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The Pillars of creation - Terry Goodkind
Member Name: Mauri
The Pillars of creation - Terry Goodkind
Date: 03/02/11, updated on 03/02/11 (82 review reads)
Advantages: Good characters and compelling story
Disadvantages: A slight lack of continuity from previous books
This is the seventh book in the 'Sword of Truth' series originally published in 2001. It maintains the quality of the previous book 'The Faith of the Fallen' after the mediocre 4th and 5th books 'Temple of the Winds' and 'Soul of the Fire' respectively.
Although this book obviously builds on the events outlined in the previous six instalments of the series it does take a very different perspective and adds many new characters to the story. More than any of the other books this could be read a as a 'stand alone' story and in the process you will pick up a lot of what's happened previously. Having said this it is better enjoyed if the previous instalments have already been read.
The previous book 'Faith of the Fallen' sees our hero Richard Cypher the 'Seeker of Truth' now called Richard Rahl the leader D'Haran Empire. D'Hara is the most powerful nation in the New World, and Richard became its leader after the death of his father the evil wizard Darken Rahl. Along with Kahlan the Mother Confessor, the spiritual leader of the New World and now with his wife he faces his greatest threat from the barbarian emperor Jagang who also has the power of the 'dreamwalker' being able to enter minds and control any person who is not sworn to follow Richard. The war has been going badly for Richard and even after a great victory in the heart of Jagang's empire the forces of the new world find themselves besieged in their own land and on the verge of defeat.
This seventh instalment differs from the rest in that the focus of the story for once is not Richard or Kahlan; in fact they hardly feature in the story. This book is seen from the side of the enemy and introduces three major new characters Oba and Jenssen, Richard's half brother and sister who are also the bastard offspring of the evil Darken Rahl and we also meet Sebastian Emperor Jagang's chief strategist. We follow much of the action from the point of view of the Old Word Empire and learn much more about the emperor Jagang and his plans. We soon discover that both Richard's half siblings Oba and Jennsen will play an important role in the outcome of the war and the salvation of the world from the forces of the keeper of the underworld.
It may seem strange to many followers of the series that this book veers so much away from the central characters that we have become used too over the past six volumes but I think in creating Jennsen and Oba the author has introduced a welcomed new thread to the story. We knew from previous books that Richard was not the only offspring of Darken Rahl and we had already met one of his half brothers, the healer Drefan but we never were told what part is any his other siblings had to play in the story or why Darken Rahl has ruthlessly hunted them down even if they had been born with no magical power and thus unlike Richard could not be a direct threat to him.
Goodkind has over the course of the series introduced some quite elaborate concepts about the nature of magic, additive and subtractive magic both dark and light aspects of magic and he has also introduced the idea of the different practitioners of magic from wizards and sorceresses to prophets and healers. With Jenssen and Oba he expands this view and adds yet another layer to his world. There are it seems people beyond the power of magic, invincible in a way but also vulnerable to manipulation by the forces around them.
I have to admit that initially I was a bit impatient to follow on the story from book six and find out what would happen to Richard and Kahlan after their confrontation with the empire's forces in the Old World. In this respect the flow of the story does stall has we approach the war from a totally different perspective. However Jenssen and Oba are both such intriguing characters and their back story explains so much of what occurred in a time even before the very first instalment is set that I became totally enthralled with this new slant on the story. Jenssen especially is a fascinating character and her journey of discovery as she becomes aware of her role in the momentous events around her and her power to influence them is expertly told. The pace of the story is excellent as we follow the main characters as breakneck speed as they try to evade capture and travel through many lands to achieve their destiny.
As usual Goodkind doesn't spare our blushed or our sensibilities. We come across some fairly explicit sexual content and some disturbing visceral and some would say gratuitous violence. In the past some of the brutal sometimes sexual violence shown towards the female characters in the story has led to accusation that Goodkind stories have a misogynistic slant. I'm not sure I would agree but in any event in this book the violence shows no gender bias. Goodkind also treats us to some gripping action set pieces none more so as the storming of the Confessor's Palace by the emperor's forces where powerful magic and cold steel clash in an epic confrontation.
As usual Goodkind cloaks his characters in shades of light and dark always leaving the doubt that people might not be what they seem to be. Can anyone be truly trusted in a world where magical illusion and political treachery is rife, where even the gift of prophecy cannot be relied on to foresee the truth to come? The themes underlying this book is the same as in previous books, the need to search for purpose and freedom in one's life, the belief in the ability of every person to take charge of their own destiny and the idea that truth will always win over deceit and evil in the end.
Towards the end of the book the story gets back 'on track' but we are still left with many unresolved questions that no doubt will be answered in the next instalments.
Overall 'The Pillars of Creation' is a welcomed addition to the 'Sword of Truth' series. In common with many of the other books it is extremely dark at times often brutal and can be relied upon to keep the reader on his or her toes and not for the squeamish. Be warned this is definitely an adult fantasy series.
One more note of caution which I feel I have to make in all my reviews of the books in series...if you have come across the 'Sword of Truth' stories from watching the TV adaptation 'Legend of the Seeker' (shown on SyFy channel in the UK) and thought what a waste of time it was...please, please try the books, they are infinitely better than the TV series. In fact apart from using some of the main characters the TV adaptation only very loosely follows the story and to be honest suffers from some shoddy production values. I suppose to adapt the old adage "Don't judge a book by its cover" I would say "Don't judge a book buy its TV adaptation!".
'The Pillars of Creation' the seventh instalment in the 'Sword of Truth' series is available form Amazon.co.uk for £5.34 (including p&p) at the time of writing this review.
Summary: Seventh instalment in the epic 'Sword of Truth' fantasy series