I once read a comment, review or forum post, where a chap was disappointed with David (& Leigh) Eddings for ‘introducing irony to the epic fantasy genre.’
Years have passed and I’ve never been able to find that post. I pray that I didn’t imagine it, or that the unreliability of memory hasn’t ruined the accuracy of what I actually read.
But the disappointed chap (if real) brings up an interesting point.
Can David and Leigh Eddings be credited with such an introduction?
I dunno. Maybe it’s more like when Judas Priest claim that they didn’t invent thrash, they just ‘sped it [metal] up a bit.’ Not a bad way to approach it, and so maybe we could do the same for Eddings?
If you look back to 1982 when their first novel, Pawn of Prophecy was released, maybe a case could be made that not a lot of the biggest sellers of the era like Feist, Brooks, Weis & Hickman (and even Williams later in the decade), had quite the same tone. I see Williams as much bleaker, Brooks as having a more mythical feel for instance, and possibly Weis & Hickman as somewhat close to Eddings.
But the more I think about the original comment, the more I wonder if irony is exactly what I see the Eddings works and characters bringing to the genre. Part of me thinks it’s more self-deprecation/self-deprecating humour. The character of Silk comes to mind especially here, as does Sparhawk (in a different way) and many of the Eddings’ other characters too, in their unwillingness to take themselves too seriously.
Part of it seems to be the ‘reluctant hero’ aspect and part of it is the way the characters often make light of a given situation, using humour to deal with grim situations like battle. And so for me, maybe it’s more self-deprecation than irony. Therefore I guess it’s possible to claim that while the Eddings team weren’t solely responsible for introducing self-deprecating humour to epic fantasy, maybe they warmed it up a bit?
(One more thought – as a teenager Eddings was also my introduction the gender stereotypes that Robert Jordan especially, would later used in the Wheel of Time, where women see men as essentially stupid and men see women as essentially irrational – think of Vanion and Sephrenia for example.)
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
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