Trouble is afoot. Thanks to Richard’s lack of knowledge and a few things that he unwittingly botches up in the first novel, Darken Rahl returns. Richard discovers that in addition to being the Seeker of Truth, he is a wizard. Against his will he goes to the Palace of the Prophets, to be instructed in controlling his magic. In the process he is rendered powerless and without a sword. He also gets separated from Kahlan. Here the story branches out and introduces a few more threads. It talks about Sisters of the Light and Sisters of the Dark, an emperor belonging to the old world and the political turmoil in Kahlan’s realm. Richard assumes the mantle of Lord Rahl and in addition to sending Darken Rahl back to the underworld, he has to battle Sisters of the Dark. He also has to prevent the Keeper of the Underworld from being let loose on the world, by using the Stone of Tears to hold him back.
Another common theme in fantasy is highlighted in this novel – the protagonist’s understanding of magic is based on intuition rather than rigour. This continues throughout the series, where Richard performs stupendous feats of magic without being able to explain how.
In this third novel, Goodkind introduces Jagang, the Emperor of the Imperial Order, ruler of the Old World and a magical oddity called a Dream Walker. Jagang possesses a single magical ability – to capture a person’s mind. When he does so, he can bend people to his will and give them nightmares. The only defense against a Dream Walker is to pledge oneself to the Lord Rahl. Jagang and the Imperial Order are bent upon eradicating magic from the world. Ironically they use the help of magic to attain this goal. Jagang is demonstrated to be a brute, used to a life of hedonism, while using the Imperial Order to preach that all men are equal and that none is higher than the Order.
The novel begins with Jagang capturing six Sisters of the Dark and asking them to destroy Richard. The A plot of the novel, though, is a cult called Blood of the Fold. Led by a person called Tobias Brogan, this group’s sole objective is to persecute gifted people. Richard, in addition to the Sisters and Tobias Brogan has to battle the Mriswith queen a magical creature used as a weapon in an ancient era. From this novel onwards Goodkind starts a trend of making Jagang the primary villain, but leaves him with the B plot.
I am not sure if this was intended, but Jagang does remind me of Jabba the Hutt.
The fourth book in the series introduces two new characters – Richard’s half brother Drefan and his love interest prior to meeting Kahlan, Nadine. Jagang unleashes a plague on the world and the only way to stop it is one of supreme sacrifice. Richard has to go to the Temple of the Winds, which is partly in the Underworld and use the magic over there to prevent the plague from doing further damage. Here he meets an old foe – Darken Rahl, who demands a very high price for letting Richard return to the land of the living. Upon his return Kahlan has to invoke powerful magic to keep him from dying.
One facet of Jagang’s powers is displayed here. When he controls someone, that person’s power cannot be taken by the Mord-Sith.
I enjoyed this book for the most part, except the resolution of the conflict between Richard and Kahlan at the end, which seemed contorted.
The chimes are upon the world and magic is failing. This is impacting not just the gifted people, but the world of the living as a whole. Without the benefit of magic it has become imperative for Richard’s kingdom of D’Hara to forge new political alliances so as to match up in size with the army of the Imperial Order. To this end Richard and Kahlan try to convince the strategically located kingdom of Anderith to join forces with them rather than the Imperial Order. Anderith has a curious feature, a magical defence mechanism called Dominie Dirtch, which can raze massive armies to the ground in an instant. The sociopolitical theme highlighted in this novel is that people often don’t see freedom when presented to them.
While the A plot of this novel is obviously to stop the erosion of magic, the B plot highlights the burgeoning size of Jagang’s army and the dominance it exerts on the world.
I liked this book, which again highlighted the intuitive nature of Richard’s magic. It also showed how indoctrination of ideas often leads to a Stockholm syndrome-like behaviour in people. The Anderith people were centuries ago subjugated by the Haken, who introduced a lot of developmental programs for the Anderith. The Anderith used this to their advantage and managed to turn the tables on the Haken, subjugating them in return. Over the centuries the Haken have been forced to believe that they must atone for the evil they committed in conquering Anderith ages back. So they believe blindly in whatever the Anderith people say.