Terry Goodkind, Author . Tor $29.95 (560p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0026-3

Fantasy bestseller Goodkind brings his usual strong sense of place and distinct characterization to his seventh sprawling novel in the popular Sword of Truth series, though the action, too often discussed rather than shown, takes a while to warm up. The struggle continues between the New World's Seeker of Truth, Lord Richard Rahl, and the Old World's totalitarian leader, Emperor Jagang "the Just," against the dry and barren beauty of the desert landscape. After deposing his father, old Lord Rahl, Richard lingers in the background at his immense fortress. Meanwhile, battling for power are the bastards that old Rahl has also sired, notably Richard's oafish lout of a half-brother, Oba, who tries to murder his way to the throne. Taking center stage is the vengeful Jennsen, who wants to kill Richard because she blames him for her mother's murder. Of course, Richard isn't the villain she takes him for, though Jennsen is slow to catch on. Amid the interminable sword-and-sorcery in the tradition of Robert E. Howard (Howard would have especially appreciated the huge serpent with which Oba and Jennsen contend), the author spouts his familiar political pieties. Lip service may be paid to public good, but passion arises only in scenes of violence. For all its clumsy exposition, unlikely coincidences and feeble attempts at humor, this latest installment, with its striking jacket art showing a beautiful desert landscape, is as certain to please Goodkind's legions of fans as previous books in the series. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/03/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Religion
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