The Pandion knight Sparhawk and his companions continue their quest for the Bhelliom, the legendary jewel whose power alone can save a dying queen. Eddings's strength lies in his ability to create thoroughly likable heroes with personalities that transcend the formulaic fantasy genre. Graceful prose and judicious humor add style to this excellent addition to fantasy collections. Recommended.
In The Diamond Throne , the first book in this trilogy, Sir Sparhawk and his companions discover that Ehlana, Queen of Elenia, had been given a rare poison, administered by Primate Annias, head of the country's church, in his effort to use the royal treasury to buy the election of the next Archprelacy. The only possible cure is the Bhelliom, a lost, powerfully magical artifact that even the Elder Gods are hunting for. Here the members of the group search for Bhelliom themselves, in spite of rival search parties, church and mundane politics, war and an angry, evil God. Eddings's delightful style propels the reader along a well-crafted and carefully unfolding course, and even through the few places he falls back on cliches of the genre. His characters are satisfyingly drawn; Sparhawk, his friends Kalten and Sephrenia and their companions are complete individuals, and the minor players are distinctive. A thoroughly enjoyable fantasy/adventure. (Jan.)