6. King of the Murgos by David Eddings (Book 2 of The Malloreon)
I read Guardians of the West (Book 1 of The Malloreon) a few months ago, but it's actually been a bit of a challenge to find these books on Bookmooch or at the library. I might have to give in and just buy the set, but not yet.
Garion and Ce'Nedra of The Belgariad are now King and Queen of Riva. Garion slew the evil god Torak and settled the conflict between the Dark and the Light forever-or so we thought. Now, Garion and Ce'Nedra's son, the infant Prince Geran, has been stolen by Zandramas, the new Child of the Dark. The pair and a group of companions, new and old, has set out to recover the child and destroy the Dark once and for all.
Unlike the original series, which featured the same crisp writing, compelling characters, and classic Hero's Journey structure, the gap between Dark and Light is not as clear. Some of the companions' new members are of deeply questionable loyalties and even our old friends can surprise us with decidedly less than moral decisions. The boy Errand becomes the young man Eriond, and it is his power and good heart that makes those difficult but upstanding moral decisions that we expect from our heroes.
The Malloreon also develops compassion for the reviled Angarak race, whom our friends have heretofore regarded as little better than Orcs. The eponymous King of the Murgos, Urgit, may have something to do with that, though he is not whom he seems either. This series features more of Silk, or Prince Kheldar, and whetted my appetite to learn even more about the "rodent-faced man." It's hard to imagine Garion as a grown-up, but except for more violence, he still seems like a boy. And Polgara and Durnik still warm the cockles of my heart, though I wish there were more moments with them.
Eddings is pure fun, engaging fantasy and I know I want to read the rest of The Malloreon and will probably keep going down his oeuvre. Seriously, if you like fantasy, go check him out.