Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Read in 2017 on 1/20 to page 52, on 1/27 to page 77, on 2/6 to page 169, on 2/7 to page 307 on 2/9 to page 340, on 2/18 to the end. I loved it. Probably for all the wrong reasons, but that’s 5 stars in my book. I recommend Severed Souls to any fan of the Richard & Kahlan series. Richard & Kahlan series, in my opinion, includes 17 of the 19 books Mr. Goodkind has written. Two prequels and 15 Wizard’s First Rule novels. I have “Death’s Mistress” (Sister of Darkness: The Nicci Chronicles #1) but haven’t read it. If not a Richard and Kahlan novel, it’s in the same fantasy world.
Since this is book 14 of the 15 main novels it is likely impossible to not write a spoiler. By book 14 in a series of books it may be a spoiler to mention a main character as the implication at the end of earlier novels may conclude with the impression one or more of the main characters are dead or dying. So, even mentioning a main character may be a spoiler.
Still, I will be writing a review here, so damn the consequences and bring on what spoilers I can recall. Just don’t click “read more” and your future reading enjoyment will be safe from this review.
Eric Allen’s Review of Terry Goodkind
Severed Souls with praise, the truth is this four book series can easily get one star on every book for a multitude of reasons. I refer you to Eric Allen’s Review for an explanation of why this book can be considered that bad. I loved Eric’s review, having critiqued dozens and dozens of first author manuscripts, but you will not want to go near this review if you hope to enjoy this book.
Since I’m praising the book, I recommend you leave Mr. Allen’s review until after you’ve finished this book to check if you agree with his nuclear destruction of the book. I did want to offer it in case you read the book and believe as he did. I am aware of Mr. Allen’s legitimate frustrations despite my praise.
Severed Souls begins with Richard being startled by a voice and a touch. It is night. He is on guard. He did not hear anyone approach. This, Richard believes impossible with his wood’s guide training. He finds himself being confronted by five people demanding he bring them their dead.
A discussion takes place about him being fuer grissa ost drauka: the bringer of death. The scene is relevant by the end of the next book Warheart. Here is Terry Goodkind returning to the mysterious prophecy driven fuer grissa ost drauka for dramatic effect at the start of the book. The way these five people are using the phrase is not one of the five ways Richard has understood the meaning of the phrase previously. He is frustrated now and still unsettled from being startled. He doesn’t understand these mysterious people but he’s curious and it is his nature to want to help.
Hearing Kahlan approaching through the woods, in the dark, to find out what is going on, Richard signals her to stay back. Not understanding these people or how they were able to sneak up on him, he wants his beloved Kahlan to keep at a safe distance.
“What’s going on?” she asked as she came to an abrupt halt, not far away. Richard stole a quick glance back over his shoulder. Kahlan had a tense concerned expression that worried him.
Richard turned back to the five to keep his eye on them. They were gone.
Well, that ought to peak a reader’s interest.
Then the events start happening at roller coaster speed. Others in Richard’s party arrive and want to know how people could “sneak up on him”. Nicci can’t sense any people with her gift. Zedd smells something… sulfur, no death, not rot, but the smell from the other side of the veil between life and death.
First Order soldiers leave to find where the five people came from and where they had gone or were hiding. More questions from the arriving “protectors” for Richard. Unwanted advice from still more who were arriving.
Back story is peppered into the cascade of escalating events. Not slowing the read but suspending the relief of answers reader and character alike are asking, raising the story’s tension and suspense.
A scream. Richard is tearing off through the woods towards the sound of the scream. He comes upon a huge horde of half-dead or half-people of the Shun-tuk tribe, a vicious and seemingly primitive “tribe” from beyond the North Wall where the barrier has failed.
The North Wall and it’s magic have restrained the worst killing creations of Emperor Sulachan’s wizards for thousands of years. They are the unbeatable foes from the war three thousand years ago. They had been tricked and herded to a place wizard’s from the Wizard’s Keep in Aydindril had prepared with massive walls and powerful magic spells. The Shun-tuk and other half-people have been locked away from the living beyond the North Wall, in The Third Kingdom.
The Gifted in Stroyza had been the guardians watching for the North Wall to fail. Over thousands of years the duty most urgent upon them had suffered the degradation of time. Like a story told to one person and retold to the next, and the next, after the retelling only a few times the story changes, obtains new facts, and loses other vital details. Before long there may be truth that their duty is urgent to all people, but they can no longer read the writing literally on the walls of their sacred sanctuary. Now it is only fancy designs, maybe spells to keep the walls strong. No one alive even knew it was writing. Not until Samantha had taken Richard into the sanctuary where the lens was placed so they could see the North Wall, many miles away.
Before Chapter 10 they’ve been trying to escape Shun-tuk half people who massively outnumber them. Some of the Shun-tuk are stopping at dead half-people and doing a ritual that raises these dead people, infusing them with “occult magic” and making them into nearly unstoppable super killers.
Tick, Tock. Richard and Kahlan are still infected with death. What strength they may have left after perpetual running and battle is creating reader’s doubt in their ability to suspend disbelief.
Before you can mutter, this is nonsense, a Shun-tuk jumps from a tree landing on Kahlan, when she was barely able to stand anymore. She goes down.
Tick, Tock. Richard and Kahlan must get back to the People’s Palace immediately, it seems. Nicci and Zedd can only remove the Death in them in a magical containment field, the only one at the People’s Palace.
Tick, Tock, Bishop Hannis Arc wants to destroy the Rahl family name. A decades old hate of the previous Lord Rahl. With Richard’s unwilling assistance Hannnis has raised the ancient Emperor Sulachan, who started the ancient war of three thousand years ago. Hannis Arc and Emperor Sulachan are marching toward the People’s Palace and are way ahead of Richard and Kahlan. They have with them millions of Shun-tuk and are raising the dead from graveyards as they go making more of Sulachan’s nearly unstoppable dead super-soldiers.
Tick, Tock. The Shun-tuk seem equal in quantity to all the Resident Evil series infected combined with all the zombies of World War Z. Richard, Kahlan and party have stopped trying to find an advantageous place to fight from and are in full flee mode, with an hastily drawn plan with low odds on success. Running up a narrowing valley into the mountains at least funnels the half people apocalypse into a narrowing column that will overwhelm them less efficiently.
Then another unexpected burst of apparent super sorceress power pours forth from Sammie, now Samantha at Richard’s insisting it is a more grown up name and she’s been taking on more grown up responsibilities.
Responsibility is one of Terry Goodkind’s lecture themes as well as an almost anarchy kind of free will for all. I’m often reminded of Ayn Rand’s reason, rational self-interest and laissez-faire capitalism. They may not share the same philosophy but it is similar and requires readers to endure lectures about its virtues.
To me, these lecture themes seem self-evident, they have been shown in the actions of the characters so the addition of telling can be tedious.
In Severed Souls however Terry Goodkind ratchets up the writer’s courage and takes some George R. R. Martin kinds of irreversible leaps. There is where you may find my reason for five stars. I could have easily written a scathing review similar to Eric’s earlier reference review, but I appreciate authors who meet my high expectations.
I know not everyone can be Lester Dent (Kenneth Robeson), Issac Asimov, Dean Koontz or even J. Michael Straczynski but in this outing Terry Goodkind showed some of the courage of writers like these who routinely open a vein and bleed out a story.
“The Party” of Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Nicci, Samantha, Irene, and contingent of First Order soldiers, it seems, are chased and constantly in mortal danger to the end of book. One of my late notes says, “The last 25% of the book. What? Really? Wow!?
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