Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chainfire by Terry Goodkind



Title: Chainfire
Author: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: Tor Books
Publication Date: January 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover, 672 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: The Sword of Truth (Book 9), Chainfire Trilogy (Book 1)
Related Television Show: Legend of the Seeker (The CW)

Chainfire is the ninth book in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series and the first book in the Chainfire Trilogy. At first, I was confused about why a book would be considered a part of two series but after reading it I completely understand.

The Sword of Truth series follows Richard as he learns about his family history, his destiny, and his role as the Seeker of Truth while fighting epic battles along the way. He is joined in his adventures by Kahlan, who is the Mother Confessor, his grandfather Zedd, various Mord-Sith, and Sisters of both Light and Dark. The initial books detail the battle against Darken Rahl as he attempts to extend his cruel rule. However, there is an even larger threat to the people coming from the Old World. As the new leader of D'Hara, Richard must find a way to defeat the Imperial Order. Each book in The Sword of Truth series reveals another obstacle that must be overcome as a part of the overall battle for the people's freedom.

Chainfire begins with Richard fighting for his life after being wounded in a battle he doesn't even remember. When he wakes from unconsciousness, he discovers that Kahlan, his wife, is missing. However, the worst part is that his companions do not remember that she even exists. They insist that he does not have a wife and that all the Confessors were killed in the initial battle with Darken Rahl. Richard insists that Kahlan is real and that he must rescue her from who or whatever wounded him and captured her. Cara and Nicci begin to fear for Richard's sanity and wonder if the injuries he sustained have altered his memories. As I read the book, I felt Richard's frustration as he tried to convince his friends that Kahlan was real and that he was not crazy. The book essentially follows his search for the truth even though all evidence seems to be against him. While he is searching for Kahlan, the D'Haran forces are facing overwhelming odds against the Imperial Order in the larger battle.

Chainfire is part of two series because it does continue the overall storyline of The Sword of Truth Series. However, there is one main difference between this book and the previous eight. In all of the other books in this series, the conflict for that book is resolved by the end even though the overarching battle against the Imperial Order continues to thread through each one. In Chainfire, there is very little resolution by the end of the book. Richard does find evidence that convinces his companions that Kahlan is real and discovers how she could have been erased from everyone's memories. He also learns what needs to be done in order to counteract the magic that caused the Chainfire event. However, he is unable to act on that knowledge immediately and has not found Kahlan by the end of the book. I will have to read the second book, Phantom, and the third book, Confessor, to see how the rest of the story goes. Confessor is also the final book in The Sword of Truth series.

The Sword of Truth series has become more political and philosophical as it has grown. In Chainfire, the explanation of the magic is complicated and rather confusing. Goodkind did an excellent job at portraying Richard's frustration at being unable to convince anyone of Kahlan's existence, his worry over her disappearance, and his self-doubt as he found no evidence to support his memories. As the reader, knowing of Kahlan's existence from earlier books, I was felt Richard's confusion and frustration along with him.

Overall, I greatly enjoy this series and am looking forward to reading the final two books. The CW currently has a show called Legend of the Seeker which is based on the first book in The Sword of Truth Series, Wizard's First Rule. My husband and I attempted to watch the initial episode but we found ourselves very frustrated with the substantial changes that had been made in the initial storyline and the relationships between the characters. If you are a fan of the books, I would not recommend the show.