The Treasured One is another lightweight, feelgood fantasy epic from David and Leigh Eddings. As book two of their sequence The Dreamers, it continues the story that opened in The Elder Gods.
The idyllic land of Dhrall, home of this fantasy world's gods, is still threatened by an unpleasantness lurking in its inland wastes. The Vlagh is an insect-like hive mind which in the great tradition of Dark Lords is constantly experimenting with magic genetic engineering, to spawn ever nastier and more venomous hordes of cannon fodder.
Although the forces of light are led by four somewhat naive gods, with elemental support from Father Earth, Mother Sea, and others, there is a snag. The gods are unable to kill. So the other four gods (whose 25,000-year shift hasn't yet begun) have been brought back early in the form of excessively cute kids whose dreams are not only prophetic but can unleash cataclysms like floods and volcanoes. Take that, Vlagh!
Further backup comes from overseas human mercenaries whose traditional enmities are cured by promises of much gold, and whose conversations are full of jolly military and nautical camaraderie. Unfortunately the southern homeland's utterly corrupt, repulsive Church--which has no redeeming features at all--hears about this gold and sends its own invasion fleet to Dhrall&
The narrative has a somewhat padded feel, with frequent flashbacks and recaps which explore the past lives of significant characters (farmer, treacherous churchman, military commander, pirates), retell events in the previous book, and even retell events in this book. We hear many times what happens when the Church invaders arrive, as character after character after character is told the story. Meanwhile, despite all the forces arrayed against the next Vlagh attack, a secret ally with more than godlike power is weaving her own cunning if slightly unscrupulous plan to help.
The Treasured One reads smoothly, raises the occasional smile with passages of friendly banter, contains no huge surprises, and is destined to sell very well indeed. For the Eddings' legions of fans, this is essential comfort reading to pass the long holiday hours.--David Langford