Anyhow, this is my first effort at the same – and I am going to tackle Polgara the Sorceress.
Polgara the Sorceress is a character we first encounter in David Eddings’ five book series The Belgariad. She returns in the second book sequence The Mallorean, features in the standalone novel Belgarath the Sorcerer and then we finally hear her full story in the novel Polgara the Sorceress – full list of books below:
1. Pawn of Prophecy
2. Queen of Sorcery
3. Magician’s Gambit
4. Castle of Wizardry
5. Enchanters’ End Game
1. Guardians of the West
2. King of the Murgos
3. Demon Lord of Karanda
4. Sorceress of Darshiva
5. Seeress of Kell
Belgarath the Sorcerer
Polgara the Sorceress
Here are my top five reasons why Polgara is a formidable female protagonist:
1. Polgara is an enormously powerful sorceress
Her magical skills are renowned and legendary – from healing to casting out demons to bringing down the full power of a storm when she is angry.
“"I abjure thee, creature of darkness," Polgara said in a great voice. "Return to the hell that spawned thee and never more corrupt this world with thy foul presence. Begone and take with thee the one who summoned thee." She raised her hand, and the force of her will, combined with the will of the God Aldur, blazed forth from her palm. There was a vast thunderclap as the demon suddenly exploded into a huge ball of fire with the waters of the harbour geysering up around it.”
“A frosty smile touched Polgara's lips. "You're not nearly as clever as I thought," She said. "Did you actually believe that I twisted your name from you for my own amusement? Were you ignorant of the power over you that you gave me when you spoke your own name? The power of the name is the most elementary of all. I can keep you out of Ce'Nedra's mind now. There's much more, though. For example, I now know that you're at Ashaba, haunting the bat-infested ruins of the House of Torak like a poor, ragged ghost."
A startled gasp echoed through the room.
"I could tell you more, Zandramas, but this is all beginning to bore me." She straightened, her hands still locked at the sides of Ce'Nedra's head. The white lock at her brow flared into incandescence, and the faint whisper became a deafening roar. "Now, begone!" She commanded.'”
2. Polgara is extremely strong and wise
She is long-lived thanks to her use of sorcery and is forced to watch as people she has loved grow old and die.
“As those we’ve come to know and love grow older, it’s absolutely necessary for us to distance ourselves from them. The alternative is quite probably madness. Endless grief will eventually destroy the human mind. We’re not heartless, but we do have duties, and those duties oblige us to protect our ability to function.”
“"We touch other people very briefly and then we are alone again."”
3. Polgara has immense authority
Whether she is the Duchess of Erat or a cook in a kitchen, Polgara has masses of natural authority that ensures people jump at her commands.
“Garion leaped over him, but found himself seized from behind by a half-dozen more men.
"Leave her alone!" He shouted at the guard who was cruelly twisting one of the little Queen's arms behind her back.
"That will be enough!" Polgara's voice cracked from the doorway in the tent. The soldiers stopped, looking uncertainly at one another and somewhat fearfully at the commanding presence in the doorway.'”
4. Polgara is beautiful
Although she grew up as a tomboy, she discovers as a teen that she would far rather dress well and look pretty. I like the fact that she is stunning, but has a womanly figure – her child-bearing hips and large bosom are mentioned a few times, and it is good to know that she isn’t stick thin!
“ ‘Strip.” Arell commanded me.
‘What?” I exclaimed. I didn’t really think I could be shocked, but I was wrong.
‘Take off your clothes, Polgara,’ She said quite firmly. ‘I need to see what I’m working with.’ She studied my near-naked body with pursed lips and a speculative eye. ‘Not too bad.’ She observed.
That was hardly complimentary.
‘You’re lucky, Polgara,’ She told me. ‘Most girls your age are quite flat-chested. I think we might want to take advantage of that to draw away from the fact that you’re just a little hippy.’
‘I’m what?’ I exclaimed.
‘You were built to bear children, Polgara. It’s useful, but it makes your clothes hang all wrong.’
‘Is she telling me the truth?’ I asked Beldaran, speaking in “twin” so Arell couldn’t understand me.
‘You are sort of round down there Pol,’ Beldaran replied. Then she grinned a naughty little grin at me. ‘If we cut it low enough in the back, we could show off the dimples on your bottom.’”
5. Polgara is snarky
One of her favourite past-times is bantering with her irascible father, and she has an extremely sharp tongue when she chooses. Her sarcasm is amusing, albeit rather self-consciously clever at times.
“Polgara looked at Ce'Nedra. "Have you ever noticed that when some people find a notion they think is funny, they tend to keep playing with it long past the point where it bores everyone else to tears?"
Ce'Nedra looked at Silk with a sly little twinkle in her eye. "I've noticed that, Aunt Pol. Do you suppose it might be a result of a limited imagination?"
"I'm sure that's something to do with it, dear," Aunt Pol looked at Silk with a serene smile. "Now, did you want to play some more, Kheldar?"
"Ah... No, Polgara. I don't really think so."”
So there you have it – just five reasons why Polgara is worth considering as a formidable female protagonist. Did you enjoy reading about her in the Eddings’ books? If not, who was your favourite character? Do you have suggestions for other formidable female protagonists you would like to see in future installments?