The Children of D’Hara
Head of Zeus
Review: Lauren O’Connor-May
Fantasy author Terry Goodkind died in September last year and his last five novellas in the Sword of Truth series, The Scribbly Man, Hateful Things, Wasteland, Witch’s Oath and Into Darkness, all of which were published in the last two years, have been rereleased as one very fat book.
The book – or books – continue the story of Lord Richard Rahl, a war wizard, and his wife Kahlan, the mother confessor.
I have not read the predecessor books but I was not at a loss to follow the story.
Lord Rahl, who is a king of sorts, is now ruling D’Hara with Kahlan at his side. The pair are the last of their kind among magical folk.
The story starts when a man from a usually benign group of people issues Lord Rahl with an unusual challenge. The challenge doesn’t phase the lord but it perplexes his wife, who senses that something more sinister is afoot.
After the mother confessor leaves with the man to interrogate him privately, a new character emerges on the scene, a mysterious witch-woman, who also challenges Lord Rahl but in a non-threatening way. With this dual challenge out of the way, the story gets under way and a bizarre gorefest begins.
The curious thing about this book is that the removal of the internal divisions to make it flow seamlessly over more than a hundred chapters, meant that the builds, climaxes and cliffhangers of the individual books fall flat.
One chapter would end on a tense cliffhanger only to have the very next one open with an immediate negation of the cliffhanger and a boring rehash of everything that had happened already. I soon realized that this was because this would have previously been the division where one book ended and another began. A little bit of clever editing would have solved this problem.
Also, the books over-explains some things, with a repetitive dialogue that goes on and on, but leaves other mysteries unsolved.
All the climaxes in the book (and there are many of them) are disappointingly underwhelming − bar one.
Each time, the villain is built up to terrifying proportions and given an almost insurmountable upper hand only to be unsatisfyingly and easily defeated in the end.
But the most annoying thing about the book was the almost worship-like devotion every single character in the book, bar other magical men, had for the lead character.
The apparently “powerful” mother confessor character was rarely given an opportunity to demonstrate this power because she was constantly relegated to the background so that the perfect Lord Rahl could dominate most of the story.