"The first thing the boy Garion remembered was the kitchen at Faldor's farm. For all the rest of his life he had a special warm feeling for kitchens and those peculiar sounds and smells that seemed somehow to combine into a bustling seriousness that had to do with love and food and comfort and security and, above all, home. No matter how high Garion rose in life, he never forgot that all his memories began in that kitchen...
The center of the kitchen and everything that happened there was Aunt Pol. She seemed somehow to be able to be everywhere at once. The finishing touch that plumped a goose in its roasting pan or deftly shaped a rising loaf or garnished a smoking ham fresh from the oven was always hers..."
I have not always been a nonfiction fiend. When I was little I read a lot of fantasy books, including David Eddings's Belgariad series, which started with Pawn of Prophecy. (The above is the opening page of that book.) And when I say read, I mean consumed. I read all the books in the series roughly a million times. I'm so old that when I first started reading them, Eddings was actually still writing them, and I had to wait for the subsequent volumes, which was unbelievably exciting. Let's put it this way. I lived on a farm. I didn't get to the city very often. So when I did get to town, and could sneak a visit to the bookstore (luckily, there was one in the mall where my parents and I sold vegetables at a farm market), and then found that the new volume in the Belgariad was out, well, as they would say on South Park, spank my ass and call me Charlie. Those were not only some of the most exciting moments of my childhood, they remain some of the most exciting moments of my life.
The point of this long and ridiculously self-centered story is that David Eddings has died, at the age of 77. The news made me very sad and I had to go downstairs and retrieve my copy of Pawn of Prophecy,* just to hold it a little bit. It's a pulpy old paperback, cover price $3.50, and the spine and pages are just starting to loosen it up. It smells pleasantly old. But just holding it and re-reading the above** made me very happy.
So here's to you, David Eddings. Mr. CR tells me you're derivative of Tolkien, but I don't care. I spent lots of happy hours with you in my youth and I'll spend more this winter when I re-read all your series, which I am now planning to do.***
*Unlike Mr. CR, who has kept every book he has ever bought, very few books moved with me from my childhood home to college and subsequent homes. During the last move I almost got rid of my David Eddings paperbacks, but I couldn't quite get myself to do it. And, although I like to jettison stuff whenever possible, just this once, I'm glad.
**How great for a fantasy series to start in a kitchen. Please note: I lived on a farm too, and I also loved our kitchen. I knew this series was meant for me from that very first page.
***I also had a crush on the hero Garion, and can't wait to relive that while I re-read. Super!