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Book Review: The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind

Updated on August 30, 2011

Richard and Kahlan - well Kahlan anyway...

This is a picture of the TV series Richard and Kahlan.  While I liked Craig Horner, he isn't what we all thought Richard should look like -  On the other hand, Kahlan was cast perfectly...
This is a picture of the TV series Richard and Kahlan. While I liked Craig Horner, he isn't what we all thought Richard should look like - On the other hand, Kahlan was cast perfectly...

Review: The Omen Machine

As a huge fan of the Sword of Truth novels and watcher of the Legend of the Seeker TV series, I'll review this as objectively as I can. There are some spoilers so please only read this if you don't mind seeing these before reading the book.

The Omen Machine - The Good:

Well it's about characters we know and love. Even if you've only watched the TV series, you'll instantly run into Richard, Kahlan, Cara and Zedd who you've seen extensively on the show. Richard the Seeker in the TV series is not readily identifiable as Richard, the Lord Rahl in the books, but you've been told (certainly by me) that this character was severely changed for the show.

It takes place right after Cara's wedding which is where we left them at the end of Confessor. So we haven't "missed" anything and Terry doesn't have to waste time explaining what they have all been doing.

No 20-page rants about Richard's belief system. I was expecting some explanation for the new readers who will pick this up after watching the show but there just isn't a whole lot of it (thankfully). In previous books, the explanations about Richard's beliefs, which are necessary, go on way too long. In this book, we get almost none of it.

A cool new bad guy is introduced, actually 3 of them. In relation to that, we are introduced to other magic-user types that we have not seen before so the creativity is still there.

The Omen Machine actually comes off rather well - it's a machine that's inundated with magic so it works.

The Bad: Be Forewarned - there is a bunch of it...

This book is very short (by Terry's standards at any rate) and the font is very large.

There are a large number of basic editing mistakes that make reading the book a bit more difficult. Not missing a comma type mistakes, wrong or misplaced word mistakes that actually make reading harder.

The story starts off painfully slow and doesn't really get moving for about 150 pages or so.

Every character seems to have become much dumber since we last saw them. Some of the events we see as readers we would have easily put together as characters long before they do in the story. Zedd and Nathan in particular seem immensely moronic at times. They never were before.

The timing of events really doesn't work. This event - Cara's Wedding - happens within a few days of defeating the Imperial Order in Confessor. The premise of this story however, makes it sound like the general populace has been discussing prophecy for months in peacetime (since they apparently have nothing better to do). It just doesn't work. Three days ago they were fighting for their lives and now they are all worried about prophecy?

All of the rulers of the various Midlands/D'Haran Empire are collected here and they act like a bunch of two-year olds. They also very quickly forget how much trust they have put in Richard who just WON the war, by the way. The reactions of these people just doesn't make sense - even if they are being manipulated (which they are), it still doesn't make sense.

Much of the story is based on prophecy, but Richard is the balance to prophecy as he represents free will. These rulers seem to have forgotten who and what Richard is, even though they were all absolutely terrified of him at the beginning. Someone makes the astonishing declaration that Richard is named in prophecy!!! Well duh... Don't they know that already? They may not know that he's named the "bringer of death" but lets face it, even if that was news to people, should they really be surprised?? He just eliminated half the population of their world - what the hell else would he be??

A major flaw in the story by Terry is that a character who obviously is magical in nature, Richard doesn't spot immediately. We already know that Richard can sense other magic-users, even if they aren't wizards (like the brothers of the Fellowship). This is a major mistake (there may be some explanation but we don't have one now).

The villain controls a Mord-Sith. I have to admit, this is an interesting twist but according to everything we know, this just should not happen. The Mord Sith don't even exist without the Lord Rahl - there really is no justification for turning one against him, not one we know of anyway. Even if they were mad at him, they still fiercely protect him. I find myself torn on whether I like this as a good twist or a bad lack of character focus on Terry's part, but I lean towards "bad" just because it doesn't fit with the previous storylines.

The ending just drops off a cliff. It isn't even a typical cliff-hanger. We get an extremely fast resolution as we hit the last few pages of the story, which continues into the next book, and then we are just done. It's weird.

The Conclusion

As a fan of the whole thing (books and TV series) I waited with bated breath for this continuation and I find myself disappointed. I expect much better from Terry. The characters he created are still awesome, but Terry just doesn't use them as well as he normally does. He's added some very cool things here: the machine is very cool, Hannis Arc seems like another well conceived villain, Jit the Hedge Maid seemed like an interesting villain until it took Richard four and a half seconds to dispose of her, learning more about D'Hara (we really don't know much about the place) was also a new twist. No Midlands, no Old World, no problem for me - I like the Dark Lands and Kharga Trace..

All that aside, the odd behavior of the people questioning Richard within days of his triumph, the dumbing-down of the characters, the poor editing, short length of the book and the poorly contrived ending just don't sit well with me. I'll give it 2 and a half stars. One star for returning to Richard and Kahlan. Half star for completely limiting the philosphical speeches, half star for the cool Omen Machine, Half star for the cool new villains. Unfortunately, this book feels like a quickly thrown together, half-completed story that is presented to the paying public and they know we'll buy it since it's Richard and Kahlan but it just wasn't put together all that well.

That being said, I'll certainly buy the next book...


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    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 4 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      UPDATE: Terry's new book The Third Kingdom is due out August 20, 2013.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      OK, I finished Magda Searus a few weeks back and have posted a review of it. It turned out better than expected, and certainly puts this effort to shame. I would still like to find information on the next book in the series but I haven't seen anything yet.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Actually, I'd like to reassess my last comment. I'm STILL reading Magda Searus because I simply can't move through it all that well. I'm at the 40% level now (according to my Kindle Fire) and all I want to do is jump off the ramparts after Barracus....

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Yeah this wasn't Terry's best work, I think we all agree on that. I'm currently reading Magda Searus and I'm not sure on that either - though it reads better than this book did.

    • profile image

      frostbyte 5 years ago

      I read the book and was disappointed as well I liked the new characters but I agree with the assessment that most of the characters were dumbed down too much however I speculated that it was due to some form of judgement influencing magic that Hannis Arch used but the one thing that I could not stand the most about the book was the repetitively looped speeches by characters and the way they rediscribed locations every time a new character entered an area to such detail and so similarly to the first description that you feel as though Terry goodkind was simply trying to fill space to reach the minimal page requirement for his editors. I sincerely hope that he puts more effort into the next book as well as a better ending.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      They definitely did not do the books justice - I think we all agree on that. It wasn't awful, it just wasn't what the book-reading audience wanted to see. I've said it in other hubs, Richard the Seeker in the TV series is an awfully vanilla and plain hero. Richard the Seeker, bringer of death, war wizard and Lord Rahl is an infinitely stronger, richer, and hence better character all around.

    • niamton profile image

      niamton 5 years ago from South Florida

      It was funny you mentioned Richard's tendency to drone on about his beliefs in every book of the series. I would have conversations with my wife about it with every book. It would start off with me putting to book down with a huff, my wife would ask what's wrong, to which I would reply "we get it already... get on with the story!!". Anyway, I did enjoy the books, but wasn't too happy with the tv series. I think they lightened it up for a mainstream audience, and basically turned a rich and character driven story into the equivalent of the fantasy A-Team.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 5 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      It isn't one of Terry's best but it's still interesting and the you probably love the characters like the rest of us. I think you'd read it and think "OK, what's next - where's the rest??" It wasn't awful, just not what we expect from Terry. I'm still waiting for information about the next book...

    • Zane Stockbridge profile image

      Zane Stockbridge 5 years ago from Colorado

      I read the entire Sword of Truth series and thought that the TV Show was a real disappointment. I did not follow it beyond the three first episodes but by then I already saw that yes, Kahlan's actress was perfect, the portrayal of Richard was fairly accurate, but Zed was the real let down. The books definitely had its ups and downs, Soul of Fire being the lowest point, but it was all well written. I might read Omen Machine even though there is a consensus that it does not have the same quality as before.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      I have to agree - I think this was a hastily thrown together money grab. They know we'll buy it. However, I am obviously not thrilled with this particular entrant into the adventures of Richard and Kahlan. There were many good things here surrounded by a great many very bad things. No word on the next book yet either which is disturbing....

    • profile image

      Reeny 6 years ago

      This was a great review you summed up the bad parts pretty well. I am a fan of the whole series and have read them all but this is the first book that I found the author repeating himself over and over again the same things just repeated four or five times. Seemed like he just wanted to sell a book with some really good parts filled in with repetitive wording.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      The character of Shota always bothered me. In the books, she is portrayed as absolutely frightening. In the show she comes off as rather lame. While we know she can change her appearance at will, I always pictured her as Ursula from the Little Mermaid movie. What do you guys think....

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      In response to an earlier comment - Bridget Regan who was cast as Kahlan was a perfect caasting chocie. Craig Horner was not, though he grew on me. Cara was cast very well, Zedd was too. Jennsen looked different from the image in my head but I definitely have a crush on Brooke Williams now... Adie was cast well, Richard's mom wasn't supposed to exist, nor any of the other Confessors and Darken Rahl was cast in the TV storyline character which was done well. Craig Parker made a very good "bad guy". That being said, if they had followed the book version of Darken Rahl, he should have been 25 years older.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Offline, I have been asked about the rule I mentioned above - One Series per Author. Please understand that I based this on my own experience and my own failure to separate from one set of characters for another.

      Besides this series, my favorite books are by David and Leigh Eddings and incluce the 5 books of the Belgariad series, 5 books of the Mallorean series and the 2 books that come between them, Polgara the Sorceress and Belgarath the Sorcerer. All 12 of these books deal with one set of characters, one world and are written in the same style. I tried to move onto a different series from Eddings and I couldn't get started - I kept expecting the characters to act like the characters in his other books.

      This has happened with other authors as well.

      Instead of trying to resolve that issue, I simply choose to limit myself to one series per author. YES, it means I miss out on some really good stuff. I read Jack Chalker's River of Dancing Gods series and then was told that his Wellworld books were so much better. My loss I suppose. There's no shortage of fantasy novels and writers to choose from so I won't run out of things to read and review.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      Well certainly some of the books were better than others - Temple of the Winds is my favorite after Wizards First Rule. I didn't even pick up Law of Nines, choosing to stay with one series from any author (good or bad - this is a general rule of mine). The TV series was fine for what it was. It wasn't a great adaptation of Wizards First Rule but I didn't really expect it to be.

    • profile image

      Mario 6 years ago

      I read the entire sword of truth series, I loved wizard's first rule, stone of tears and faith of the fallen. I thought Blood of the fold and debt of bone were pretty good and I'll give Confessor and phantoms an honorable mention. But Pillars of Creation and soul of fire and The rest of the books let's just say I don't look on them in a great light.

      Also Law of Nines I don't believe had an original thought in it. So I'm going to sit this one out. Not because I don't want to read it but because I love the characters so much. The characters and books intelligence is what I loved about it so much.

      Also the T.V. Show wasn't that good but it did have some shining moments and I did love the actress that played Kahlan.

    • Nature by Dawn profile image

      Dawn Ross 6 years ago

      I agree 100% on your review. I loved the Sword of Truth series and found The Omen Machine novel greatly lacking. But I have to admit that this disappointment will not stop me from buying the sequel to The Omen Machine. Perhaps this time, though, I will wait for it on paperback.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      I certainly hope so. It just seemed that this book was thrown together as a money-maker since they know fans will buy it but it was short, badly edited (for basic language arts and story editing), and very choppy.

    • cjcarter profile image

      cjcarter 6 years ago

      Good review! While I was reading it on my iphone, I thought it was shorter than the others! Glad I'm not crazy. Hopefully the story will deepen with his following novels.

    • dblyn profile image

      dblyn 6 years ago from Staten Island, NY

      I'll buy it based on the fact that this book wasn't bad - it just wasn't as good as Terry's previous work and I love these characters. By all means read the rest of the book and then come back to see if you agree or disagree with what I posted.

    • profile image

      Clew 6 years ago

      "This is a picture of the TV series Richard and Kahlan. While I liked Craig Horner, he isn't what we all thought Richard should look like - On the other hand, Kahlan was cast perfectly..." - I surely agree with your comment above about the chosen actors. Craig Horner is likeable but, not the Richard we expected. Since I've only read my 1st 100 pages, I've skipped reading your review above accept that you would "certainly buy the next book". Thanks for that, that's all I needed.


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