Ossus Library Index
Fantasy Index


A novel by Terry Goodkind
(2006, TOR Fantasy)

The Sword of Truth, book 10

Kahlan and the Sisters of the Dark are captured by the Imperial Order, while somebody tries to steal Richard's magic for an unknown purpose.


-- First reading (hardcover)
March 8th to 23rd, 2009


As usual, the author's writing was really good, and it was great to revisit the main characters, from Richard, to Kahlan, Cara, Nicci and Zedd. I wonder, though if a full book was needed to fulfill this one's objectives. I also object to the apparent re-writing of the early books in this series, though it is the author's prerogative to do so if he wishes. It just feels wrong and unnecessary.

Spoiler review:

Kahlan's story was at once interesting and frustrating, though I think the latter was intentional, because that's what life is like among the Imperial Order. She starts the book in the company of the three Sisters of the Dark, who are chasing the other sister who has the remaining box of Orden. They come across a few people who can actually see Kahlan, showing a problem with the Chainfire spell. Kahlan, despite incredible punishments, resists the sisters as often as she can. She is sickened by what she sees of the remains of the villages the Order has passed through, and acts of violence and rape they had performed. She tries to protect a girl who cannot see her, but fails. When she arrives in Caska, the city Richard visited in Chainfire, and meets the little girl Richard protected at that time, she succeeds in protecting her. It was one of those very satisfying moments. The Sisters of the Dark were tricked into thinking Tovi was among the books in the tunnels, but it turned out to be Emperor Jajang, instead. Kahlan uses her invisibility to help the girl escape, killing two of Jajang's guards in the process.

Jajang can apparently see Kahlan because he was protected by being in the Sisters' heads at the time the spell was cast. This is one of those points I have trouble believing, as the Sisters have apparently not been free of Jajang since they made the deal with Richard in Stone of Tears; instead, he let them believe it to see what they would do. I have a lot of trouble believing that. Wouldn't it have been simpler to have him take control in the time between when Richard disappeared and Nathan became Lord Rahl? Or better yet, since the people apparently have to re-swear their allegiance every so often (does Verna do this, for example?), have him take over after the chimes stopped magic for a while back in Soul of the Fire.

When Kahlan is recaptured (she wears the iron collar) and wakes up, she finds herself in the Imperial Order camp, to her horror. The rest of her story takes the form of trying to survive her captivity, not just physically, but mentally, as well. Fortunately, Jajang wants her unharmed. He needs her for two reasons: to harm Richard, and to verify the Book of Counted Shadows so he can open the correct Box of Orden. So he shows her his power by making her strip for him, threatening to torture another young woman if she didn't. I think my favorite parts of Kahlan's story was when Jajang paraded her around the camp naked to see if any of the soldiers could see her, and thus guard her. She killed several of them before anybody was aware they could see her. And when she had six guards, she killed a few of them right under Jajang's nose, as he was talking to his officers. In the end, she has forty guards, out of the entire army.

This might seem a strange thing to say, but the author has put up an unfair protection for Kahlan, which he hasn't extended to other women in the Sword of Truth universe, with the possible exception of Jebra, the seer. While Kahlan can be beaten to a pulp, as in Soul of the Fire, or here, she will never be raped. While the Sisters of the Light and Dark, as well as any women the army comes into contact with, will be repeatedly raped, some until they die, Kahlan will never have sex with anybody but Richard. She was saved from betraying Richard sexually in Temple of the Winds, where Richard was switched with his half-brother. She was saved from being raped in Wizard's First Rule in the pit, and again in Stone of Tears when she was betrayed, and again in Soul of the Fire when she lost her unborn baby. And now here, Jajang has her naked on his bed, rubbing up against her, in lust that he has been nursing for days, when finally he decided to wait! Like almost all the other cases when Kahlan is saved from the fate of all the rest of the captured women, it is out of character and unbelievable. Jajang wants her to remember the "first time" he rapes her, as the person she is, not the person she can't recall. I would say it would make her angrier if he had her as his regular bedmate. Doesn't he realize that when Kahlan has an orgasm, she releases her Confessor power, and could then mold him to her will? Maybe, though, with the collar on, her power would be restrained.

Richard doesn't do much in this book, especially compared with the previous one. He sits around reading about spells, then he goes to the People's Palace, where he is introduced to the book that allows people to put the Boxes of Orden into play. Did the Sisters of the Dark have another copy of this book? How else did they put the boxes in play, if this one is so secret that even Nicci didn't know about it? He meets again with the D'haran army, where he reiterates so much of the stuff he told them in Chainfire, and then he disbands the army. It would have been a great moment, except that the book doesn't focus on it much. Richard sends the army South to the Old World, to wreak havoc there, cut off supply lines, burn villages, and kill the priests of the Order. It works, as evidenced by Kahlan's information, but there is very little to it. Richard then takes the sliph back to Wizard's Keep, but is pulled out by an unknown adversary, the witch-woman Six.

Is Six going to become important in the next book? I think we have enough enemies wandering around, without adding another witch-woman. We are re-introduced to Violet, a girl I was so shocked at in Wizard's First Rule that she actually got a mention in that review. Apparently, Six healed her of all wounds, and discovered she was a talented artist-magic-user. That is, she can draw things that become true. Several people have been found closely resembling the drawings that Violet has drawn. And now she drew Richard, caught in a net. Fortunately for Richard, the shadow beast that has been chasing him caught up with him in the sliph, and ruined the witch's plans. But he was left without any magic at all (as Six transferred it to herself), so the sliph had to drop him out. She used an emergency exit, planned for millennia before, by the great wizard who ended the last war. He left a book for Richard among the firefly people, one of whom he met long ago in Wizard's First Rule (though I don't remember that one) when he first met Kahlan, also. It takes Richard a lot longer than it took me to figure out the riddle of the sand-covered library; it was easy to see that he simply had to pull the plug, even if there wasn't another opening somewhere down below. But once Richard finds the book, then he is captured by Six, and is brought to Violet, who plans to take out her revenge for what he did to her. He hides the book so Six won't find it when she comes to get him in the morning. So where did this plot come from, out of nowhere like that? It doesn't feel plausible, given the machinations we've seen in the last books. Is Six really necessary?

The trick this time is that the Imperial Order shows up just as Richard is being led across the courtyard, and while Six is distracted, he steals a sword and goes through man after man on his way to the exit, only to find that it is being covered by hundreds of archers. But instead of being killed, Richard is taken away to be point man on a Ja'la sports team. He is eventually brought to the plains where Jajang is laying siege to the People's Palace, where he will undoubtedly play against the Emperor himself. Regardless, he is foolish enough to call Kahlan's name when he sees her. Fortunately, the Emperor doesn't hear him, and apparently neither does anybody else.

The interesting part of this book comes from the history that Richard learns. It seems that the wizard of the past went to the Temple of the Winds to try and stop a traitor, who had used the power of the Temple to ensure a dream-walker would appear three thousand years later. The wizard then ensured a war-wizard would be born around the same time -Richard. He arranged for a book to be given to Richard on how to become a war-wizard, a book that Richard might or might get to read by the end of the series in the next book. Shota shows up early in the book to present Jebra and her story of Ebinissia, which we last saw reject the D'haran empire in Blood of the Fold, and which fell to the horrors of the Order recently. Everything we heard in those fifty to one hundred pages we already knew. The author just felt the need to consolidate it for us, so we could get a full rundown of it. Shota had a few more interesting things to say than Jebra, about the witch-woman who took control of Samuel, so he could kill Tobi and take her box of Orden, bringing it to Violet.

Nathan and Ann don't do much useful in this book. They come to a startling conclusion that Richard is meant to lead them in the war against the Boxes of Orden, not the battle against the Imperial Order, which is something Richard told everybody in the last book. Nicci explores the Chainfire spell in more detail, from the inside, where Richard discovers that the Chimes are still loose in his world, disrupting magic, and is probably why some people can still see Kahlan. It seems to me that this part is a rewriting, also, whenever the author feels it is convenient. If so many people could see Kahlan in the Order army, why did nobody see her out of the hundreds of thousands in the People's Palace in the last book?

In the end, Nicci does the only thing she can think of to save Richard: she puts the Box of Orden that Rachel stole again from Violet into play, in Richard's name. When he chooses which box to open, it will either be death to him, death to everybody, or ultimate power, which is the one that was designed to counteract the Chainfire spell in the first place. If it was so designed, he should be able to restore Kahlan's memory, at least. Perhaps even vanquish the Imperial Order. But I think that would be too simple and obvious for this author. I expect something that I haven't even thought of, for the ending. And yes, I am looking forward to it!


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