One luxury an author has writing book 9 out of an 11 book series is that the author already has a fan base. This is the luxury Terry Goodkind had when writing Chainfire. This means the author doesn’t really need to utilize a hook; the reader will be reading the books anyways. Unfortunately Goodkind still chose to use one, and used it poorly in my opinion.
Book 9, Chainfire, starts out with Richard laying on his death bed. When he wakes up, he discovers that nobody knows who Khalan is. Even Cara and Nicci have a good laugh when Richard talks about his wife. Don’t worry, I haven’t spoiled anything for you. All this can be read at the back of the book.
Wait……..slow down a moment. What happened between the end of book 8, Naked Empire, and the start of book 9, Chainfire? Is Chainfire really the next book after Naked Empire? I wish I knew……I really really wish I knew. I think I am starting to see why these next 3 books, Chainfire, Phantom, and Confessor are also known as Chainfire Trilogy. But Sword of Truth didn’t come to an end……..
A hook is all good and well, but eventually you got to reel it in. I was sad to find out that 1…….2…….3 chapters later Goodkind still did not tell us what is going on. I actually contemplated stopping reading right there, but I’ve already invested too much time in the books and want to see how it ends.
Goodkind tried to make it so the reader and Richard start to doubt whether Khalan actually existed. What an absolutely ridiculous notion if you know Richard and you read the previous 8 books. Give the readers some more credit please Goodkind. Finally about chapter 5 Richard suggested that it might have something to do with magic. Really? You don’t say.
Since I started on the subject of talking about what I don’t like about this book, I might as well add something that had been bothering me for a while: Richard is too “perfect”. He some how always manages to know exactly what to say or know exactly what to do in any situation. Back when he first met the mud people he had no idea who they were or what they were about, but instinctively he knew to pull out a red apple and bite into it to stop a custom that required him to bed one of the elder’s daughters. He instinctively knew how to deal with the 3 charms, how to get to the Temple of The Winds, how to start a revolt in Altur’Rang, how to free himself from Denna the Mord Sith, etc. Yes, I understand Richard’s particular gift comes through need, but that’s kind of taking the easy way out.
Prophecy said Khalan would die way back in book 3, Blood of the Fold. How did Goodkind solve this problem of fulfilling prophecy while allowing Khalan to continue being a character in the books? He simply invented a death spell that faked Khalan’s death. One of the #1 rules for fantasy writers is they have to define the boundaries of magic. The reader has to know that the magic being used is not infinite and limitless. Goodkind doesn’t seem to have this in Sword of Truth which is what is giving me and probably other readers the sense of “let’s just sit here and wait for Richard to solve all our problems”. Too much time invested………
Ok back to the book…..Richard spends a good part of the book trying to convince Cara and Nicci that Khalan actually exists or at least existed. As brilliant as Richard has proven to by all series long, he blunders in one thing on this important matter. Both Cara and Khalan acknowledge that there is such a person as the Mother Confessor, but Richard doesn’t ask a single question about the Mother Confessors name, who she is, where she lives, and wouldn’t he at least want to go see the Mother Confessor to see if it’s the same women he remembers? What about asking Nicci about the night she spent with a low life just to pain Khalan? It’s hard to believe Goodkind didn’t think of things so important, more likely he had no answer if Richard asked.
In order for him to try and help him solve this mystery with Khalan, Richard goes to meet an old “friend”. It’s up to you to read and find out who that is. Lets just say it is perhaps the most unlikely person. And true to Richard always knowing what to do……his visit helps him solve his issues.
Nathan and Ann find a vault of prophecy books that have a ton of missing pages. Neither can remember exactly what is supposed to be written in those pages, but they do know something is missing. They discover that all of the missing pages has to do with prophecy after Richard is born. Could this have something to do with Khalan somehow disappearing from everyone but Richard’s memory? Or maybe it has to do with prophecy being re-written?
In the absence of Khalan, Nicci looks to fill the loneliness left behind. At this point Nicci still doesn’t believe Khalan exists, so it’s not as if she is trying to steal another woman’s man. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least kind of rooting for Nicci. Damn, when did this become a romance novel? Hah
Well there really isn’t much much I can say about the book without revealing too much. If you’ve made it this far through the series and through this review, you might as well just finish the book and the series. Just remember that Chainfire is book 1 of a trilogy, so don’t be surprised if the book doesn’t wrap up nice and neatly as the previous 8 books did.