Sunday, August 13, 2006

Book 65: Phantom

Sunday, August 13, 2006
Phantom is the tenth novel in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth sequence and the second in the Chainfire Trilogy. The previous volume, Chainfire, set up the trilogy to end the series or at least to set up a conclusion that Goodkind has been slowly building to for the previous eight volumes. In Chainfire Richard Rahl was the only person still able to remember his wife Kahlan. Kahlan was the Mother Confessor, everyone knew Kahlan and Richard's friends and family certainly should have. But Kahlan was magically erased from memory by the application of a "Chainfire" spell that was set up for four Sisters of the Dark to steal the Boxes of Orden. By the end of Chainfire Richard and his comrades all remember Kahlan and have an idea of what happened to her. Now he needs to find a way to rescue her even if the rest of the population can't see her, let alone remember her.

While Chainfire was more from Richard's point of view, Phantom is told from the perspectives of both Richard and a Kahlan who doesn't remember who she is or her past (another effect of the Chainfire spell). This is Richard's desire to find his wife before she gets hurt and Kahlan wishes to escape and remember. But we are still in the middle of the war with Jagang's army and the Old World and Richard is the only one who could stop Jagang.

The major complaint with Terry Goodkind's work that I have seen from readers is that he spends too much time moralizing and not nearly enough time telling a story. I could see what critics were saying, but I thought that Goodkind had enough of a story going that the moralizing and philosophy was never overwhelming.

Until now. Hundreds of pages are spent, not in conversation, but in lecture between characters on the rightness and goodness of their point of view, of the right of the individual to exist and create over the wishes of an oppressive group. It's all fairly obvious stuff because Jagang's Army has been raping and pillaging and brutalizing their way up the Old World and into the New and is overwhelmingly an Evil, Twisted, and Sick Army and a Evil way of Life. Well, of course Richard's point of view and philosphy is the Right and Moral one, look at the alternative.

There is some interesting story points here and Goodkind does bring the story to points where events that happened much earlier in the series have a deeper signficance than we might have imagined at the time. There is much more going on, but for the first time in the Sword of Truth I felt like the moralizing was too much. It seems like we've heard all of this before.

I thought Chainfire was an excellent set up for the trilogy to end the series, but Phantom takes a step back. It is still a quick read, as is all of Goodkind's work, but there is less actual meat here than I've seen in some time.


Wizz. said...

I had such high hopes for this one...

Haven't read it yet, but the reviews I have been reading have been less then stellar. :(

Goodkind, while good, is kinda loosing it at the end of things I guess. I'm still going to pick it up and finish the whole run of things...but the magic that was there in his earlier works seems to have weakened quite a bit. :(

Joe Sherry said...

So did I. Chainfire was a very good start to the end of the series (if that makes sense)...but Goodkind missed the boat here.

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