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Book Review

Book Cover

Heart of Black Ice (Hardback)


Author: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: Head of Zeus
525 pages
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 1 838 931780
Publication Date: 21 January 2020

Following the removal of the city of Ildakar, following a great battle, Nathan and his friends are scattered to the four corners of the world. Nicci finds herself at the heart of the old empire, while Nathan and the few remaining wizards harry Utro’s enormous army…

Heart of Black Ice (525 Pages) is the fourth and final book in The Nicci Chronicles, written by Terry Goodkind.

Goodkind has a peculiar take on his characters, who seem to want to fight and kill, regardless of which side they are supposed to be on.

Utro, his army being returned to their human form, and having suffered great losses in the siege of Ildakar, decides that having lost that battle he intends to conquer the whole of the Old World with a starving army and no supplies. While his initial reason for doing this is that he was ordered to do so, there is little in the way of explanation of his motivation to continue.

Many, if not most, of the characters seem to be acting without thinking. Nicci, for instance, when she encounters the Hidden People reacts with violence to something she does not understand. Certainly they grab at her and while she does not understand that they are trying to save her from some greater harm, she uses her magic to kill a lot of them.

Likewise, a little later, Utro turns up at the same city, not knowing that the Hidden People consider him a hero and the fulfillment of a prophecy, so they rush out to meet him, only to have Utros’ pet wizards set fire to them. It’s not a good day to be part of the Hidden People.

I guess my objection is that none of the characters seem to have particularly valid reasons for their actions, which are brought to the fore in the book, apart for some form of self interest. I mean they have reasons, but they are incredibly shallow and while the two parties tear chunks out of each other, everyone around them suffers.

Structurally, the book is made up of many short chapters, each one flitting between different POV characters. Although, somewhat amoral, I found Nicci’s story the most interesting. If I made up my own motivations, I would also say that Utro’s part was worth following, not sure what happened with Bannon, whose sections for the most part added little to the overall narrative.

As you can possibly tell, this was not a book for me. I know Goodkind has written a lot of books and has a faithful following, but I find this type of writing akin to bloatware, with too much talking which adds little to the story and large meandering passages.

It may not specifically be Goodkind’s problem, it may be that he is just responding to his audience’s desires or his publisher’s requests and he certainly is not the only author who seems incapable of writing anything other than a door stop. This seems to be endemic in the realms of fantasy writing.

On the plus side the author has done well to produce a book, which would have been more satisfying, if you had read the previous three novels, but never-the-less works quite well as a standalone piece.


Charles Packer

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