I came across this series accidentally and started it almost on a whim and, more than once, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to finish it. Well, I finally did and while the series is far from perfect, it is a lot of fun with fascinating characters, a rich world and some very interesting themes.
Confessor is the final part of the Chainfire Trilogy and marks the end of the Sword of Truth series, so as with most finale books, I had certain expectations. More often than not, I am left feeling a little disappointed but Confessor was the perfect ending to the entire series. The previous books set up a number of problems for Richard to face: Kahlan’s absence, the Chainfire spell, Jagang and the Imperial Order and finally, the Sisters of the Dark working for the Keeper of the Underworld. Most of them seemed insurmountable especially with the odds stacked firmly against Richard. As things stand, there isn’t a lot going on that’s in Richard’s favour, he no longer has the Sword of Truth or access to his Gift, to make maters worse, he is in the clutches of the Order. At the same time, the Order has marched right up to the doorstep of the People’s Palace and the D’Haran forces attacking the Old World are being attacked by a sorceress working for Jagang. Did I mention that Jagang had captured both Nicci and Kahlan? So by all indications, the world was doomed and it seemed like it was only a matter of time before the Order crushed the New World forces and established their own rule with their twisted beliefs.
And yet, even in the face of impending doom, the characters still fought and they still had hope. They decided that this was their life and if they were going to die, then they would die fighting. As with ALL of the books in the series, the pace of the narrative was uneven largely due to the fact that Goodkind insists on a complete and very detailed recap every time we come across a character from the past. I kid you not, all of the books would be considerably shorter if these recaps were cut out, they are redundant and serve no purpose except to drive the reader insane. I ended up skipping them entirely and I think that’s partly why I started to enjoy the books again. Overlooking those parts, the overall pace of the whole of Confessor was frenetic making it close to impossible to put the book aside for even a little while.
The Sword of Truth series is violent and bloody. Throughout the series, there is always some war or battle going on and as with most real wars, the worst off are the women and there is a lot of violence aimed at women in the series.
There are plenty of scenes and situations that feature graphic and gruesome descriptions of the state of women and one only has to look at how often Kahlan and Nicci are physically abused to get a sense of the brutality, Goodkind doesn’t gloss over these parts and while the descriptions are definitely unpleasant (case in point the condition of Galea when the Imperial Order attacked the kingdom in Stone of Tears and once again when Galea is sacked again by the Order, especially the fate of Queen Cyrilla) they only drive home the seriousness of the situation. What makes this series different from most other series that I’ve read is Goodkind’s attitude towards mercy. This is something that struck me very early in the series. There are many instances throughout the series that highlight this attitude. Goodkind leaves no room for misinterpretation when it comes to this. For instance when Samuel tries to rape Kahlan, she manages to Confess him after which he pleads for mercy, her response to his plea is, “Mercy is a contingency plan devised by the guilty in the eventuality that they are caught.” There are quotes like this throughout the series. And this is something that I was happy about. Goodkind did not beat around the bush where this was concerned. His characters acted upon this idea countless times throughout the series. And given just how brutal the Order was or Darken Rahl before them, it was not an attitude that I had any problem with.
The other thing that struck me was just how immersive his battle scenes were. I felt that I was right there in the thick of things with Richard and Kahlan. What I also liked that when we read Richard’s POV during those battles, his attitude remained no-nonsense. He was all about efficiency and killing his enemies as quickly as possible, it was not about theatrics or dramatic sword moves. Even the Dance of Death was just that, it was about being committed to the ‘cut’ and concentrating on that alone. The fight scenes were some of the best-written parts of the series.
Richard has come a long way from when he was a simple woods guide in Hartland. He is now the ruler of D’Hara as well as most of the New World. He was our eyes in this strange and magical world. He was the most relatable character in the series and he has certainly come a long way through the course of the series. In the beginning, he was almost always in denial when it came to either being the new Lord Ralh or with regard to his magical abilities, which quickly became tiresome. Thankfully, in the last few books, he came to fully accept his role as the Lord Rahl as well as the only War Wizard currently in existence. More than that however, it was his ability to inspire people was what made him a truly remarkable character. It wasn’t so much that he made grand speeches, but he made them question what they believed implicitly and inspired them by his own actions.
Kahlan is certainly my favourite character in the series. She was amazing and absolutely kick-ass. In the beginning, I was a little wary and disturbed especially with that whole ‘a Confessor can’t take a man she loves as her mate’ thing. But thankfully, that wasn’t a problem with Richard and Kahlan. What I loved about Kahlan was her inner strength and her strength of character that even the Chainfire spell couldn’t erode. Even with all of her memories missing, she still possessed her inner strength and her will to live even in the face of all that brutality at the Sisters and then at the hands of Jagang. Even though she doesn’t remember who she is, she still manages to save Jillian and kill numerous Order soldiers with nothing except her own intelligence at her disposal. Even before that, she single-handedly led the much-smaller Galean forces against the Imperial Order and emerged victorious and when Richard was stuck in the Old World with Nicci, she galvanised the forces of the New World and led an attack against Jagang and again succeeded in causing the Order to lose soldiers in the tens of thousands, Zedd’s thoughts on the subject, “Zedd thought that if war was madness, madness had just found its mistress.” Not only was she a very powerful Confessor but she was also a formidable tactician and leader. What made me very happy with Goodkind was that he never diminished her character in favour of making Richard appear more powerful; he also added more dimensions to her personality as the series progressed. She was a very well rounded character who still seemed human and therefore very easy to relate to.
I loved how devoted Richard and Kahlan are to each other they were. They fell in love in the very first book and since then there have been countless obstacles in their way, but their love never wavered. Part of the reason for that was their respect for each other. They both held deep respect for the other and that was what made them a force to be reckoned with. With the Chainfire Trilogy and Confessor specifically, we once again see them fall in love. Their love story has always been an integral part of the series and it was fitting that in the final book, we came back to it.
The other character that quickly became one of the most important characters and another one of my favourites was Nicci. She started as a Sister of the Dark (one whom even other Sisters were wary of) but she saw the error or her ways and decided to join Richard in his quest against Jagang and his Order. She was also in love with Richard but she never tried to seduce him or lead him away from Kahlan, in fact, she agreed to help him even when she wasn’t sure whether Kahlan was real or simply a figment of his imagination. It was also amazing that she was uber-powerful, one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world. She not only became a loyal ally but a trusted friend.
The other characters almost took a backseat towards the end. Sure we still saw plenty of Zedd, Cara (another favourite), Berdine, Nathan, Ann, Verna among others but they contributed little to the story. I feel that I must get this off my chest, but I hated Ann till the very end. That whole conversation she had with Nicci where she tried to convince her that she should take advantage of Richard’s loneliness was one of those moments where I truly hated the woman. She was being wilfully blind, seeing only what she wanted to see. She sought to control Richard first by manipulating events after he was born and now she was trying to do that again. Kahlan was right when she told Ann that it was her own meddling that created all their problems, high time someone told Ann to keep her nose where it belonged and to stop meddling in other people’s affairs.
Rachel and Shota had more important roles to play this time around. Rachel has also come a long way from when she was a frightened little girl in Tamarang. She has found a loving family with Chase and has become a strong and brave young woman. When she is again captured by Violet and Six, she uses her head to escape and also helps Richard regain his gift. Shota also plays an important part, she orchestrates the events so that they help Richard and eventually kills Six helping Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Rikka and Tom escape and reach the People’s Palace in time.
The Sword of Truth series was fun and very entertaining and definitely worth a read. Goodkind raises some serious issues and handles them well and doesn’t shy away from them. He also doesn’t dumb things down for his readers. The series though somewhat slow paced at times is well worth the effort of sticking around to see things through. Confessor was a worthy end to a thoroughly engrossing and thrilling series. I plan to read the Richard and Kahlan series as well but I think I’ll wait for the final book to come out which is in November this year, so the wait won’t be too long.