Review. Terry Goodkind, Stone Of Tears

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but I do am proud to say that I care a lot about the preservation of wildlife and every mention of another species going extinct makes me a little sad. There is, however, one kind of creature whom I don’t mind going extinct for good. No resurrection, no zombie. Just six feet under. That particular being is the dreaded Suck Fairy. You don’t see her, but you know she’s been there, dusting your books with her foul fairy dust, whenever you pick a book up for a re-read and it just isn’t that brilliant a book it once was. Suck Fairy, I hereby declare war!

The veil to the underworld has been torn, and Rahl, from beyond the veil, begins to summon a sinister power more dreadful than any he has wielded before. Horrifying creatures escape through the torn veil, wreaking havoc on the unsuspecting world above.If Rahl isn’t stopped, he will free the Keeper itself, an evil entity whose power is so vast and foul that once freed, it can never again be contained.
Richard and Kahlan must face Rahl and the Keeper’s terrible minions. But first, Richard must endure the ministrations of the Sisters of the Light, or die from the pain of magic that is his birthright and his curse. While Richard undertakes the arduous journey to the forbidden city of the Sisters, Kahlan must embark upon a long and dangerous mission to Aydindril, citadel of the old wizards, where she hopes to find Zedd and the help only he can lend to their desperate cause.
War, suffering, torture, and deceit lie in their paths, and nothing will save them from a destiny of violent death, unless their courage and faith are joined with luck and they find the elusive…Stone of Tears.

Stone Of Tears is the second in the Sword Of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and was – notice the past tense – always one of my favourites. In this particular instalment, Richard and Kahlan are back at the Mud People’s when a creature from the underworld wreaks havoc and Richard gets plagued by vicious headaches. Bad things always come in three, so when three Sisters of the Light come knocking and want to take Richard along for a – very long – ride, shackled like Denna did not so long ago, Richard and Kahlan know there is trouble ahead. As if their own misery wasn’t enough to deal with, Kahlan, as the Mother Confessor, faces a threat to her country in the form of the Imperial Order. An army of outcasts from all over the Midlands wants to rid the lands of the foul curse of magic at all cost, and the Mother Confessor will be their trophy.
Thinking back on the previous times I read this book – which was four times – I can’t figure why I always kept mentioning this book as one of the best in the series. Sure, the summary sounds alluring, but for a tome of almost 900 pages, very little happens. This is probably what I struggled with the most this time around, the pacing of the plot. Having read the complete series, I can honestly say that the Sisters of the Light are a great addition to the world laid out in the first book and Nicci has to be my second favourite character of the entire series (Cara being the numero uno for life y’all!). So I was very much looking forward to reading this book and having Richard at the Palace of Prophets with all the shenanigans going on down there. However, of the 900 pages this book has, he spent almost 700 of them traveling towards the Palace and once there, things happen really fast. Too fast. Or better: he took too long getting there and resolved the plot way too easily. I get the whole thing with DuChailu was necessary for the plot to continue in the books to come, but I could have managed with one less campfire scene and perhaps one less skinned rabbit as well. Edit one of each out, and we’re suddenly 100 pages further – I jest, but you can catch my drift here.
The other plotline is – how could it not be – Kahlan’s, the other half of out star-crossed lovers. Take out the cheesy romance in the very beginning and the wailing over Richard’s absence, and you can actually really enjoy this strong and independent woman. I guess it’s the shock of being able to be loved that makes her so insufferable dependent of him and cheesy, and I can get that. But honey, you managed to survive twenty-something years with people not loving or downright hating/fearing you. Please get yourself together? So yes, all that aside, a very strong storyline for her, albeit a bit bordering on the unbelievable. I mean, an army that killed and raped a whole town, yes, I’m willing to go with you there. But whenever you let your main character take a fairly untrained detachment consisting of under-twenties, and lead them into the enemy’s encampment, butt-naked and painted white, you’re stretching my imagination and capability to go along for the ride just a little bit too far. Not only because of the impending frostbite since it’s Winter, for crying out loud.. The fact that Kahlan manages to escape an attempt of rape quite a lot, is pushing it. I’m not fond of rape being used, especially not as randomly as here. It’s just tacky. These critiques aside, though, a very interesting storyline for our main heroine and her teaming up with Chandalen made for some golden moments.
I already touched upon Kahlan’s ability to become insufferable at times, but with her, it’s only at times. Whereas Richard was likeable in the first book, here, he becomes an ass. So yes, you managed to trick the evil wizard into killing himself magically and saved the world in doing so, but that doesn’t make your every piss liquid gold. I found Richard to be very self-righteous and downright arrogant and snotty towards others. He’s written as an almost flawless character with a moral compass that’s always pointing northwards, but because of that, he’s as unlikeable as he can get. The prime example being Verna asking him to keep his cool for once and going with it in order for them to survive. The first thing he does is mess it all up and put their lives in jeopardy, simply because the believes of another tribe doesn’t match with his. Basically, he’s guilty of what he’s blaming others. Also, his pride is annoying as hell. I have the feeling he could have saved himself – and in doing so me – a lot of trouble if only he was able to swallow his pride and come clean from the very beginning. Can I also point out the rediculousness of Richard’s intuitive use of magic? The magic in this series, much like Richard’s intuition, knows no boundaries and a lot of things are resolved by using magic at the right time. Where I once was enchanted by this, I know call shenanigans. Luckily, there are some redeeming qualities to this book.
The highlights here are the Sisters of the Dark and their twisted ways. It’s sad to know what they will become in later books – viscious, cruel women simply lashing out in the name of destruction. But here, they are deliciously wicked rebels with a cause.

Things are as they are, however, and I can’t change anything about this book. I might have given it a lot of critique, but between those shades of grey, I managed to recapture some of the moments I used to find glorious and what made me love this book to begin with. If there is one thing this book excels at, it’s the establishing of Verna as a charismatic and strong character. Stone Of Tears had to happen for her to become the woman she will be, and for that, I will look back on this book with a hint of nostalgia. The magic might not be as bright and shining as it used to be, the glimmer will never fade.

★ ★ ★

Meet the Sisters of the Dark. Book your appointment here.

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One thought on “Review. Terry Goodkind, Stone Of Tears

  1. Pingback: Review. Terry Goodkind, Blood Of The Fold | The Paper Dragon

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