Improvement #1 Liselle
The intriguing character moves the pace along and works wonderfully with Silk. But she's not the average woman and goes into combat along with the men, even participating in one of the bigger battles. Her manipulations are what I enjoyed reading since they brought some enjoyment and life into the story. While the twists involving her weren't particularly surprising, (aka blatantly shoved in your face) at the very least, watching Silk squirm was well worth her inclusion.
Improvement #2 Mostly adult perspective
Thank god. Not that I have anything against young adult---in fact, I love it---but David Eddings is old school in his YA. In the sense that children must be talked down to and explained things very simply. Rather than writing through a realistic young perspective, he falls prey to the old trend of writing young adult as an older person telling a story to a moron of a child. Seriously. Garion in Belgariad is so stupid I wondered how he didn't drown early on. Granted, he's not much better here, but the characters like Zakath and Liselle drown out his one-dimensionality, whereas before he only had the cardboard cutouts of Mandorallen and Barak to balance off of.
Improvement #3 The same story as before, but better
Now, this seems like a ridiculous thing, considering I just read Belgariad. Why read the same story over again? Don't. Just skip Belgariad and go straight to the Mallorean. The characters are better, the plot's....well pretty much the same, so you won't miss anything. This comes as one of the revelations midway through the series. I'm serious. They stop and realize "everything's replaying the same way as before." It's like David Eddings made his masterpiece of a dish, realized it was crap and is now trying to save the leftovers with spices and microwave magic. I'll give him this. The second series was better than the first. But it brings to question, why couldn't he come up with a different plot then? The only thing I got from it is that maybe he realized how droll the first one was and wanted a do-over.
So, the Mallorean was decent. Better than the Belgariad, even though it follows the Jane Austen school of marriage and babies at the end. Because after a rollicking adventure through the lands, settling down is all there is to life. No message, or philosophical ideal.....just popping out babies. Thanks, David Eddings. You're a real winner.