Terry Goodkind, Blood of the Fold (Tor, 1996)
[originally posted 8Mar2002]
Back when I was a kid, I was crazy about the various exploits of Donald Sobol’s pint-sized sleuth Encyclopedia Brown. There was rarely a week where I didn’t have at least one Encyclopedia Brown book out of at least one library somewhere near wherever I was living at the time. A fine set of books, those. Each was a collection of various mini-mysteries solved by Brown (and, later, his gorgeous sidekick Sally Kimball; after all, every sleuth needs a gorgeous sidekick, right?) in the space of a few pages. Sobol’s books had only one problem. Since the stories were collected from other sources, the first few pages of each were like a broken record, giving all the same details about how the “office” in EB’s garage was set up, reintroducing the characters, etc.
For some reason, Terry Goodkind saw fit to pull a Donald Sobel in Blood of the Fold, book three in the Sword of Truth series. The first two books, each verging on the thousand-page mark, blaze the way for a fantasy series that, if there is any justice in the world, is destined to become a classic. Blood of the Fold, however, is barely two-thirds of the length of those first two, and Goodkind spends a good chunk of the first hundred fifty pages in re-acquaintance. It would make more sense had there been some of it in the second book in the series, or if this book had an extra hundred fifty pages over and above what the first two have to compensate. But given the brevity, one gets the distinct feeling that the book was padded at the insistence of a publisher who wanted to keep Goodkind pumping out one book per year.
Not to say that Blood of the Fold isn’t still a good book. Once you’ve invested two thousand pages’ worth of time in any fantasy series, it’s doubtful that re-reading stuff about what’s happened before (no matter how much of it there is) is going to deter the reader from going on and finding the four hundred-odd pages of new stuff. And with Goodkind’s usual readable style and almost nonstop action, the pages fly by here just as fast as they did in Wizard’s First Rule and Stone of Tears. Of course, with only two-thirds of the bulk, that means you finish the book that much faster. Make sure you’ve got a copy of Temple of the Winds (book four) lying around before you start this one, or you may find yourself looking for a twenty-four hour bookstore at three in the morning. *** ½