Naked Empire by Terry Goodkind
Good God. It’s just…I don’t know anymore. The eighth book of this series, and again, it’s so reminiscent of when I tackled Left Behind or Twilight. If you pulled all of the biblical proselytizing or awkward teenage mooning out of those series, you’d have a pretty decent three book apocalypse series or a one book vampire story. There’s still flaws, but it’s like stop preaching to the choir.
In the latest book,
Rand has the taint I mean, Richard has problems with The Gift. It’s giving him headaches again. Though that might be from the whiplash of the characters around him. The women have all been reduced to helpless shrieking hateful harpies, who constantly berate anyone who disagrees with them. It’s a little embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as Jennsen, who’s pretty much like “OMG, I lervs you big bro!” Twenty years of hate and on the run, but hey, whoops, we cool, ese.
In this one, they are trudging back from The Pillars of Creation, like a sunburnt suburban family making the hours-long jaunt in the family station wagon home from the amusement park of the day up I-95. Birds follow them, because…holy shit it’s so stupid, I’ll get to it later. Anyway, Cara and Kahlan spend the first six chapters yelling at Jennsen for, I dunno, because Goodkind hates women. It’s the usual recipe of, “Remember that thing we never mentioned before, but now we’re going to bring it up?” “I do, Lord Rahl.” “Well, I hope we don’t run into that.” “Oh shit. It’s THAT!” “Sigh. Okay, Deus ex magica.” And then people cry a lot.
The thrust of this book involves the Bandakar empire. Remember how the children of Rahl that are ungifted are murdered? Only Oba and Jennsen and Drefan managed to avoid that? Okay, well, no, what we meant was in the old days, they banished them all to the Old World. And by banished, we mean, a wizard trapped them in a mountain enclave. And there they became an allegory. Okay, allegory is a poor choice because it implies skill or craft. Let’s go with overwrought metaphor. The Bandakar can’t be touched by magic. And so they are pacifists. Like uber so. Like they represent pseudointellectuals who don’t support the American military and would rather compromise. And so about 400 pages of the book are Goodkind having Richard explain why anyone who puts a daisy in a machine gun should get a face full of flowerpetals and metal. It’s not even supporting defense. It goes on and on and on and on to explain that they have to fight against anyone who challenges their way of life and to ignore that or to try to morally compromise with that is evil. And that you must take up arms to defend against them. It’s borderline militia talk. And much like Altur’Rang’s tragic Objectivist message, it’s just as lame.
But for the plot points! Oh, the pacifists heard about how Richard saves people and so they sent someone to ask him to help. And to poison him. But, but, but they were totally going to give him the antidote! As long as he promised to get rid of the Imperial Order. But stupid Richard, he and his friends killed a bunch of people trying to kill them. And so that made their helper sick. And then he was late. So now Richard will die if he doesn’t get the antidote. And by the antidote, he means, three antidotes that he has hidden in strategic locations. Including with the master dark wizard who rules the roost and who is dressed so goth-y other goths would pour their tears and razor-wound blood on him to drown him. It’s like a side-quest for some fantasy game that just gets increasingly more complicated and really has no upshot. I think there was a parody RPG where a man kept giving you just one more quest until you finally killed him.
But the big baddie in this book is Nicholas the Slide. What is a Slide, other than something that Goodkind came up with five seconds before writing the book? It’s someone who is as powerful as Jagang and his dream walking. He can take someone’s spirit. And then use that spirit to…enter animals? And spy on people. But yeah, totally captures souls and spirits. Maybe. Definitely.
Anyway, Richard rides in and of course the last batch of antidote is lost to him, and he also is going to probably die from magic. Only at the last second, he remembers something and then literally douche ex magicas it. I mean, he looks at a statue and goes, “AHA!” And solves his magic problem. And then even though everyone who could possibly make the antidote for the poison is dead, the gift lets Richard come up with George’s Marvelous Medicine and he is cured. FUCKING AMATEUR HOUR.
Also, there’s a cool subplot where the Bandakar are used to breach the Keep and Zedd and Adie are taken hostage, but rescued in a joint effort by EVERYONE EVER WHO EVER WAS EVER. But it does bring back Chase and Rachel, who I miss from early when this wasn’t still a terrible knockoff of Wheel of Time. Anyway, onwards and upwards into the books where there’s only one word titles. Four more left!