David and Leigh Eddings are a husband and wife team who write what, for the most part, could be termed 'formula fantasy'. While not their first book, it was the five-book fantasy epic The Belgariad that brought them to many readers' attention. While it was, indeed, formulaic, the quality of writing and of the characters brought the world very much to life for fans.
For the most part it is difficult to separate David and Leigh Eddings when it comes to talking about their writing. All of the books were written by both. However, until Belgarath the Sorcerer, the attribution was simply 'David Eddings'. With Belgarath the attribution became David and Leigh Eddings, with a note from David stating that:
The Reader is now privy to one of the worst-kept secrets in contemporary fiction. There are two names on the cover because it took two of us to write this book, and this has been going on from the very beginning.
From this it can be assumed that from High Hunt through to when Leigh finally received an attribution, Leigh has been instrumental in all of the 'David Eddings' books.
A biography of David Eddings is relatively easy. You merely have to read the dust-covers of his books, or read a few of the interviews he's done to glean information. A biography of Leigh is far more sketchy.
David was born in Spokane, Washington state on the 7 July, 1931, to George Wayne and Theone (née Berge) Eddings. He was raised north of Seattle, in the Puget Sound area. He graduated from high school in 1949, then worked for a year, after which he enrolled in Everett Junior College where he majored in speech, drama and English. While there, he won a state-wide oratorical contest and played the male lead in most of the drama presentations. He applied for, and received, a scholarship at Reed College in Portland Oregon. His graduation thesis there was a novel, and in 1954 he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree.
He was then drafted in 1954, and was sent to Germany, instead of Korea as he had expected. After discharge, in 1956, he used the benefits of the GI Bill1 to enter the University of Washington for four years of graduate study. In 1961 he was presented with a Master of Arts degree.
On 27 October, 1962, he married Judith Leigh Schall.
He has worked a series of jobs. He was a buyer for the Boeing Company, has been a grocery clerk and has taught college-level English.
His first published novel was High Hunt in 1973. He began work on The Belgariad in an effort to develop certain technical and philosophical ideas concerning the 'High Fantasy' genre.
It's not totally clear how a story is produced by both David and Leigh. However, from various statements made by David, it appears that David does the majority of the writing while Leigh plays the role of advisor, editor and reality check.
David has said of his writings:
My current excursion into fantasy has given me an opportunity to test my technical theories [on writing]. I made a world that never was, with an unlikely theology splattered against an improbable geology. My magic is at best a kind of pragmatic cop-out. Many of my explanations of how magic is supposed to work are absurdities - but my characters all accept these explanations as if there was no quibbling about them, and if the characters believe, then the readers seem also to believe. Maybe that's the 'real' magic. That's the basic formula for fantasy. Take a bit of magic, mix well with a few open-ended Jungian archetypal myths, make your people sweat and smell and get hungry at inopportune moments, throw in a ponderous prehistory, and let nature take its course.
The stories in Eddings' books are fairly standard fantasy fare. In The Rivan Codex, David even sets out the steps one must take to write a fantasy epic. The books are written to a formula. There is a Magic Object, a Quest, a Hero, a Resident Wizard, and so on. Two things help Eddings stand above the crowd - the quality of the writing and the reality of his characters.
Quality of Writing
Eddings has a good command of the English language, including 'High English'. He makes the words do the work, not being afraid to send the readers scurrying for the dictionary. In many cases, this can give his writing a depth and subtlety that might not have been present had he written for the lowest common demonimator.
The Reality of Characters
Almost all of the characters within an Eddings book are fully realised. They have personalities of their own, react as real people would, and have failings and strengths, just as real people do. It is easy to get the impression that they have separate lives off the pages of the books.
Part of this is probably due to Leigh's influence. By David's own admission he would rather map out the entire story, then come back to polish the fine details later. Leigh, however, will often read a portion and say things like 'a woman wouldn't say that', forcing David to go back and polish the details immediately.
- The Belgariad
- 'Pawn of Prophecy'
- 'Queen of Sorcery'
- 'Magician's Gambit'
- 'Castle of Wizardry'
- 'Enchanter's End Game'
- The Mallorean
- 'Guardians of the West'
- 'King of the Murgos'
- 'Demon Lord of Karanda'
- 'Sorceress of Darshiva'
- 'Seeress of Kell'
- 'Belgarath the Sorcerer'
- 'Polgara the Sorceress'
- 'The Rivan Codex'
- The Belgariad
- The Elenium
- 'The Diamond Throne'
- 'The Ruby Knight'
- 'The Sapphire Rose'
- The Tamuli
- 'Domes of Fire'
- 'The Shining Ones'
- 'The Hidden City'
- The Elenium
The Redemption of Althaeus
Del Rey Books don't give out authors' email addresses. However, they do say that if you send them a snail mail, they will pass the letter on. The current mailing address for Del Rey is:
Del Rey Books
NY, NY 10036 USA
If writing to David and Leigh, it's a good idea to use the two-envelope method. Write your letter and place it in a stamped envelope with 'David and Leigh Eddings' written on the front with no address. Put this envelope into another envelope which you mail to Del Rey Books at the above address.
If you want a reply, and you live in the US then adding a third, self-addressed, stamped envelope will make that more likely.