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Book Review

Book Cover

Severed Souls


Author: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 0 00 751089 3
Publication Date: 12 March 2015

With the barriers between the world of the living and the dead broken down, the world has been invaded by souless men and the reanimated dead, all intent on creating a union between the two. Whilst Bishop Hannis Arc makes his play for power in the D’Haran Empire, backed by the ancient Emperor Sulachan, Richard Rahl, Kahlan and their surviving soldiers find themselves trying to escape the army of soulless Shun-Tuk sent against them...

Severed Souls (2015. 558 pages) is another in the series of Richard and Kahlan novels, written by Terry Goodkind.

Ok, I’ll be honest right from the get go. I did not like this book and for once it had nothing to do with it being fantasy, even in this genre I can still appreciate good characters, tight story construction and the writing skill of the author.

Mostly I found the same problem as I did with his previous novel, the writing is repetitive and ponderous, with poor sentence construction. The book contains ninety two chapter, although this does mean that each chapter is very short.

On the plus side the characters he created were good, even given their propensity of repeating their internal thoughts ad nauseam. The world is interesting and if the plot was able to gain more velocity than a snail’s pace, then there is a good story trying to break through.

The thing which mostly spoiled the whole thing was the repetition. Little happens which is not described numerous times. Honestly, describe something once and then, as a reader I’ll presume that this holds until I’m told differently. I really don’t need variations on a theme.

A good example of this is when Richards and his people are trapped, fighting off the Shun-Tuk. They are slowly loosing when Richard comes up with a plan, not only to get them out of this predicament, but also turn the tables on their attackers. Does he gather his most trusted friends and soldiers together to explain? Nope he takes two chapters, firstly to tell only two people, even telling the same thing to, the unfortunately named, Commander Fister, three times, they then have to explain it to others. They, in turn, then have to tell others.

Having escaped through a gorge, a word repeated through many chapters, we are then given the useful information that:

“In much the same way they had used the gorge to trap the Shun-Tuk, in the confines of a gorge, those same tactics could be used to corner them.”

Surely if you have cornered them, you have effectively trapped them, in a gorge, gorge. Thought I’d add another one as, apparently, you can never use the word gorge too many times in a single sentence.

Another example would be Kahlan’s initial meeting with a wild cat, who she befriends by sharing her food, before Goodkind repeats Aesop’s tale of Androcles and the Lion by having her remove a thorn from the cat’s paw, who oddly then behaves like a domesticated animal:

“Watching her the whole time, it dragged the prize back a short distance and hunched over, gnawing at it very much the way a cat hunched over food as it ate. “

Of course it did, as we have already been informed that it is a large cat, therefore the reader would presume that it would also display catlike behaviour, the sentence is both clumsy in construction and redundant. I’m also pretty sure that he has mixed his tenses, confusing hunches with the second hunched.

In the end I found that I could skip whole paragraphs and pages and loose little from the plot. So, no, I really didn’t like it. The book proves that sometimes less is more.


Charles Packer

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