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Book Review

Book Cover

The Third Kingdom


Author: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 749375 3
Publication Date: 27 March 2014

Being asked to review a book which has been part of a successful series is always an interesting experience, partially it’s the adventure of reading a novelist who should be, as a writer, in their prime and the intrigue of discovering whether the writer is able to distil the previous story enough to make the latest novel intelligible to a newbie.

Terry Goodkinds’s The Third Kingdom is a weighty tome with its five hundred and twenty-seven pages, cut into eighty-six short chapters. The dust jacket containing five snippets of PR blurb, all of which extol the book's virtues ranging from “a tour de force”, to the slightly less impressive “Eminently readable”. This is a middling attempt to make you pick up the book. A large number of quotes usually equate to the more awful the finished product turns out to be.

The novel chronicles the continuing story of Richard and Kahlan, although poor Kahlan spends a lot of the time being unconscious, so it’s really about Richard. It turns out that Richard is the Lord Rahl of the D’Hara and Kahlan, The Mother Confessor, although her role and titles are never explained, I’m thinking that this was previously explained in earlier volumes.

Having bested Jit, The Hedge Maid Richard awakes to the sound of robbers. He is finally extricated from this predicament by local villagers who also live in the Dark Lands, location unknown as the book does not contain a map. Following an attack on the village by zombies, Richard discovers that the ancestors of the villagers were placed there to defend the North Wall, a barrier between the civilised south and the evil lurking beyond, a concept not unfamiliar to readers of another series.

What was really frustrating about the novel was that there was clearly a good story trying to break free of the ponderous style. There is an uneven feel to the part of the book, the first piece of action, well written though it might be, covers only twenty-one pages, whereas the endless discussion in the cave goes on for about eighty pages, with repetition enough to grace a Doctor Who episode. For example, on page one hundred and fifty-four, in response to Richard, Samantha asks him “Do you mean to say that you can read those strange markings on the wall”. It’s a fair question, but even after he has told her that he can on the next page we’re back to “You can read these markings” There is quite a lot of this in the book giving the impression that most everybody in this land suffers from a touch of dementia. Large sections of the novel are light on action and long on exposition, had the book been edited down and condensed it would have made for a more satisfying read.

In the spirit of fairness, had you been a fan of this series you’re probably going to enjoy all the exposition. There is something about spending time with well-loved characters which works just fine for fans that can never get enough of every nuance and inflection. I’m just as bad with Tolkien or George R.R. Martin, both series also go on and on; with often nothing happening but conversation and yet as a fan I’m gripped waiting to read what will be said next.

So, this is not a great standalone novel, too much information is presumed, no map or glossary is provided to orientate a new reader and if you start here you’ll have no investment in the characters so, like me, will find all the talking a little bit tedious.


Charles Packer

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