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Book Review: The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind
The Softcover Edition
Not Bad, But.....
I soooooo wanted to enjoy this book, I really did.
I know it’s, late, very late actually, to be writing a review for a book that came out a year and a half ago. I also know the next book comes out in a month so I will not have long to wait for the next part of the story.
That said, I was seriously annoyed with this book.
Its’ NOT Bad, But….
Just like The Omen Machine, this book has problems. Somewhere in the timeframe between Confessor and The Omen Machine, either Terry or his editor, or both got very lazy. Terry’s books are usually very long. There is a lot of set-up to cover near the beginning of each book, a great deal of background and explanations to cover through the middle of each book, and a resolution that takes up the last section of each book. If you were to break up his books starting with Wizards First Rule, you could use a pie chart, cut it into five pieces and assume the first two were for set-up, the second two were for background and explanations and the last section was for the resolution of the story.
With The Omen machine and now The Third Kingdom, you need to split that pie into ten pieces and use the first 9 for set-up, background and explanations and that last piece for a resolution, a very fast resolution. In the Omen machine, the resolution was that Richard killed Jit, the Hedge Maid, with one action. In this book, once he’s free and unleashed on the Shun-Tuk, he wipes them all out in about two pages of furious battle. The story composition has changed and actually now mirrors how television shows are done. I’m sure that’s a coincidence but I really don’t like it at all.
Another problem is that Terry repeats himself over and over again. Saying the same thing in three different ways is awful. Terry has a huge fan-base of intelligent readers, we can see when he's being stupid. AND THAT HAPPENS! Writers write and sometimes they get lost in the writing and don’t realize they’ve said the same thing twice (or three times). That’s what the editor is for, they should correct that. The editor is another set of eyes not only making sure what you write makes sense, but that the writing itself makes sense. In this case, Richard makes a comment to Sammie, she eventually repeats it back to Richard, and then Richard repeats it back for confirmation. We don’t need that and honestly, the characters are too intelligent to talk that way.
“I need you to run that way and stay safe.”
“So I should run this way to stay safe?”
“Yes, you should run that way to stay safe.”
Seriously, I just made that up and it looks stupid on the page as I’m writing it. He should say it once, she should say ok and that’s it. Just lazy work there and I blame the editor.
Sammie and Stroyza
We are introduced to Samantha who I like. Terry created a well-rounded character here. I like the village of Stroyza and its purpose in the wilderness though other issues arise as I think more into this. Clearly the Half-people storyline is a continuation from Terry’s e-book Magda Searus: The First Confessor. You don’t need to read that to understand what half-people are but it doesn’t hurt. They aren’t mentioned in the Omen Machine. When I reviewed Magda Searus I mentioned at the time that I didn’t like the tie-in the way that was done. If you have the time and inclination, Magda Searus was a good book and if you’re a fan, you should go read it, IF YOU CAN. It’s only available as an e-book.
That said, Stroyza was placed here to keep watch on the North Wall and alert the Wizards Keep when the barrier fell. OK, sounds great, how? How were they supposed to do that? Just send somebody on horseback? There is a mountain range between D’Hara and Midlands. How was someone in Stroyza supposed to alert the Wizards Keep in Aydindril before being overrun by half-people. In the book, it is pointed out that these people are not warriors – so they were essentially left to die? There are no protections for these very important guardians of the barrier? Makes almost no sense whatsoever.
Kahlan as She Should Be
What Happened to Kahlan??
Kahlan, oh Kahlan, what have they done to you? You are one of the two most powerful people in the world and you are now little more than a damsel in distress.
I HATE IT.
She’s a warrior, she’s a fighter and in the earlier books she kicks some serious ass. In the Omen Machine she’s pointless and in The Third Kingdom she’s virtually non-existent. She wakes up and two thirds of the book has gone by. She wakes up in time to be taken prisoner and do nothing in this story. Nothing at all. It’s spooky.
As book-reading fans, you may have hated the television series, but they portrayed Kahlan exceptionally well (Bridget Regan was perfectly cast). That’s the way Kahlan should be, fighting next to Richard, that’s what we fell in love with. Their love for each other is complimented by how fiercely they fight for each other. Not now. Now Kahlan is a fragile flower who Richard has to constantly save and it sucks.
Issues with the Writing
This story also drones on and on in exposition. Richard is hurt at the beginning of the book, he's saved and taken to Stroyza where he has to learn/figure out what's going on. There happens to be messages inscribed in the walls by Magda Searus, Merritt and Naja Moon explaining everything. It takes 350 pages to get Richard and Samantha moving. Then it takes forever for them to get to the wall, and a lot of time is spent explaining the rocky terrain they have to move through. The softcover is 570 pages and most of it is background and explanation. It's also somewhat boring at times.
We get it but seriously, do you need to describe and explain every rocky spire they walk around. We're fantasy fans, we've all seen Ralph Bakshi's animated "Return of the King" movie. We know what a rocky wasteland looks like.
(If you haven't seen the Ralph Bakshi animated movies, you should. They aren't bad for what they were, being done in the 70's and early 80's)
One last point: How in the world did Richard and his company catch up to the Shun-Tuk to save Kahlan from certain death. Sorry, but there is no way they could have gotten there in time without being attacked along the way. They had to go back to Stroyza first, then cut across to the Bishops tower. How did they not cross paths with the huge force going south? I'll leave that impossible geometry to some math students out there.
We Will See Her Again
Final Review: 3 Stars out of 5
So, I waited for the softcover, as someone suggested in the comments of my Omen Machine review. I was expecting a better book than the Omen Machine and I'm not sure we got one but there were a lot of good elements of fantasy here, surrounded by a lot of boring exposition. I think the next book should be better. I'm hoping we get a lot more action in that instead of a lot of explanations. We've been reading for 14 books at this point, I think the assumption we have some brains should be made clear by now.
If you've already read the book, then you can also look forward to the return of Cara (shown as she was portrayed on the show which I also think they got right). She left with good reason, but I bet she returns with one as well.
If you're a fan, read this book and expect to be a little bored. The resolution comes too fast but it works out better than expected. The next book is out in August.