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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
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 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.