Although Terry Goodkind said he wouldn’t be writing any more Sword of Truth books, he sort of slipped up with The Law of Nines. I’m guessing that book received a lukewarm review and thus The Omen Machine: A Richard and Kahlan Story was born. It takes place after the end of Confessor, the eleventh book in the Sword of Truth series.
From the beginning, with Wizard’s First Rule, Terry Goodkind set a new standard for epic storytelling. Now he returns with a powerful new tale from Richard and Kahlan’s world.
An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for countless millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. The omens turn out to be astonishingly accurate, and ever more ominous. As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop. As catastrophe approaches, the machine then reveals that it is within its power to withdraw the omen . . . In exchange for an impossible demand.
From the publisher, Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House Canada
I read the Sword of Truth series many years ago now—I started book blogging in 2008 and I finished Confessor prior to that. Perhaps I’ve forgotten Goodkind’s particular style of writing, or maybe this book just needed a harsher edit. The hardcover edition is 528 pages and a huge chunk of it felt either repetitious or recycled material. In fact, having some explanations repeated 7-8 times throughout the novel felt patronizing.
For example, every time Zedd couldn’t heal something, someone ‘casually’ remarked that Zedd’s power is decreased by the People’s Palace because the floorplan is a physical spellform that enhances a Rahl’s power, and while Zedd is Richard Rahl’s grandfather, he is not a Rahl himself. So maybe we should go see if the Prophet Nathan can help, because he’s a Rahl, a distant relation of Richard, and the last living prophet, and the palace would increase his magical powers. And then every subsequent reference for Nathan made sure to mention how he was a prophet, because we mustn’t forget that detail, and the reader may if it isn’t mentioned every time we re-encounter this character. And Nicci, who was once a Sister of the Dark and called Death’s Mistress, anytime she shares her knowledge about the dark side of magic and the Keeper of the Underworld, we lowly, forgetful readers must be reminded that Nicci was once a Sister of the Dark and called Death’s Mistress.
One of my issues with series in general is the recounting of past events in each book. While I realize that not everyone will go back and read a series from the beginning, there are ways to introduce the material to new readers without boring the old fans. My main problem with The Omen Machine was the way that these little throw-away details were repeated over and over but further details or information was never given. New readers would have no idea what a ‘Sister of the Dark’ was, or why/how Nathan was a Rahl. Even though these events occurred several books ago in the series, a small refresher is not unheard of.
All this filler seemed to just mask the fact that the storyline was over-simplified. How much more can Terry Goodkind really put these characters through? They are the epitome of ‘good’ so none of them can die (unlike George R.R. Martin’s characters) and they must triumph over ‘evil’. But the story has to be resolved within one volume. Unfortunately, I really think Goodkind is tapped out… maybe taking a few years hiatus and trying to write different styles or genres will help.
Full disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes.
This in no way affects my review, feelings, or opinions.