Book Review: Magda Searus by Terry Goodkind
The Mother Confessor's Dress
Not a Bad Read At All
OK, I have finally finished Magda Searus: The First Confessor. I have to say that my original thoughts (captured in a previous hub) were pretty much spot on. This book was written far better than The Omen Machine so at least in that sense, Terry took a step forward.
This story outlines the beginnings of the Confessors and fills in some blanks around the Sword of Truth, The Boxes of Orden, the Book of Counted Shadows, Magda Searus, Barracus, Merritt, Lothain, Alric Rahl and the Temple of the Winds. Were it to have been written during the original Sword of Truth cycle as a prequel to the series, this would have been far more relevant than it is right now. The story of Magda Searus is not a bad one and to be perfectly honest, there are some very imaginative ideas presented in this story. There is some political intrigue and a great many explanations about events and items we, as readers, already know about which gets a little twisted for my taste.
It comes down to this question, “Is this book really necessary?”, and the answer is a resounding NO. The story that references this material most is Temple of the Winds with Confessor also referencing some of this material as well. Since those stories are long since over, we really don’t need to read this book. Now, if you have nothing else to read, are a Sword of Truth fan, and have an ebook reader, this was an interesting addition to the story of Richard and Kahlan. For the price, this was a good buy.
That being said, there are some problems here. The Emperor’s plan is so convoluted, it’s hard to figure out what he’s trying to do and how it could possibly work. I don’t want to spoil that for people who may want to go read the book but it involves the dead and the undead/half-dead. In order to fit things together, some things are explained too much, by too many people. Other things we know about aren’t explained at all. Why is the Book of Counted Shadows actually called that? We, as readers, know that each box gives off a different shadow – we read that in Wizard’s First Rule. However, when they come up with the name, it seems very arbitrary since the people talking about the book don’t know all that much about the Boxes of Orden and certainly don’t know about the different shadows. That just doesn’t work for me. They just happened to call it something that’s relevant? Weird…
Barracus, from the underworld, gives a full explanation about why he kills himself and about the events that happened before he gets into the Temple of the Winds. This cleared up a bit of confusion for me as earlier in the book, I didn’t get the sense that Lothain had even been sent, even though we know what he did. It was weird reading about these events and already knowing what was coming as well. We’ve known a lot of this history for a while now. In any event, Barracus’ explanation should be very touching but doesn’t really come off that way for me and his excuse for killing himself is fairly lame.
Terry also added a layer of mass confusion here. Magda is a “Seeker of Truth” in much the way Richard is. This lends her to become a Confessor who is also a seeker of truth. So, in a sense, Magda is the first Seeker as well. She uses the sword first and uses it extraordinarily well even though she has little training with swords. It’s very confusing then where or who controls the power of the sword. From the Sword of Truth novels we know that Richard gets his rage from his Rahl ancestry which helps fuel his power with the Sword of Truth. With Magda, it’s the sword providing the rage and she adds her own to the power of the sword. Again, this gets confusing. Not only that, while we are exploring the origins of the first Confessor and the Sword of Truth, there is no mention of the first Seeker (beyond my explanation of Magda being the first Seeker). They don’t go far enough after naming Magda as the first Confessor to include the position of Seeker or explain its origins. I certainly hope that is not a forthcoming book…
Then we have a new term for a magical aspect called a “Maker”. War Wizards are “Makers”, they can use magic to make things nobody else would even think of, they are the innovators of magic in a sense since they use it to do different things. Barracus is a Maker, he creates all sorts of artistic stuff, Merritt is also a Maker, but does not come across as a War Wizard, again confusing. In this sense, we could guess that Richard is also a Maker since we’ve already seen that Richard can make things of beauty in Faith of the Fallen and the wooden carving of Kahlan’s spirit he’s created a number of times. He’s also created new forms of magic in other books as well.
May this come up again in the Omen Machine storylines? Maybe. Terry also slips into this story the idea that many undead/half-dead are likely trapped in the Dark Lands of D’Hara. The Dark Lands were mentioned in the Omen Machine. Could this also turn up in the Omen Machine story arc – I bet it does. All in all, this was not a bad entry into Terry’s universe. It absolutely isn’t necessary but not a bad read at all.