Terry Goodkind’s Phantom (Review)

(I will warn you before I get to spoilers, so read on without fear)

Ah, yes, I went book shopping yesterday with Adrian. Book shopping is a wholly satisfying thing in almost every way, even if you buy nothing. But this trip was a success because I bought the new Phule’s Errand book (sure to be an empty but satisfying read), the new Dave Barry Peter Pan & The Shadow Thieves book, and Terry Goodkind’s Phantom. I also bought a Holiday gift for someone but will leave the details out hence the person read my blog.

I started reading Phantom last night around 7:15 and with two breaks — dinner and a shower — read it from front to end, fishing just after 12:20am. I barely noticed the time. There were pauses while I zoned out and thought of things — I’m funny like that — and also to try and recollect the previous tome, Chainfire which I read nearly two years ago I think.

This book is the next to last in the series. The end of the book clearly says to look for the next and concluding book in this series. That’s good because it’s gone on too long. Most of it’s good but there have been some missteps. Not nearly as bad, though, as Robert Jordan, who I’ve entirely given up on as an author.

This book is an engaging read front to back, which is good because that’s what a summer read is about and at 587 pages, it’s hard for many authors to keep the pace going. Like all Goodkind books, you normally see everything coming before the book gets there — but there is one surprise that definitely laid me flat.

I won’t reveal that surprise here, because it’s a good one. However, I will say that some old characters seem to be becoming more two-dimensional with age, and that’s not a good thing. Cara and Bernadine pretty much are there as decoration and serve no purpose, and there is nary a mention of Vera, Ann, Zedd, and Nathan. I don’t like Nathan so I don’t care. This story is Richard and Kahlan from front to end and it’s just about those with them while they get where they need to be. (This is not a criticism, but it’s certainly a ‘middle book’ syndrome here).

I like what happens in the book because it feels right and with a fantasy novel that’s very important. Nothing like a ‘doesn’t feel right’ to ruin a good story. Like the last one, this just ends with a cliffhanger, though it’s pretty obvious what’s going to happen next. The surprise here is going to be zero simply because he’s written himself into a Richard meets XXX next corner, and that’s just fine.

What I find a bit unsettling, and I am not sure if it’s an intentional metaphor or not, is Goodkind’s war solution for the D’Haran army. From a tactical standpoint, I make no arguments (but Richard’s speech very well could have bored the enemy to death saving untold bloodshed). However the Order is a religious movement and Goodkind’s characters advocate bringing the war to the Order’s soil in a “just kill them all” approach. The more I read the more it sounded like he was advocating using American troops to wipe out the Muslim Terrorists while trying not to kill the Muslim People. This plan doesn’t work in real life, though it’s perfectly fine for a fantasy novel. However the overriding sense of having a message rammed down my throat never left me and that’s my biggest complaint about this novel.

Leave a Reply