Soul 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.