Following Richard and Kahlan’s adventures in Terry Goodkind’s The Omen Machine, Richard wakes up post-Jit battle, with his friends missing and Kahlan in dire need of their magic healing. Richard is helped to a sanctuary in the mountains by some kind strangers, where he learns that the town has a mysterious history that stems back generations. Richard, with the help of young sorceress Samantha, must journey to an unknown land to find his friends and fight a new threat coming to the D’Haran empire, and the entire world.
When I saw The Third Kingdom at Barnes and Noble, I was very excited for another “Richard and Kahlan Novel”. What I like most about Terry Goodkind’s books are the strong characters he has developed over the course of his Sword of Truth series. Cara and Kahlan in particular feel like fully developed women who have grown and changed over the course of the series in a realistic and inspiring manner. (Nicci too, to a lesser degree–I never quite connected to her the way I did to the others.) Zedd is funny and sympathetic in the way everyone wishes their grandfather was. Richard, though occasionally feeling a bit self-righteous and preachy, also feels realistic, never forgetting his simple roots but embracing his role as the ruler of D’Hara. Unfortunately, this aspect (which I find to be Goodkind’s greatest strength) was entirely lacking in his most recent book. Virtually every character we have come to know and love is absent for the vast majority of the book. Kahlan is unconscious for the first 300+ pages (more than half the book) and everyone else is MIA for significantly longer.
Instead, Richard spends the vast majority of his time with Samantha, a new, young character that develops exceedingly quickly but without any real depth. Instead of action and magic, we spend the book traipsing around the woods listening to the characters rehashing the same information we already know, over and over again. We get it, it is important to fight for life and right, but we don’t need to be reminded of this fact (and of what Richard stands for and believes in) every three pages.
Ultimately, this book felt like it was just doing some major set up for the books to come. Hopefully, slogging through the 527 pages here will be worth it with an incredible follow up.