A few years ago I picked up a little paperback titled Pawn of Prophecy. I enjoyed the characterization, I liked the handling of what could have been an overdone plot (the quest for the powerful bauble), and I loved the dialog. Many books later, I cherish the Belgariad and Malloreon series as some of my favorite light fantasy reading. I also enjoy the Elenium and Tamuli trilogies, though at a lesser degree and for different reasons.

It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached the reading of The Redemption Of Althalus, a one-off fantasy work representing the latest efforts by the Eddings pair. So how is Althalus, you ask? In a word, underwhelming. If you want more words, I’d simply say, “Go read the Tamuli instead.” Or even better, “Go read the Belgariad instead.”

Here’s the book summary: Wisecracking thief pairs up with sensual overbearing goddess, collects motley crew of lesser heroes to handily defeat ill-defined enemy forces, continually engaging in occasionally-witty banter and unsurprising character revelations. Oh yeah, they have nearly total freedom to move in time and space. And the climax of the story is a kind of insane Mobius strip finale that wraps up so very tidily that you wonder what the hell all the fuss was about in the first place.

If you’ve read previous Eddings material, you’ll recognize almost everything in this book, and you’ll actually resent what little has been added. It’s as though they deliberately took the weakest parts of the earlier works and melded them with a truly offensive Plot Device. Okay, so the interpersonal stuff is at least as fun to read as anything else they’ve done, but it simply cannot carry an otherwise lifeless story.

I suppose we should all be thankful that they only wrote one book in this new world. I’d have been truly angry to have finished a trilogy full of this nonsense.