Castle of Wizardry is the fourth book of the 'Belgariad' series, and chronicles the continued adventure of Garion and his companions through the richly detailed world created by David Eddings (with uncredited help from his wife).
Eddings once again makes use of the 'in media reas' literary device, picking up the story only moments after events in Magician's Gambit
. With the stolen magical artefact recovered the travelling party strives to return it to its 'rightful home' before a certain time so that a certain event can happen (as per the prophecy foreshadowed in the earlier books). Anyone who has been reading the books to this point should have an idea of what the 'certain event' is going to be, such is the simplistic formula that Eddings has been following in this series (this is one of the few things that bugged me about the series now that I am older and looking at it with more experienced tastes).
There is less direct action (read: combat and so forth) than in any of the earlier books, however much of what happens in this book does help build the series towards its (inevitable?) conclusion in the final book.
I decided to go back and re-read (and review) this book (and series) as it was a much read and loved favourite from my teen years. I probably read and re-read this series more than a dozen times between it's release and my 21st birthday, and it is probably one of the primary reasons for my love of the epic/high fantasy genre.
Over 20 years later, and with a much broader experience of various writing styles and genres, I can identify numerous things that differentiate Eddings' style from the more 'Epic' styles of Tolkein or Robert Jordan, or even George R.R. Martin.
One of these faults is that, although set richly detailed world, the characters sometimes seem bland and one-dimensional. Another is what many consider to be the now cliched use of prophecy as a vehicle for the plot.
These 'faults' may prevent others from categorising the story as Epic Fantasy. However, this is a book (and series) which I still truly believe sits square in the 'Epic' or 'High' fantasy genre.