Polgara the Sorceress

( 52 )


Her hair streaked white by her father's first touch, her mind guided by a mother she will not see again for centuries, Polgara begins life in her Uncle Beldin's tower, and in the prehistorical, magical Tree that stands in the middle of the Vale. There, she first learns the reaches of her powers. There, she assumes the bird shapes that will serve her on her adventures. And there she starts on the path toward her destiny as Duchess of Erat, shepherdess of the cause of good, adversary of Torak the One-Eyed Dragon ...
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1997 Hard cover New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 656 p.

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Her hair streaked white by her father's first touch, her mind guided by a mother she will not see again for centuries, Polgara begins life in her Uncle Beldin's tower, and in the prehistorical, magical Tree that stands in the middle of the Vale. There, she first learns the reaches of her powers. There, she assumes the bird shapes that will serve her on her adventures. And there she starts on the path toward her destiny as Duchess of Erat, shepherdess of the cause of good, adversary of Torak the One-Eyed Dragon God, and guardian of the world's last, best hope: the heir to the Rivan throne. Here is the legendary life story of a woman of wit, passion, and complex emotions, a woman born of two majestic parents who could not have been more unlike each other. Ordained to make peace and make war, to gain love and lose love, Polgara lives out her family's rich prophecy in the ceaseless struggle between the Light and the Dark.
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Editorial Reviews

Wayne MacLaurin
Like its predecessor, this is a lengthy tale spanning thousands of years of history... If anybody is wondering if there is a point to telling the same tale twice, the answer is yes. Belgarath and Polgara tell two very different versions of the same story. The Eddings state right off that these are two different tales, and since they are told by two different characters, it's up to the reader to decided who's remembering a truer version of events.... If you haven't read anything by these authors, Polgara the Sorceress is a good introduction, although it does make a few assumptions about the reader's knowledge of events in The Belgariad and The Malloreon. For those long-time fans, Polgara the Sorceress is a worthy addition to a growing collection. One hint: watch for some subtle clues as to what the Eddings' next books might be about.
SF Site
VOYA - Rebecca Barnhouse
Described on the dust jacket as the "crown jewel" of the two five-book Belgariad and Malloreon series, this book retells the stories of all ten novels from the point of view of Polgara, the three-thousand-year-old sorceress. In a first-person narrative, interspersed with comments directed at her father, Belgarath, Polgara tells her life story, beginning before she was born. After dwelling on her childhood and education, Polgara begins to skip quickly over the events related in the Belgariad and Malloreon novels, stopping at important points in time such as her twin sister's death and the ensuing regency period of Prince Daran, and her overthrow of the feudal system in Arendia. Unbeknownst to her father, Polgara has a strong mental link with her mother, Poledra, whom she has never seen, presumed by Belgarath to be dead. Both parents educate Polgara in magic and other types of knowledge, and she assumes her place in the direction of world events, fighting against the evil god Torak, and guarding the heirs to the Rivan throne. This novel assumes a knowledge of the earlier books, but readers new to the work of the Eddings team can still enjoy Polgara's version of the story. However, because Polgara is telling most of the stories from the distance of time, there is little sense of emotional involvement, and therefore little suspense. Polgara's character is established early on and then remains static, with no development or change. Likewise, the style, with Polgara's frequent asides to her father, to other characters, and to the reader, becomes tedious after the first 200 pages, and in a 643-page book, that's saying something. The writers might have done better if they had focused on a few events rather than giving such a broad overview, but hardcore fans probably will not mind. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P S (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
A sorceress reminisces on her proud life in this final volume in the authors' best-selling sf series, "The Belgariad" e.g., Belgarath the Sorcerer, LJ 8/95.
Kirkus Reviews
Already a runaway bestseller in the UK, this latest doorstopper fantasy from the husband-and-wife team expands upon the events encompassing two huge five-book sagas, The Belgariad and The Malloreon, plus a sequel-cum-companion volume, Belgarath the Sorcerer (1995). This enormous tome focuses on Belgarath's daughter Polgara, the 3,000-year-old shape-shifting sorceress, and her tumultuous world of magic, one-eyed evil gods, kings, swords, orbs, and whatnot.

Neither sequel nor prequel, but—what? Postquel? Omniquel?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345416629
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/29/2000
  • Series: Belgariad Prequel Series , #2
  • Pages: 656
  • Product dimensions: 6.78 (w) x 9.62 (h) x 2.03 (d)

Meet the Author

David Eddings published his first novel, High Hunt, in 1973, before turning to the field of fantasy and The Belgariad, soon followed by The Malloreon. Born in Spokane, Washington, in 1931, and raised in the Puget Sound area north of Seattle, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, in 1954 and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Washington in 1961. He has served in the United States Army, has worked as a buyer for the Boeing Company, has been a grocery clerk and college English teacher.

Leigh Eddings has collaborated with her husband for more than a dozen years.

The Eddings live in the Southwest.

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Read an Excerpt


Kail, the Rivan Warder, objected strenuously when King Belgarion told him that he and his queen planned to make the journey to the northern end of the Vale of Aldur unattended, but Garion uncharacteristically put his foot down. "It's a family gathering, Kail. Ce'Nedra and I don't need a cluster of servants under foot. They'd just be in the way."

"But it's dangerous, Your Majesty."

"I rather doubt that anything'll turn up that I can't handle, old friend," Garion told him. "We're going alone." The Rivan Queen was a bit startled by the firmness in Garion's voice.

Then there was the argument about fur. Queen Ce'Nedra was Tolnedran by birth and Dryad by heritage. Those backgrounds are both southern, and the notion of wearing animal skins made Ce'Nedra's flesh creep. Garion, however, was at least partially Alorn, and he'd traveled extensively in the north in the wintertime. "You're going to wear fur, Ce'Nedra," he adamantly told his tiny wife, "because if you don't we aren't going anywhere until the weather warms up." Garion seldom delivered ultimatums to her, and Ce'Nedra was shrewd enough not to argue about the matter any further. She obediently dressed herself in Alorn fur garments, spoke at some length with the nurse who would oversee the royal children during her absence, and then she and her husband left the Isle of the Winds aboard the disreputable Captain Greldik's dubious ship on the morning tide.

They purchased horses and supplies in Camaar and set out toward the east. The regularly spaced Tolnedran hostels along the highway to Muros provided adequate lodgings each night, but after Muros, they were largely on their own. The Rivan King, however, had spent a great deal of time living out in the open, and his little wife was forced to concede that he was adequate when the time came to set up camp.

The Rivan Queen was realistic enough to know just how ridiculous she looked while gathering firewood in those camps. The bulky fur garments she wore gave her a roly-poly appearance, her flaming red hair streamed down her back, and because of her size she could only carry a few sticks at a time. The unwanted image of a red-haired beaver trudging through the snow came to her quite often.

The snow was deep in the Sendarian mountains, and it seemed to Ce'Nedra that her feet would never be warm again. She could not give her husband the satisfaction of admitting that, however. This trek was her idea, after all, and she'd have sooner died than admit that it might have been a mistake.

Ce'Nedra was like that sometimes.

It was snowing lightly and was bitterly cold when they came down out of the mountains and rode south across the snowy plains of Algaria. Although it definitely went against her grain to confess it, even privately, Ce'Nedra was actually glad that her husband had been so insistent about dressing warmly.

And then, as a chill evening was settling over southern Algaria and lowering clouds were spitting tiny pellets of snow, they topped a rise and saw the little valley on the northern edge of the Vale of Aldur where Poledra's cottage and the surrounding outbuildings lay. The cottage had been there for eons, of course, but the barns and sheds were Durnik's additions, and they gave the place the appearance of a Sendarian farmstead.

Ce'Nedra wasn't really interested in comparative architecture at that point, however. All she really wanted to do was to get out of the cold. "Do they know that we're coming?" she asked her husband, her breath steaming in the biting cold.

"Yes," Garion replied. "I told Aunt Pol that we were on the way a couple of days ago."

"Sometimes you're a very useful fellow to have around, Your Majesty," Ce'Nedra smiled.

"Your Majesty is too kind." His reply was a bit flippant.

"Oh, Garion." They both laughed as their weary mounts trudged down the hill.

The cottage -- they'd always called it that, though in actuality it was growing to be a fairly large house -- nestled at the side of an icebound little stream, and the snow was piled up to the bottom of the windows. There was a kind of golden invitation about the way the soft lamplight spilled out across the snow, and the column of blue smoke from the central chimney rose straight up toward the threatening sky. The Rivan Queen definitely approved of that indication that warmth and comfort were no more than a quarter mile away.

And then the low door opened, and Durnik stepped out into the dooryard. "What kept you?" he called up to them. "We were expecting you along about noon."

"We hit some deep snow," Garion called back. "It was slow going there for a while."

"Hurry on down, Garion. Let's get Ce'Nedra in out of this cold." What a dear man he was!

Ce'Nedra and her husband rode into the snowy dooryard and swung down from their saddles.

"Go inside, both of you," Durnik instructed. "I'll see to your horses."

"I'll help with that," Garion offered. "I can unsaddle a horse almost as well as you can, and I need to stretch my legs anyway." He took Ce'Nedra by the arm and guided her to the doorway. "I'll be right back, Aunt Pol," he called inside. "I want to help Durnik with the horses."

"As you wish, dear," the Lady Polgara replied. Her voice was rich and filled with love. "Come in here, Ce'Nedra. Let's get you warm."

The Rivan Queen almost ran inside, hurled herself into the arms of Polgara the Sorceress, and kissed her soundly.

"Your nose is cold, Ce'Nedra," Polgara observed.

"You should feel my feet, Aunt Pol," Ce'Nedra replied with a little laugh. "How can you stand the winters here?"

"I grew up here, dear, remember? I'm used to the weather."

Ce'Nedra looked around. "Where are the twins?"

"They're down for their afternoon nap. We'll get them up for supper. Let's get you out of those furs and over to the fireplace. As soon as you warm up a little, I've got water heating, and you can have a nice hot bath."

"Oh, yes!" the Rivan Queen replied fervently.

Part of the difficulty with Alorn fur garments lies in the fact that they don't have buttons, so they're customarily tied on. Undoing frozen knots can be quite a chore, particularly if one's fingers are stiff with cold. And so it was that Ce'Nedra was almost forced simply to stand in the center of the room with her arms outstretched while Polgara removed her outer garments. Then, once the furs were off, the Rivan Queen went to the fireplace and stretched her hands out to the crackling flames.

"Not too close, dear," Polgara warned. "Don't burn yourself. How does a nice hot cup of tea sound?"


After Ce'Nedra had drunk her tea and soaked in a tub of steaming water for about a half hour, she actually began to feel warm again. Then she dressed in a plain gown and returned to the kitchen to help feed the twins. Polgara's children were a year old now, and they'd begun to walk -- although not very well. They also seemed to have some difficulty managing their spoons, and quite a bit of their supper ended up on the floor. The twins had flaxen, curly hair, and they were absolutely adorable. Their vocabulary was very limited -- at least in any language Ce'Nedra could understand. They talked to each other extensively in some strange tongue, however.

"They're speaking 'twin,'" Polgara explained. "It's not uncommon. Each set of twins develops its own private language. Beldaran and I spoke to each other in 'twin' until we were about five. It used to drive poor Uncle Beldin wild."

Ce'Nedra looked around. "Where are Garion and Durnik?"

"Durnik's made some more improvements," Polgara replied. "I'd imagine he's showing them off. He's added several rooms at the back of the cottage, so at least you and Garion won't have to sleep in the loft." She carefully wiped the chin of one of the twins. "Messy person." she chided gently. The child giggled. "Now, then, what's this all about, Ce'Nedra? Why did you make this trip in the dead of winter?"

"Have you read Belgarath's story yet?" Ce'Nedra asked.

"Yes. It was characteristically long-winded, I thought."

"You won't get any argument from me about that. How could he possibly have written that much down in under a year?"

"Father has certain advantages, Ce'Nedra. If he'd actually had to write it, it'd probably have taken him much, much longer."

"Maybe that's why he left so many things out."

"I don't exactly follow you, dear." Polgara gently wiped the face of the second twin and then set them both down on the floor.

"For someone who pretends to be a professional storyteller, he certainly did a third-rate job."

"He more or less covered everything that happened, I thought."

"There are some awfully large gaps in that story, Aunt Pol."

"Father is seven thousand years old, Ce'Nedra. In that long a time there were bound to be periods when nothing was happening."

"He didn't go into anything that happened to you, though. He didn't say very much about those years you spent at Vo Wacune or what you did in Gar og Nadrak or any of those other places. I want to know what you did."

"What on earth for?"

"I want the whole story, Aunt Pol. He left so much out."

"You're as bad as Garion was. He always used to badger my father for more details every time the old wolf told him a story." Polgara broke off abruptly. "Away from the fireplace!" she said sharply to the twins.

They giggled, but they did as they were told. Ce'Nedra gathered that it was a game of sorts. "Anyway," she picked up the thread of her thought. "Belgarath sent some letters when he had those last few chapters delivered to Riva. The letter he sent to me is what gave me the idea of coming here to talk with you. First he accused us all of getting together and bullying him into writing the history. He said that he knew there were gaps in the story, but he suggested that you could fill them in."

"How typical," Polgara murmured. "My father's an expert at starting things and then tricking others into finishing them for him. Well, this time he's out of luck. Forget it, Ce'Nedra. I don't pretend to be a storyteller, and I've got better things to do with my time."

"But -- "

"No buts, dear. Now, go call Garion and Durnik in for supper."

Ce'Nedra was shrewd enough not to raise the issue again, but a way around Polgara's refusal had already begun to form in her devious little mind.

"Garion, dear," she said when she and her husband were in bed later that night in the warm and comfortable darkness.

"Yes, Ce'Nedra?"

"You can reach out and talk to your grandfather, can't you?"

"I suppose so. Why?"

"Wouldn't you like to see him -- and your grandmother? I mean, we're this close anyway, and it's not really very far from Belgarath's tower to the cottage here, and they'd be terribly disappointed if we let this opportunity for a visit slip by, wouldn't they?"

"What are you up to, Ce'Nedra?"

"Why must I always be 'up to' something?"

"You usually are."

"That's not very nice, Garion. Isn't it just possible that all I want is a family reunion?"

"I'm sorry. Maybe I misjudged you."

"Well -- actually, your aunt Pol's being a little stubborn about this. I'm going to need some help convincing her to write her story."

"Grandfather won't help you. He already told you that in his letter."

"I'm not talking about help from him. I want to talk to Poledra. Aunt Pol will listen to her mother. Please Garion." She said it in her most winsome and appealing tone.

"All right, I'll talk it over with Durnik and see what he thinks."

"Why don't you let me talk with Durnik? I'm sure I can persuade him that it's a good idea." She nuzzled at her husband's neck affectionately. "I'm nice and warm now, Garion," she said invitingly.

"Yes, I noticed that."

"Are you really very sleepy?"

"Not that sleepy, dear." and he turned to embrace her.

This wouldn't be terribly difficult, Ce'Nedra decided. She was an expert at getting her own way, and she was confident that she could get Garion and Durnik to agree with her plan. Poledra, on the other hand, might take a little more work.

Garion, as he usually did, slipped quietly out of bed before it was even light. The Rivan King had grown up on a farm, and farmers habitually rise early. Ce'Nedra decided that it might not be a bad idea to keep track of him for the next couple of days. A chance conversation between her husband and Durnik might disrupt her plan -- Ce'Nedra deliberately avoided the word "scheme." So she touched the fingertips of her right hand to Beldaran's amulet and searched with her mind for Garion.

"Oh, hush." It was Durnik's voice, and it was peculiarly gentle. "It's only me. Go back to sleep. I'll feed you later."

There was a muttering, some soft, grumbling sounds -- birds of some kind, Ce'Nedra judged. Then they clucked a bit and settled back down again.

"Do you always talk to them that way?" It was Garion's voice.

"It keeps them from getting excited and flying off in the dark and hurting themselves," Durnik replied. "They insist on roosting in that tree right here in the dooryard, and I have to pass that tree every morning. They know me now, so I can usually persuade them to settle down again. Birds pick these things up fairly quickly. The deer take a little longer, and the rabbits are timid and very flighty."

"You feed them all, don't you, Durnik?"

"They live here, too, Garion, and this farm produces more food than Pol and I and the babies can possibly eat. Besides, that's one of the reasons we're here, isn't it? The birds and the deer and the rabbits can look out for themselves in the summer, but winter's a lean time, so I help them out a bit."

He was such a good man! Ce'Nedra's eyes almost filled with tears. Polgara could have chosen any king or emperor for a husband and lived in a palace. She'd chosen a simple country blacksmith instead and lived on this remote farmstead. Now Ce'Nedra knew why.

As it turned out, Durnik was fairly easy to manipulate. Ce'Nedra's suggestion of "a little family reunion, since we're all here anyway" brought him over to her side almost immediately. Durnik was too innocent to suspect ulterior motives in others. It was so easy that Ce'Nedra was almost ashamed of herself.

Garion was not nearly so innocent. He had lived with his willful little Dryad wife for quite a while, after all. With both Durnik and Ce'Nedra urging the reunion, though, he didn't really have any choice. He did cast a few suspicious looks in Ce'Nedra's direction before he sent his thought out to his grandfather, however.

Belgarath and Poledra arrived a day or so later, and the old man's expression when he greeted the Rivan Queen clearly indicated that he knew that she was "up to something." That didn't concern Ce'Nedra very much, though. What she was "up to" didn't involve Belgarath. She concentrated on Poledra instead.

It was several days before Ce'Nedra had the chance to get her husband's grandmother off to one side for some serious talk, family reunions being what they are and all. Polgara's twins, of course, were the center of everyone's attention. The twins enjoyed that, and Ce'Nedra was patient. The right moment would come, she was sure of that, so she simply enjoyed the closeness of the peculiar family into which she had married and bided her time.

There was a strange quality about the tawny-haired Poledra that made Ce'Nedra a little hesitant about approaching her. Ce'Nedra had read Belgarath's story several times, and she was fully aware of Poledra's peculiar background. She frequently caught herself studying Belgarath's wife, looking for wolfish traits. They were probably there, but Ce'Nedra was Tolnedran, and wolves are not so common in Tolnedra that she'd have recognized the traits even if they'd been more obvious. The thing that disturbed Ce'Nedra the most was the disconcertingly direct way Poledra had of looking at people. Cyradis had called Poledra "the Woman Who Watches," and the Seeress of Kell had been right on that score. Poledra's golden eyes seemed quite capable of seeing through all of Ce'Nedra's defenses and concealments into that secret place where the Rivan Queen stored her motives. The tiny queen really didn't want anybody snooping around in there.

Finally she screwed up her courage one morning and approached Polgara's golden-eyed mother. Garion, Belgarath, and Durnik were outside, conducting one of their endless surveys of the farmstead, and Polgara was bathing the twins. "I need to ask a favor of you, Lady Poledra." Ce'Nedra was not certain of the proper form of address, so she fell back on a somewhat inappropriate usage.

"I rather suspected you might," Poledra replied quite calmly. "You went to a great deal of trouble to arrange this gathering, and you've been watching me for the last several days. I was fairly certain that you'd eventually get to the point. What's bothering you, child?"

"Well -- 'bother' might not be the exact term," Ce'Nedra amended, averting her eyes slightly. Those penetrating golden eyes made her nervous. "There's something I need from Polgara, and she's being stubborn about it. You know how she can be sometimes."

"Yes. It's a family trait."

"I didn't say that very well, did I?" Ce'Nedra apologized. "I love her, of course, but -- "

"What do you want from her? Don't run in circles, Ce'Nedra. Get to the point."

Ce'Nedra was not accustomed to being addressed so bluntly, but she chose not to take offense. She sidetracked slightly instead. "Have you read the history book your husband just finished writing?" she asked.

"I don't read often," Poledra replied. "It's hard on the eyes. Besides, he didn't write it. He spoke it, and it just appeared on paper while he was talking. He cheats sometimes. I heard most of it while he was talking. It wasn't too inaccurate."

"That's what I'm getting at. He left quite a bit out, didn't he?"

"In places, yes."

"But your daughter could fill in those places, couldn't she?"

"Why would she want to do that?"

"To complete the story."

"Stories aren't really that important, Ce'Nedra. I've noticed that menfolk tell stories over their alecups to fill in the hours between supper and bedtime." Poledra's look was amused. "Did you really come all this way just to get a story? Couldn't you find anything better to do -- have another baby, or something?"

Ce'Nedra changed direction again. "Oh, the story isn't for me," she lied. "It's for my son. Someday he'll be the Rivan King."

"Yes, so I understand. I've been told about that custom. Peculiar customs should usually be observed, though."

Ce'Nedra seized that advantage. "My son Geran will be a leader someday, and he needs to know where he is and how he got there. The story will tell him that."

Poledra shrugged. "Why's it so important? What happened yesterday -- or a thousand years ago -- isn't going to change what happens tomorrow, is it?"

"It might. Belgarath's story hinted at the fact that things were going on that I didn't even know were happening. There are two worlds out there running side by side. If Geran doesn't know about both of them, he'll make mistakes. That's why I need Polgara's story -- for the sake of my children -- and hers." Ce'Nedra bit off the term "puppies" at the last instant. "Isn't caring for our children the most important thing we do?" Then a thought came to her. "You could tell the story, you know."

"Wolves don't tell stories, Ce'Nedra. We're too busy being wolves."

"Then it's going to be up to Polgara. My son will need the rest of the story. The well-being of his people may depend on his knowing. I don't know what Aldur has planned for Polgara's children, but it's very likely that they'll need the story as well." Ce'Nedra was quite proud of that little twist. The appeal to Poledra's innate sense of pack loyalty might very well have been the one thing to turn the trick. "Will you help me persuade Polgara?"

Poledra's golden eyes grew thoughtful. "I'll think about it," she said.

That wasn't exactly the firm commitment Ce'Nedra had been hoping for, but Polgara brought out the twins at that point, so the Rivan Queen wasn't able to pursue the matter further.

When Ce'Nedra awoke the following morning, Garion was already gone, as usual. Also, as usual, he'd neglected to pile more wood on the fire, and the room was decidedly cold. Shivering, Ce'Nedra got out of bed and went looking for warmth. She reasoned that if Garion was up, Durnik would be as well, so she went directly to Polgara's bedroom and tapped lightly on the door.

"Yes, Ce'Nedra," Aunt Pol replied from inside. She always seemed to know who was at her door.

"May I come in?" Ce'Nedra asked. "Garion let the fire go out, and it's freezing in our room."

"Of course, dear," Aunt Pol replied.

Ce'Nedra opened the door, hurried to the bed, and crawled under the covers with Aunt Pol and the babies. "He always does that," she complained. "He's so busy trying to sneak away that he doesn't even think about putting more wood on the fire."

"He doesn't want to wake you, dear."

"I can always go back to sleep if I want, and I hate waking up in a cold room." She gathered one of the twins in her arms and cuddled the little child close. Ce'Nedra was a mother herself, so she was very good at cuddling. She realized how much she missed her own children. She began to have some second thoughts about the wisdom of a journey in the dead of winter based on nothing more than a whim.

The Rivan Queen and her husband's aunt talked about various unimportant things for a while, and then the door opened and Polgara's mother came in carrying a tray with three cups of steaming tea on it. "Good morning, Mother," Polgara said.

"Not too bad," Poledra replied, "A little cold, though." Poledra was so literal sometimes.

"What are the menfolk up to?" Aunt Pol asked.

"Garion and Durnik are out feeding the birds and animals," Poledra said. "He's still asleep." Poledra almost never spoke her husband's name. She set her tray down on the small table near the fireplace. "I think we need to talk," she said. She came to the bed, took up the twins, and deposited them back in the curiously constructed double cradle that Durnik had built for his children. Then she handed Polgara and Ce'Nedra each a cup of tea, took the remaining one up herself, and sat in the chair by the fire.

"What's so important, Mother?" Polgara asked.

Poledra pointed one finger at Ce'Nedra. "She talked with me yesterday," she said, "and I think she's got a point we should consider."


"She said that her son -- and his sons -- will be leading the Rivans someday, and there are things they'll need to know. The well-being of the Rivans might depend on their knowing. That's a leader's first responsibility, isn't it? -- whether he's leading people or wolves."

Ce'Nedra silently gloated. Her thrown-together arguments the previous morning had evidently brought Poledra over to her side.

"Where are we going with this, Mother?" Polgara asked.

"You have a responsibility as well, Polgara -- to the young," her mother replied. "That's our first duty. The Master set you a task, and you haven't finished it yet."

Polgara gave Ce'Nedra a hard look.

"I didn't do anything, Aunt Pol," Ce'Nedra said with feigned innocence. "I just asked for your mother's advice, that's all."

The two sets of eyes -- one set tawny yellow, the other deep blue -- fixed themselves on her.

Ce'Nedra actually blushed.

"She wants something, Polgara," Poledra said. "Give it to her. It won't hurt you, and it's still a part of the task you freely accepted. We wolves rely on our instincts; humans need instruction. You've spent most of your life caring for the young -- and instructing them -- so you know what's required. Just set down what really happened and be done with it."

"Not all of it, certainly!" Polgara sounded shocked. "Some of those things were too private."

Poledra actually laughed. "You still have a great deal to learn, my daughter. Don't you know by now that there's no such thing as privacy among wolves? We share everything. The information may be useful to the leader of the Rivans someday -- and to your own children as well -- so let's be sure they have what they need. Just do it, Polgara. You know better than to argue with me."

Polgara sighed. "Yes, Mother," she replied submissively.

Ce'Nedra underwent a kind of epiphany at that point, and she didn't entirely like it. Polgara the Sorceress was the preeminent woman in the world. She had titles beyond counting, and the whole world bowed to her, but in some mysterious way, she was still a wolf, and when the dominant female -- her mother in this case -- gave an order, she automatically obeyed. Ce'Nedra's own heritage was mixed -- part Borune and part Dryad. She'd argued extensively with her father, the Emperor of Tolnedra, but when Xantha, Queen of the Dryads, spoke, Ce'Nedra might complain a bit, but she instinctively obeyed. It was built into her. She began to look at Polgara in a slightly different way, and, by extension, at herself also in a new fashion.

"It's a start," Poledra said cryptically. "Now then, daughter," she said to Polgara, "it won't be all that difficult. I'll talk with him, and he'll show you how to do it without all that foolishness with quill pens and ink. It's your obligation, so stop complaining."

"It shall be as my mother wishes," Polgara replied.

"Well, then," Poledra said, "now that that's settled, would you ladies like to have another cup of tea?"

Polgara and Ce'Nedra exchanged a quick glance. "I suppose we might as well," Polgara sighed.

Copyright ©1997 by David and Leigh Eddings.

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First Chapter

Excerpt: Chapter One

This was not my idea. I want that clearly understood right at the outset. The notion that any one person can describe "what really happened" is an absurdity. If ten--or a hundred--people witness an event, there will be ten--or a hundred--different versions of what took place. What we see and how we interpret it depends entirely upon our individual past experience. My mother, however, has insisted that I undertake this ridiculous chore, and I will, as always, do as she tells me to do.

The more I've thought about it, though, the more I've come to realize that when Ce'Nedra first broached the subject to me, and later to my mother, her obviously specious argument about "the well-being of the young" actually had more merit than the devious little girl realized. One day Geran will be the Rivan King and the Guardian of the Orb, and over the centuries I've found that people with at least a nodding acquaintance with true history make the best rulers. At least they don't repeat the mistakes of the past.

If all Geran and his sons really needed to rule the Rivans were to be a flat recounting of the deeds of assorted rulers of assorted kingdoms in ages past, the tiresome repetition of the "and then, and then, and then" that so delights the stodgy members of the Tolnedran Historical Society would be more than sufficient.

As my daughter-in-law so cunningly pointed out, however, the "and then"s of those Tolnedran scholars deal with only a part of the world. There's another world out there, and things happen in that other world that Tolnedrans are constitutionally incapable of comprehending. Ultimately it will be this unseen world that the Rivan King must know if he is to properly perform his task.

Even so, I could have devoutly maintained that my father's long-winded version of the history of our peculiar world had already filled in that obvious gap. I even went so far as to reread Father's tedious story, trying very hard to prove to myself--and to my mother--that I'd really have nothing to add. Soon Father's glaring omissions began to leap off the page at me. The old fraud hadn't told the whole story, and Mother knew it.

In Father's defense, however, I'll admit that there were events that took place when he wasn't present and others during which he didn't fully understand what was really happening. Moreover, some of the omissions which so irritated me as I read along had their origin in his desire to compress seven thousand years of history into something of manageable length. I'll forgive him those lapses, but couldn't he at least have gotten names and dates right? For the sake of keeping peace in the family, I'll gloss over his imperfect memory of just who'd said what in any given conversation. Human memory--and that's assuming that my father's human--is never really all that exact, I suppose. Why don't we just say that Father and I remember things a little differently and let it go at that, shall we? Try to keep that in mind as you go along. Don't waste your time--and mine--by pointing out assorted variations.

The more I read, the more I came to realize that things I know and father doesn't would be essential parts of Geran's education. Moreover, a probably hereditary enthusiasm for a more complete story began to come over me. I tried to fight it, but it soon conquered me. I discovered that I actually want to tell my side of the story.

I have a few suspicions about the origins of my change of heart, but I don't think this is the place to air them.

The central fact of my early life was my sister Beldaran. We were twins, and in some respects even closer than twins. To this very day we're still not apart. Beldaran, dead these three thousand years and more, is still very much a part of me. I grieve for her loss every day. That might help to explain why I sometimes appear somber and withdrawn. Father's narrative makes some issue of the fact that I seldom smile. What's there to smile about, Old Wolf?

As Father pointed out, I've read extensively, and I've noticed that biographies normally begin at birth. Beldaran and I, however, began just a bit earlier than that. For reasons of her own, Mother arranged it that way.

So now, why don't we get started?

It was warm and dark, and we floated in absolute contentment, listening to the sound of Mother's heart and the rush of her blood through her veins as her body nourished us. That's my first memory--that and Mother's thought gently saying to us, "Wake up."

We've made no secret of Mother's origins. What isn't widely known is the fact that the Master summoned her, just as he summoned all the rest of us. She's as much Aldur's disciple as any of the rest of us are. We all serve him in our own peculiar ways. Mother, however, was not born human, and she perceived rather early in her pregnancy that Beldaran anxd I had none of those instincts that are inborn in wolves. I've since learned that this caused her much concern, and she consulted with the Master at some length about it, and her suggested solution was eminently practical. Since Beldaran and I had no instincts, Mother proposed to the Master that she might begin our education while we were still enwombed. I think her suggestion might have startled Aldur, but he quickly saw its virtue. And so it was that mother took steps to make certain that my sister and I had certain necessary information--even before we were born.

During the course of a normal human pregnancy, the unborn lives in a world consisting entirely of physical sensation. Beldaran and I, however, were gently guided somewhat further. My father rather arrogantly states that he began my education after Beldaran's wedding, but that's hardly accurate. Did he really think that I was a vegetable before that? My education--and Beldaran's--began before we ever saw the light of day.

Father's approach to education is disputational. As first disciple, he'd been obliged to oversee the early education of my various uncles. He forced them to think and to argue as a means of guiding them along the thorny path to independent thought--although he sometimes carried it to extremes. Mother was born wolf, and her approach is more elemental. Wolves are pack animals, and they don't think independently. Mother simply told Beldaran and me, "This is the way it is. This is the way it always has been, and always will be." Father teaches you to question; Mother teaches you to accept. It's an interesting variation.

At first, Beldaran and I were identical twins and as close at that term implies. When Mother's thought woke us, however, she rather carefully began to separate us. I received certain instruction that Beldaran didn't, and she received lessons that I didn't. I think I felt that wrench more keenly than Beldaran did. She knew her purpose; I spent years groping for mine.

The separation was very painful for me. I seem to remember reaching out to my sister and saying to her in what would become our own private language, "You're so far away now." Actually, of course, we weren't; we were both still confined in that small, warm place beneath mother's heart. But our minds had always been linked before, and now they were inexorably moving apart. If you think about it a bit, I'm sure you'll understand.

After we awoke, Mother's thought was with us continually. The sound of it was as warm and comforting as the place where we floated, but the place nourished only our bodies. Mother's thought nourished our minds--with those subtle variations I previously mentioned. I suspect that what I was and what I have become is the result of that womb-dark period in my life when Beldaran and I floated in perfect sisterhood--until Mother's thought began to separate us.

And then in time there was another thought as well. Mother had prepared us for that intrusion upon what had been a very private little world. After my sister and I had become more fully aware and conscious of our separation and some of the reasons for it, Aldur's thought joined with Mother's to continue our education. He patiently explained to us right at the outset why certain alterations were going to be necessary. My sister and I had been identical. Aldur changed that, and most of the alterations were directed at me. Some of the changes were physical--the darkening of my hair, for example--and others were mental. Mother had begun that mental division, and Aldur refined it. Beldaran and I were no longer one. We were two. Beldaran's reaction to our further separation was one of gentle regret. Mine was one of anger.

I rather suspect that my anger may have been a reflection of Mother's reaction when my vagrant father and a group of Alorns chose to slip away so that they could go off to Mallorea to retrieve the Orb that Torak had stolen from the Master. I now fully understand why it was necessary and why Father had no choice--and so does Mother, I think. But at the time she was absolutely infuriated by what, in the society of wolves, was an unnatural desertion. My somewhat peculiar relationship with my father during my childhood quite probably derived from my perception of Mother's fury. Beldaran was untouched by it, since Mother wisely chose to shield her from that rage.

A vagrant and somewhat disturbing thought just occurred to me. As I mentioned earlier, Father's educational technique involves questioning and argumentation, and I was probably his star pupil. Mother teaches acceptance, and Beldaran received the full benefit of that counsel. In a strange sort of way this would indicate that I'm my father's true daughter, and Beldaran was Mother's.

All right, Old Wolf. Don't gloat. Wisdom eventually comes to all of us. Someday it might even be your turn.

Mother and the Master gently told my sister and me that once we were born, Mother would have to leave us in the care of others so that she could pursue a necessary task. We were assured that we would be well cared for, and, moreover, that Mother's thought would be with us more or less continually, even as it had been while we were still enwombed. We accepted that, though the notion of physical separation was a little frightening. The important thing in our lives from the moment that our awareness had awakened, though, had been the presence of Mother's thought, and as long as that would still be with us, we were sure that we'd be all right.

For a number of reasons it was necessary for me to be born first. Aldur's alterations of my mind and my personality had made me more adventurous than Beldaran anyway, so it was natural for me to take the lead, I suppose.

It was actually an easy birth, but the light hurt my eyes right at first, and the further separation from my sister was extremely painful. In time, however, she joined me, and all was well again. Mother's thought--and Aldur's--were still with us, and so we drowsed together in perfect contentment.

I'm assuming here that most of you have read my father's "History of the World." In that occasionally pompous monologue he frequently mentioned "The humorous old fellow in the rickety cart." It wasn't long after Beldaran and I were born that he paid us a call. Although his thought had been with us for months, that was the first time we actually saw the Master. He communed with us for a time, and when I looked around, a sudden panic came over me.

Mother was gone.

"It's all right, Polgara," Mother's thought came to me. "This is necessary. The Master has summoned one who'll care for you and your sister. That one is short and twisted and ugly, but his heart's good. It'll be necessary to deceive him, I'm afraid. He must believe that I'm no longer alive. No one--except you and Beldaran--must know that it's not true. The one who sired you will return soon, but he still has far to go. He'll travel more quickly without the distraction of my presence."

And that's how Uncle Beldin entered our lives. I can't be entirely sure what the Master told him, but he wept a great deal during those first few days. After he got his emotions under control, he made a few tentative efforts to communicate with my sister and me. To be honest about it, he was woefully inept right at first, but the Master guided him, and in time he grew more proficient.

Our lives--my sister's and mine--were growing more crowded. We slept a great deal at first. Uncle Beldin was wise enough to put us in the same cradle, and as long as we were together, everything was all right. Mother's thought was still with us--and Aldur's--and now Uncle Beldin's, and we were still content.

My sister and I had no real sense of the passage of time during our first few months. Sometimes it was light and sometimes dark. Beldin was always with us, though, and we were together, so time didn't really mean very much to us.

Then, after what was probably weeks, there were two others as well, and their thought joined with the ones which were already familiar. Our other two uncles, Beltira and Belkira, had entered our lives.

I've never fully understood why people have so much difficulty telling Beltira and Belkira apart. To me, they've always been separate and distinct from each other, but I'm a twin myself, so I'm probably a little more sensitive to these variations.

Beldaran and I had been born in midwinter, and Uncle Beldin had moved us to his own tower not long afterward, and it was in that tower that we spent our childhood. It was about midsummer of our first year when father finally returned to the Vale. Beldaran and I were only about six months old at the time, but we both recognized him immediately. Mother's thought had placed his image in our minds before we were ever born. The memory of mother's anger was still very strong in my mind when Beldin lifted me from my cradle and handed me to the vagabond who'd sired me. I wasn't particularly impressed with him, to be honest about it, but that prejudice may have been the result of Mother's bitterness about the way he'd deserted her. Then he laid his hand on my head in some ancient ritual of benediction, and the rest of my mind suddenly came awake as his thought came flooding in on me. I could feel the power coming from his hand, and I seized it eagerly. This was why I'd been separated from Beldaran! At last I realized the significance of that separation. She was to be the vessel of love; I was to be the vessel of power!

The mind is limitless in certain ways, and so my father was probably unaware of just how much I took from him in that single instant when his hand touched my head. I'm fairly sure that he still doesn't fully understand just exactly what passed from him to me in that instant. What I took from him in no way diminished him, but it increased me a hundredfold.

Then he took up Beldaran, and my fury also increased a hundredfold. How dared this traitor touch my sister? Father and I were not getting off to a good start.

And then came the time of his madness. I was still not familiar enough with human speech to fully understand what Uncle Beldin told him that drove him to that madness, but Mother's thought assured me that he'd survive it--eventually.

Looking back now, I realize that it was absolutely essential for Mother and Father to be separated. I didn't understand at the time, but Mother's thought had taught me that acceptance is more important than understanding.

During the time of my father's insanity, my uncles frequently took my sister to visit him, and that didn't improve my opinion of him. He became in my eyes a usurper, a vile man out to steal Beldaran's affection away from me. Jealousy isn't a particularly attractive emotion, even though it's very natural in children, so I won't dwell here on exactly how I felt each time my uncles took Beldaran away from me to visit that frothing madman chained to his bed in that tower of his. I remember, though, that I protested vociferously--at the top of my lungs--whenever they took Beldaran away.

And that was when Beldin introduced me to "the puzzle." I've always thought of it as that. In a peculiar sort of way "the puzzle" almost came to take on a life of its own for me. I can't be entirely certain how Beldin managed it, but "the puzzle" was a gnarled and twisted root of some low-growing shrub--heather, perhaps--and each time I took it up to study it, it seemed to change. I could quite clearly see one end of it, but I could never find the other. I think that "the puzzle" helped to shape my conception of the world and of life itself. We know where one end is--the beginning--but we can never quite see the other. It provided me with endless hours of entertainment, though, and that gave Uncle Beldin a chance to get some rest.

I was studying "the puzzle" when Father came to Uncle Beldin's tower to say his good-byes. Beldaran and I were perhaps a year and a half old--or maybe a little younger--when he came to the tower and kissed Beldaran. I felt that usual surge of jealousy, but I kept my eyes firmly fixed on "the puzzle," hoping he'd go away.

And then he picked me up, tearing my attention away from what I was working on. I tried to get away from him, but he was stronger than I was. I was hardly more than a baby, after all, although I felt much older. "Stop that," he told me, and his tone seemed irritable. "You may not care much for the idea, Pol, but I'm your father, and you're stuck with me." And then he kissed me, which he'd never done before. For a moment--only a moment--I felt his pain, and my heart softened toward him.

"No," Mother's thought came to me, "not yet." At the time, I thought it was because she was still very angry with him and that I was to be the vessel of her anger. I know now I was mistaken. Wolves simply don't waste time being angry. My father's remorse and sorrow had not yet run their course, and the Master still had many tasks for him. Until he had expiated what he felt to be his guilt, he'd be incapable of those tasks. My misunderstanding of Mother's meaning led me to do something I probably shouldn't have done. I struck out at him with "the puzzle."

"Spirited, isn't she?" he murmured to Uncle Beldin. Then he put me down, gave me a little pat on the bottom, which I scarcely felt, and told me to mind my manners.

I certainly wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of thinking that his chastisement in any way had made me change my opinion of him, so I turned, still holding "the puzzle" like a club, and glared at him.

"Be well, Polgara," he told me in the gentlest way imaginable. "Now go play."

He probably still doesn't realize it, but I almost loved him in that single instant--almost, but not quite. The love came later, and it took years.

It was not long after that that he turned and left the Vale, and I didn't see him again for quite a number of years
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 52 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2003

    The Greatest Thing Since Sunscrene!!

    This is a great conclusion to Everything we learned from the precursers, and I believe that it brings Polgara's life full circle. She goes from being a twin and a daughter, to being the most powerful woman in the world, to being a wife, and finally to being the mother of twins. This volume, along with Belgarath, give us the background of everything that has happened in the Belgaraid and Mallorean, and, specifically, the ancestry of Belgarion and Ce'Nedra.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2009

    Polgara the Sorceress

    It was good to fill in some of the details of Polgara's life. It helped explain a few things that happened in the Belgariad & Malorian series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2005

    Review for Polgara

    I LOVED this book! Having read all the other books in Eddings' series, Polgara's account was eye-opening and thought-provoking. And, I mean, come on, you have to admit the Polgara is the coolest character in the whole series! Her sharp wit, tenderness, and compassion as a narrator make this a book well worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2004

    You have to read it!!!!

    This is my favorite book!!! The story is basically a summary of the Belgariad from the point of view of Polgara. It answers some questions from the other books and explains what really happened before Garion's adventures. I could not put it down!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2003

    What a Great Book!

    I love this book! It is my favorite from David Eddings. It has romance, magic, and sorrow. It is truly a great book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2002

    The Magic Goes On

    Polgara helps to bring understanding to the the Belgariad and Malloreom,wich are just as good and perfect books. As you as a reader go whirling into a world full of magic, love, hate and suspense. It gives you the felling that you are really there! Highly recommendrd to anyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2001


    A great book that's filled with sadness, longing, and sacrifice. Eddings is a wonderful author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2001

    Love and the loss of love, and loving your family it never seems to end when your 3 thousand yrs old..

    From the beginning, she was taught how to use her powers and control them. Soon after she started to teach the vaga bond (as she called him) the lessons of women and people. I would recommend this book to all fantasy readers. She had dispised her father and later learned that she loved him just as he was. This book is a lesson of life and death and acceptance of life so read and learn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2001


    I loved this book. I had never read David Eddings before and am now reading Queen of Sorcery. I thought that it told about some strong relationships and it had plenty of adventure. It also had some jokes that women would understand faster then men would.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2001

    The best book ever!!

    I found that after reading this book I just had to read all the others. It is full of adventure and womenly insight from the mind of polgara.It kept me in laughter and in tears I think it's the perfect book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2001

    Very sweet book!

    Okay, maybe its just because I think David Eddings is one of the greatest authors of all time, but this book is excellent! I have most of his books (All the series with Belgarion and Belgarth in them, plus both the Sparhawk series) and this is a very nice addition to my collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2001

    Polgara is a book for all

    Polgara the Sorceress is a wonderful book filled with action, adventure, laughter and tears. This is a book that people of all ages can relate to. It goes into true human emotion. The description of Polgara's life, through all of her suffering, joy, loss, and much more is amazing. It has brought tears of sadness and joy, and gales of laughter to me and I recomend this book to anyone with a desire to get lost in a world unlike our own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2000

    Polgara the Sorceress is an Amazing Book

    I just thought that it was and excellent book about the life of a three thousand year old woman who changed the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2000


    If the previous parts to this, what could only be described as an epic, had been condensed into four of five books, then belgarath and polgara may have done more to add to the illusion of this fanatasy. As it is Eddings seems more intent in dragging out these series to match his 6 figure advances.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 1999

    Best Eddings book yet!

    I loved this book! It was the best one of the Eddings' books I've read! This book filled in what Belgarath the Sorcerer left out, and then some. I thought that Polgara should have done a little more with the characters of the Belgariad/Malloreon, but I guess Belgarath had a little bit more interaction with them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2009

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews

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