Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Book Review: Phantoms

My genre of choice is Fantasy and one of my favorite authors is Terry Goodkind. I just finished reading the much anticipated and long awaited Phantoms.

The Ugly: I would hope that I would not need to have an ugly category but in this case I must and hopefully I will not need it again. As I mentioned Goodkind is a favorite author of mine and when I found out that he was producing leather-bound, numbered, and signed copies of Phantoms I had to have one. You see Goodkind has been writing a series called The Sword of Truth for over a decade, I've anxiously waited for each book to come out, and Phantoms is the second to last book in the series. I figured that leather-bound commemorative copies of the final two books in the series would be awesome to have. However, as I was reading it I became disgusted and then finally as it hit me disappointed because this book is riddled with copy editing mistakes. These errors run the gamut from misusing a characters name, misspellings, and homonym errors. This is the ugly part of the book, and frankly I think it is becoming more and more prevalent, so if you often notice copy editing errors be prepared to notice one almost every chapter while reading this book.

The Bad: As I mentioned Phantoms is the second to last book in a series that has been going on for over ten years and has spanned 10 books so far, including Phantoms. Normally this wouldn't be a big issue where Goodkind is concerned as he made great efforts in each book to recap relevant points from previous books so that the book was a stand-alone book. This changed when Goodkind decided to conclude the series and realized that in order to wrap the story up he couldn't tell it in one book he was going to need to write a trilogy. This trilogy began in book 9, Chainfire, (I would review Chainfire but it has been over a year since I read it so all I would be able to say is read it, love it, read everything else by Goodkind.) so picking up Phantoms without having read Chainfire would leave you a bit confused in places.

Also Phantoms involves a massive fanatical army, millions of people, that is all about raping and pillaging those people and places that do not share their beliefs and Goodkind doesn't shy away from graphically writing what this army does to those people. While the bad of this is that it isn't pleasant reading, and I can't imagine it was pleasant writing, it does what it is supposed to do.

The Good: Goodkind writes compelling stories and he knows how to tie chapters together so that you don't want to put the book down. I have heard many people tell how they couldn't put one of his books down and they finished it in a couple of days. Phantoms holds well to this tradition as I often found myself reading multiple chapters when intending to read just one, I am a slow reader and I would probably starve if I attempted to read it all the way through.

Phantoms harkens back to the very first Sword of Truth book, Wizards First Rule, in numerous cases and things that you thought were facts or irrelevant details are brought into new light.

Phantoms continues the storyline begun in Chainfire where one of the main characters, Kahlan, is kidnapped and a spell is cast that removed her existence from the world. The spell wiped the memory of her from almost everyone’s mind, including her own, including where she was referenced in prophecy. We find out more about the spell as the other main characters research and work to reverse it. We learn more about Richard, Kahlan's husband, and we see his despair as he is finally reunited with Kahlan - while both of them are captives. Goodkind weaves joy and happiness with pain and sacrifice. His story illustrates a couple of different views in the value of life – Richard and Kahlan fight for everyone’s right to live and prosper in their life while their enemies believe that life is worthless and all about sacrifice for a better afterlife.

Recommended for: Anyone who has read another Terry Goodkind book (but you were going to anyway), people who have read a fantasy novel and enjoyed it, people who are willing to read anything good.

Not Recommended for: anyone who is dead.

AV rating: 4/5 (5/5 without the ugly). The bad wasn't bad for me as I have read and own the whole series but the ugly is a real disappointment and something I worry about becoming the standard in the industry. I have started a few people on reading Goodkind and they love his works, so go read one and enjoy (start with the first one and enjoy them all).


Blogger Sara J said...

You know this is totally not my genre, but from everything you tell me, Goodkind seems to be the best of the best (well, since Tolkien died).

6:13 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

I'm conflicted. On the one hand, it sounds interesting (and good) enough to read.

On the other hand, I just started the Song of Fire and Ice hoo-ha by George R.R. Martin, which means that by the time I'm done with that I'll be 46 years old and have forgotten about this entirely.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Scott J said...

Forget about George R.R. Martin he has nothing on Goodkind. I read the first Game of Thrones book (was that Song of Fire and Ice) and I didn't read any of the others because it frankly isn't that good. Don't get me wrong there is definetly worse out there but Goodkind's Sword of Truth series is certainly better.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

I agree with Scott that Terry Goodkind is the best of the best for this genre. I will read anything that is good and comes highly recommended, but I don't generally read Fantasy. I only read two Authors in the Fantasy Genre; Terry Goodkind and Guy Gavrielle Kay. The Sword of Truth Series is unflinching in it's portrayal of it's villains and heroes. The characters are strong and well developed. You will come to love them all. Some parts are so graphic that they may seep into your dreams but you still won't be able to put it down.

Scott, I'm curious to know what your review was for Confessor, the final book in the Series?

11:47 AM  

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