"Kahlan stood quietly in the shadows, watching, as evil knocked
softly on the door."
With that ominous line, Terry Goodkind plunges us into PHANTOM, the
tenth entry in his Sword of Truth series (not including the
novella DEBT OF BONES). Picking up where CHAINFIRE left off, Lord
Richard Rahl is still searching for his missing wife, Kahlan
Amnell. The Chainfire event unleashed by the Sisters of the Dark
erased all memory of Kahlan's existence from everyone in the world,
including herself. But Richard remembers her and has fought to get
others to believe that he is not crazy, that he is not chasing a
phantom. To find answers, Richard gave up the Sword of Truth to the
witch woman, Shota, in exchange for information.
Those around him have begun to believe his story about Kahlan, but
that hasn't helped him get any closer to finding her. What he is
learning is that the memory loss of his friends may be worse than
previously believed. The Chainfire event may have set in motion a
corruptive spell that is beginning to erase more than just Kahlan
from the memories of those around him. More distressing is that
Shota gave the Sword of Truth to Samuel, a servant of hers who has
since become corrupted by another witch woman --- quite possibly
the feared witch, Six, from the Old World.
In the meantime, Kahlan moves as a slave with three of the Sisters
of the Dark, not knowing who she is or what her purpose might be.
Most people do not even see her; she is so far removed from memory.
There is a man who sees her and remembers her, and for this
transgression he and his family are murdered by the Sisters. Kahlan
is then punished for trying to protect the daughter. The Sisters
are searching for Tovi, the fourth Sister, who has vanished along
with the box of Orden that was in her possession.
The Sisters and Kahlan come across the army of Jagang. They are
leaving a brutal mark of murder and heinous torture in their wake
as they march toward the keep where Richard waits, and continues to
desperately seek information on where Kahlan can be found. He knows
she must regain her memory soon or she will be the tool by which
all of the world is undone. At the same time, however, Kahlan
begins to learn that the closer she gets to finding out her past,
the more perilous things will become for her.
Goodkind, as usual, delivers a high-quality story. The world in
which his people live is vibrant and wondrous to behold. The
characters continue to act with the utmost heroism, especially
Richard, though in this book the side characters seem nothing more
than accessories as Goodkind furthers the Richard/Kahlan plotline.
Not that this is a bad thing, for Goodkind has always been very
strong in his portrayal of the romance of the two main characters,
and it is fitting that he continue to focus on them. Both have
become more important now than they ever have.
If there is one complaint to be lodged against Goodkind, it's in
his propensity to repeat himself a multitude of times in any given
situation. In announcing that a friend of Richard's was found
gravely injured, Shota mentions that she found him and that he was
gravely injured a couple of times within two pages, and the
characters repeat each other's words back multiple times. This
occurs throughout the book. Were these moments of repetition
reduced, the flow of the book would seem much smoother and no doubt
shorten its 587-page length. It's a small complaint when you
consider the magnitude and the passion with which Goodkind writes
and delivers this epic tale.
There is but one chapter left to tell in this tale, and then the
Sword of Truth series will be complete. PHANTOM, being the
second part of the Chainfire Trilogy that concludes the
series, certainly has the feel of a middle book. There is a major
surprise, however, that will leave readers groaning and wailing for
the release of the final book. Goodkind will continue to write in
this world and with these characters, and for that his fans should
be pleased. As a writer, his epic has been much better executed
than others of the genre, and PHANTOM continues to show that his
place amongst the tops in the field is deserved.
As a side note, Tor Books has issued a release announcing that Sam
Raimi, the director of the Spider-Man films, has secured the rights
to bring the Sword of Truth series to the screen, and
production is expected to begin on the mini-series of WIZARD'S
FIRST RULE within the next year. All the more reason to begin
exploring this series if you have not done so already.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on January 18, 2011