Saturday, May 18, 2013

Omen Machine, Terry Goodkind

I've been trying to figure out what to say about this book. As I thought, and struggled, I realized the only way to explain how and why I was disappointed in this book was to explain why I enjoyed the old series so much.

So, Goodkind wrote the Sword of Truth series, the last of which came out in 2003. The series follows Richard and Kahlan, and assorted other characters, as they fight to save the world. It's kind of an interpretation of the King Arthur legend.

As I've said before, characters can make or break a plot, and these made it. Richard is kind hearted, smart, curious, and...almost guileless  That's not to say he was some fool, he can deceive when necessary, he just prefers honesty. It fits his role as the Seeker of Truth and the weapon that goes with that role, the Sword of Truth. Kahlan is similar: smart, powerful (no really, not only does she rule, but she has a wicked magic power), and definitely kind hearted. While she definitely needs saving on occasion, the role of damsel in distress she plays in this book just doesn't suit her.

There are other characters that make the story fantastic. Zedd, Richard's grandfather, cranky old man, and mischievous wizard. Nicci, a bad guy, who turns good when she truly sees and understands Richard. Cara, Nathan...and so on.

And that's one of the downfalls of this book, I think. Goodkind seems to forget who they really are. This book starts one day after the finale in Confessor. Let me repeat: one. day. Now, the Confessor has a few of it's own issues. The ending feels a bit...forced. Some have called it a cop-out. I don't know if it's that, but it certainly seemed anticlimactic. But then, the next day, the characters are almost completely different. There is one scene where the old Kahlan seems apparent. A woman tries to kill her, a poor attempt, because she doesn't want Kahlan to suffer the horrible death the woman saw in a vision. She's already killed her children for the same reason. Kahlan uses her power and questions the woman. She is regal and powerful and cold. She knows who and what she is, and will use it when necessary; yet she mourns the children who needlessly died.

The plot has it's merits. Angry and misguided rulers, prophecy, a malevolent force out to rule the world, and a mysterious machine. If you ignore some of the missteps, the general plan of the story works. It's the details that hurt it. I've already talked about the character issues. It also feels slow. Scenes that should take one chapter, takes five. Richard in particular seems a bit slow. He finds he can talk to the machine, and waits about 100 pages to actually ask the machine questions. Seems very un-Richard like.

My other issue is with the purpose. Sword of Truth definitely ended. This book says "A Richard and Kahlan Novel" on the cover, indicating this is a new adventure. Yet, as I said, it's only one day later. It seems to be the start of a new series - the bad guy is definitely still lurking - but it starts with hardly a breath for the characters. Are we starting a new saga? Did Goodkind decide that Confessor wasn't really the end? Or maybe it never was and it was a misunderstanding with the readers? The blurb for Confessor calls it the "concluding novel," so I don't see how.

I will read the next book, The Third Kingdom, because I hope it will improve. As far as this book...well, if you're a fan, give it a shot. Hopefully, you'll disagree with me. If you're not a fan, then you should be starting with Wizard's First Rule anyway. I would recommend the original series, so have at it! As far as this one goes. Well, it's just a bit.....limp.

Omen Machine, Terry Goodkind

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