Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth #6) by Terry Goodkind Review

Faith of the FallenFaith of the Fallen is by far the best book in the Sword of Truth series so far and one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a while. There is a bit of everything here, action, a beautiful love-story, redemption and all of it was in the right quantity.

This book picks up with Kahlan’s recovery and Richard’s disillusionment following the outcome of the people’s vote in Anderith. He has left his forces to live in Hartland while Kahlan heals and recovers her strength. While they are in Hartland, they live an almost idyllic life, it’s a paradise and everything is perfect. But it comes to an end all too soon when Nicci casts a spell that links her to Kahlan, wherein if Nicci is hurt then Kahlan suffers the pain as well. Her condition is that if Richard wants Kahlan to live, he must leave her and travel with Nicci. He leaves with her after a very bidding Kahlan a very touching farewell. He charges Cara to watch over her and protect her. Meanwhile, the D’Haran forces along with the Keltish and Galean forces are keeping an eye on the Order while trying to avoid a direct conflict.

There is simply too much going on in Faith of the Fallen and yet, this is perhaps the most balanced books in the series so far. We still have the POVs of other characters but for the most part, they are directly linked to the main plot of the book: the Midland forces trying to outfox the Order and Richard trying to get out of Nicci’s clutches. And for once, I found both plots extremely engaging. For too long, in the series, there have been parts that I wished I could skip because they were keeping me from the parts that I was really interested in (those usually revolved around Kahlan and Richard) But this time, it was hard for me to put the book down and close to the end I ended up reading till 4 in the morning and then I was so wound up that I couldn’t sleep for quite sometime.

One of the most problematic aspects of Goodkind’s writing is the unnecessary and unbearably long recaps. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be so painful if he wrote one long detailed recap right in the beginning that one could skip but no, every time something happens or we come across someone we already met in the past, he gives us a detailed blow-by-blow account and I cannot begin to tell you how taxing it is. It grates on my nerves because it immediately brings the flow of the narrative to a grinding halt. The pace comes to dead stop. This time around, I might have skimmed through those and I think the book benefited from this. The beginning of the book was a little slow but I didn’t mind that in the least because it was in keeping with the atmosphere Richard, Kahlan and Cara were in. The pace here reflected their lives in this tranquil place. And yet, as soon as Richard and Kahlan part ways, the pace picks up. It is certainly faster when we read Kahlan’s perspective and somewhat slower in Richard’s. Apart from those pesky recaps, Goodkind’s writing was superb and absolutely immersive.

My primary motivation behind reading this series are the characters. Rarely do you come across such well-realised and developed characters. What’s even more interesting is that, in their own way, they are also flawed. Even though there are many characters the series focuses on, the two main protagonists remain Richard and Kahlan and they are the real heart of the series.

Richard is a war wizard is perhaps the most powerful wizard in the world (with the possible exception of Nathan and Zedd) For most of his life, he was a simple woods guide and then suddenly he was thrust in the war against Darken Rahl and named the Seeker of truth. In a very short time, his entire worldview has turned on its head and through it all he has somehow maintained his humanity. He is a natural leader, wherever he goes, people can’t help but be drawn to him. But he is also a very relatable character. His doubts, motivations are easy to see and understand. What makes his so likeable is that his power hasn’t changed who he is at his very core. He is still the same woods guide and his ultimate goal is not rule D’Hara or the Midlands but rather to live a quiet, peaceful life in the woods with Kahlan by his side.

Kahlan is the Mother Confessor and also the last of her kind and now, one of my all time favourite female characters. She is an incredibly strong woman and does not apologise for it. Hers is the highest authority in all of the Midlands and she wears this power with responsibility and honour. Where Richard is new to power, Kahlan has grown up surrounded by it. What is also interesting is that between the two of them, Kahlan is the more ruthless of the two. Richard is still not always certain of his place, authority and power and can sometimes be reluctant to make harsh decisions (though he does eventually do what has to be done) whereas Kahlan is much more matter of fact and does what needs to be done, she is decisive and doesn’t waste time dilly-dallying. Moreover, she is an excellent war strategist and leads the Midland forces when Richard is unable to. She is fiercely independent and definitely someone who can take care of herself.

What is even more striking about her is that she has no other power apart from her powers of the Confessor (where she can bind people to her will) and using her power weakens her. Yet she still leads first the Galeans and then the Midland forces against the Order and gains victory in the former encounter and inflicts serious damage in the latter. But more than that, once committed to her cause, she lets nothing sway her. She is not merciful and perhaps that is what struck me most about her and I liked her even more for it.

Nicci is the other character whom I hated in the beginning for her misguided notions and then slowly came to like. She was difficult to pin down because her actions were not borne out of malice but rather curiosity. I found her to be very interesting and in true Goodkind fashion, she was a multi-layered and complex character. I look forward to seeing more of her in the future books.

We also saw Zedd, Verna, Warren, Ann and Cara (she’s another favourite) and I was happy that they were all connected to the broader plot. I have always had a problem with blind faith and that was Ann’s attitude with respect to the prophecies and the confrontation involving her and Kahlan was necessary. She needed to have her blind faith challenged although I’m not entirely certain as to whether she learned anything from that encounter.

Through the course of the last few books, Jagang has emerged as the main antagonist. He seems to be more lethal than Darken Rahl and the Keeper put together and truly a force to be reckoned with. He is not reckless and has infinite patience; in addition, his attack on the Midlands is something that he’s been planning for a very long time. All of this makes for a very lethal combination and I’m anxious to see how Richard, Kahlan and their allies will deal with the threat he poses. My only concern is that if it is just stretched too far then I might just lose interest…

This series is also exhaustive especially with regards to the main characters; they are always in peril and more often than not, find themselves in some very tight spots and a lot of trouble. All of this and the slightly slow pace of the books make for a fairly stressful reading experience. What little I know of the rest of the series doesn’t seem very different. Keeping all of that in mind, I don’t know how much longer I’ll stick with the series but for now, I am I shall continue.

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Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth #5) by Terry Goodkind Review

Sould of the FireSoul of the Fire was incredibly frustrating at times! Terry Goodkind also has a very long-winded way of writing which can be trying at time (and don’t even get me started on those pesky recaps) But having said that, I find I am unable to stop reading the series, at least, that’s the case so far.

What I like about his characters is that just because a person is committed to the “right side” doesn’t mean that they won’t make grave mistakes or that they aren’t weak. In Soul of the Fire, for instance, it is the Sisters of the Light who betray Ann and a Sister of the Dark saves her. Similarly, it was Kahlan, in an attempt to save Richard’s life who unknowingly unleashed the Chimes which would have banished magic from the world. There are also some truly despicable people like Stein who I was glad met his grisly end. Terry Goodkind paints very complex and diverse characters. Despite everything he did, I still liked Dalton.

These books are also graphic in terms of violence, especially with regard to violence against women. But it doesn’t seem gratuitous; it serves to show the ruthlessness of the Imperial Order and just what Richard and Kahlan are up against. In addition, he also highlights certain other themes that are compelling. Like the fact that just because you want to liberate people, doesn’t necessarily mean that want to be liberated. They either don’t see the chains that bind them or are horrified at what having those chains removed would mean for them. They cling to them because there is comfort in the familiar. And also, having lived under brutality, they are less trusting of some stranger making tall promises.

Another thing that occasionally irks me Richard’s unwillingness to see what’s right in front of him. In Soul of the Fire, even Kahlan had her ‘denial’ moment when she refused to believe that the Chimes had been released but this seems to be pattern with Richard. When they were in Anderith, speaking with Bertrand and Dalton, Kahlan told him it to refuse to wait and even told him that she had a very bad feeling, but Richard refused to believe her. I am hoping that he smartens up soon.

This time, I really liked reading Ann’s POV. She was in some deep trouble and managed to keep a calm head. She is not often likeable but she is starting to grow on me.

My favourite in the series is still Kahlan, she is seriously kick ass and a very strong woman and I am happy that through the course of the series, her strength and her character have not been diminished. Even though she gets very seriously hurt (as in this book) she bounces back stronger. She is also a leader in her own right and has the presence to lead an army all on her own. She doesn’t really need Richard to protect her. She is also very secure in her relationship with Richard and that is also a relief. Considering that they got together pretty much in the very first book, I was worried that we might be subjected to some very unwanted and unnecessary relationship drama. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. There is plenty of other drama that keeps them from their HEA but that makes for interesting reading so I don’t mind that so much. Also Cara is a joy to read. I love her and her irreverent and unapologetic attitude, especially where Richard is concerned. She and the other Mord’Sith are sworn to protect him but don’t treat him like a Lord. I am hoping that Berdine will be back in the next installment.

I don’t know how many more of these I’ll read back to back (12 books is a daunting number especially considering that these aren’t exactly slim volumes) but so far I am curious as to what happens to these people and that curiosity is keeping me going.

My Introduction to The Sword of Truth Series

My introduction to the Sword of Truth series is a little strange and coincidental. Let me start from the beginning. Some time ago, I was reading The Green Rider series by Kristen Britain and I enjoyed the first book so much that I wanted to look online to see if there was any fanart available. There is some, but what I stumbled upon was a fan made trailer for the first book and it was perfect. In case you were wondering, there isn’t an official trailer for any of the books in the series. Anyway, this trailer was so well made that, for me, the actors in that trailer became the physical embodiments of the characters I was reading about. Here is a link to the trailer, see what you make of it:

While I was still reading the Green Rider series, Bridget Regan and Craig Horner pretty much became Karigan and Alton for me. But having seen that trailer, it made me curious about what show the clips were from. I found out that it was a short-lived series called The Legend of the Seeker and it was based on the Sword of Truth series. I had heard of the series but with 11 books down, I was more than a little uncertain that I wanted to read something that far along. Besides I wasn’t sure that it was even my cup of tea. So I decided to watch the show and while it was far from perfect, it still proved to be entertaining. (Although, to be honest, in the beginning, it was a little hard to associate Bridget Regan to Kahlan when she was so strongly embedded in my head as Karigan.)

She's even wearing green...
She’s even wearing green…

After I finished watching the show I was even more curious about the books and decided to read the books. I’ve been reading the series back to back ever since. I know that whenever a book or a series is adapted into a TV show or a film, it never satisfies the book fans. It is a losing battle and in the case of the Legend of the Seeker, I think they lost the battle right at the beginning. The makers made so many changes to the story that it was wonder they didn’t call The Sword of Truth. The first season was still fairly close to the book, at least in terms of the broader gist of the Wizards’ First Rule but the second season was all over the place. It bore only a passing resemblance to the second book. I think it is possible that the makers knew that weren’t coming back for any additional seasons and so decided to incorporate as many aspects of the series as they could in the second season. Also, one of the weakest aspects of the show was the near unbearably bad writing.

The primary reason I enjoyed the show as much as I did was because I hadn’t read the books. If not for that I doubt I would have finished even the first episode. As it was, I could appreciate the show in its place and the books in theirs. There really is no other way of looking at them but as separate entities. The series gave me the impression that the tone of the books would be light-hearted and this could not be further from the truth. The Sword of Truth series is an intense, violent, brutal, bloody, especially with regard to violence against women. The war scenes in the books are also very graphic and more than that, they are ruthless. None of this was reflected in the TV show.

The other primary issue I had was with the main casting, that of Richard Ralh/Cypher. In the books he has a commanding presence and his physical size is just one aspect. It is his bearing that is more important. In the show, Craig Horner just didn’t impress and I saw the show before I read the books. While watching the show, I often thought that Horner was possibly the weakest link in the show (next to the guy playing Zedd). Actually, over all the casting has been an issue. The only casting I liked was Bridget Regan as Kahlan Amnell, Tabrette Bethel as Cara and Jessica Marais as Denna. These three were perfect. The actress playing Nicci 2.0 was also pretty good. This was the other part I didn’t understand. Why cast a dark-haired actress for Nicci and then change it to someone who bears a closer resemblance to the character in the books?

Kahlan Amnell
Kahlan Amnell

 

Cara
Cara

The other reason why Bridget Regan and Tabrett Bethell work as Kahlan and Cara respectively is because they embody the core traits of the characters they portray. Even now, as I read the Sword of Truth books, I can see Regan and Bethell. The only thing that somewhat irks me is that Kahlan’s character was made weaker in the TV show. In the books, she is a tactician and had the courage and strength to command an entire army and lead them against seemingly insurmountable odds and somehow, not only make it out alive but also victorious. In the TV show, she kept looking to Richard for strength and leadership. But to be honest, Kahlan and Cara were the primary reason I watched the show, they made it worthwhile and if not for them, I would have given the entire thing a miss.

Kahlan and Cara - here's to strong women
Kahlan and Cara – here’s to strong women

The Loneliness of an Invisible Storm

I just started watching this and this along with a recap I read on The Mary Sue is really interesting. While, I am still undecided about this anime, it is definitely interesting and for the time being I want to see where it might be headed.

atelier emily

yuri kuma arashi, yuri bear storm, lesbian bear storm, ikuhara, yurikuma, sumika and kureha, kureha tsubaki, sumika izumino, yurikuma episode 1

One day, while listening to a friend speak about music, he remarked that he often dislikes listening to strings only. He was quick to add that this was a personal preference, but expanded on the statement by saying that he prefers a mixture of piano and strings. In his mind, the presence of a piano keeps the strings grounded.

Similarly, I can say the same thing for an anime series directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, where the grounded narrative serves to enhance any symbolism or subtext that arises and relate to the viewer immediately. In the first episode of Mawaru Penguindrum, one can find a simple story of two brothers treating their terminally-ill sister to a day of her own at the aquarium. The penguins, survival strategies, and monologues regarding fate are placed strategically around this setup. Utena Tenjou’s scenario is arranged as a fairytale in Revolutionary Girl Utena

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