Terry Goodkind, the Soul of the Fire, New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates LCC, Tor Books, First Published: April 1999, 788 pages.
New York Times, Best-Selling novelist, Terry Goodkind brings to you the fifth installment to The Sword of Truth series: Soul of the Fire.
With Richard having contracted the plague as penance for returning from the Temple of the Winds, Kahlan has spoken the three Chimes to save his life. When the Chimes are spoken by one without the gift, it frees them from their resting place in the Underworld. Now that they are free, they will slowly devour magic in the world of life, until they claim the soul that they were promised: Richard’s. Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd are now charged with banishing the Chimes at all costs. If it is not done quickly, all who possess the gift, will slowly but surely loose it completely. The presence of the Chimes will not only do this, but they will also slowly kill all creatures of magic.
Zedd believes that he can find the answers they seek in the land of Anderith. As Zedd sets off to Anderith, he sends Richard, Kaylan and Cara back to Aydindril. As Richard heads north, a course of events brings him to believe that they are headed in the wrong direction. Something tells him that he needs to meet up with Zedd in Anderith.
Richard, having left his beloved and hated, Sword of Truth back in the Wiazard’s Keep, in Aydindril, feels uncomfortable without it. He sends his loyal bodyguard, a Mord-Sith: Cara to retrieve it and return it to him. Richard and Kahlan then make plans to travel to Anderith. On their way, they stop to gather an escort of troops from Richard’s army and continue south.
Ann, taking advantage of the presence of the Chimes, makes for Jagang’s encampment in hopes to free the Sisters of the Light from his brutal slavery. With the Chimes in the world of life, Jagang’s power as a Dream Walker is failing. Ann believes it possible that this may be her only chance to rescue them, while magic is evaporating from the world.
The Chimes, continuing to run unchecked, have another agenda. They seek death. The chimes, Reechani, Sentrosi and Vasi, lure unsuspecting victims to their deaths in the most peculiar ways. Some die by fire, some by drowning and some by falling to their deaths. They are wicked beings, bent on death and destruction. With the Chimes, there is no reason, except for one: to kill.
In the land of Anderith, trouble brews. The people of Anderith are sympathizers to the Imperial Order. Fooled by Jagangs lies, they believe him to be of just intentions. They believe that there lies a better life with the Order. Jagang has promised that if they provide food stores to his army through his campaign, that Anderith will never want for anything. The people of Andertith believe that if they were to side with the Lord Rahl and the Mother Confessor, they would be giving up their wealth and freedom.
As Richard and Kahlan enter the land of Anderith, they are welcomed by the Minister of Culture. When Richard and Kahlan again present their terms of surrender, as they did when the Alliance of the Midlands was dissolved, the Minister dances around the issue. Having full intentions of siding with the Order, Minister Chanboor, delays them in his decision. The Minister argues that it is not only up to himself and the Sovereign, but up to the people as well. The Minister proposes a vote, to let the people decide. Against Kahlans wishes, Richard agrees. The people are given one month to decide their vote, giving Richard and Kahlan the extra time needed to find a way to stop the Chimes. However, the Minister of Culture has other motives in the vote: to give Jagangs main force time to close in on Anderith and hopefully trap the Lord Rahl and the Mother Confessor there without a way to bring in reinforcements through the Domminie Dirtch.
The Domminie Dirtch are huge stone bells that circle the outer reaches of Anderith. They are an impenetrable line of defense. Each bell is manned and only needs to be struck to set off the whole line of bells. When the bells are struck, any who might be out in front of them, are killed in the most gruesome way. An army could be out on the Anderith frontier and if the bells were struck, it would kill all in range.
While in Anderith, Richard is given access to the Library of Culture. He hopes to find something about the wizard who had once sealed the Chimes away from the world, Joseph Ander. It is believed that Wizard Ander had banished the Chimes here thousands of years ago. Looking for any clue that Ander might have left behind, he comes across a place up in the hills called, The Ovens. In this majestic place Richard and Kahlan discover that not only are the Chimes strong here, but that the extraordinary line of defense known as the Domminie Dirtch was carved from this very spot.
Now Richard and Kahlan must find a way to stop the Chimes before magic fails and leave Anderith before Jagangs massive army arrives and leaves them no escape…
“Beware when day meets dark. Beware crossroads, where they skulk. They can lurk in fire’s crackle and easily travel on sparks. Beware gloomy places among rocks, under things, down holes and caves, and shafts of every kind. Beware crags and edges, and water’s brink-the fey creatures slip along borders where this meets that.
Some are of terrible icy beauty. Most are shaped by whim. They often crave attention. Pray not provoke them, for they revel in causing extravagant harm, and are dangerous in the extreme. They are tireless hunters, these thieves of magic, without empathy, without a soul.
Mark well my words: Beware the Chimes, and if need be great, draw for yourself thrice on barren earth, in sand and salt and blood, a Fatal Grace.–translated from Koloblichin’s Journal”
—Excerpt from the Soul of the Fire, by Terry Goodkind.
I thought this novel worked well because of the creation of the Chimes. The chimes were horrifying all on their own. They kill indiscriminately, they want for death of the living, and their presence alone brings about catastrophic events. Taking magic from a world based on it, couldn’t provide a more dangerous place to be. Another thing that I thought worked was that the presence of the Chimes blocked Jagangs ability as a Dream Walker, preventing him entry to the minds of those not bonded to the Lord Rahl. Giving those enslaved to him a unique opportunity to escape. I thought that the creation of the Domminie Dirtch was good. Who wouldn’t want an impenetrable line of defense from which none can enter unless granted passage?
I didn’t think that the people of Anderith were very interesting. In truth, I was bored to tears with them. I only found myself feeling sorry for a few, and was generally unmoved by the rest of them. I found this installment of the series harder to read than the rest because of my lack of interest in the local inhabitants. A lot of time was spent on developing the characters and general setting of the Anders and the Hakens. I’ll say it again, boring. However, without having read it, it would be like watching your favorite television show, missing the fourth and fifth seasons, then returning to watch the rest. Something would have been lost without it.
Not recommended for younger readers due to graphic and disturbing imagery.
What others have said:
“Few writers have Goodkind’s power of creation.”–Publishing News
“Makes an indelible impact.”–Publishers Weekly
“Mr. Goodkind’s compelling prose weaves a magical spell over readers.”
–Romantic Times BOOKreviews.