In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher's forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more.
His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence. In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them--for reasons Richard can't imagine and Kahlan dare not say.
In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword--to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.
I’ve read quite a number of “high fantasy” epics as part of my SFF reading project and the Sword of Truth series is yet another one. Maybe I’ve read a few too many of these series over the past couple of years, as I was quite weary by the end of the first 100 pages. Goodkind believes in getting right to it—by 100 pages we are introduced to Richard Cypher (our chosen one for this series), Kahlan Amnell (his love interest & travel companion), and Zedd (the obligatory wizard). Not only that, Richard’s brother is set up as the corrupt politician who is going to cause trouble later. I guess it’s a toss-up between those who don’t want too much exposition or description and those who would like a gentler introduction to this new fantasy world. I cut my high fantasy teeth on Tolkien, so I tend to favour more introductory material before plunging into the adventure.
Warnings to those who are sensitive souls: both torture and pedophilia are aspects of this story. If you choose your TBR based on avoiding these issues, strike this book from your reading agenda. The torture section, where Richard is in the power of a Mord-Sith, Denna, is rather long and dwells lingeringly on her brutal treatment of Richard. We learn about what Mord-Sith are right along with Richard. Needless to say, they are on the Evil side of the equation in this story.
Richard’s talents appear to be a questioning nature, insisting on getting to the truth of things, and an ability to see things from another’s perspective and appreciate them despite their behaviour. This is how he manages to find an affection for Mistress Denna and sweet talk a dragon, among other diplomatic coups. The fact that he is portrayed as a highly unusual man because of these capabilities (to empathize with others) I leave to your judgement.
Richard and Kahlan have a whole Romeo-and-Juliet plot line going through most of the book, probably one of the oldest plot devices going. If you’ve read The Lord of the Rings you will also see echoes of Wormtongue when you consider Richard’s brother Michael and hints of Gollum when you read about the former Seeker who has been distorted by magic. Not to mention Zedd’s tendencies to give incomplete advice and to disappear when he is most needed, rather like Gandalf.
I think that perhaps my adoration of modern urban fantasy is a reaction to the plethora of rather medieval settings and simplistic good-vs-evil plots of much of high fantasy. There’s a place for both and I enjoy them both—they use many of the same tropes, after all—but we all need variety in both our physical and reading diets.
Book number 289 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.
I'm more than four hours into this eleven-hour novel, which, in the audiobook version, is a full cast production.
When "Sleeping Giants" was presented in the same way, I'd lost patience with it by the four-hour mark.
This time, I'm enjoying myself.
I put the difference down to the quality of the writing - the characterisation and the emotion in the dialogue / first-person reports are excellent - I found the report on a Marine SNAFU assault quite moving for example.
There is also a nice balance between a more personal relationship between the two teen protagonists and the more role-driven interactions between the captains of the military and civilian scientific ship.
I find it difficult to listen for more than an hour at a time, but I think that has more to do with the quiet desperation of the story than to the format.
This series received a lot of positive reviews in the press and social media so I picked it up even though I've never read either author.
I'm now a little over an hour in.
The good news is that I'm listening to the audiobook which is an all cast production. The actors are good. The action and point of view shifts are plentiful. The unknown but suspected falls across the plot like an early morning shadow.
The conceit of the book is that the story is told through a series of files, reports and emails compiled by a covert agency and delivered to an as-yet-unnamed client.
In this regard, it reminds me of "Sleeping Giants"
My worry is that I ran out of patience for the radio-play with stage instructions read out loud narrative technique of "Sleeping Giants" after about four hours. The book was six hours long.
"Illuminae" is more than eleven hours long and is book one of a trilogy.
I'm hoping for something clever and engaging that fills the gap left by all the stuff in a novel that isn't dialogue.