Thursday, February 4, 2010

Big Book Read #3

SOUL OF THE FIRE by Terry Goodkind

788 Pages

Soul of the Fire is the fifth book in the eleven book Sword of Truth series by fantasy writer Terry Goodkind. The book continues the story of Richard Rahl, Seeker of Truth, War Wizard and now leader of the D’Haran Empire and his new wife, Kahlan Amnell, The Mother Confessor. The previous books have chronicled Richard’s journey from humble woods guide to Seeker of Truth bound to rid the world of evil.

The fifth book begins with Richard finally marrying the love of his life, Kahlan Amnell, his companion and protector throughout the first books of the series. Soon after their wedding however, Richard’s grandfather, First Wizard Zedd realizes that Kahlan has accidentally, in order to save Richard’s life, set “The Chimes” loose in the world. This is bad. This is very bad. The Chimes are after Richard’s soul and as they hunt for him they rid the world of all its magic, leaving Richard, Kahlan, Zedd and many others without their powers. Meanwhile the evil Emperor Jagang has amassed a massive army to take over all the Midlands. Did I mention this is bad?

I wasn’t aware until recently of Goodkind’s belief in Objectivism. As an Objectivist he is a devotee to the work of Ayn Rand (insert my husband’s eye roll here). I’m not very familiar with Ayn Rand and Objectivism but can see its influence on Goodkind’s characters. There are themes such as “people will believe what they want or fear to be true” and the rule of unintended consequences throughout the series. In Soul of the Fire Goodkind’s character Jagang can invade people’s minds as a “dreamwalker” and can force them to do things, which they would not normally do. He and his Imperial Order then subjugate the conquered using a form of religion. Looking up a bit of info on Rand shows that this is alluding to the Objectivist idea that faith and force act as destroyers of the world.

Now, even if you think this particular philosophy is complete bunk it shouldn’t diminish your enjoyment of this book, or the entire series if you are a fan of the fantasy genre. I went through four books before realizing their Objectivist undertones and it didn’t matter a whit to me. Goodkind has created a complex fantasy world with noble yet flawed heroes and some really frightening baddies. Expect six more Goodkind reviews to come. I intend to finish all eleven of these.

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