Ossus Library Index Fantasy Index

DEBT OF BONES

A novela by Terry Goodkind (2001, Gollancz)
A prequel to The Sword of Truth

The First Wizard of the Midlands agrees to help look for a woman's daughter, taken captive by the enemy, while seeking a magical solution to the war.

 

 

3+ stars+

Read on June 14th, 2004  
    Quite a good little tale, though it didn't give me as much information as the author promised in his note at the beginning of the book.

This tale is advertised as showing us how the Boundaries were put into place, which lasted much of Zedd's lifetime, until near the end of Wizard's First Rule. We actually come in near the end of the tale.

As usual, Zedd is very tricky, and gives the others around him no useful information except what they need to know. Even his trusted assistants get barely more than he gives Richard in most of the books. I suppose that is his right, as the highest ranking wizard, but it isn't very useful for allowing others to grow, or to become First Wizard if he were to die.

Zedd became First Wizard at a very young age. We get to meet him from the point of view of Abby, who comes to try and get his help. We find out soon enough that she is there to betray him. The book takes place at the height of the war with D'hara in the west, after Zedd's daughter was kidnapped, and as he was at the end sanity trying to defeat the spells used against the midlands by Panis Rahl. Zedd has found a spell left over from the war with the Old World, which everyone, including him, thinks is desperation. Abby comes to him with a seemingly small request when compared to all that.

She wants him to help save her daughter and husband from the D'harans, who have invaded her lands. She has brought the bones of her mother, whom she believes is owed a debt by Zedd's father, thus Zedd himself. Initially, she is so overcome with what she sees in the war room in Wizard's Keep that she isn't really coherent -who would be?!? She is rejected out of hand, and I don't blame Zedd for doing so.

When she gets an audience with Zedd the next morning, through the interference of the Mother Confessor herself, Zedd has already formulated a plan. Deciding to set the Boundary against D'hara, he finds that he can help Abby at the same time.

We are, of course, given a little foreshadowing, when the sorceress and Mother Confessor talk about the Mord-Sith, and how even Zedd would be taken by their power, but that a Confessor was superior. Because as Zedd prepares to infiltrate the D'haran army, a Mord-Sith attacks, and captures him through his magic. Yet he is saved by the Mother Confessor, because they suspected that Abby was leading the wizard into a trap.

Abby takes the Mord-Sith uniform and scours the army's camp for her daughter, whose captivity forced her to lure Zedd into the trap. Instead, she finds Zedd's daughter, and brings her back.

As Zedd starts the spell to the Boundary, an old woman returns along the river bank, holding an image of Zedd's daughter, and kills the girl violently when Zedd refuses to submit. Because the old woman was known to the soldiers of D'hara, Zedd used her image to tell the soldiers to flee his magic, while leaving the prisoners to die. Thus, D'harans being who they are, afraid of magic, they left. Abby, the Mother Confessor and the the sorceress from the Keep help get them to safety as Zedd completes the powerful magic spell. As expected, Abby's daughter and husband are among the returned captives.

I liked the trick that Zedd used, though the image of his daughter was pretty obvious. When did the old woman have time to follow Abby back from the camp, though? Zedd also used the Wizard's First Rule, that People are Stupid -they see what they want to see, many times. The most obvious time was with the soldiers, above, but he also used it on Abby, since it was actually her mother who owed Zedd's father the favor! The debt was paid by their offspring when Abby rescued Zedd's daughter. He also used the Rule on the Council of the Midlands, in that the Boundary was applied as a defensive barrier, not as a killing machine, sweeping the lands of D'hara clean, as they expected.

Once all is clear (and I expect that there was some clean-up to do on other fronts of the war), the people who were murmuring against magic were invited to move to Westland, where another Boundary would be placed, to keep magic out. I think the way Abby came up with the term Warden was a little simplistic, but I think the discussion about the need for the wardens was well-presented.

As with the other Sword of Truth novels, this one was very well written, with good dialog, and lots of interesting description. I did like the way it was given from Abby's point of view, as these books were always focused on the people, as opposed to the magic that was used. However, it would have been nice if we had another point of view, as well, from somebody who entered the story earlier. But that's a relatively small complaint.

The story was enjoyable, and returned me to the Sword of Truth world, which was also nice to see.

 
   

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