The Third Kingdom by Terry Goodkind. Read in 2016 on 11/9 to page104, on 11/19 to page 299 on 11/29 to the end. I really liked it and recommend it to fans of Terry Goodkind’s books about Richard and Kahlan.
This is book two in a four book story so anything specific is a spoiler. I don’t like the idea you have to buy four books written over a long period of time in order to enjoy a story but that is what publishing has become.
For normal spoiler info on the book read the blurbs on the sales sites or Goodreads. I’m going to write a review. It will have spoilers. It will be after the “read more” link to save you from accidentally glancing at the ruin of your future reading.
I’m uncertain how Richard, in the Omen Machine, knew to plug the ears of Kahlan and himself before he cut the Hedge Maid’s sewn shut mouth. In doing so he saved them both from the scream death that killed almost everything when her mouth was opened. The sound was not completely blocked and both Richard and Kahlan were both infected with death.
I see now how bare thin that is as a plot device but Mr. Goodkind makes it work. Like having Ebola without the mess, and the only side effect is a lingering weakness as “death” grows towards its final conclusion. It has knocked both Kahlan and Richard unconscious and they are approaching “real” death.
A cavalry of the First Order, Zedd, The First Wizard, and Death’s Mistress have arrived to pull Richard and Kahlan’s “near death” and infected bodies out of the Hedge maid’s swamp. They loaded them on a cart, unconscious, and are hauling them back to the People’s Palace in D’Hara shortly before the book begins. The Wizard and Death’s Mistress are working hard to heal them but cannot wake them.
As the book starts, Richard wakes while his ankles are being tied. He hears voices. He can’t make out what they are saying. He hears them but what they are saying makes no sense. Richard understands the words but has no reference for the meaning of what they are talking about. As his mind begins to clear one thing becomes certain. The voices he hears intend both Richard and Kahlan harm. Where are the soldiers? Where are Zedd and Nicki? Where is he at? He’s in a wagon covered with a tarp.
The men Richard are listening to are arguing over who to eat and who to trade. When they begin pulling Richard out of the cart he is in, we start on the roller coaster ride of staying alive in the Darklands. Richard cannot awaken Kahlan. The death in him has somehow suppressed his wizard’s powers. Survival is down to grab what you can, kick, bite, poke, whatever you can do to stay alive.
The fight explodes as Richard is pulled from the cart already at the end of his strength. He is able to kill one strong and powerful brute of a man-monster, but is unsure if he can finish the last, who is bent on eating him. Richard manages to get behind him and is choking the fighting, biting, and struggling being. Richard’s strength begins failing. The man suddenly stops struggling. Richard doesn’t understand, then sees the crowd of people. He has been saved by strangers.
The boy who scratched Kahlan, infecting her with a spell compelling her to go to the Hedge maid at the beginning of The Omen Machine… Richard had saved him in the Hedge Maid’s swamp and sent him running to escape. He ran and found help who came back just in time to smash the last man-eating man-thing in the head before Richard ran out of energy.
Richard’s mind now starts racing. Where are the soldiers? Zedd? Nicki? Taking in his surroundings Richard sees he is in a field that is the remains of a battle field. Not dead people but the bones of people, some meat still on the bone.
Richard and Kahlan, still unconscious with “death in her”, are hauled to the village of Stroyza. The entire village is in a cave far up an almost hidden and narrow mountain trail where there are handholds in the rock where the steps are almost too narrow to pass.
Here we begin a “fiction tool” to increase tension: a countdown clock. This increases tension and makes our heroes race against time ever increasing the tension as the stakes of nearing death loom closer and closer. The death within them is killing them and it can not be removed except in a magical containment field. The only place such a containment field can be found is back at the People’s Palace far, far away. Too far away. Tick Tock.
In Stroyza there is only one young girl with “The Gift”. A young sorceress. There were lots of Gifted only a short time ago, but now only little Sammie remains. Richard and Kahlan need someone with magic to heal their multiple wounds from when they fought the Hedgemaid. Someone with magic who can try to stop the progress of death inside them.
Why hadn’t Zedd and Nicki healed them? They couldn’t get the death out of them without the containment field, but the wounds, the cuts, abrasions and other damage were only slightly healed. More questions. Tick Tock.
All those soldiers, the mighty First Wizard Zedd, and Death’s Mistress, Nicki, a super powerful ex-sister of the Dark, why would they just leave Richard and Kahlan? Questions. Tick Tock.
It would take a very large army to subdue just the soldiers of the First Order, let alone the First Wizard and Death’s Mistress. Henrick, the boy who escaped and returned with people from Stroyza to help knew the story, up to a point. He tells Richard the end of “The Omen Machine” book while Sammie tries healing Kahlan, still unconscious, and Richard. Sammie needs constant encouragement and assurance due to her youth and inexperience.
By this point I can point out at least 3 or 4 active “writer’s tools” that Mr. Goodkind is using to keep you, the reader turning pages and doing the math on how many hours of sleep you think you can get by on tomorrow.
“Death” has Richard weak and Kahlan unconscious. Sammie, their only hope for enough strength to get back to the People’s Palace and a containment field is inexperienced and lacks any confidence. Richard has to constantly encourage young Sammie draining his energy while he is wild with worry about Kahlan and a fast drum beat of other worries pounding in his head… Zedd, Nicki, his soldiers, strange “half dead” people “without souls” wandering the Darklands and that is on top of why he and Kahlan came to the Darklands to start with back in The Omen Machine.
Long review and I haven’t really said anything about the book except it may be very exciting to read. Mr. Goodkind does not hesitate to throw the writer’s toolbox and the writer’s kitchen sink at his reading fans.
An super strong and slaughtering dead person makes its way into the cave high up the side of the mountain that is Stroyza. The villagers are not well equipped to kill the dead man. When Richard arrives with The Sword of Truth he sees the killing machine of a dead man with glowing eyes and who has swords sticking out of him and enough injuries to kill any normal man. There are Storyza men with limbs ripped from their bodies. It looks like Richard may not be able to kill the thing before everyone in Stroyza is dead.
Nightmare after nightmare with bottomless pits to climb out of before facing murdering hordes of half dead people that roam in packs hunting for the living with the belief they can steal their souls by eating them.
Yes you will have to suspend disbelief. You can do it….
Mr. Goodkind deserves the criticism thrown at him for this last quartet of books but he is still an author who knows how to keep a reader turning pages. Hunt down Eric who I linked to in The Omen Machine review if you want a blow by blow where Mr. Goodkind went wrong.
For me, when I’m reading and listening to the audiobook I’m often doing other chores that do not require a lot of my attention. While only listening I must focus my attention on the story or I’m just lost altogether. I have decades of writing manuscript critiques, editing, and can take apart any novel piece by piece and tell an author a dozen ways to rethink their story. Those days are gone. I just want to enjoy the story.
I missed bedtime deadlines with this one and have with every Richard and Kahlan story. It’s a long book and there are parts that are rather repetitive. Talking about repetitive….
I am withdrawing some of my criticism in The Omen Machine review. I’ve come to believe Mr. Goodkind does this repetition in the same way you might find in older series like E. E. Smith‘s Lensmen series.
Mr. Goodkind’s writing has suffered throughout his career with periods of genius and periods of “Did he hire a ghost writer?”. While some of his repetition is refresher info, Mr. Goodkind does have a theme and a message he must believe strongly in because he is prone to Heinlein and Ayn Rand type lecturing thinly disguised as dialogue.
You can get through it and still enjoy the story.
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