I have a complex relationship with David Eddings' books.
When I was in my early teens, I read the Belgariad and the Mallorean with the kind of fannish hunger that had me shaking the books at the end of the series, desperately wanting more good stuff to come out because it can't be over yet, it just can't! I just loved the characters so much.
Then, a few years later, with a few advanced English classes under my belt, I went back and reread them. Well, some of them. I found to my chagrin that the genius of a story I thought I remembered was nothing more than a hacked-together set of easily predictable yarns with all-too-neat endings and characters who tended to repeat each other's punchlines WAY too often. I firmly turned up my nose and trounced back into my literary corner.
Then, last year, elvinborn gave me her entire set of the novels, including a few others. Which I was eager to read because I needed something slightly brainless and I was craving the nostalgia of my early fandom.
And lo, Eddings was a genius again. Where on earth had these light, efficient, utterly charming stories come from? What about these wonderful characters? Just as in childhood, I wanted to hang out with all of them, except now with beer. I think, with adulthood, I came to several realizations:
1. I had learned more about politics, and was able to admire his use of it, something I was completely ignorant of in childhood.
2. I had learned, with age, that hamhanded statements and bad humor and people repeating each other's punchlines is something that all of my favorite people do in real life anyway.
3. I had learned, at some point in my twenties, how to have fun. No, really. geogre can probably point to the date: "Before this day, she was almost no fun, and after it, she was much more fun." Eddings is fun.
4. I had tried my hand at writing, and it humbled me. Thank God. I was able to admire the finished work that Eddings put out, realize that it was actually just fine to accept him for his own style and not give a shit what anybody else said about him, and be entertained.
I hold Eddings' work in very high esteem now, and I will miss him sorely...