who she has apparently never met) by her father, who is prompted by another male authority figure.  

Chapter 1: Aunt Pol, an adult character, asserts authority over the protagonist Garion (at this point a boy younger than 9 and in Aunt Pol’s care) by holding him by the ear and later slaps him on the face to emphasise a crucial safety message. A future marriage is already arranged for him. Pol convinces a different child she will amputate his arm with a knife if he doesn’t take his medicine. Girl character (similar age to boy) uses her “charm” to manipulate boy characters into fighting with each other and generally obeying her whims. Same girl character is left weeping, and subdued for weeks more, by an off-stage reprimand from Pol, who explains “You don’t thrash girls.” Garion thought girl might have been thrashed and seems disappointed she isn’t.

Chapter 2: Pol strikes Garion (still younger than 9) and an adult character heavily with a stick when they take food from the kitchen.

Chapter 4: Time skip from Garion aged 8 to aged 13/14. A euphemistic line about the puberty of his female friend and the boys’ interest in her. They compete for her affections and Garion kisses her.

Chapter 5: Female friend described as a “bright-eyed little minx” and a “danger” to Garion (subtext, to his destiny and arranged marriage; he is still 14). Garion is required to leave home and does so with a brief pang for her. It is suggested she may soon marry one of the other boys.

Chapter 10: A minor character appears briefly. The author describes her as a young girl with very large brown eyes. Pol remarks how pretty she is, and Garion finds her attractive and spends some time talking with her. Later, Pol gets a fancy new dress and Garion is struck by how beautiful she is.

Chapter 11: A queen with several children is introduced – she is said to have been pregnant since she was 14. Another queen, not present, is remarked on for her youth and beauty.

Chapter 14: Garion (still 14) sees some other young people playing and approaches them. He immediately notices and is attracted to a girl. She flirts with him, Garion defeats a possessive local boy and the girl kisses Garion before he leaves. Garion is later teased by adult male friends for not accepting her implied offer of more ‘rewards’.

Book 2: Queen of Sorcery

Violence, gore, horror

Prologue: Brief historical/legendary relation of massacre, human sacrifice, genocide, and large-scale, protracted, bloody warfare, culminating in a slaughter of a beaten and fleeing army. A somewhat more graphic description of the sword to the eye mentioned in the first book.

Chapter 1: Garion recaps his commitment to murderous revenge upon his parents’ killer. There’s a sequence in the ruins of a city destroyed in war and slaughter long ago, set off by reminiscence of what it used to be like. Peasants relate their experience of starvation, flogging, forced labour and tragedies in their lives including violent death and death from grief/self-neglect. Garion and another character get into a sort of swordfight but decide not to hurt each other.

Chapter 2: Sympathetic talk of political/ethnic violence. Garion recaps the murder of his parents and his intention of revenge. A character says he killed two of his racial enemies he happened to encounter. It is suggested that an enemy could be magically destroyed, but exposition ensues on the limitations of magic.  

Chapter 3: The endemic warfare of the region is emphasised as they visit a fortified house. Talk of assassination and warfare.

Chapter 4: An armed fight breaks out and several people are killed, with gory description. One character kills for the first time and is disturbed by it.

Chapter 5: A plan is related for one set of minor characters to cut the throat of another minor character.  Principal characters overhearing are pleased because all those involved conspired to attack them. Reference back to grotesque injuries previously described in more detail. A poor serf has died and his body is being carried to burial.

Chapter 6: A character briefly discusses leading an army of rebellion. The bones of a long-dead arm protrude from the ground, where many other human remains lie. The party is attacked by monsters – several monsters are killed and one of the characters wounded but the descriptions are fairly mild. Reference (somewhat cryptic) to forced (adult) marriage.

Chapter 7: There is a minor war going on, with battles briefly described and a village burning. A character punches another unconscious for an insult. Jousting breaks out and two minor characters are seriously but not fatally injured; the scene is played for laughs. Another armoured character is beaten unconscious with an axe, and seems set to be executed. An injured character bids his farewells, feeling death approaching. Peasant women wail for their menfolk fallen in the battle.  

Chapter 8: A character explains his hatred for a certain race with backstory involving torture and murder, described briefly and fairly vaguely. A warlike character wants to start a fight to kill some likely enemies, but is discouraged. A ruse is set up that may get the enemies hanged.

Chapter 9: A character in the form of a bird is attacked by a real eagle, but apparently escapes. An incident is briefly recounted in which someone got run through with a lance in a duel of honour.

Chapter 10: Torture by the rack to test the veracity of an accuser is proposed and swiftly rejected. A sword fight breaks out with bloody description and multiple deaths.

Chapter 12: Talk of political assassinations – played for laughs.

Chapter 13: Someone is actually assassinated, just offstage. Some graphic description. Garion’s companions dissuade him from interfering.  Later, the protagonists are apprehended at swordpoint.  

Chapter 14: The protagonists are threatened with torture, and overhear a torture session with the rack. Escaping, they knock out (or worse) several guards. Some vague magical harm is done to the torturers. The protagonists  intentionally set fire to the house.

Chapter 17: The protagonists watch someone dying somewhat gruesomely of poison. The poisoner is quite apparent but no-one intervenes. One of Garion’s companions and an old foil of his good-humouredly discuss deaths they have inflicted or arranged in their past dealings.  

Chapter 20: The group fights a number of animated but perhaps not alive things – there is violence but no gore.

Chapter 21: The Dryads discuss killing Garion – one is obviously keen but is prevailed upon not to. It is explained that since they are all female they reproduce with captured travellers. Pol and the Dryad queen joke about giving the men as gifts.

Chapter 22: The leader of a body of soldiers expresses the intention of killing one or all of the group. Someone slaps Pol in the face, and Garion burns him alive with magic. The description is extended and graphic. Garion feels pity part way through but Pol encourages him to continue and celebrates his victory. The execution of a prisoner by beheading is expected.

Chapter 24: There are enslaved people, in chains, being whipped, whose tongues have been cut out. Some of the protagonists express outrage and their thoughts turn to violence. It is explained that genocide against the slaver nation has been tried in the past but was not thorough enough. No action is taken to help the enslaved people.

Chapter 25: More about slaving. Talk of violence against those responsible. Someone is gruesomely killed by dangerous wildlife.

Chapter 26: Garion is drugged and captured.

Chapter 27: Someone is struck and threatened with death. More enslaved people, spoken of dehumanizingly by villains, and emphasis on the practice of cutting out their tongues. Garion is further drugged to make him compliant. Another character attempts to kill Garion with a knife but is bitten by a snake with fatal and gruesome results.

Chapter 28: A sapient snake is quickly but somewhat gruesomely killed.

Chapter 29: Several people and more snakes are killed, with brief gory description. Garion has drugs that will kill him if he stops taking them, to secure his compliance. (He fixes the problem quickly.)

Chapter 30: Some tough guys batter their way through a crowd with clubs. A desperate refugee from some sort of volcanic eruption is beaten unconscious by an ally of the protagonists to silence his pleas for help. A character is going to kill himself by falling on his sword but is talked out of it. Pol refers back to the rape in the previous book as an ‘exchange of courtesies’. I guess her intent is sarcastic.

Sex

Chapter 17: The description lingers on an attractive courtesan. Her professional activities are hinted at.  

Chapter 24: A woman is dressed in transparent fabric. Characters react in their various different ways to this nudity as a sexual display.

Chapter 27: A female character’s attractiveness and sexuality are emphasised, and her transparent clothing.

Child abuse and youth sexuality

Prologue: Arranged/forced marriage, including a custom that princesses of a certain line must present themselves on their sixteenth birthday for marriage to a prophesied king who may or may not come to claim them, and a peace treaty sealed by a marriage between two initially-unwilling young people.

Chapter 8: A character has a backstory as a child soldier and has been brutalised by killing and seeing death.  

Chapter 11: Garion, now aged 15, is approached by a noble lady, about 17, with marriage in mind. She has the customary low-cut dress, heaving bosom, smouldering eyes etc. A local adult  tells Garion he is of marriageable age in this jurisdiction and cautions him against implying any promise.

Chapter 18: The group is joined by the princess Ce’Nedra, and Pol begins to manipulate her and Garion into a relationship. Ce’Nedra’s 16th birthday is ‘a year or so off’ so she may be 14 still, or just 15.

Chapter 19: Pol manoeuvres Ce’Nedra and Garion into a naked waterfall bathing scene. Garion tries not to look. There is little detailed description. They get dressed, chat and flirt a little.  Ce-Nedra suggests they kiss but they are interrupted before they do.

[The Garion/Ce’Nedra romance runs and runs, but to the extent that it is a wholesome and fairly chaste relationship between two people of similar age, I’m not going to keep mentioning it. There are issues that surround it which I will mention as they come up.]

Chapter 21: There’s some vaguely suggestive wordplay by the child-like Dryads about keeping Garion for a while since he is male. And/or they get to kill him. They don’t offer him any say in the matter either way. A mature male character trades sweets and stories for kisses from the Dryads, saying they will ‘do almost anything’ for them. Pol disapproves but does not intervene. The Dryad queen tells Ce’Nedra she has no choice but to submit to  her arranged marriage. Pol says the same and that she will take Ce’Nedra there in chains if necessary.

Chapter 25: Pol and Garion have an argument about essentially an epic version of a parent’s right to control children because of the work they put into raising them. Pol, on behalf of controlling parents, wins.  

Chapters 27-28: A lingering sequence from Garion’s POV of him (still 15) drugged for sexual abuse by an adult female villain, who touches him little but mainly talks suggestively. The author has Garion feel mingled fear and attraction, mentioning this several times in slightly different ways.  

Chapter 30: Pol tells Garion somewhat cryptically that he mustn’t have sex until he is more mature.

Book 3: Magician’s Gambit

Violence, gore, horror

Prologue: A god sterilises by divine decree a population who refuse to follow him and his appointee, consequently exterminating them as a people.  Cities and a whole people are largely destroyed by monsters, very briefly described.

Chapter 1: Recap in much less detail of the scene from the last book in which Garion burned someone.

Chapter 2: The pregnancy resulting from the marital rape in Pawn of Prophecy is mentioned again, and it becomes clearer that it may be an occasion for the restoration of the relationship.  One of the protagonists wrestles a lion to gory death, pressing the fatal attack after it has become apparent that the lion is losing and would flee.

Chapter 4: The group bully their way past some locals with the threat of violence. One of the locals has been driven mad by an encounter with ghosts. Someone has escaped the danger of being hanged. There are various armed confrontations and pursuits, and one person is bloodily killed. There is a vague threat of some sort of madness-inducing terror but the protagonists are sheltered from it.

Chapter 5: There are visually-specific descriptions of various gruesome apparitions but from the narrative POV they are emotionally neutral. For some reason they’re also sexualised with mentions of kissing, nakedness and beauty. There is discussion of cannibalism and hints at genocide.

Chapter 6: There is an illusory re-enactment of genocide, including some gory description.

Chapter 7: There is an armed confrontation, which the protagonists evade with a ruse. A fight breaks out slightly offstage and it seems likely to involve fatalities. Further presence of monsters and hostile humans at safe distances.

Chapter 9: Reference back to the burning of Garion’s enemy, as part of a general discussion of the potential of magic, including for destruction. It is advised to use a sword to kill instead. The character with the murderous racial hatred of their enemies kills two more offstage.

Chapter 13: The group is attacked by predatory beasts and fights them off; bloody description. They make a pre-emptive attack on some other predatory beasts and defeat them offstage.

Chapter 14: The group is attacked by more monsters, with an intelligent leader. The leader is gruesomely killed, taking a number of savage injuries.

Chapter 20: A man throws himself off a cliff to avoid a still-worse fate. The fate is explained in gory detail – human sacrifice. It is mentioned that someone was executed by impaling.

Chapter 21: Another explanation of horrific death. Reference to ownership of humans, specifically women.  Casual and good-humoured threats of violence. Less good-humoured reference to hypothetical genocide. Threats of torture and death.  

Chapter 22: More anticipation of slow painful death. Threats of graphic violence. Mention of killing in self-defence.

Chapter 23: Mention of fatal animal attack.  A sword fight with brief gory description and death. A person is magically made to pass through stone but left in there to die. Another person is chased into quicksand to drown, and there is regret that the horse they were riding shared their fate.

Chapter 24: Someone is magically attacked and their mind broken, causing them to immediately end their own life by jumping off a cliff. Further brief mention of slavery and human sacrifice.

Chapter 25: More brief mention of human sacrifice. Slavery and enslaved people feature. Genocide is obliquely referred to. They encounter the bones of people imprisoned and then left to starve. Someone is killed with a knife offstage.

Chapter 26: Between chapters and offstage more people have been knifed to death. Garion wears a stolen robe still wet with blood. They are surrounded by enslaved people and largely do nothing about it, having little capacity and an important mission. Grisly description as the group witness human sacrifice. Reference to torture/execution. The protagonists gruesomely kill with some detailed description one attacker and two enemy functionaries.

Chapter 27: The group pass through a torture chamber with horrible signs of use, and greater depravities are hinted at. There is a magical duel. A character and a good deal of scenery  are spectacularly destroyed by magic. (It is not discussed what fate befalls the people inhabiting the scenery.)

Sex

Chapter 5: Some backstory about an extinct race of people says they had far more women than men and hints at their ‘liberal’ marriage customs. They appear as ghosts and there is sexuality mingled with horror.

Chapter 20: Eddings manages to get sex connected to human sacrifice, saying that a desire to be pregnant to gain exemption makes women of a certain race ‘notorious for their indiscriminate appetite’. Remarks are made about the handsome women of another race as a reason to get into the women’s quarters in their houses.

Chapter 21: References to adultery and hints at sexual desire.

Chapter 25: Someone in minimal clothing is responded to as an offence against decency with sexual implications.

Child abuse and youth sexuality

Chapter 1: Recap of Ce’Nedra’s impending forced marriage (she may still be 14 or recently 15 at this point in the story and the marriage is due on her 16th birthday ).

Chapter 2: Ce’Nedra develops her designs on Garion; Pol subtly nurture’s Ce’Nedra’s assumption that these designs are her own initiative. She voices her awareness that she will not be able to marry him as her partner will be chosen for her. She establishes a special connection with an adult male character, which some in the group see as potentially romantic.  

Chapter 10: Garion has charge of a recently-born foal, and exercises strict control of it for no particular reason.

Chapter 13: Pol coaches Ce’Nedra slightly in her relationship understanding.

Chapter 18: A new character knows of Ce’Nedra’s role as bride-to-be and opines that she seems just a child. Polgara says that Dryads are always small and she is of a suitable age (she’s still no older than 15).  

Chapter 27: A young child character is introduced, who has been kept and used by a major villain. The plan relied on the child maintaining their innocence, and they do not seem to have been physically harmed or mentally distressed, though they are not normally socialised and have a one-word speech vocabulary.

Book 4: Castle of Wizardry

Violence and horror

Prologue:  Legend style account of war, assassination, torture.

Chapter 1: Many people are killed in widespread destruction. Garion treads on a dead body. People are killed in a fight offstage. One of the protagonists refers to a character who had previously introduced herself by name, Taiba, as ‘that slave woman’.

Chapter 3: Garion fights effectively with a sword for I think the first time and enjoys it, looking for more enemies straight after. He is given advice to be himself with a hint of not holding back his aggression too much. The group comes under magical attack and Garion counterattacks, threatening the life of the perpetrators.

Chapter 4: Taiba discusses her life under enslavement, including being orphaned by human sacrifice and being raped. She is criticised for not fighting her abuser but justifies herself. She mentions suicide.

Chapter 5: There is a battle, which one character is rather eager to get involved in to attack his racial enemy. It is one sided with great slaughter.

Chapter 6: More discussion of battles

Chapter 7: Someone asks Garion if he can make somebody fall in love with them. He says it isn’t possible.

Chapter 10: A character relates various farcical violent escapades with injury to humans and animals killed. The marital rape couple bond over their young son.

Chapter 13: Someone throws a dagger in an assassination attempt but misses 

Chapter 15: Taiba, with her experience of being given to men for sex during her enslavement (and no mention that she has had sex outside that context), says that sex is not always unpleasant.

Chapter 18: A character’s backstory involves escaping being burnt alive.

Chapter 20: A character regrets that failing students are no longer flogged

Chapter 21: Garion dwells on his fear of death.

Chapters 23-25: Preparations for war, anticipation of millions killed.

Chapter 26: A peasant view on the war and the hardships and tragedies of ordinary life. Ce’Nedra induces two peasants to join up by offering them food. She is despairing and revolted; Pol appears to give her some kind of tranquilliser without clear informed consent. There is an assassination attempt and a killing offstage.

Chapter 27: More war talks. Some characters hope to achieve genocide. Ce’Nedra’s father has a fitting illness and she intentionally triggers a fit to get him out of the way for a while. (He later admires her cleverness for this ruse.)

Sex

Chapters 1-2: A relationship is established in which a male character (Relg) regards a female character (Taiba) as a source of lustful thoughts, which he feels to be a great sin. Taiba is initially wearing very little, and the viewpoint dwells on her attractiveness and near-nudity.

Chapter 7: Taiba has scrubbed up very well and, it is implied, inspires lustful thoughts in all sorts of men. 

Chapter 21: Reference is made to a male figure’s promiscuity.

Chapter 22: Someone accidentally momentarily eavesdrops on a young couple negotiating potential intimacies.

Youth sexuality and child abuse

Prologue: Recap of the obligatory-marriage treaty involving the princesses.

Chapter 6: It is emphasized how much Garion has matured (he is now not far off 16). He meets a beautiful girl, who turns out to be his cousin.

Chapter 8: Some sort of magic apparently makes Ce’Nedra stop resisting steps towards her marriage obligation.

Chapter 10: A young couple, exact ages uncertain, have married. 

Chapter 11: Ce’Nedra, still 15, realises her marriage obligation is not just theoretical and is going to be activated. She isn’t happy about it.

Chapter 14: Garion and Ce’Nedra agree formally to their marriage on her sixteenth birthday (which is after his). She gets tricked into saying that of her own free will she accepts a chain that she can’t take off and will permanently bind her to his family; she is appalled and refers to it as a slave chain.

Chapter 23: Discussion of 16yo Ce’Nedra’s figure and its inadequacies.

Book 5: Enchanter’s Endgame

Violence, gore and horror

Prologue: Brief legend style telling of wars, maiming, human sacrifice

Chapter 2: Reference to a national custom of owning women, human sacrifice. A group of men are forcibly conscripted into an army.

Chapter 4: More forcible conscription and some fist and stick fighting. Five people are killed with arrows. Brief bloody descriptions.

Chapter 6: Remnants of old human sacrifice: bones, bloodstains etc.

Chapter 7: A demon tears a man apart.

Chapter 8: Talk of poisonings, execution and assassination by disease with possibly many extra deaths. All offstage and described with indifference.

Chapter 9 : The allies plan to burn towns and farmland to force the enemy to act.

Chapter 10: Mention of army discipline involving a little beating. There’s also a fist fight, overheard rather than witnessed.

Chapter 11: There is an animal hunt, described very little. There is talk of running someone through with a spear but no violence is done to them.

Chapter 12: Some of the allied leaders decide to deal with an awkward faction of their own side by putting them in dangerous front line positions with heavy casualties. The local folk surrender (talk of human sacrifice by the enemy regime to explain this choice) and are happy to be ordered to do heavy labour. I guess it isn’t slavery if authorial fiat makes the people involved cheerful about it? Pol confronts the prospect of being made by overwhelming force of will to serve as a bride to the evil god.

Chapter 13: Further description of war, scorched earth, dead soldiers. It is implied there are no civilian casualties but homes and crops are destroyed. A character is seriously wounded. 

Chapter 14: The allies kill about a thousand enemy troops in a one-sided battle. They apparently take no prisoners and kill the wounded as they try to crawl away. Nobody raises any ethical issues.

Chapter 15: As a major attack on a city is about to commence, someone in the city kicks a dog to remind us that they’re the baddies and deserve it. There is not much description of the city attack but clearly many soldiers are killed. The civilian population mainly welcome their new overlords. 

Chapters 16-17: Many are killed and wounded in a magical storm and battle – a few of them get detailed and gory description. One of the fatalities is a recurring minor character of beauty and innocence who wasn’t fighting.

Chapter 18: The battle concludes with less description than before. A prisoner is beaten, threatened with crucifixion and sent to be flogged.

Chapter 19: A naval fleet is burning towns and sinking ships. Some sailors are reluctant to set out into this, and one gets his heart cut out and burnt pour encourager les autres. There is speculation about a city being entirely destroyed. Bodies from destroyed ships are sighted. Clawed beasts, neither fully animal nor fully human, patrol a dark and deserted city. A man is driven insane by communication with a mind of immense evil.

Chapter 21:  A man is killed; some blood.

Chapter 22: A servant of the evil god describes his process of becoming subjugated. Someone is killed by some kind of magical detonation out of sight, but their body is seen. Two people brawl, and fall out of sight and continue their battle with magic.

Chapter 23 Pol wishes to kill someone, which she has never done before. She is prevented by force of magical will. It is revealed that someone has been imprisoned in solid rock alive for eternity. The endless pain of an unhealing, undying, permanently maimed being is described. Pol and Garion are subjected to overwhelming will to submit as servants of evil, but resist.  There is a titanic boss fight and the loser dies in fantastical fashion.

Chapter 24: Taiba, rescued from enslavement in an earlier book, is given as a bargaining chip in a negotiation. So is Relg. Neither of them are consulted, though by authorial fiat they later turn out to be content with their destiny.

Epilogue: The woman who endured rape by her husband earlier in the series is now reconciled and says she regards it as a mistake how stubbornly she used to stay angry with him.  

Sex and sexuality, youth and otherwise

(I’ve amalgamated these headings because neither theme is emphasised very much in this book and the examples there are tend to be less clear about which category they belong in)

Chapter 3: Detailed scene of an attractive young woman (age unspecified but not childlike) being put up for sale, and showing herself off to potential buyers.

Chapter 5: A man has with him for sexual purposes two girls, whose lack of maturity is noted.

Chapter 9: An old man leers at Ce’Nedra when it is mentioned how young she is. (She’s 16)

Chapter 20: Garion remembers his one glimpse of Ce’Nedra naked, when he was 15 and she 14/15. No detail described on the page.

Epilogue: Garion and Ce’Nedra, both aged 16, go along more or less happily with their arranged marriage. It is presented authorially as her gaining possession of him and seeking to alter him. Scenes from the books recur to Garion, some violent, some sexual but all brief. Various other, at least mainly older, couples are also finalising their unions and most of them also follow the model of triumphant bride and dazed groom. Attention is drawn to the implied consummation of Garion and Ce’Nedra’s marriage offstage.

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