So, besides what is your kid dressed up as (nothing, thankfully!) the most frequent question seems to be about what is your favourite book, or what book has inspired you the most etc. This book is none of those, but it is the book that has most influenced my life, most changed my life. Actually changed the course of my life. And due to this, the first line, as mundane as it is, comforts me, takes me back, almost overwhelms me with emotion.
The first thing the boy Garion remembered was the kitchen at Faldor’s farm
That’s it. It’s a nothing really, in the grand scheme of sentences which have the ability to affect the reader, but they affect me, let me tell you why.
I began reading the Belgariad when I was about 12. I say about because time makes specifics hazy. It wasn’t my first introduction to fantasy fiction, but was the first grown up fantasy fiction I read. I read it because my Mum was reading it and I was curious. And I was hooked. I loved it. I remember one Bank Holiday Monday reading Queen of Sorcery in one day. I remember reading it on the train to Blackpool in the heat of summer. I remember when I began secondary school at 13 and our first English homework was to write a list of the books we’d read the previous year and my two pages included Pawn of Prophecy x2, Queen of Sorcery x2, Magicians Gambit x2 etc. I’d also read Lord of the Rings that year, but remembered little of it. I read the whole series about twice a year until my late teens. They were my comfort and escape. Faldor’s Farm in my mind was my first school, the kitchen being the prefab music room, its entrance the entrance we used in our final year. It’s probably a metaphor for my life, Faldor’s Farm is where Garion lived in the safety of early childhood, and a place he was ultimately forced to leave for the big wide world, a place he could never return to, and when he did, it was too small for him anyway. None of us can go back.
But how did these books, this first book change my life? At nearly 21 I went to university in my home town after taking two years out of education. I lived at home, I wasn’t exactly the outgoing type and I felt like I didn’t belong. But what university did have was computers and a mandatory introduction to computers and the internet course in the first semester. It was 1995. So the computer rooms were where I spent time between lessons. Not in the computer centre itself, that was a little daunting, preferably not in the larger ground floor of Richmond building, it was busy. But, up a floor, just around the corner from our department office and pigeonholes was a small room with no windows and 6 or 8 computers. It wasn’t well known so there were spaces more often than not, and sometimes it was blissfully empty. It was on these computers I discovered MUSHing. Multi-User Shared Hallucination. Which sounds far more exciting than it actually is. What I discovered was text based roleplaying. The place I chose, obviously, was based upon the Belgariad. I could live in that world! Walk its streets! Pretend to be a Cherek or a Drasnian or a Tolnedran! Be involved in intrigue! And there was always someone logged on. I was never alone there. And, it shouldn’t have taken me until this blog post to realise I was using that world to escape this, just in a way a little more technologically advanced than laying in bed with a book.
And that, dear reader, was where I met my husband. A computer programming American all the way over in Nebraska. Because what I did in the summer of 1997 was fly out to a MUSH party in Ohio, to meet all these people I’d only known online. I’d never been out of the UK before, but I borrowed some money, got on a plane and met a bunch of strangers I’d only known on the internet. I didn’t even know what they looked like! I’d brow beaten the American to attend too, but we didn’t hit it off because he was shy and I felt guilty for forcing him to come, so like the mature person I was I ignored him! I then went on to Chicago by myself, then to Rhode Island to stay with another couple who’d met on the MUSH, then to stay with a guy who’d visited me earlier in the year. Once home though, The American and I talked a lot. A helluva lot. And I moved over there in 1998 and married him!
Now we’re back in the UK, living in Lincoln, with our two sons. All because of Pawn of Prophecy.
The End ;o)