Review. Terry Goodkind, Blood Of The Fold

In my review of Stone of Tears, I mentioned how the Suck Fairy paid me a little visit. The thing about those nasty creatures is that the illness they spread, is not contagious. In fact, while I was stunned by how I liked Stone of Tears far less than I used to, I was amazed at how Blood of the Fold managed to keep my attention and even entertain me more than before. This third novel in the series was and never will me among my favourites, but while I always had a hard time appreciating it completely, I found it way more enjoyable.

Richard comes to terms with his true identity as a War Wizard. The New World, and all the freedom of humankind, is under threat from the Imperial Order after he had brought down the barrier between the Old and New World. The Imperial Order has already sent delegations and armies into the New World.
Richard’s only option to stop the invasion is to claim his heritage and unite all free kingdoms and provinces under one rule and one command.

As far as the main plot of Blood of the Fold is concerned, I don’t really think it’s going anywhere fast. In the grand scheme of things, this novel mainly lays the groundwork for what’s to come in the rest of the series and while doing so, tackling some loose ends here and there, such as Edie’s story and the whole shazam in Nicobarese. Richard and Kahlan’s storyline as well isn’t moving an inch and the only thing they seem remotely good at, is missing out on each other while running cross country. Taking all this in mind, it is no wonder that I never really liked this particular book in the series. A lot of time is spent politicking, and it’s not really a joy to read unless you’re a fan of preaching about freedom and ‘if you’re not with us, you’re against us’-stuff. The thing that made me like this book more than before, however, were those happenings on the outskirts of the novel. For one thing, the Sisters of the Dark are really coming into their own, especially with Jagang as their new boss, so to speak. In Stone of Tears, the Sisters of the Light were getting their knickers in a twist over some supposedly dangerous group of women, but from what we’ve witnessed, they might have been a bunch of schoolgirls gone rogue with black lipstick and short skirts. I jest, of course, cause they did do some killing, but they never came across as the demon spawn the Light was making them. Another aspect that I really liked, was the comic relief. With the whole book taking itself so seriously in regards to Richard and his gang, it’s really refreshing to move the focus to Zedd and Ann who, against all odds, make for a very heartwarming team in their quest to capture a rogue prophet. Speaking of which, Nathan’s storyline was amongst the good in this book as well.

With this in mind, I can be fairly short about the characters cause the more I liked the characters, the more I liked their story. See, it’s not that I don’t find the whole politicking in Aydindril particularly dull or boring, but seeing as it’s all about Richard, it does become dull for he is one dull main character. Luckily for him, he gets company in red leather. The Mord-Sith, and especially Cara, are the best thing since tea and books. Introduced in the first novel as a kind of woman you don’t want to meet – ever – they have become some of my favourite characters in the whole series and Cara is by far the best character to have walked on Goodkind’s pages. Another character worth mentioning here, is Jagang. Blood of the Fold sees him introduced as the main villain for the remainder of the series and I can’t make my mind up about him. As far as villains go, he’s one to loathe with a passion. I mean, when you make me want to invite Voldemort for a cuppa and a chat about muggles’ rights, you know you went overboard with the amount of evil you’ve put in your mix. And while that may make a good adversary for your goody two shoes main characters, by giving your antagonist no redeeming qualities whatsoever, you leave your readers no choice but to side with your main characters, or in case when they’re bland, not to give a crap.
For the first two books, I’ve kind of liked the writing in this series. A bit overly descriptive and slow paced at times, but enjoyable. While all that is still present, two things that get on my nerves enter the writing at this point in the series. First of all, the preaching. I’ll be the last to complain about too much politics or warmongering in my epic fantasy, but there’s a difference between politics and preaching. Richard’s always been a bit of a wise-ass, but from here on he starts droning on and on about certain beliefs and I can’t help but feel that a certain point of view is being shoved down my throat and it’s not really a turn-on for me. However, there’s something called skimming for a reason, isn’t there? Another aspect of the writing that gets the skimming treatment, is the endless repetition. I get that you have to summarize certain aspects of the story so far, especially when you’re writing a long series, but do I really need a longwinded retelling of things I knew from the prior books? I, for one, think it’s completely unnecessary to explain – for two whole pages – the specific enchantment that is constructed around the Palace of Prophets. This because a) I am not dumb and b) I have read the previous book so I already know how it works, one paragraph would have been enough. Authors tend to counter this with the “people have to be able to read the book as a standalone”. Fair and square, but why would you do that? It baffles me sometimes.

Prior to this reread of Blood of the Fold, I never really liked it all that much. It’s no stinker, but it’s far from gold. This time around, however, I enjoyed it more than before. Whether is was because my expectations weren’t high to begin with or because I managed to focus on the good things, Blood of the Fold has its redeeming qualities, even though it works as a set-up novel for the most part.

★ ★ ★

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