I’m going to open this blog with my feelings on Terry Goodkind’s last book in the Sword of Truth series, Confessor, which I finished reading 2 months ago. I’m not ready to launch my review system yet, but I want to get my thoughts down while the book is still fresh in my mind. Spoilers to follow.
Let me start by saying that parts of the book were absolutely riveting. One night I stayed up so late to read it that I only got 4 hours of sleep before going into work. The first two-thirds of the book jump between Richard in the enemy camp and his friends preparing for the siege. The portion devoted to Richard in the games (and the battle afterwards) is worth the price of the book alone.
The ending has me puzzled. Everything after the battle feels anti-climatic. The villains go down without so much as a whimper. I wish I had some insight into Goodkind’s thought process. Did he plan this all along? Was he rushed to get the book out? Did he just want the series to be over? Did he have to stretch it out to a certain number of pages? Was he happy with the result?
This book is getting slammed in the user reviews over at Amazon.com. An average of 3.5 stars is the current rating, which is not great for the ending book of the series, especially for someone of Goodkind’s stature. The positive reviews are usually something simple like “good book” or “wonderful conclusion to the series” or “it was everything I hoped for”. That tells you a lot about what level of reader would give this book 5 stars.
The negative reviews are long, detailed, and for the most part, justified. Those criticisms haven’t changed since the last several books. A series that started with some great fantasy elements (the Mriswrath Cape, the Sword of Truth, Sorcerer’s Sand, the Slyph, Prophecies) and creatures (Gars, Dragons, Mriswrath) has turned into a philosophy lecture with pages and pages of monologue. The monologue is preachy and over-explanitory. Goodkind loves to repeatedly hammer home the same points paragraph after paragraph, book after book, as if the reader is too dumb to understand those points the first time they were made.
The characters, who were once quite developed and complex, and part of the action, now only exist to deliver the monologue, or to listen impassively as pages of monologue are directed at them. Others, like Zedd, Chase, and Verna, might as well not exist at all due to the inconsequential role they play.
Goodkind still has the ability to tell a great story, and to entertain me. Had the story ended with Jagang killed in the big battle, I would have been satisfied. The final book, however, is a reflection of the entire series: a mixture of oft-realized excellence and long-worn-out-its-welcome philosophy that has come sputtering to an end.