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on September 21, 2007
If you have gotten all the way to this book, then you are either a masochist (like me) or you consider Ayn Rand to be your personal saviour. Either way, no restatement of the main thrust of the series is needed here. Suffice it to say that this book continues the same frustrating themes. Here are a few: 1) Richard desperately missing Kahlan and randomly experiencing searing mental anguish over her absence. 2) Nicci being incredibly hot with very blue eyes and thinking she would just die if Richard ever looked at her with anything less than euphoria. 3) Lots of descriptions of violence and rape. 4) Richard and Shota routinely pulling solutions to complex problems out of thin air. 5) Richard being unable to use his magic 6) More rape 7) Tedious descriptions of things which do not need to be described. 8) Really feeble humour.

The main problem with this series is that Goodkind does not consider it to be fantasy but rather some sort of inspirational tract meant to enlighten us drudges about freedom and the colossal beacon of blinding light that is the thought of Ayn Rand. This invariably creates problems. Goodkind is far more interested in proselytizing than in writing a good yarn. Thus, much of the dialogue is stilted and embarassingly awkward. At one point the seer Jebra shows up to tell Richard all about her experience as a captive of the Imperial Order (as he if he didn't know what they were like already). Despite having lived through grotesque horrors, her narrative (which goes on for pages) is absurdly dry and sounds like she's reading from a textbook or maybe from the diary of someone who had only polite interest in what was going on. The same goes for the bad guys. The Imperial Order soldiers, described as the most brutish and nasty people alive, don't even swear. Even when threatening rape and murder, their lines are dry as dust. They sound more like disaffected college students regurgitating what they learned at communist youth group meetings. I guess Jagang banned cussing out of concern for his men's morals.

The other major problem is that since Richard is an Ayn Randian superhero, all the characters have to be dumbed down to make him look good. Ancient and powerful people like Zedd, Nathan and Ann are made out to be blithering idiots who never hesitate to fiercely oppose Richard the instant he ventures an opinion, despite the fact that he was always correct before. There are more egregious examples. In Phantom Richard FINALLY (duh) realizes what he has to do tactically to prevent his forces from being crushed by the vastly superior Imperial Order. He obligingly pops into army HQ to brief his officer corps only to find them distraught at the prospect of missing out on the chance to get annihilated in a set piece battle with the Order. He actually has to sit down and explain the logic of his plan to his supposedly battlehardened and professional commanders and even then some of them don't get it. Apparently D'Haran military training leaves a lot to be desired.

The good parts - there are some - are pretty much the same too. When he can get off his high horse, Goodkind does deliver some decent buildup, a few interesting plot twists and a couple of exciting fight scenes. Goodkind has never been a graceful writer but he does know how to create tension and use violence effectively. Also as usual, the systematics behind magic and prophecy are described in rich detail and this is always fascinating.

If you have gotten this far, you might as well slog through this, the penultimate book in the series. What with Goodkind's aforementioned talents, the conclusion in the next book promises to be worthwhile.
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on July 26, 2006
I picked up Wizard's First Rule when it was first published and found it to be an enjoyable fantasy novel. I have stuck with the series far longer than I should have, but by now I have too much time invested in it to stop. The story as it was has now devolved into little more than a political manifesto, a propaganda piece extolling a vile philosophy. If Faith of the Fallen had been the worst offender for characters endlessly prattling on about their love of life and liberty that would have been fine, if boring. But it has altered course in a significant way. Where once the only absurdities in these books were (to name a few) a wise-cracking dragon, a heroic talking wolf, and a chuckling chicken that is evil manifest, Mr. Goodkind has sunk to new depths. His main characters - Richard and Kahlan - are held up as paragons of virtue, and great champions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But one sees as the story progresses that they repeatedly betray such virtues and participate enthusiastically in the very atrocities that they so boldly (and endlessly) claim to be fighting against.

What Mr. Goodkind has done in his latest installment of the Sword of Truth series is a new low. Facing insurmountable odds, our hero Richard decides that the only path to victory lies in visiting the same atrocities upon the enemy citizenry, as have been committed upon Richard's own people. Whereas some might say the plotline (such as it is) in Phantom is particularly relevant to current world events, the fact is that what the heroes in this story are engaging in on behalf of all that is good, is exactly what would be universally condemned here in real life.

The prose in Phantom is long-winded enough to destroy the New Orleans levees all over again. Goodkind has one character spend twenty pages in a row describing what she saw in the camp of the Imperial Order, and another character follows immediately with a ten page explanation of how they got that way. If the characters in these books spoke like normal people do then it would be the size of a pamphlet one could read while waiting for a bus. The action that one could previously depend on is almost non-existent in Phantom, as the characters do very little other than talk each other (and the reader) to death. The twenty page description of life with the Order could have been done much easier, for example: "Jebra spoke of the horrors she had seen in the camp during the months she had labored there. The squalor, the endless rapes of screaming women, the torture and brutality. Richard's mind reeled at what he was hearing." I make no claim to be a great writer, but I don't need twenty pages to explain that the "bad guys" are evil. Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. Mr. Goodkind has fallen into the bad habit of treating his audience like dimwitted children who must have an idea repeatedly pounded into their heads for them to grasp it. I found myself on several occasions wishing I had simply skipped an entire chapter, if only because the entire time I was reading it I kept muttering to myself "yes, I know life is good. Yes, I know the Order is evil. Get on with it." Mr. Goodkind's prose acts as a bulldozer, piling tons of rubble on top of you, distracting you from realizing that almost nothing is happening to move the plot along.

Soon this series will come to an end, and that is for the best since anything worthwhile in the story came to an end for me long ago. All I look forward to in the final installment is to see whether Richard finally realizes that he has become something no better than the evil he claims to fight against, and falls on his magic sword. Or if he will be found at the end of the story with his shiny Sword of Truth held high while standing upon a mountain of the corpses of his innocent victims.
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on March 1, 2008
To start things off, I think Terry Goodkind is a talented writer (as evidenced by his earlier works). But this book is SO wordy. I am on page 174 and it feels like 80%+ is nothing but talking and no action. Man, is this boring!!! I have started to gloss over the discussions of the brutalities of the Order because it's the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and ... (I think you get the drift). Earlier, he had Richard talk about the "emblamatic" nature of a spell that Nikki was in. While it takes quite a bit of creativity to write with such conviction, Terry Goodkind just went too far with it.

I will finish this book, though it is now becoming a chore rather than a pleasure. I always finish the novel I started (with one boring exception with a book by Ed Greenwood; I cannot remember the title). It is very possible that this may be the last Terry Goodkind book I will ever read, unless things significantly improve. But with the threat of a third book with Kahlan under the Chainfire spell, can I really do it?

Before I picked this one, I had just finished (re-)reading the first 11 books of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. That storyline did not always move too quickly, but there were many engaging (sub-)plots.
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on January 31, 2008
Terry Goodkind is not a terrible author, but his story lost its way books ago. The first three novels were wonderful and I have reread them each several times. Then he ran out of steam and floundered for a couple of books until he decided to teach us all about life and love. Now he is simply preaching his philosophy through his characters: Richard is the mouthpiece and the rest of the characters (regardless of their supposed age and wisdom) are the rabble who must be educated. It feels insulting to read through these meaningless discourses.

As for the actual plot, it is mostly a rehash of elements from the previous books; some I enjoyed and some I did not. There is very little new material here to expand his world and inspire the imagination. I get the distinct impression that Goodkind simply wants to finish this off so that he can move on to his next project. At this point his intriguing characters are boring, his magic is unmagical, and his creative setting is empty and bland.

I will only be reading the final book, Confessor, to bring a little closure to my 10 year relationship with this series. I believe it would have been better if Terry Goodkind had simply written the Chainfire trilogy as a single book.
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on July 30, 2006
Phantom is the 2nd installment in a 3-volume arc involving the abduction of Richard Rhal's wife. The author continues to excel at presenting an exciting story-line along with sympathic characters. Long-time readers of the Sword of Truth series will not be disappointed. They will, no doubt, look forward to the next, and final, tome of the long-running series.

Readers must be forwarned, however, that their enjoyment of the story will very likely be marred by a number of notable flaws. As other reviewers have mentioned, Goodkind continues to belabor his text with lengthy and repetitive sermons on his philosophy of free will and personal responsibility. Similar objections can be raised with regards to overly detailed descriptions of magical symbology and effects. The novel also contains a lengthy and distracting dipiction of the Imperial Order's sacking of a city (some things are best left to the immagination of the readers). These sections can be skipped without injury to the main narrative.

Phantom is a great story that risks being obscured by its dull and unecessary baggage. Like its predecessor volume, it would have benefited immensely from extensive editorial cuts. Indeed, it is not too hard to imagine that the 3-volume arc could have been better rendered as an entertaining single novel.

For die-hard Sword of Truth readers only.
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on July 31, 2007
Goodkind's first few books we're quite impressive, his characters felt human, mortals. In the last few books, I feel I'm losing interest with these peons. I'm sick of Kahlan being constantly threatened just to be saved at the last second. She's all powerfull, everyone is afraid of the mother confessor, damnit, send 5 guy's to kill her, she might get one with her power but once she's drained, beat her to death. Not going to happen, thats obvious. The characters talk too much and fail to really evolve. Goodkind should learn from authors like Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin, you get to love someone just so you find out they die a book later, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and you never know what will actually happen.
I hoped this last issue would re-ignite my interest into the serie, but just like the 3 previous novels, its just the same old, with a slightly different plot. You want to know how this will end? Richard will slay all the bad guys and go hunting with kahlan the next day, just laffing and laffing like silly gooses they are, Carla will raise a family with lots and lots of children. By now, any other ending would satisfy me, hell, abduct them all by aliens, giraffes could take over the world, D-hara could invade the whole continent claiming weapons of mass destruction... anything
My advice, if you're tired of the serie, don't waste your cash on this, it won't rekindle the flames. An epic storyline gone sour.
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on January 6, 2007
I started Phantom without much enthusiasm because I really had to force my way through Chainfire, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is the best one since the first two or three. Kahlan is still lost to everyone's memory except Richard's, but instead of standing around arguing about how such a thing couldn't possibly happen, they're actually doing something about it. This is Goodkind at his best, lots of fighting and magic.

The only problem I have with Phantom is the same one I had with the first nine books: he explains every little thing like three times within one or two pages. Richard will be telling everyone his plan, and Zedd will say "That's not possible" and Richard will say "Let me explain it this way", and Cara will say "I don't understand", so Richard will say "It's like this" and give a metaphor for the same thing he just explained twice!

There, I got that off my chest. My point is, I really enjoyed Phantom and I'm impatiently awaiting the final book in the Sword of Truth series.
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on January 3, 2007
Terry's 10th book in his Sword of Truth series adds new twists to a seemingly hopeless situation. As in all of his books, you really feel a connecion with the characters. Khalan, Richard, Nicci, Cara and Zedd all hold values dear to them that more people in real life should consider.

I disagree with one of the reviews saying that Richard and Khalan are stooping to the levels of what they preach against. They are not, they are fighting for their rights and do what they must to live by their own will. They do not slaughter the innocents, but give them a choice, unlike Jagang's army.

There are long sections to chug through constantly delving into the importance of life or the philosophy of the Order, but all in all it is a book that will keep you wanting more! I can't wait for the final book to come out, but will also be disappointed not to be a part of such an epic adventure when it all comes to an end! Great reading, and you can learn a lot. There are some important values that everyone should consider.
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on August 4, 2015
Ordered the entire set of books except confessor as I already owned it. This was the only one poorly shipped. It left the pages with a permanent slight bend. Other than that quite happy with my books.
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on January 29, 2013
Terry Goodkind is a great author and this series just sucks you right in and I could barely put the books down. I recommend Terry Goodkind to any friends who are looking for a new author to read.
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