The Tamuli

David Eddings, Domes of Fire (Ballantine Books, 1992)
David Eddings, The Shining Ones (Ballantine Books, 1993)
David Eddings, The Hidden City (Ballantine Books, 1994)

The Tamuli is the sequel to The Elenium, which consists of The Diamond Throne, The Ruby Knight and The Sapphire Rose.

The author of any sequel has a daunting task. How do you take characters who had achieved some sort of closure and get them back into harness? How do you make them fresh and interesting to readers of the previous work, who may feel they know them better than you do? How do you make the sequel accessible to those who haven't read what went before? How do you get them to want to read the previous work even though they already know (at least in general) how it ended? How do you keep from repeating yourself?

Eddings takes up the story a couple of years after the end of The Elenium. Life in Eosia, while pleasant, is never quite peaceful. Now mythic racial heroes are coming back from the dead, stirring up nationalistic sentiments that were supposed to be long out of fashion. As Sparhawk, his Queen and their friends start to grapple with the problem, a plea for aid comes from the neighbouring Tamul Empire, where something uncannily similar is happening.

To the characters we cared about in The Elenium (minus a couple who didn't survive the last adventure) are added a whole continent full of new ones. As well, some old acquaintances take on different roles. Ehlana, for instance, is much more active in The Tamuli (no longer being encased in crystal). Mirtai the giantess and the Princess Danae have surprises for readers. Friends and foes are not always easy to distinguish.

Eddings starts each volume of The Tamuli with a Prologue. The one in Domes of Fire summarizes, from the point of view of the Tamul Empire, the main points of The Elenium. Those in the other two volumes bring us up to date, again from a Tamul perspective. This is the same technique Eddings used in The Rivan Codex -- telling a magic-imbued story from the point of view of a society profoundly incapable of accepting the existence of magic.

Having read most of Eddings' series piecemeal, in the order I found them in the used-book stores, my experience is that he makes you want to read what you missed by his attention to detail and his humour. Once you've read one or two books, you don't want to miss finding out how the characters got where they are. The journey really does become as important as the destination. The throw-away humour is great, too.

As for not repeating himself, Eddings doesn't completely manage this feat. On the other hand, this is not a bad thing. Authors of any genre (even those genres that do not consider themselves to be genres) use elements typical of their genre. Eddings uses the typical elements of fantasy (discussed in detail in The Rivan Codex) -- his talent lies in combining them in familiar yet intriguing ways.

The map of Eosia in the first volume of this series, Domes of Fire, is by Shelly Shapiro, while all the other maps are by Claudia Carlson. They give us a clear idea of the geography, and unlike those in The Elenium they all have a scale. Holly Johnson did the chapter heading ornamentation.

[Faith J. Cormier]

David and Leigh Eddings don't have an e-mail address or an official Web site, but www.eddingschronicles.com is a good starting place for information on them and their works on the Web. Besides The Tamuli and The Elenium, they have written The Belgariad, The Mallorean and their companion volumes, as well as various stand-alone works. Their newest high fantasy is The Redemption of Athalus. Their latest book is Regina's Song.