Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth Series #5)

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Overview

Richard Rahl has traveled far from his roots as a simple woods guide. Emperor of the D'Haran Empire, war wizard, the Seeker of Truth—none of these roles mean as much to him as his newest: husband to his beloved Kahlan Amnell, Mother Confessor of the Midlands.

But their wedding day is the key that unlocks a spell sealed away long ago in a faraway country. Now a deadly power pours forth that threatens to turn the world into a lifeless waste.

...

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Overview

Richard Rahl has traveled far from his roots as a simple woods guide. Emperor of the D'Haran Empire, war wizard, the Seeker of Truth—none of these roles mean as much to him as his newest: husband to his beloved Kahlan Amnell, Mother Confessor of the Midlands.

But their wedding day is the key that unlocks a spell sealed away long ago in a faraway country. Now a deadly power pours forth that threatens to turn the world into a lifeless waste.

Separated from the Sword of Truth and stripped of their magic, Richard and Kahlan must journey across the Midlands to discover a dark secret from the past and a trap that could tear them apart forever. For their fate has become inextricably entwined with that of the Midlands—and there's no place so dangerous as a world without magic...

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
April 1999

Good Times Are Here at Last

A highly readable, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable tale, Soul of the Fire -- the fifth novel in Terry Goodkind's famous high-fantasy Sword of Truth series -- brims with all the drama, enchantment, and exploits we've come to expect from the author. Along with Robert Jordan, Goodkind has established himself as one of the luminaries of the extended fantasy megaseries subgenre, turning out huge, action-packed, magic-filled tomes of sword and sorcery. Soul of the Fire is a sweeping high-fantasy adventure that is bound to enrapture Goodkind fans and garner him a good many new devotees. Here the reader is presented with a quest to protect not only family and honor but also the very nature of the magical world at large.

The Seeker of Truth -- Richard, Lord Rahl -- and his longtime love, Kahlan Amnell, a.k.a. the Mother Confessor, have finally married. In an effort to keep politics and extravaganza out of their wedding day, Richard and Kahlan decided not to be wed in any of the major cities of the realm, but instead among the sincere and simple Mud People. After a wedding night spent in the Mud People's Spirit House, Richard finally meets up with his crafty grandfather, Zedd the wizard. The curious Zedd now wishes to learn all about the adventures Richard has encountered since they last spoke face-to-face. However, before the day is over, one of the Mud People mysteriously dies, and the shaman of the tribe, known as the Bird Man, claims that oneof the chickens is in reality something far more.

At first no one believes the superstitious and backward Bird Man, but after the chicken continues to attack members of the tribe and eventually attempts to kill Kahlan, Richard realizes that an overwhelming evil is at work. The chicken is eventually exposed by Zedd as a "lurker," a being possibly sent by the dream walker, Jagang. In addition, all forms of magic are beginning to fail. This is perhaps due to a spell that Kahlan once cast, in an effort to save Richard's life, that involved speaking the names of the three powerful "chimes." In the wake of these new developments, Zedd sends Richard on an urgent mission back to Aydindril and the Wizard's Keep to retrieve the Sword of Truth. Rather than relying on the mystical sliph, a being capable of transporting anyone across the land in a matter of hours rather than days, Richard, Kahlan, and their bodyguard, Cara, must now cross the realm on foot. A plague has been unleashed upon the land, destroying magic wherever it touches. The chimes themselves are capable of stealing souls and are now being manipulated by an otherworldly creature of malice. Once again, the powerful Imperial Order is on the attack, and this time there may be no way to avoid a full-scale war.

Reminiscent of Larry Niven's thought-provoking novel The Magic Goes Away, this latest entry in the Sword of Truth series depicts a smoothly constructed, well-thought-out world based in sorcery that shows how the disruption of magic in even the smallest animals and insects will eventually doom the human population. Goodkind is wise to establish the plot within a self-contained story line so that new fans to the series won't be lost if they venture into later novels in the series first. Despite a huge cast and a vast store of history and previous escapades, this carefully unfolding novel will never lose the new reader. Goodkind should be praised for having such respect for his growing readership, and to that end the Sword of Truth books make up one of the most highly developed, engrossing epic fantasy series yet.

--Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including The Conspiracy Files. His two latest, an exciting mystery called Sorrow's Crown and a horror novel called Hexes, have just been released.

From the Publisher
"Goodkind's ingenious world building will keep readers captivated." —Publishers Weekly
Romantic Times
Mr. Goodkind has the extraordinary ability to imbue rousing fantasy adventure with a rare emotional depth, once again exploring the power of love an dofgiveness ina tour de force of mesmerizing storytelling.
Publishing News
Few writers have Goodkind's power of creation....The Sword of Truth sequence is a phenomenal piece of imaginative writing, exhaustive in its scope and riveting in its detail.
Library Journal
An act of desperation sets loose the three Chimes, otherworldly creatures with the power to destroy magic. While Richard Rahl, the Seeker of Truth, and his wife, Kahlan, the Mother Confessor, search for a way to recall the Chimes, the emperor Jagang continues his savage war against the lands of D'Hara. The fifth installment in the author's "Sword of Truth" series reveals further complications in an already complex story that shows no signs of coming to an end. Libraries that own the previous volumes in the series should add this title to their fantasy collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
San Diego Union-Tribune
Terry Goodkind once again demonstrates that fantasy writing works as a vehicle for exploring adult themes. While employing all of the action and magic typical of the genre, he incorporates a sense of realism.
Romantic Times
Mr. Goodkind has the extraordinary ability to imbue rousing fantasy adventure with a rare emotional depth, once again exploring the power of love an dofgiveness ina tour de force of mesmerizing storytelling.
Publishing News
Few writers have Goodkind's power of creation....The Sword of Truth sequence is a phenomenal piece of imaginative writing, exhaustive in its scope and riveting in its detail.
Tom Piccirilli
April 1999

Good Times Are Here at Last

A highly readable, engaging, and thoroughly enjoyable tale, Soul of the Fire -- the fifth novel in Terry Goodkind's famous high-fantasy Sword of Truth series -- brims with all the drama, enchantment, and exploits we've come to expect from the author. Along with Robert Jordan, Goodkind has established himself as one of the luminaries of the extended fantasy megaseries subgenre, turning out huge, action-packed, magic-filled tomes of sword and sorcery. Soul of the Fire is a sweeping high-fantasy adventure that is bound to enrapture Goodkind fans and garner him a good many new devotees. Here the reader is presented with a quest to protect not only family and honor but also the very nature of the magical world at large.

The Seeker of Truth -- Richard, Lord Rahl -- and his longtime love, Kahlan Amnell, a.k.a. the Mother Confessor, have finally married. In an effort to keep politics and extravaganza out of their wedding day, Richard and Kahlan decided not to be wed in any of the major cities of the realm, but instead among the sincere and simple Mud People. After a wedding night spent in the Mud People's Spirit House, Richard finally meets up with his crafty grandfather, Zedd the wizard. The curious Zedd now wishes to learn all about the adventures Richard has encountered since they last spoke face-to-face. However, before the day is over, one of the Mud People mysteriously dies, and the shaman of the tribe, known as the Bird Man, claims that one of the chickens is in reality something far more.

At first no one believes the superstitious and backward Bird Man, but after the chicken continues to attack members of the tribe and eventually attempts to kill Kahlan, Richard realizes that an overwhelming evil is at work. The chicken is eventually exposed by Zedd as a "lurker," a being possibly sent by the dream walker, Jagang. In addition, all forms of magic are beginning to fail. This is perhaps due to a spell that Kahlan once cast, in an effort to save Richard's life, that involved speaking the names of the three powerful "chimes." In the wake of these new developments, Zedd sends Richard on an urgent mission back to Aydindril and the Wizard's Keep to retrieve the Sword of Truth. Rather than relying on the mystical sliph, a being capable of transporting anyone across the land in a matter of hours rather than days, Richard, Kahlan, and their bodyguard, Cara, must now cross the realm on foot. A plague has been unleashed upon the land, destroying magic wherever it touches. The chimes themselves are capable of stealing souls and are now being manipulated by an otherworldly creature of malice. Once again, the powerful Imperial Order is on the attack, and this time there may be no way to avoid a full-scale war.

Reminiscent of Larry Niven's thought-provoking novel The Magic Goes Away, this latest entry in the Sword of Truth series depicts a smoothly constructed, well-thought-out world based in sorcery that shows how the disruption of magic in even the smallest animals and insects will eventually doom the human population. Goodkind is wise to establish the plot within a self-contained story line so that new fans to the series won't be lost if they venture into later novels in the series first. Despite a huge cast and a vast store of history and previous escapades, this carefully unfolding novel will never lose the new reader. Goodkind should be praised for having such respect for his growing readership, and to that end the Sword of Truth books make up one of the most highly developed, engrossing epic fantasy series yet.

--Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of the critically acclaimed supernatural novel Pentacle, as well as the dark suspense mysteries Shards and The Dead Past. His short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including The Conspiracy Files. His two latest, an exciting mystery called Sorrow's Crown and a horror novel called Hexes, have just been released.

Kirkus Reviews
Another entry in Goodkind's fantasy Sword of Truth series (Temple of the Winds, 1997, etc.) and a new adventure for Richard, Lord Rahl, the Seeker of Truth and wielder of the Sword of Truth, his wife Kahlen Amnell, the Mother Confessor, and grandfather Zedd the wizard. The D'Haran Empire faces new challenges: the mysterious "chimes" possess a magical power that can steal souls; and war with the powerful Imperial Order may be unavoidable. Richard will discover that the chimes are themselves slaves of an undead being who has created for himself an impenetrable otherworldly fortress. Goodkind demonstrates that it's perfectly possible — from the reader's point of view, highly desirable — to write a commendably self-contained, shapely yarn within a previously defined scenario while leaving scope for plenty of new discoveries and embellishments. . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312890544
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/13/1999
  • Series: Sword of Truth Series , #5
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 505,595
  • Product dimensions: 6.45 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Terry Goodkind

Terry Goodkind is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His books include the eleven-volume Sword of Truth series, beginning with Wizard’s First Rule, the basis for the television show Legend of the Seeker. Goodkind was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he also attended art school. Alongside a career in wildlife art, he has also been a cabinetmaker and a violin maker, and he has done restoration work on rare and exotic artifacts from around the world — each with its own story to tell, he says. While continuing to maintain the northeastern home he built with his own hands, in recent years he and his wife Jeri have created a second home in the desert Southwest, where he now spends the majority of his time.

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Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

I wonder what's bothering the chickens," Richard said.

    Kahlan nuzzled tighter against his shoulder. "Maybe your grandfather is pestering them now, too." When he didn't reply, she tilted her head back to squint up at him in the dim firelight. He was watching the door. "Or maybe they're grouchy because we kept them awake most of the night."

    Richard grinned and kissed her forehead. The brief squawking on the other side of the door had ceased. No doubt the village children, still reveling in the wedding celebration, had been chasing the chickens from a favorite roost on the squat wall outside the spirit house. She told him as much.

    Faint sounds of distant laughter, conversation, and singing drifted into their quiet sanctuary. The scent of the balsam sticks that were always burned in the spirit-house hearth mingled with the tang of sweat earned in passion, and the spicy-sweet aroma of roasted peppers and onions. Kahlan watched the firelight reflecting in his gray eyes a moment before lying back in his arms to sway gently to the sounds of the drums and the boldas.

    Paddles scraped up and down ridges carved on the hollow, bell-shaped boldas produced an eerie, haunting melody that seeped through the solitude of the spirit house on its way out onto the grasslands, welcoming spirit ancestors to the celebration.

    Richard stretched to the side and retrieved a round, flat piece of tava bread from the platter Zedd, his grandfather, had brought them. "It's still warm. Want some?"

    "Bored with your new wife sosoon, Lord Rahl?"

    Richard's contented laugh brought a smile to her lips. "We really are married, aren't we? It wasn't just a dream, was it?"

    Kahlan loved his laugh. So many times she had prayed to the good spirits that he would be able to laugh again—that they both would.

    "Just a dream come true," she murmured.

    She urged him from the tava bread for a long kiss. His breathing quickened as he clutched her in his powerful arms. She slid her hands across the sweat-slick muscles of his broad shoulders to run her fingers through the thick tangle of his hair as she moaned against his mouth.

    It had been here in the Mud People's spirit house, on a night that now seemed lifetimes ago, that she had first realized she was hopelessly in love with him, but had to keep her forbidden feelings secret. It was during that visit, after battle, struggle, and sacrifice, that they had been accepted into the community of these remote people. On another visit, it was here in the spirit house, after Richard accomplished the impossible and broke the spell of prohibition, that he had asked her to be his wife. And now they had at last spent their wedding night in the spirit house of the Mud People.

    Though it had been for love and love alone, their wedding was also a formal joining of the Midlands and D'Hara. Had they been wedded in any of the great cities of the Midlands, the event undoubtedly would have been a pageant of unparalleled splendor. Kahlan was experienced in pageantry. These guileless people understood their sincerity and simple reasons for wanting to be married. She preferred the joyous wedding they had celebrated among people bonded to them in their hearts, over one of cold pageant.

    Among the Mud People, who led hard lives on the plains of the wilds, such a celebration was a rare opportunity to gather in merriment, to feast, to dance, and to tell stories. Kahlan knew of no other instance of an outsider being accepted as Mud People, so such a wedding was unprecedented. She suspected it would become part of their lore, the story repeated in future gatherings by dancers dressed in elaborate grass-and-hide costumes, their faces painted with masks of black and white mud.

    "I do believe you're plying an innocent girl with your magic touch," she teased, breathlessly. She was beginning to forget how weak and weary her legs were.

    Richard rolled onto his back to catch his breath. "Do you suppose we ought to go out there and see what Zedd is up to?"

    Kahlan playfully smacked the back of her hand against his ribs. "Why Lord Rahl, I think you really are bored with your new wife. First the chickens, then tava bread, and now your grandfather."

    Richard was watching the door again. "I smell blood."

    Kahlan sat up. "Probably just some game brought back by a hunting party. If there really was trouble, Richard, we would know about it. We have people guarding us. In fact, we have the whole village watching over us. No one could get past the Mud People hunters unseen. There would at least be an alarm and everyone would know about it."

    She wasn't sure if he even heard her. He was stone still, his attention riveted on the door. When Kahlan's fingers glided up his arm and her hand rested lightly on his shoulder, his muscles finally slackened and he turned to her.

    "You're right." His smile was apologetic. "I guess I can't seem to let myself relax."

    Nearly her whole life, Kahlan had trod the halls of power and authority. From a young age she had been disciplined in responsibility and obligation, and schooled in the threats that always shadowed her. She was well steeled to it all by the time she had been called upon to lead the alliance of the Midlands.

    Richard had grown up very differently, and had gone on to fulfill his passion for his forested homeland by becoming a woods guide. Turmoil, trial, and destiny had thrust him into a new life as leader of the D'Haran Empire. Vigilance was his valuable ally and difficult to dismiss.

    She saw his hand idly skim over his clothes. He was looking for his sword. He'd had to travel to the Mud People's village without it.

    Countless times, she had seen him absently and without conscious thought reassure himself that it was at hand. It had been his companion for months, through a crucible of change—both his, and the world's. It was his protector, and he, in turn, was the protector of that singular sword and the post it represented.

    In a way, the Sword of Truth was but a talisman. It was the hand wielding the sword that was the power; as the Seeker of Truth, he was the true weapon. In some ways, it was only a symbol of his post, much as the distinctive white dress was a symbol of hers.

    Kahlan leaned forward and kissed him. His arms returned to her. She playfully pulled him back down on top of her.

    "So, how does it feel being married to the Mother Confessor herself?"

    He slipped onto an elbow beside her and gazed down into her eyes. "Wonderful," he murmured. "Wonderful and inspiring. And tiring." With a gentle finger he traced the line of her jaw. "And how does it feel being married to the Lord Rahl?"

    A throaty laugh burbled up. "Sticky."

    Richard chuckled and stuffed a piece of tava bread in her mouth. He sat up and set the brimming wooden platter down between them. Tava bread, made from tava roots, was a staple of the Mud People. Served with nearly every meal, it was eaten by itself, wrapped around other foods, and used as a scoop for porridge and stews. Dried into biscuits, it was carried on long hunts.

    Kahlan yawned as she stretched, feeling relieved that he was no longer preoccupied by what was beyond the door. She kissed his cheek at seeing him once again at ease.

    Under a layer of warm tava bread he found roasted peppers, onions, mushroom caps as broad as her hand, turnips, and boiled greens. There were even several rice cakes. Richard took a bite out of a turnip before rolling some of the greens, a mushroom, and a pepper in a piece of tava bread and handing it to her.

    In a reflective tone, he said, "I wish we could stay in here forever."

    Kahlan pulled the blanket over her lap. She knew what he meant. Outside, the world awaited them.

    "Well ..." she said, batting her eyelashes at him, "just because Zedd came and told us the elders want their spirit house back, that doesn't mean we have to surrender it until we're good and ready."

    Richard took in her frolicsome offer with a mannered smile. "Zedd was just using the elders as an excuse. He wants me."

    She bit into the roll he had given her as she watched him absently break a rice cake in half, his thoughts seeming to drift from what he was doing.

    "He hasn't seen you for months." With a finger, she wiped away juice as it rolled down her chin. "He's eager to hear all you've been through, and about the things you've learned." He nodded absently as she sucked the juice from her finger. "He loves you, Richard. There are things he needs to teach you."

    "That old man has been teaching me since I was born." He smiled distantly. "I love him, too."

    Richard enfolded mushrooms, greens, pepper and onion in tava bread and took a big bite. Kahlan pulled strands of limp greens from her roll and nibbled them as she listened to the slow crackle of the fire and the distant music.

    When he finished, Richard rooted under the stack of tava bread and came up with a dried plum. "All that time, and I never knew he was more than my beloved friend; I never suspected he was my grandfather, and more than a simple man."

    He bit off half the plum and offered her the other half.

    "He was protecting you, Richard. Being your friend was the most important thing for you to know." She took the proffered plum and popped it in her mouth. She studied his handsome features as she chewed.

    With her fingertips, she turned his face to look up at her. She understood his larger concerns. "Zedd is back with us, now, Richard. He'll help us. His counsel will be a comfort as well as an aid."

    "You're right. Who better to counsel us than the likes of Zedd?" Richard pulled his clothes close. "And he is no doubt impatient to hear everything."

    As Richard drew his black pants on, Kahlan put a rice cake between her teeth and held it there as she tugged things from her pack. She halted and took the rice cake from her mouth.

    "We've been separated from Zedd for months—you longer than I. Zedd and Ann will want to hear it all. We'll have to tell it a dozen times before they're satisfied.

    "I'd really like to have a bath first. There are some warm springs not too far away."

    Richard halted at buttoning his black shirt. "What was it that Zedd and Ann were in such a fret about, last night, before the wedding?"

    "Last night?" She pulled her folded shirt from her pack and shook it out. "Something about the chimes. I told them I spoke the three chimes. But Zedd said they would take care of it, whatever it was."

    Kahlan didn't like to think about that. It gave her gooseflesh to remember her fear and panic. It made her ache with a sick, weak feeling to contemplate what would have happened had she delayed even another moment in speaking those three words. Had she delayed, Richard would now be dead. She banished the memory.

    "That's what I thought I remembered." Richard smiled as he winked. "Looking at you in your blue wedding dress ... well, I do remember having more important things on my mind at the time.

    "The three chimes are supposed to be a simple matter. I guess he did say as much. Zedd, of all people, shouldn't have any trouble with that sort of thing."

    "So, how about the bath?"

    "What?" He was staring at the door again.

    "Bath. Can we go to the springs and have a warm bath before we have to sit down with Zedd and Ann and start telling them long stories?"

    He pulled his black tunic over his head. The broad gold band around its squared edges caught the firelight. He gave her a sidelong glance. "Will you wash my back?"

    She watched his smile as he buckled on his wide leather over-belt with its gold-worked pouches to each side. Among other things, they held possessions both extraordinary and dangerous.

    "Lord Rahl, I will wash anything you want."

    He laughed as he put on his leather-padded silver wristbands. The ancient symbols worked onto them reflected with points of reddish firelight. "Sounds like my new wife may turn an ordinary bath into an event."

    Kahlan tossed her cloak around her shoulders and then pulled the tangle of her long hair out from under the collar. "After we tell Zedd, we'll be on our way." She playfully poked his ribs with a finger. "Then you'll find out."

    Giggling, he caught her finger to stop her from tickling him. "If you want a bath, we'd better not tell Zedd. He'll start in on us with just one question, then just one more, and then another." His cloak glimmered golden in the firelight as he fastened it at his throat. "Before you know it, the day will be done and he'll still be asking questions. How far are these warm springs?"

    Kahlan gestured to the south. "An hour's walk. Maybe a bit more." She stuffed some tava bread, a brush, a cake of fragrant herb soap, and a few other small items into a leather satchel. "But if, as you say, Zedd wants to see us, don't you suppose he'll be nettled if we go off without telling him?"

    Richard grunted a cynical laugh. "If you want a bath, it's best to apologize later for not telling him first. It isn't that far. We'll be back before he really misses us, anyway."

    Kahlan caught his arm. She turned serious. "Richard, I know you're eager to see Zedd. We can go bathe later, if you're impatient to see him. I wouldn't really mind.... Mostly I just wanted to be alone with you a little longer."

    He hugged her shoulders. "We'll see him when we get back in a few hours. He can wait. I'd rather be alone with you, too."

    As he nudged open the door, Kahlan saw him once again absently reach to touch the sword that wasn't there. His cloak was a golden blaze as the sunlight fell across it. Stepping behind him into the cold morning light, Kahlan had to squint. Savory aromas of foods being prepared on village cook fires filled her lungs.

    Richard leaned to the side, looking behind the short wall.

    His raptorlike gaze briefly swept the sky. His scrutiny of the narrow passageways among the jumble of drab, square buildings all around was more meticulous.

    The buildings on this side of the village, such as the spirit house, were used for various communal purposes. Some were used only by the elders as sanctuaries of sorts. Some were used by hunters in rites before a long hunt. No man ever crossed the threshold of the women's buildings.

    Here, too, the dead were prepared for their funeral ceremony. The Mud People buried their dead.

    Using wood for funeral pyres was impractical; wood of any quantity was distant, and therefore precious. Wood for cook fires was supplemented with dried dung but more often with billets of tightly wound dried grass. Bonfires, such as the ones the night before at their wedding ceremony, were a rare and wondrous treat.

    With no one living in any of the surrounding buildings, this part of the village had an empty, otherworldly feel to it. The drums and boldas added their preternatural influence to the mood among the deep shadows. The drifting voices made the empty streets seem haunted. Bold slashes of sunlight slanting in rendered the deep shade beyond nearly impenetrable.

    Still studying those shadows, Richard gestured behind. Kahlan glanced over the wall.

    In the midst of scattered feathers fluttering in the cold breeze lay the bloody carcass of a chicken.


Chapter Two

Kahlan had been wrong. It hadn't been children bothering the chickens.

    "Hawk?" she asked.

    Richard checked the sky again. "Possibly. Maybe a weasel or a fox. Whatever it was, it was frightened off before it could devour its meal."

    "Well, that should put your mind at ease. It was just some animal after a chicken."

    Cara, in her skintight, red leather outfit, had immediately spotted them and was already striding their way. Her Agiel, appearing to be no more than a thin, bloodred leather rod at most a foot in length, dangled from her wrist on a fine chain. The gruesome weapon was never more than a flick of her wrist away from Cara's grasp.

    Kahlan could read the relief in Cara's blue eyes at seeing that her wards had not been stolen away by invisible forces beyond the spirit-house door.

    Kahlan knew Cara would rather have been closer to her charges, but she had been considerate enough to give them the privacy of distance. The consideration extended to keeping others away, too. Knowing how deadly serious was Cara's commitment to their protection, Kahlan appreciated the true depth of the gift of that distance.

    Distance.

    Kahlan glanced up at Richard. That was why his suspicion had been aroused. He had known it wasn't children bothering the chickens. Cara wouldn't have allowed children to get that close to the spirit house, that close to a door without a lock.

    Before Cara could speak, Richard asked her, "Did you see what killed the chicken?"

    Cara flicked her long, single blond braid back over her shoulder. "No. When I ran over to the wall by the door I must have frightened off the predator."

    All Mord-Siths wore a single braid; it was part of the uniform, lest anyone mistake who they were. Few, if any, ever made such a dangerous mistake.

    "Has Zedd tried to come back to see us again?" Richard asked.

    "No." Cara brushed back a stray wisp of blond hair. "After he brought you the food, he told me that he wishes to see you both when you are ready."

    Richard nodded, still eyeing the shadows. "We're not ready. We're going first to some nearby warm springs for a bath."

    A sly smile stole onto Cara's face. "How delightful. I will wash your back."

    Richard leaned down, putting his face closer to hers. "No, you will not wash my back. You will watch it."

    Cara's sly smile widened. "Mmm. That sounds fun, too."

    Richard's face turned as red as Cara's leather.

    Kahlan looked away, suppressing her own smile. She knew how much Cara enjoyed flustering Richard. Kahlan had never seen bodyguards as openly irreverent as Cara and her sister Mord-Sith. Nor better.

    The Mord-Sith, an ancient sect of protectors to the Lord Rahl of D'Hara, all shared the same ruthless confidence. From adolescence, their training was beyond savage. It was merciless. It twisted them into remorseless killers.

    Kahlan grew up knowing little of the mysterious land of D'Hara to the east. Richard had been born in Westland, far from D'Hara, and had known even less than she. When D'Hara had attacked the Midlands, Richard had been swept up into the fight, and in the end had killed Darken Rahl, the tyrannical leader of D'Hara.

    Richard never knew Darken Rahl had raped his mother and sired him; he had grown up thinking George Cypher, the gentle man who had raised him, was his father. Zedd had kept the secret in order to protect his daughter and then his grandson. Only after Richard killed Darken Rahl had he discovered the truth.

    Richard knew little of the dominion he had inherited. He had assumed the mantle of rule only because of the imminent threat of a larger war. If not stopped, the Imperial Order would enslave the world.

    As the new master of D'Hara, Richard had freed the Mord-Sith from the cruel discipline of their brutal profession, only to have them exercise that freedom by choosing to be his protectors. Richard wore two Agiel on a thong around his neck as a sign of respect for the two women who had given their lives while protecting him.

    Richard was an object of reverence to these women, and yet with their new Lord Rahl they did the previously unthinkable: they joked with him. They teased him. They rarely missed a chance to bait him.

    The former Lord Rahl, Richard's father, would have had them tortured to death for such a breach of discipline. Kahlan speculated that their irreverence was their way of reminding Richard that he had freed them and that they served only by choice. Perhaps their shattered childhoods simply left them with an odd sense of humor they were now free to express.

    The Mord-Sith were fearless in protecting Richard—and by his orders, Kahlan—to the point of seeming to court death. They claimed to fear nothing more than dying in bed, old and toothless. Richard had vowed more than once to visit that fate upon them.

    Partly because of his deep empathy with these women, for their torturous training at the hands of his ancestors, Richard could rarely bring himself to reprimand their antics, and usually remained above their jabs. His restraint only encouraged them.

    The redness of this Lord Rahl's red face when Cara said she was going to watch him take a bath betrayed his upbringing.

    Richard finally schooled his exasperation and rolled his eyes. "You're not watching, either. You can just wait here."

    Kahlan knew there was no chance of that. Cara barked a dismissive laugh as she followed them. She never gave a second thought to disregarding his direct orders if she thought they interfered with the protection of his life. Cara and her sister Mord-Sith only followed his orders if they judged them important and if they didn't seem to put him at greater risk.

    Before they had gone far, they were joined by a half-dozen hunters who materialized out of the shadows and passageways around the spirit house. Sinewy and well proportioned, the tallest of them was not as tall as Kahlan. Richard towered over them. Their bare chests and legs were cloaked with long streaks and patches of mud for better concealment. Each carried a bow hooked over his shoulder, a knife at his hip, and a handful of throwing spears.

    Kahlan knew their quivers to be filled with arrows dipped in ten-step poison. These were Chandalen's men; among the Mud People, only they routinely carried poison arrows. Chandalen's men were not simply hunters, but protectors of the Mud People.

    They all grinned when Kahlan gently slapped their faces—the customary greeting of the Mud People, a gesture of respect for their strength. She thanked them in their language for standing watch and then translated her words to Richard and Cara.

    "Did you know they were scattered about, guarding us?" Kahlan whispered to Richard as they started out once more.

    He stole a look back over his shoulder. "I only saw four of them. I have to admit I missed two."

    There was no way he could have seen the two he missed—they had come from the far side of the spirit house. Kahlan hadn't seen even one. She shuddered. The hunters seemed able to become invisible at will, though they were even better at it out on the grasslands. She was grateful for all those who silently watched over their safety.

    Cara told them Zedd and Ann were over on the southeast side of the village, so they stayed to the west as they walked south. With Cara and the hunters in tow, they skirted most of the open area where the villagers gathered, choosing instead the alleys between the mud-brick buildings plastered over with a tan clay.

    People smiled and waved in greeting, or patted their backs, or gave them the traditional gentle slaps of respect.

    Children ran among the legs of the adults, chasing small leather balls, each other, or invisible game. Occasionally, chickens were the not so invisible game. They scattered in fright before the laughing, leaping, grasping young hunters.

    Kahlan, with her cloak wrapped tight, couldn't understand how the children, wearing so little, could stand the cold morning air. Almost all were at least bare-chested, the younger ones naked.

    Children were watched over, but allowed to run about at will. They were rarely called to account for anything. Their later training would be intense, difficult, strict, and they would be accountable for everything.

    The young children, still free to be children, were a constant, ever-present, and eager audience for anything out of the ordinary. To the Mud People children, like most children, a great many things seemed out of the ordinary. Even chickens.

    As the small party cut across the southern edge of the open area in the center of the village, they were spotted by Chandalen, the leader of the fiercest hunters. He was dressed in his best buckskin. His hair, as was the custom among the Mud People, was fastidiously slicked down with sticky mud.

    The coyote hide across his shoulders was a new mark of authority. Recently he had been named one of the six elders of the village. In his case, "elder" was simply a term of respect and not reflective of age.

    After the slaps were exchanged, Chandalen finally grinned as he clapped Richard's back. "You are a great friend to Chandalen," he announced. "The Mother Confessor would surely have chosen Chandalen for her husband had you not married her. You will forever have my thanks."

    Before Kahlan had gone to Westland desperately seeking help and there met Richard, Darken Rahl had murdered all the other Confessors, leaving Kahlan the last of her kind. Until she and Richard had found a way, no Confessor ever married for love, because her touch would unintentionally destroy that love.

    Before now, a Confessor chose her mate for the strength he would bring to her daughters, and then she took him with her power. Chandalen reasoned that put him at great risk of being chosen. No offense had been intended.

    With a laugh, Richard said he was happy to take the job of being Kahlan's husband. He briefly looked back at Chandalen's men. His voice lowered as he turned more serious. "Did your men see what killed the chicken by the spirit house?"

    Only Kahlan spoke the Mud People's language, and among the Mud People, only Chandalen spoke hers. He listened carefully as his men reported a quiet night after they had taken up their posts. They were the third watch.

    One of their younger guards, Juni, then mimed nocking an arrow and drawing string to cheek, quickly pointing first one direction and then another, but said that he was unable to spot the animal that had attacked the chicken in their village. He demonstrated how he'd cursed the attacker with vile names and spat with contempt at its honor, to shame it into showing itself, but to no avail. Richard nodded at Chandalen's translation.

    Chandalen hadn't translated all of Juni's words. He left out the man's apology. For a hunter—one of Chandalen's men especially—to miss such a thing right in their midst while on watch was a matter of shame. Kahlan knew Chandalen would later have more to say to Juni.

    Just before they once again struck out, the Bird Man, over on one of the open pole structures, glanced their way. The leader of the six elders, and thus of the Mud People, the Bird Man had conducted the wedding ceremony.

    It would be inconsiderate not to give their greetings and thanks before they left for the springs. Richard must have had the same thought, for he changed direction toward the grass-roofed platform where sat the Bird Man.

    Children played nearby. Several women in red, blue, and brown dresses chatted among themselves as they strolled past. A couple of brown goats searched the ground for any food people might have dropped. They seemed to be having some limited success—when they were able to pull themselves away from the children. Some chickens pecked at the dirt, while others strutted and clucked.

    Off in the clearing, the bonfires, most little more than glowing embers, still burned. People yet huddled about them, entranced by the glow or the warmth. Bonfires were a rare extravagance symbolizing a joyous celebration, or a gathering to call their spirit ancestors and make them welcome with warmth and light. Some of the people would have stayed up the whole night just to watch the spectacle of the fires. For the children, the bonfires were a source of wonder and delight.

    Everyone had worn their best clothes for the celebration, and they were still dressed in their finery because the celebration officially continued until the sun set. Men wore fine hides and skins and proudly carried their prize weapons. Women wore brightly colored dresses and metal bracelets and broad smiles.

    Young people were usually painfully shy, but the wedding brought their daring to the surface. The night before, giggling young women had jabbered bold questions at Kahlan. Young men had followed Richard about, satisfied to grin at him and simply be near the important goings-on.

    The Bird Man was dressed in the buckskin pants and tunic he seemed always to wear, no matter the occasion. His long silver hair hung to his shoulders. A leather thong around his neck held his ever-present bone whistle, used to call birds. With his whistle he could, seemingly effortlessly, call any kind of bird desired. Most would alight on his outstretched arm and sit contentedly. Richard was always awed by such a display.

    Kahlan knew the Bird Man understood and relied on signs from birds. She speculated that perhaps he called birds with his whistle to see if they would give forth some sign only he could fathom. The Bird Man was an astute reader of signs given off by people, as well. She sometimes thought he could read her mind.

    Many people in the great cities of the Midlands thought of people in the wilds, like the Mud People, as savages who worshiped strange things and held ignorant beliefs. Kahlan understood the simple wisdom of these people and their ability to read subtle signs in the living things they knew so well in the world around them. Many times she had seen the Mud People foretell with a fair degree of accuracy the weather for the next few days by watching the way the grasses moved in the wind.

    Two of the village elders, Hajanlet and Arbrin, sat at the back of the platform, their eyelids drooping, as they watched their people out in the open area. Arbrin's hand rested protectively on the shoulder of a little boy sleeping curled up beside him. In his sleep, the child rhythmically sucked a thumb.

    Platters holding little more than scraps of food sat scattered about, along with mugs of various drinks shared at celebrations. While some of the drinks were intoxicating, Kahlan knew the Mud People weren't given to drunkenness.

    "Good morning, honored elder," Kahlan said in his language.

    His leathery face turned up to them, offering a wide smile. "Welcome to the new day, child."

    His attention returned to something out among the people of his village. Kahlan caught sight of Chandalen eyeing the empty mugs before directing an affected smile back at his men.

    "Honored elder," Kahlan said, "Richard and I would like to thank you for the wonderful wedding ceremony. If you have no need of us just now, we would like to go out to the warm springs."

    He smiled and waved his dismissal. "Do not stay too long, or the warmth you get from the springs will be washed away by the rain."

    Kahlan glanced at the clear sky. She looked back at Chandalen. He nodded his agreement.

    "He says if we dally at the springs it will rain on us before we're back."

    Mystified, Richard appraised the sky. "I guess we'd best take their advice and not dally."

    "We'd better be off, then," she told the Bird Man.

    He beckoned with a finger. Kahlan leaned closer. He was intently observing the chickens scratching at the ground not far away. Leaning toward him, Kahlan listened to his slow, even breathing as she waited. She thought he must have forgotten he was going to say something.

    At last he pointed out into the open area and whispered to her.

    Kahlan straightened. She looked out at the chickens.

    "Well?" Richard asked. "What did he say?"

    At first, she wasn't sure she had heard him right, but by the frowns on the faces of Chandalen and his hunters, she knew she had.

    Kahlan didn't know if she should translate such a thing. She didn't want to cause the Bird Man embarrassment later on, if he had been doing too much celebrating with ritual drink.

    Richard waited, the question still in his eyes.

    Kahlan looked again at the Bird Man, his brown eyes staring out at the open area before him, his chin bobbing in time to the beat of the boldas and drums.

    She finally leaned back until her shoulder touched Richard. "He says that that one there"—she pointed—"is not a chicken."

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

C H A P T E R 1

"I wonder what's bothering the chickens," Richard said.

Kahlan nuzzled tighter against his shoulder. "Maybe your grandfather is pestering them now, too." When he didn't reply, she tilted her head back to squint up at him in the dim firelight. He was watching the door. "Or maybe they're grouchy because we kept them awake most of the night."

Richard grinned and kissed her forehead. The brief squawking on the other side of the door had ceased. No doubt the village children, still reveling in the wedding celebration, had been chasing the chickens from a favorite roost on the squat wall outside the spirit house. She told him as much.

Faint sounds of distant laughter, conversation, and singing drifted into their quiet sanctuary. The scent of the balsam sticks that were always burned in the spirit-house hearth mingled with the tang of sweat earned in passion, and the spicy-sweet aroma of roasted peppers and onions. Kahlan watched the firelight reflecting in his gray eyes a moment before lying back in his arms to sway gently to the sounds of the drums and the boldas.

Paddles scraped up and down ridges carved on the hollow, bell-shaped boldas produced an eerie, haunting melody that seeped through the solitude of the spirit house on its way out onto the grasslands, welcoming spirit ancestors to the celebration.

Richard stretched to the side and retrieved a round, flat piece of tava bread from the platter Zedd, his grandfather, had brought them. "It's still warm. Want some?"

"Bored with your new wife so soon, Lord Rahl?"

Richard's contented laugh brought a smile to her lips. "We really are married, aren't we? It wasn't just a dream, was it?"

Kahlan loved his laugh. So many times she had prayed to the good spirits that he would be able to laugh again -- that they both would.

"Just a dream come true," she murmured.

She urged him from the tava bread for a long kiss. His breathing quickened as he clutched her in his powerful arms. She slid her hands across the sweat-slick muscles of his broad shoulders to run her fingers through the thick tangle of his hair as she moaned against his mouth.

It had been here in the Mud People's spirit house, on a night that now seemed lifetimes ago, that she had first realized she was hopelessly in love with him, but had to keep her forbidden feelings secret. It was during that visit, after battle, struggle, and sacrifice, that they had been accepted into the community of these remote people. On another visit, it was here in the spirit house, after Richard accomplished the impossible and broke the spell of prohibition, that he had asked her to be his wife. And now they had at last spent their wedding night in the spirit house of the Mud People.

Though it had been for love and love alone, their wedding was also a formal joining of the Midlands and D'Hara. Had they been wedded in any of the great cities of the Midlands, the event undoubtedly would have been a pageant of unparalleled splendor. Kahlan was experienced in pageantry. These guileless people understood their sincerity and simple reasons for wanting to be married. She preferred the joyous wedding they had celebrated among people bonded to them in their hearts, over one of cold pageant.

Among the Mud People, who led hard lives on the plains of the wilds, such a celebration was a rare opportunity to gather in merriment, to feast, to dance, and to tell stories. Kahlan knew of no other instance of an outsider being accepted as Mud People, so such a wedding was unprecedented. She suspected it would become part of their lore, the story repeated in future gatherings by dancers dressed in elaborate grass-and-hide costumes, their faces painted with masks of black and white mud.

"I do believe you're plying an innocent girl with your magic touch," she teased, breathlessly. She was beginning to forget how weak and weary her legs were.

Richard rolled onto his back to catch his breath. "Do you suppose we ought to go out there and see what Zedd is up to?"

Kahlan playfully smacked the back of her hand against his ribs. "Why Lord Rahl, I think you really are bored with your new wife. First the chickens, then tava bread, and now your grandfather."

Richard was watching the door again. "I smell blood."

Kahlan sat up. "Probably just some game brought back by a hunting party. If there really was trouble, Richard, we would know about it. We have people guarding us. In fact, we have the whole village watching over us. No one could get past the Mud People hunters unseen. There would at least be an alarm and everyone would know about it."

She wasn't sure if he even heard her. He was stone still, his attention riveted on the door. When Kahlan's fingers glided up his arm and her hand rested lightly on his shoulder, his muscles finally slackened and he turned to her.

"You're right." His smile was apologetic. "I guess I can't seem to let myself relax. "

Nearly her whole life, Kahlan had trod the halls of power and authority. From a young age she had been disciplined in responsibility and obligation, and schooled in the threats that always shadowed her. She was well steeled to it all by the time she had been called upon to lead the alliance of the Midlands.

Richard had grown up very differently, and had gone on to fulfill his passion for his forested homeland by becoming a woods guide. Turmoil, trial, and destiny had thrust him into a new life as leader of the D'Haran Empire. Vigilance was his valuable ally and difficult to dismiss.

She saw his hand idly skim over his clothes. He was looking for his sword. He'd had to travel to the Mud People's village without it.

Countless times, she had seen him absently and without conscious thought reassure himself that it was at hand. It had been his companion for months, through a crucible of change -- both his, and the world's. It was his protector, and he, in turn, was the protector of that singular sword and the post it represented.

In a way, the Sword of Truth was but a talisman. It was the hand wielding the sword that was the power; as the Seeker of Truth, he was the true weapon. In some ways, it was only a symbol of his post, much as the distinctive white dress was a symbol of hers.

Kahlan leaned forward and kissed him. His arms returned to her. She playfully pulled him back down on top of her.

"So, how does it feel being married to the Mother Confessor herself?"

He slipped onto an elbow beside her and gazed down into her eyes. "Wonderful," he murmured. "Wonderful and inspiring. And tiring." With a gentle finger he traced the line of her jaw. "And how does it feel being married to the Lord Rahl?"

A throaty laugh burbled up. "Sticky."

Richard chuckled and stuffed a piece of tava bread in her mouth. He sat up and set the brimming wooden platter down between them. Tava bread, made from tava roots, was a staple of the Mud People. Served with nearly every meal, it was eaten by itself, wrapped around other foods, and used as a scoop for porridge and stews. Dried into biscuits, it was carried on long hunts.

Kahlan yawned as she stretched, feeling relieved that he was no longer preoccupied by what was beyond the door. She kissed his cheek at seeing him once again at ease.

Under a layer of warm tava bread he found roasted peppers, onions, mushroom caps as broad as her hand, turnips, and boiled greens. There were even several rice cakes. Richard took a bite out of a turnip before rolling some of the greens, a mushroom, and a pepper in a piece of tava bread and handing it to her.

In a reflective tone, he said, "I wish we could stay in here forever."

Kahlan pulled the blanket over her lap. She knew what he meant. Outside, the world awaited them.

"Well..." she said, batting her eyelashes at him, "just because Zedd came and told us the elders want their spirit house back, that doesn't mean we have to surrender it until we're good and ready."

Richard took in her frolicsome offer with a mannered smile. "Zedd was just using the elders as an excuse. He wants me."

She bit into the roll he had given her as she watched him absently break a rice cake in half, his thoughts seeming to drift from what he was doing.

"He hasn't seen you for months." With a finger, she wiped away juice as it rolled down her chin. "He's eager to hear all you've been through, and about the things you've learned." He nodded absently as she sucked the juice from her finger. "He loves you, Richard. There are things he needs to teach you."

"That old man has been teaching me since I was born." He smiled distantly. "I love him, too."

Richard enfolded mushrooms, greens, pepper and onion in tava bread and took a big bite. Kahlan pulled strands of limp greens from her roll and nibbled them as she listened to the slow crackle of the fire and the distant music.

When he finished, Richard rooted under the stack of tava bread and came up with a dried plum. "All that time, and I never knew he was more than my beloved friend; I never suspected he was my grandfather, and more than a simple man."

He bit off half the plum and offered her the other half.

"He was protecting you, Richard. Being your friend was the most important thing for you to know." She took the proffered plum and popped it in her mouth. She studied his handsome features as she chewed.

With her fingertips, she turned his face to look up at her. She understood his larger concerns. "Zedd is back with us, now, Richard. He'll help us. His counsel will be a comfort as well as an aid."

"You're right. Who better to counsel us than the likes of Zedd?" Richard pulled his clothes close. "And he is no doubt impatient to hear everything."

As Richard drew his black pants on, Kahlan put a rice cake between her teeth and held it there as she tugged things from her pack. She halted and took the rice cake from her mouth.

"We've been separated from Zedd for months -- you longer than I. Zedd and Ann will want to hear it all. We'll have to tell it a dozen times before they're satisfied.

"I'd really like to have a bath first. There are some warm springs not too far away."

Richard halted at buttoning his black shirt. "What was it that Zedd and Ann were in such a fret about, last night, before the wedding?"

"Last night?" She pulled her folded shirt from her pack and shook it out. "Something about the chimes. I told them I spoke the three chimes. But Zedd said they would take care of it, whatever it was."

Kahlan didn't like to think about that. It gave her gooseflesh to remember her fear and panic. It made her ache with a sick, weak feeling to contemplate what would have happened had she delayed even another moment in speaking those three words. Had she delayed, Richard would now be dead. She banished the memory.

"That's what I thought I remembered." Richard smiled as he winked. "Looking at you in your blue wedding dress...well, I do remember having more important things on my mind at the time.

"The three chimes are supposed to be a simple matter. I guess he did say as much. Zedd, of all people, shouldn't have any trouble with that sort of thing."

"So, how about the bath?"

"What?" He was staring at the door again.

"Bath. Can we go to the springs and have a warm bath before we have to sit down with Zedd and Ann and start telling them long stories?"

He pulled his black tunic over his head. The broad gold band around its squared edges caught the firelight. He gave her a sidelong glance. "Will you wash my back?"

She watched his smile as he buckled on his wide leather over-belt with its gold-worked pouches to each side. Among other things, they held possessions both extraordinary and dangerous.

"Lord Rahl, I will wash anything you want."

He laughed as he put on his leather-padded silver wristbands. The ancient symbols worked onto them reflected with points of reddish firelight. "Sounds like my new wife may turn an ordinary bath into an event."

Kahlan tossed her cloak around her shoulders and then pulled the tangle of her long hair out from under the collar. "After we tell Zedd, we'll be on our way." She playfully poked his ribs with a finger. "Then you'll find out."

Giggling, he caught her finger to stop her from tickling him. "If you want a bath, we'd better not tell Zedd. He'll start in on us with just one question, then just one more, and then another." His cloak glimmered golden in the firelight as he fastened it at his throat. "Before you know it, the day will be done and he'll still be asking questions. How far are these warm springs?"

Kahlan gestured to the south. "An hour's walk. Maybe a bit more." She stuffed some tava bread, a brush, a cake of fragrant herb soap, and a few other small items into a leather satchel. "But if, as you say, Zedd wants to see us, don't you suppose he'll be nettled if we go off without telling him?"

Richard grunted a cynical laugh. "If you want a bath, it's best to apologize later for not telling him first. It isn't that far. We'll be back before he really misses us, anyway."

Kahlan caught his arm. She turned serious. "Richard, I know you're eager to see Zedd. We can go bathe later, if you're impatient to see him. I wouldn't really mind.... Mostly I just wanted to be alone with you a little longer."

He hugged her shoulders. "We'll see him when we get back in a few hours. He can wait. I'd rather be alone with you, too."

As he nudged open the door, Kahlan saw him once again absently reach to touch the sword that wasn't there. His cloak was a golden blaze as the sunlight fell across it. Stepping behind him into the cold morning light, Kahlan had to squint. Savory aromas of foods being prepared on village cook fires filled her lungs.

Richard leaned to the side, looking behind the short wall.

His raptorlike gaze briefly swept the sky. His scrutiny of the narrow passageways among the jumble of drab, square buildings all around was more meticulous.

The buildings on this side of the village, such as the spirit house, were used for various communal purposes. Some were used only by the elders as sanctuaries of sorts. Some were used by hunters in rites before a long hunt. No man ever crossed the threshold of the women's buildings.

Here, too, the dead were prepared for their funeral ceremony. The Mud People buried their dead.

Using wood for funeral pyres was impractical; wood of any quantity was distant, and therefore precious. Wood for cook fires was supplemented with dried dung but more often with billets of tightly wound dried grass. Bonfires, such as the ones the night before at their wedding ceremony, were a rare and wondrous treat.

With no one living in any of the surrounding buildings, this part of the village had an empty, otherworldly feel to it. The drums and boldas added their preternatural influence to the mood among the deep shadows. The drifting voices made the empty streets seem haunted. Bold slashes of sunlight slanting in rendered the deep shade beyond nearly impenetrable.

Still studying those shadows, Richard gestured behind. Kahlan glanced over the wall.

In the midst of scattered feathers fluttering in the cold breeze lay the bloody carcass of a chicken.

Copyright © 1999 by Terry Goodkind

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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, April 13th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Terry Goodkind to discuss SOUL OF THE FIRE.


Moderator: Welcome, Terry Goodkind! Thank you for joining us this afternoon to discuss your new book SOUL OF THE FIRE. How are you doing today?

Terry Goodkind: I'm doing terrific, and I'm excited to be here to talk to all the people who have come to your Auditorium!


Sin Vo from Xinister@yahoo.com: Hello, Terry Goodkind. I am 15 years old and I started reading your masterful works when I was 13. And I wanted to ask you -- because I don't have the Internet at home so I can't attend the chat tonight -- what inspires you to keep writing about Richard Rahl. Is he your younger self or something you dreamed about when you were a teenager? I would love to talk to you more personally, but I must go. From your youngest and greatest fan, Sin Vo

Terry Goodkind: Richard and Kahlan have a lot of the story of their life to tell me, and I love telling the story. How do you condense a lifetime down to a few sentences? I love doing it. I love writing about Richard and Kahlan. They're very special people to me. I guess that's as close as we're going to get to explaining it in a 45-minute chat.


Matt Tynan from Lexington, KY: I want to first say that your books are great. I never read anything so long, and after I read it I thought, "I'm hooked." I hooked my friends on it too. My question: You dedicated one of your books to Rachel Kahlandt; who is she? Is that where you got the names for Rachel and Kahlan? If so, would you name a character after me? P.S. See you at the book signing tonight!

Terry Goodkind: Rachel has been a good friend of mine for many years, and I got the name for Kahlan from her name, but not the name Rachel of the character Rachel in the books. I named Rachel because when I knew who this little girl was, I knew her name was Rachel, and that was it. Looking forward to seeing you!


Ebony Heslop from Newcastle, Australia: Terry, I love your work and there are a million questions I'd love to ask you. One is, how did you decide on the characters' names and personalities? Did your life influence this, and if so, how? Thank you.

Terry Goodkind: Naming characters is something that's both difficult and important. A character has to have the right name to help express who they are. I can't tell you how I arrive at that name specifically, except that I just know when it feels right for the character. Sometimes it comes to me immediately; sometimes I'll be stopped in my writing [for] some time trying to figure out what the person's name is. It's more of a process of discovering their name than of naming them. They already have a name; it just takes me a while to figure out what it is. My life influences the characters in as much as you have to write about what you know, and you know no one as well as you know yourself. You know how you react to an entire variety of situations, so I use my feelings to a large extent in [determining] how characters react. Layered on top of that are the characteristics of the individual characters, and judging how they with their own individual characteristics would react to a given situation. You have to make each character an individual.


Cindy R. from Red Oak: You first started growing your hair long as a challenge to yourself. You have since met the first few challenges; have you made another, or are you planning on cutting your locks now?

Terry Goodkind: Not until I'm No. 1 on the New York Times list! I may be doomed to have long hair forever....


Jeremy from Yukon, OK: Hi, Mr. Goodkind. I would just like to say that you are the best author that I have had the pleasure of reading. I was wondering if you are planning to create a world book of Sword of Truth sometime in the future, with art and a detailed history of the world?

Terry Goodkind: Thank you, Jeremy, for the kind things you had to say. I don't have any plans to do a world book, for several reasons. Most importantly, no one's asked! Although it has been discussed informally, I'm not generally in favor of the idea, because I don't write about a world, I write about people, and I consider it inappropriate to make a book about their world when the story is about the people and not their world. And I think it would misconstrue the thrust of what I'm trying to do with the series. And by that, I mean that the series is most definitely not about world-building but about the story of people's lives, and reducing that story, the story about which I write, to an encyclopedic volume of their lives would be a disservice to their story.


Teresa Scudder-Hamm from Tallahassee, FL: I have already written to you by snail mail and have very little to add to that letter. But I did want you to know I am enjoying Brian's web page, Prophets, Inc. Thanks for letting him be the official web page for you.

Terry Goodkind: Thanks very much, good to hear from you again. I hope you like SOUL OF THE FIRE as well as the rest of them.


I. B. Judith McNally from Pasadena, TX: Will Zedd and Adie (the Bone Woman) get back together again? Maybe even married? (They're my favorite characters!)

Terry Goodkind: I would love to tell you, but to some extent, I don't know myself. I put all of my effort into the book I'm working on and give very little thought to future parts of the story. I know that when it comes time to write future stories, I'll be able to devote my attention to it at that time. More than that, however, I can't say, because I never discuss what will be with any of the characters, because it takes some of the fire out of writing if I talk about what I'm going to write about. This is a source of great annoyance to people like my wife and my editor, who actually are very patient and understanding.


Myron from Camrose, Alberta, Canada: Hi, Terry! I must say that I have just discovered fantasy at the ripe old age of 45, and I'm enjoying it and your Sword of Truth series immensely. What I want to ask is: Do you ever plan on writing a book that is centered entirely around the history of the Mord-Sith?

Terry Goodkind: Characters bring their world and their history with them. And if we see more of the characters, we see more of their world. I don't have any specific plans, as I just mentioned in the last answer, because I don't really think about future projects much. I worry most about what I'm writing at the present time. But I will say that the Mord-Sith are some of my favorite characters to write about. And welcome to fantasy -- my fantasy, anyway -- and thanks for coming along!


Troy Wood from Dayville, CT: I have read in other chat transcripts that you like to leave certain aspects of the book to the reader's imagination. In your own mind, however, do any of the characters have certain accents?

Terry Goodkind: Yes, absolutely. I visualize not only the way they look, but the way they sound. And as a matter of fact, it's one reason why I have a extremely difficult time listening to the audio books on tape, because it's so jarring to my sense of the characters that I can't endure it. I think...part of the totality of knowing the character is knowing what they sound like, what they look like, how they move, how they react, how they think, what they want most, and what they dread most.


Cindy R. from Red Oak: How long of a break will you be taking before starting on the next book in the series, and do you already have a title selected for that book?

Terry Goodkind: Break?! What's a break?! Yes, I have a title selected. My editor likes it, and I like it, but sometimes things change. So I don't want to mention it yet, because in the past when we've done that, it gets spread everywhere, and then the title changes and it causes problems. So for now I'm not going to divulge it. Otherwise, people will be in bookstores looking for a book that doesn't exist. This created a tremendous problem when the second book was tentatively called WIZARD'S SECOND RULE and ended up being called STONE OF TEARS. To this day I still get letters from people asking where they can find WIZARD'S SECOND RULE, because they don't realize the title was changed. Jeri says "hi."


Roy Rimer from Denver, CO: I really love your books. They read fast and are fun to read as well. The characters are the best part. Zedd is probably my favorite character -- why did you decide to make him exactly the opposite of the common fantasy wizard? And where does he put all that food? (Is it a wizard thing?) Will Richard be skinny and eat a lot when he gets old too? And why did Zedd leave the collar on when he could take it off at any time?

Terry Goodkind: Thanks for the kind things you had to say, Roy, but I didn't try to make Zedd anything. Zedd made himself who he is, and I just was forced to go along. I'm glad you like him; he's probably the most fun character to write of any of them. Writing Zedd's parts is kind of like doing dessert.


Marvin Young from Woodridge, IL: What author or authors have had the greatest influence on your writing?

Terry Goodkind: There is no order to what I read, but order remains in my mind. I think the author that had the greatest influence was Ayn Rand. Without question, Ayn Rand.


Ebony Heslop from Newcastle, Australia: Terry, will you ever be coming to Australia for a book signing tour? You have just as many fans over here as you do in America.

Terry Goodkind: I would love to come to Australia on a book-signing tour, and hopefully, someday, when time and opportunity allow, I will be able to.


Gamaliel Martinez from Houston, TX: Hey, Terry. Will Richard ever learn to use his gift effectively?

Terry Goodkind: Will any of us?


Joe Chinni from Boston: Hey, Terry! I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you how grateful I am for your writing. I am a student at Berklee College of Music, and I can always dive into one of your books to take me away from everything for a time. My favorite book is WIZARD'S FIRST RULE. Thanks so much!

Terry Goodkind: I don't say this often enough to readers, but it really does mean more to me than you could know that my books are able to play an enjoyable part of people's lives. I really do appreciate people letting me know that they had a good time reading the books, and I can't thank you all enough.


Brian from NJ: Several people wanted me to ask this. What is your (and Richard's) favorite AC/DC song?

Terry Goodkind: I listen to music when I'm writing, and the music creates part of the mood in my head. Because I'm writing, I don't pay attention to the words in the song; I only pay attention to the emotion in it. So while I know the notes, I don't know the words. I can't remember offhand the names of the songs that are my favorites, but when I'm back home, I will look on the CDs to see the names of the songs, and I'll let you know. I'll send you "Terry's Picks"!


Judith McNally from Pasadena, TX: How long did you live in Omaha, and which part of the city did you reside in? (I'm also from Omaha.) Your books are great -- thanks!

Terry Goodkind: I lived in Omaha until I was 35. I grew up in Benson, and after I was grown up, in several different places around town.


Amin Matalqa from Columbus, OH: Hi, Terry. Just wanted to tell you that when I was a stranger in a strange land in Germany in 1996, I had with me and delved into WIZARD'S FIRST RULE. I found myself swimming in a world full of colors and vivid life, reading it slowly word for word. I enjoyed every minute of your brilliant creation. I've been a huge fan of your work ever since. So thank you for your creation. Any thoughts about making a film of it? Also, do you listen to film scores much while you write? Any John Williams, James Horner, or Michael Kamen in the back of your head while you write? Again, thank you, and keep up the brilliance.

Terry Goodkind: Thank you very much for the kind words. I write grand, sweeping epics for intelligent readers like yourself. It is neither my job nor my desire to entertain the illiterate and the lazy. Beyond that, I seriously doubt that there's anyone in Hollywood with the moral integrity to honestly produce my works, and I wouldn't have them done any other way.


Derek D. from Richmond Hill, GA: Would you say that the Arthurian legends influenced your works in any way, and if so, how?

Terry Goodkind: I don't know what the Arthurian legends are, so I guess the answer is no.


Ebony Heslop from Newcastle, Australia: Terry, do any of the characters that are shown on the front cover of your books resemble how you imagine them in your mind? If they do, which ones? Also, have you thought about doing the cover art of your sixth book yourself? Thank you.

Terry Goodkind: I would love to do the cover art myself, but I simply don't have the time, and I'd rather be writing. The only character that looks remotely like what I'd envisioned is Keith Parkinson's version of Richard. I'm honored that Keith would do covers for my books, because I consider him the best cover artist, period. However, I really am reluctant to have Kahlan depicted on a cover because I have such strong ideas of what she's like, so the closest we'll probably come to seeing Kahlan on a cover is the cover of this book, SOUL OF THE FIRE. The other books look absolutely nothing whatsoever even remotely like any of the characters in my books.


SoT Fanatic from TG Anonymous: Terry, I'm a huge fan of yours...I am an aspiring writer, and I'd appreciate it if you could give me some advice on writing, publishing, etc.

Terry Goodkind: I never began writing to be published. I still don't write to get published, although my agent and editor may disagree with that...I write because I have to write. It's who I am. For me, it's touching something noble to be able to write. It's the greatest thing I can aspire to for myself, and I do it for myself. I tell these stories for myself. I'm happy that readers like the stories that I'm telling, and I think one of the reasons they like the stories is because I come to the writing with that honesty towards the story, and I think that shows through in the results. There are any number of books out there on getting published, and there are magazines out there, and they deal with the business end of it. They could better address that issue than I could. The writing side, I can tell you I believe that you have to be writing for an inner need, not an external need. But that's just me.


Moderator: Thank you, Terry Goodkind! Best of luck with SOUL OF THE FIRE. Before you leave, do you have any parting thoughts for the online audience?

Terry Goodkind: I sincerely appreciate everyone's interest and kind comments, and I hope to be able to talk to you all again soon. Thanks for coming to barnesandnoble.com!


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 246 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 246 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great escapism and touching story filled with adventure

    Many believe that if your on the side of right that everyone will believe you and fight with you for those reasons. Richard soon finds out how wrong that is and that people would rather believe a lie than the truth, wizards first rule. Great story of the struggle Richard and kahlan go thought to try and save a land which wont stand with him while at the same time Richard has to deal with the Chimes loose in the world and magic failing..

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2007

    Repetative

    I really enjoyed the first 3 of these books, the fourth 'Temple of the Winds' was starting to push it though. I just started reading Soul of the Fire and I can't get over how often Goodkind finds it necessary to repeat unnecessary things. All through this series we hear over and over the meanings of things such as the Confessor's power or why Mord Sith carry Agiel's. I read 3 chapters through Soul of the Fire and I got to read explanations about Mord Sith and their Agiel's twice... After 3 chapters... Not to mention how ever many times they were repeated in the first 4 books. Give me a break, how many times must these things be explained? If I went through and highlighted all the repetitive junk in this book I'm betting I'd have 2/3 of the book I started with. It's almost as if he's running out of interesting material to write about so to make his book look as big and great as the others he just numbs us with what we already know about the series. Now I understand that it is sometimes a good thing to repeat things especially if a reader has put down the series for a while, but it is too much when you find yourself skipping every 3rd paragraph because you already know the value of what is being stated.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Outstanding and Extremely smart, The Sword of Truth Series Keeps just Getting Better.

    Goodkind's "Soul of the Fire" is brilliant, and extremely smart. Goodkind takes the series in a new direction, just as in "First Wizard's Rule" new characters are introduced, and questions arise. Who knows what the next installations would look like, but whatever it is. It will be good. " Soul of the Fire" is thick and rich in content, I love the way the author portraits the political environment in anderith, and how he sets the mystery behind the chimes. "the chicken that is not a chicken", The return of Richard's First wife, and what's really behind the Dominie Dirtch. In Goodkind's "Temple of the Winds" Richard Rahl was faced against a dread plague loosed by Jagang "The Dream Walker" only by reaching the Temple of the Winds, he was able to save Thousands of people from the Midlands. However; in the pursuit of saving Richard's life, Kahlan invoked the name of the chimes, an ancient weapon used by wizards to extinguish magic. In the fifth installment of the Sword Of Truth, Goodkind takes readers back into the magical lands of the Mud people, The Wilds, and an unvisited land known as Anderith, the home of the Dominie Dirtch "Soul of the Fire" is the quest of Richard to find a way to extinguish the chimes back the underworld. In a race to save the world, as the chimes vanish magic, and kill every soul in their way. How will the Seeker of Truth will save the world? Without his magic or the sword of truth. A dangerous journey surrounded by Mud People, The bata kan, Anders and Hakens, Sisters of the dark, and those thieves of the soul, Wind, air and fire known as the "Chimes". At this point in the series, there are many questions unanswered from this book. The author gets more in deep into the world that surrounds Richard and Kahlan, and the long mystifying conflict between those who want to abolish magic. Goodkind is great in developing Dalton's character in the story. The contrast between Dalton's greed character and a certain glimpse of nobility is exceptional. "Soul of the Fire" is just plain Brilliant. The author introducing new characters and taking a new direction with some of the previous ones. The imperial order, The sisters of the Dark, The prophets. Goodkind's selection and developing of characters is magnificent.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Best Series EVER!!!! READ IT!!!!

    Best Series EVER!!!! READ IT!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    loved it

    I liked the whole series. I watched the tv series . the books where better more detail. but I wish they would bring the tv series back . I liked the tv people and I loved working out to the shows.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Good series

    I continue reading the series because it seems like khalan and richard cannot stay out of trouble.

    I enjoyed reading what happens after "happily ever after".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    Hard to finish

    I dreaded the pages about the Anderith in the beginning of the book. Every page I turned was still about the Anderith. Where were Richard, Kahlan, Cara and Zedd??? I almost shut the book and moved on to read something completely different. That's how sluggish the reading felt. This book took such a dramatic turn from his usual writing style and story line. It almost felt like someone else has written it. I loved the detailed description of the Anderith political circle, the schemes, the plots. Very well written, but I think, if the books have been written in this style all along, I would not have felt sluggish and dreaded. But the pace of all other books were rapid, spellbinding, fresh and surprising, this particular book just fell short of my expectations. I was particular appalled at Kahlan for being such as thickhead in more than 1 occasion -- the chicken-is-not-the-chicken, the chimes being released and others. She performed so well in the Stone of the Tears as the magnificent heroine. But she then started to slip in The Temple of the Winds as a moonstruck teenager who lost her senses of what's important, and just went down hill in this book. Ouch!!! Every book in the series is beginning to feel like it were spun out from the same formula. But the story is still interesting and gripping enough to keep me reading and Zedd is just too cute to miss out. I do intend to read every book. Will they ever defy Shota's warning of not having any children? Hmmm...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 1999

    Goodkind gets back to 'Excellence'

    Fantastic! 'Wizards First Rule' REBORN. Cant wait for the next one...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2014

    Could have been 300 pages shorter

    Decent, but too much repetition. And far too much extraneous exposition. This book could have trimmed easy 300 pages and been spectacular.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    Awesome

    Love the books and you should watch the tv shows. Watch on netflix or youtube. Called legend of the seeker.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2013

    This is the worst book I have ever read, and yes I have read hun

    This is the worst book I have ever read, and yes I have read hundreds of books from boring presidential biographies to government manuals and those were entertaining compared to this. I really don't know why this guy went off the script and started basically an entire new story with almost nothing in common with the first four books. The first four books were okay although the editing was really awful really horrible. If I received a nickel for every mistake in the first four books I could retire and kick Bill Gates out of his house. I am sure he doesn’t go back and read his books over and still these books are how old and they haven’t been edited properly. Oh another thing about this idiot is he puts words in trying to make himself sound like a better writer then he is adding the word purchase and breach in just to make himself seem like a writer. These odd words are put in and are very disrupting with the flow of the story just kills it for me. When Richard got up it left a breach, really a breach LOL again I like the story but book five is killing me and I may stop reading this series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2013

    Awesome series!

    I am listening to this series with my dad,mom, and brothers. So far I have listened to bits of the other books. But the series is amazing! I love it! It is a must read/listen.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2013

    A little slow

    This one was a little slow paced. And god did the author repeat himself I get the idea of wanting to have people up to speed. Soul Fire is doing it for everything. But I love the fact that Terry Goodkind took the time to explain the political climate in Anders. A good read if you are not to busy, a little different from the pace of the first 4 ones but still good.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    Soul of the fire

    I thought this book was very good and the author used his imagination quite a lot.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Worthwhile

    Not a bad read, but not as good as the previous 4 books. Still worth reading as part of a great series, however.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2012

    Good story - recommended if you have patience and don't mind redundancies

    The writer keeps repeating himself; come on! Do you really need to repeat what happened in the last chapter/book every few pages! - the only thing that kept me going is its a great story, and skimming past the redundancies.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    Very moving.....

    I'd give it four and a half stars, but I can't. It's not the best SoT novel, but it's better than some. So Richard and Kahlan (one of the best couples in the world of fantasy) are finally married. Yippee! So they spend their first night as newlyweds and they spend some time in the hot springs near the Mud People's village, but their joy is short-lived once they learn the Chimes are loose. So much for a peaceful and undisturbed honeymoon, right? And there's still one problem: Emperor Jagang and his Imperial Order SOBs. To the west of the Wilds is Anderith and Richard and Kahlan want to be the first ones to win their loyalty, because they have a very useful weapon: the Dominnie Dirtch. But the Anders, who turn out to be extremely pompous, have their own agenda. We also find out something very wonderful about Kahlan, but she is robbed of that treasure towards the end and early into the next book. I've said too much already. Enjoy the book, I garauntee that you won't be able to put down until you've finished the 548th page.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Soul of the fire

    Not as good as the previous books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2011

    Highly recommended

    A very good book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 246 Customer Reviews

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