theshiningonesThis is the most pointless and boring fantasy series that I’ve read BY FAR. Even if it possessed one small testicle and had podiatric contact with a single withered buttock it would have more balls and kick more ass than it does now, which is none and more none, respectively.

The Tamuli is a series of three books featuring the character Sparhawk, who appeared in a previous Eddings trilogy called The Elenium. The Elenium was a feeble fantasy series in its own right, lightly fingering the reader when he wants to be fistfucked, but it had good characters and snappy dialogue.

This has good characters and snappy dialogue, too, but the story is rotten and decrepit to the core. These books run about a thousand pages in paperback, and I am unable to care about anyone or anything in them. There are journeys to strange lands and invocations of mighty magic, and they bore me. The Tamuli shows us how to do less with more – how write a book about gods and wizards and the end of the world…and make the reader yawn. Remarkable.

The book suffers from the same problem that torpedoed Brian Jacques Redwall series: villains that aren’t a challenge to the protagonist. Eleizer Yudkowski once advised fanfiction writers “You can’t make Frodo a Jedi unless you give Sauron the Death Star.” In this book, Sauron is a Jedi and Frodo has the Death Star. The heroes are always ten steps ahead of the villains. Battles are easy squash matches. Gods are on Sparhawk’s side. Spawhawk himself has the powers of a god. What gives? Miss Marple is at greater risk in her investigations than these guys.

Mostly, The Tamuli is a series of tedious happenings, and an overburdened edifice of a plot that’s sagging inward under its own weight. It’s never clear how much significance to assign to specific plot points. You don’t know whether they’re vital clues or filler…and there’s filler in abundance.

We get scenes about the wacky love life of Bevier, or the anthropology of the Tamul empire, and David Eddings’ fem-dom fetish. There’s a female warrior called Mirtai, and Eddings’ frequently reminds us of how powerful and strong she is (and how she’s a match for any man) in rapturous fantasies normally reserved for paid membersites with “goddess” in the URL. Enough, man. Getting creepy here.

Even more irritating is that he cuts interesting things out of the book. In The Hidden City it’s mentioned in passing that a huge battle has been won against Cyrgai troops. I might have been interested in that. Instead, I get it second hand. I’m reminded of when I was a child, and listened to an audiobook of CS Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy – with the climactic battle scene cut out to save space on the tape.

There’s lots of happenings and lots of detail in these books, and it all seems like the buzzing of flies. The Tamuli can be compared to a plate of mashed potato. Lots of crags and valleys and hills. Lots of interesting things if you’re a potato aficiando. For the rest of us, it is a lump of mashed tuber.

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