Back in November I wrote a NOOK book review for Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. Wizard’s First Rule is the first in a series of books called The Sword of Truth series. The second book in that series is called Stone of Tears (also by Goodkind) and that’s the book that I’m focusing on in this NOOK Book review.
As I wrote in my last review, reading Wizard’s First Rule made me realize that there is more to the fantasy genre of writing than just the masterpieces created by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s a good feeling to know that there is more quality books for you to read in a genre that you enjoy and it’s good to know that there are series of books that follow a particular story through the years. That was one of the many factors that initially attracted me to Wizard’s First Rule and one of the many factors that made reading Stone of Tears so enjoyable. In other words, unlike a movie that ends after two hours and leaves you contemplating what might happen next for each of the characters, Stone of Tears gives the reader a very detailed accounting of what happens to each of the main characters in Wizard’s First Rule and – most importantly – begins the next phase of Richard Rahl’s journey.
The book starts innocuously enough with life reawakening after the defeat of Darken Rahl at the People’s Palace in D’Hara. However, with one of the Boxes of Orden (magic boxes that if the right one is opened up, the person who opens it can rule the world) still open, Zedd and Chase are unsure what to do. In a matter of a few pages, the action begins again as something called a screeling pops out of the box and begins attacking Zedd (an extremely powerful, good wizard) and Chase (a big, hulking warrior type). Zedd ultimately figures out that to defeat this screeling (a beast from the underworld that laughs whenever it’s attacked or injured) one needs to freeze it in water and then hack it to pieces.
And the action continues from there as the story progresses with Richard and Kahlan Amnell (a woman with the power to make people tell the truth simply by touching them) leave the People’s Palace before the attack takes place and go straight to the Mud People (an independent, tribal group of people who live unburdened by the laws of the land). It is at the land of the Mud People where the real story of Stone of Tears begins to take shape.
Richard is a wizard, but doesn’t want to admit it to himself. Part of the magic “gift” is being struck down by headaches from time to time. Richard gets hurt by these headaches because he doesn’t know how to control the magic within him. During his stay with the Mud People, three women called Sisters of the Light visit him and offer him help to control the painful headaches. There’s a catch, though. The catch is that he’d have to wear a collar to control the headaches. Given some of the torture that Richard endured in Wizard’s First Rule while he was collared, the reader believes that it is unlikely that he will ever commit to wearing a collar again.
And that’s how the story progresses. The headaches get worse, the sisters come back and offer their help, Richard refuses, and the headaches continue. However, remember that there are only three sisters that are visiting him. One of the rules of the game that the sisters are playing is that each time one of them is rejecting by Richard, they must forfeit their lives. So after the second rejection there is just one sister left.
While Richard is rejecting help from these sisters, he begins dabbing in the spirit world again and unintentionally summons up the spirit of his now-dead biological father – Darken Rahl. Darken Rahl, while no longer having a physical form to occupy, tells Richard the same thing that he told Zedd in the first book – that he is an agent of The Keeper. Oh, and if I haven’t explained it already, The Keeper is the term that is used for the entity that is, essentially, the devil in this series. The Creater is the term used for God.
Another spirit eventually visits the world of the living as the woman who tortured Richard in the first book (but was eventually forgiven) tells Kahlan (who Richard is madly in love with and on the verge of marrying) that she must force Richard to wear the collar to control his magic or he’ll die. Seems like a pretty tough situation for Kahlan, huh? Either you support the person that you love and his phobia of wearing a collar that will remove his control of his life or you lead that person to do something that he is deathly afraid of and, in the process, likely push him away from you for good while saving his life. What’s the Mother Confessor (Kahlan’s formal title) to do?
Well, she ultimately forces Richard to put on the collar and it does save his life by removing the headaches. It also rips Richard from her and begins the fraying of the stories of the cast of characters in Stone of Tears. By fraying of the stories I mean that there are a variety of different tracks that begin around this time in Stone of Tears and it would be hard to cover each of them. So I’m only going to comment on one or two more items about this novel and then move on.
The first thing that I liked about this novel is that it expands the world of the Sword of Truth series. We are introduced to the Old World which is separate from the three lands that are covered in the first novel. Along with the Old World, the reader is also introduced to a little bit of history of the land by learning about a major wizards’ war that took place three thousand years ago. Those additions to the series really make this book worth picking up and reading.
Related to this first point is the deepening of each of the characters. Take Kahlan for example – she spends most of her time in the first novel as a stoic woman who is nearly unshakeable until the end of the novel where she begins to fall in love with Richard. In the second book, the reader learns of Kahlan’s devotion to her people when she finds a band of 5,000 young soldiers who are trying to seek revenge against an armed host of 50,000 men devoted to something called the Imperial Order (more on that in the book). Though Kahlan rails against these young men for thinking that they can successfully attack and halt the Imperial Order troops, Goodkind goes to great lengths to explain how Kahlan feels for them. He then goes to an equally great length to describe how she trains these men to become skilled killers and warriors. We find out later in the novel that the young men are successful in defeating every last one of the 50,000 troops, though they lose some 80% of their own force over the course of the fight.
And that’s just the deepening development of one character!
The second thing that I liked about Stone of Tears is that Goodkind doesn’t mind providing some good social commentary within the story. Namely, towards the latter half of the novel Goodkind directly attacks socialism and communism as a failed way to lead any group of people. More specifically, Goodkind uses a 1,000 year old wizard (oddly enough, he’s related to Richard) to explain what is known as the wizard’s second rule: The greatest harm can result from the best intentions. Goodkind then weaves that rule into a commentary about the people who live in a city called Aydindril and, to a larger degree, through the Midlands (a land ruled by Kahlan). He notes that the people believe the lies of the Imperial Order because they promise the people a share of the money found in Aydindril (i.e. income redistribution in today’s political terms). Ultimately, the people of the Midlands choose to have Kahlan decapitated (although she’s not really killed and, instead, escapes) because of their greed and lust to have a share of the treasury (which they never get anyway).
I liked that social commentary and Goodkind does a much better job of describing it than I did in the paragraph above!
If you’re a reader of science fiction or fantasy novels, then I think you’ll enjoy Stone of Tears. I hesitate to say that you can easily read this novel even if you haven’t already read Wizard’s First Rule, though. While Goodkind does provide some very brief summations of each character in the early parts of Stone of Tears, as a reader you won’t really be able to get a firm grasp on what’s going on in this fantasy world unless you read the first book.
On a final note – this series is beginning to get very complex and a bit large to cover in these rather simple NOOK book reviews. Due to that fact, I don’t think that I’ll be providing many more NOOK book reviews for the Sword of Truth series. In all likelihood, I’ll probably provide a tweet here and there on my twitter feed (@JVince81) each time I finish a book or have some additional commentary about the series. So, if you haven’t already please be sure to follow me at @JVince81 to get the latest updates on my thoughts surrounding the Sword of Truth series. Oh, and for what it’s worth I’ve already completed the third book in this series and started reading the fourth book so I’ll definitely have some additional commentary in the coming days and weeks!
I found Stone of Tears to be a very enjoyable read and a journey of self-discovery for Richard, Kahlan, and all of the Midlands. The introduction of the Sisters of the Light and the Sisters of the Dark bring an interesting plot development to the story and create an incredible amount of “what if” scenarios for the reader to ponder. In the end, I think that Stone of Tears does justice to Wizard’s First Rule and joins the first book in setting a firm base for the future of the Sword of Truth series. I recommend going out and getting a copy or downloading a copy of Stone of Tears on your NOOK. Enjoy!
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