Rise of the Dragons (Kings and Sorcerers #01) by Morgan Rice Review

81kM+RVvqZL._SL1500_I had no real expectations of this book. The synopsis sounded interesting so I thought I’d give it a try. I finished it in one day and it was so disappointing. It almost seemed like the author was in a tearing hurry to get done with this story. Things progress far too quickly in the book and there were times when I wasn’t entirely sure as to how much time had passed. There are three narratives and it seemed like each was progressing at a different pace. Also the main protagonist, Kyra, she is clearly different (Rice makes sure to tell us this numerous times, just in case we missed it the first few times) and she does seem to have powers but she knows nothing about them. Her father clearly knows whats happening and instead of telling her, he tells her to seek her uncle and ask him. Gee thanks, that’s helpful.

This was an epic waste of time.

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Confessor (Sword of Truth #11) by Terry Goodkind Review

Confessor 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.

Chainfire (Sword of Truth #9) by Terry Goodkind Review

7126PGS2YbL._SL1500_ I really enjoyed this book if not for the frustration that had me wanting to tear my hair out. But for once it didn’t so much have to do with Goodkind’s writing as the characters themselves. Before I started Chainfire, I felt that maybe the books were getting a tad predictable. But this changed the entire the ball game.

At the start of Chainfire, we meet Richard who has been seriously injured. He is immediately taken to Nicci who sets out trying to heal him. But his injuries are so serious that she has to use Subtractive Magic to heal him. He lives through the ordeal only to discover something gravely disturbing, Kahlan is missing. And not only is she missing but nobody remembers her. Richard tries to convince Cara and Nicci about who Kahlan is but the harder he tries the more convinced they become that she’s just a figment of his pain-addled mind. He tires of trying to convince them and instead sets out to find her. He meets Shota who gives him some clues in return for the Sword of Truth. He then turns to Zedd for his help only to find that Zedd too can’t help him because he doesn’t believe Richard. In other news, the Sword of Truth is now with Samuel (yes the same one who skulks around Shota)

Chainfire was probably one of the more linear books in the series with minimal POVs, we mostly stay with Richard and Nicci. There are a few others but they are fleeting. As far as progressing the plot, there isn’t a lot that happens in this book. Its primary focus is Richard’s quest for Kahlan. This was interesting because we saw all the ways in which Kahlan influenced the people around her and how they were somehow lesser for forgetting her. So that all the change she had affected on a personal level was undone. Chainfire also benefited from this more streamlined narrative because it gave the readers the chance to fully grasp the seriousness of the event in the broader scheme of things (the end of the world)

Interspersed with a lot of heartbreak and frustration, there was also some action, this time mostly centered around Nicci. We saw a glimpse of what she was capable of in Faith of the Fallen and in Chainfire we get a deeper sense of her awesome power. In the absence of Kahlan (the resident badass female character) it was refreshing to see another uber-powerful female character.

As far as characters go, Chainfire again limited the number of people involved. We concentrated on Richard, Cara, Nicci, Zedd, Nathan and Ann. This was a pleasant change. Richard was as dogged as ever. He was steadfast in his belief that Kahlan was indeed real and that there was something very seriously amiss with the world around him. This unflinching belief in the face of wide-spread denial of the very existence of the woman he loves is what makes him such a compelling character. Sure, there were moments of doubt and uncertainty, but he battled past those dark times.

Cara is always a joy to read and in Chainfire, there was a very subtle shift in their dynamic. Worry not, nothing romantic but a change nonetheless. I was most curious about Nicci, not that I was unsure of her bond to Richard (there could be no doubt about that) but about her as a character. She has certainly come a long way from her earlier beliefs and is a true ally to Richard. Even though she doesn’t believe him, when he despairs of finding Kahlan, it is Nicci who forces him to see beyond what everyone around him wants him to see. She also warned him of his uncle, Nathan and Ann’s idea of helping him while he was still in the Keep. She has become an indispensable part of the group.

As for the rest, they make up those that had me wanting to tear my hair out. Sure Nicci and Cara contributed to that as well, but these three, Nathan, Ann and Zedd(especially Ann) were the real culprits. Zedd is always a pleasure to come across and his interactions with Rikka were among the most entertaining in the entire book. But like the others in the book, he was happy to look at the simplest reason for the disappearing prophecies and not look beyond. Nathan and Ann also journey to the Keep after they discover the blank pages in the various books of prophecy to see if the ancient books at the Keep have escaped that fate. Nathan’s character in Chainfire was a little subdued since his customary wit and charm were absent. Ann was infuriating as always. She is a such busybody. Kahlan had the right measure where Ann was concerned and didn’t care for her meddling ways. With memories of Kahlan gone, the change she had affected was absent as well. Of all the characters, I find Ann most annoying. The Mord Sith are entertaining as always and it was nice to see more of Rikka and Berdine.

Kahlan was absent for most of the duration of the book and when we do meet her she is in a bad place. She too has no memory of who she really is and worse, she is in the clutches of the evil Sisters of the Dark. They need her to steal and open the Boxes of Orden and thus end the world of the living. Back when Richard used the Stone to Tears to close the rift to the Underworld, I thought that the problem of the Keeper had been handled a little too quickly and smoothly, clearly I was wrong. The Keeper is far from defeated and with what Sisters unleashed, the world is quite literally at the brink of destruction.

There is still that inner steel that was the core of Kahlan’s strength and I hope that she can somehow recover more of that inner strength that made her the Mother Confessor and a force to be reckoned with (independent of Richard)

Chainfire was an entertaining read but it most importantly, it sets up Phantom and Confessor beautifully. It was a pleasant change of pace and plot in the series and I can’t wait to see how it all concludes.