Terry Goodkind, Stone of Tears (Tor, 1995)
[originally posted 7Mar2002]
Terry Goodkind continues his Sword of Truth series for another thousand pages, writing a book as good, if not better, than Wizard’s First Rule. The adventures of Richard, Kahlan, and co. continue.
The events that concluded the first book (not recounted here because they’re plot spoilers) were supposed to bring peace to the world, right? Right—but peace is the last thing on anyone’s mind as book two opens, a few minutes after the close of book one. (Nice touch, that.) Richard may have figured out how to use the Wizard’s First Rule to his own advantage, but in doing so he violated the Wizard’s Second Rule, about which there is much talk without anyone really saying what it is. (By the time anyone gets around to teaching it to Richard, you’ll probably have figured it out on your own from the varying contexts; it’s a reworded cliché.) By now, everyone but Richard is well aware that Richard has the gift. He is a wizard, albeit an untrained one. Richard’s refusal to believe that he has the gift gets him into enough troubles, but now he’s confronted with others who know he has the gift. Some of them are less than happy about it. And so a whole new set of problems opens up.
Despite some of the more soap operalike aspects that are unavoidable in any multi-thousand-page fantasy epic, Goodkind keeps the string-the-reader-along stuff to a minimum, uses more subtle cliffhangers than he did in the last book, and once again keeps the reader’s attention well in hand. The last three hundred pages of this book, for me, demanded to be read in one sitting. (As to a previous reviewer complaining about all the sex in this book, I wonder if s/he and I were reading the same novel. Perhaps we have different definitions of “sex.”) The last few pages of this one have one truly contrived moment, but somehow Goodkind pulls it off without too much cheesiness.
The best thing I can say about the book is that I was planning on leaving the series for a few days while I finished some other books. And yet, after I closed the back cover on this one, I was reading Blood of the Fold within ten minutes. Goodkind has created a worthy successor to book one here. **** ½