Naked Empire: No. 1 Hardcover – 4 Aug 2003
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Naked Empire is book eight of Terry Goodkind's bestselling "Sword of Truth" fantasy series, following on directly from the events of the previous instalment The Pillars of Creation.
Richard, one of various gifted children of this world's former dark lord Darken Rahl, continues his journeying with the Sword of Truth and his wife Kahlan. Seven volumes of magical and military upheaval, and all too many desperate last-ditch measures, have left their scars: "The world was unravelling, in more ways than one. But there had been no choice".
Ancient sorcerous barriers have been accidentally toppled, freeing the unpleasant "Imperial Order" to rape, loot and pillage the rest of the world. The Emperor and his chief minion are revolting creatures whose sadism begins where Vlad the Impaler left off. Bandakar, a land of pacifists, has little chance of survival until someone gets the bright idea of giving the admired liberator Lord Rahl--that is, Richard--a dose of slow-acting poison. There is no antidote until he, personally and more or less single-handedly, frees Bandakar from the invading horde while, as pacifists, the natives will stand clear and disapprove of the slaughter. Some lessons in ethics and realism need to be learned here...
Goodkind deals in tougher issues and greater moral complexities than the typical blockbuster fantasy series, and underlines the dreadfulness of his characters' choices with unsparing descriptions of Imperial atrocity. Big trouble is also spreading elsewhere, with the Rahl homeland under siege and the fabled Wizard's Keep--a bastion that is actually the home of just two elderly magicians--threatened by magic-immune infiltrators.
Meanwhile in Bandakar, Richard and friends have greater problems than overwhelming opposition and useless allies. His personal magic "gift" is failing, he gets terrible headaches, his relationship with the Sword of Truth is in trouble, poison symptoms worsen, and the three vials of antidote are hidden in widely separated places. Worse, the local boss of Imperial forces is a soul-stealer who rides the minds of birds and beasts, watches Richard's progress through their eyes, and can gloatingly anticipate his plans. No-one said this was going to be easy.
A violent finale sees some good surprises and ingenuity, plus one cheeky deus ex machina, bringing this adventure to a neat conclusion. The greater war continues, though, and further sequels must follow. Newcomers to "Sword of Truth" may be dizzied by the number of back-story references, but the saga's legions of admirers will welcome this slickly crafted and compulsively readable episode. --David Langford
‘Few writers have Goodkind’s power of creation’
‘Goodkind’s greatest triumph: the ability to introduce instantly identifiable characters. His heroes, like us, are not perfect. Instead, each is flawed in ways that strengthen rather than weaken their impact.’
‘A real born storyteller'
'Everything one could ask for in an epic fantasy'
Top customer reviews
Where's all the wonderful magic, the interesting, action packed adventures? Gee whiz, what was the purpose of this book?
This book is no different,it starts where it left off in the last book 'The Pillars of Creation' with reluctant hero Richard and Kahlen coming across a civilisation,which just happens to be pristinely ungifted and in need of saving from the brutal imperial order,but for Richard Cypher this civilisation and the worlds last hope for survival there are added problems with his gift not only failing him,but seeming to be killing him at the same time. With time ebbing away for him, if Richard is to succeed he must confront a force not seen for a thousand years, a magical being with the ability to take one's very soul.
With this going on Richards granfather Zedd is taken prisoner,worse though the wizards keep is thus left unguarded with priceless magical items left open to those who would use them against everything that is good.
'The Naked Empire' is a fine addition to the 'sword of truth' series and a big improvement on the last book, though it doesn't stretch the limits of this fantasy epic or reach the heights of the first book in the series 'Wizards first rule'.
If you have read all the previos books by Terry Goodkind it's worth buying, but if you are new to this epic fantasy I recommend 'Wizards first rule', and I'll let you take it from there.
However, even more irritating is Goodkind's propensity to preach. In his earlier books Goodkind has always used the story to put across his views on many subjects. This became even more the case with the war between the D'Haran Empire and the Imperial Order which Goodkind makes clear is a war of ideologies. In Naked Empire this becomes outright preaching. The story takes a back seat to discussion of the various ideologies in the book, and Naked Empire is a long book. If Goodkind came up with new and varied arguments it wouldn't be too bad. But his arguments are repetitive, as if Goodkind were preaching a very complex subject to someone with little understanding and, hence, had to keep repeating himself. I found this both irritating and rather insulting. But I suppose he had to fill out the book in some way since there is not enough of a story in Naked Empire to fill all 660 pages.
Also, there is nothing new in terms of content in this book compared to the previous seven. The war goes on. Characters get captured and tortured. Richard is dying once again and Kahlan makes a great sacrifice to try and save him. And, too, there is a lot of reference to previous books and when there have been so many previously that's a lot of reference.
I am so disappointed because Goodkind's early works, particularly his first three novels, show that he has a rare talent. I think it is time for Goodkind to leave the Sword of Truth behind and try something new and fresh. Something that will show us, once again, the talent that was so evident in his early work.
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