Phantom by Terry Goodkind
Initially I had given this two stars, but thinking more upon it, I pulled a star. There are a multitude of reasons.
First, Goodkind opens his book with a quote from “prophecy” which essentially comes out as “Haters gonna hate hate hate.” Honestly, he’s written ten books that inexplicably became bestsellers and he’s got the temerity to act wounded that people think he’s a hack. Boo fucking hoo, Ayn Rand. I guess you’ll have to dry your tears on your solid gold copy of The Fountainhead.
Secondly, the ending. This is supposedly his Empire Strikes Back. It ends on the downer. The army of Jagang is surrounding the D’Haran palace. Kahlan has been taken prisoner by Jagang. Who threatens to rape her, pulls off her clothes climbs on top of her and then says, “No. I’m totally going to rape the raping shit out of you, but I want you to know who you are then so that when I rape you, it rapes your brain too.” Jagang has two of the boxes of Orden. Richard has been stripped of his magic. Stripped of his sword. He was going to get tortured by a witch woman but instead he was taken prisoner by the Order and now he plays on their sportsball team. THAT’s the end. RICHARD FUCKING RAHL is going to basically do The Longest Yard. He’s not been physically changed. He’s not looking different. Somehow, someway, in a fucking army of thirty jillion motherfuckers, not one of them sees him and thinks, “Hey, um, you guys? Isn’t that the ultimate champion for the other guys?” But no, they want to set it up so that Richard will play Jagang’s team and then I don’t know. Probably more crying and rape.
But the biggest reason this book feels like a fucking cheat is that Goodkind essentially ret-cons EVERYTHING. Everything is bullshit. The prophecy wasn’t true. (But they never are.) The boxes of Orden work under totally different rules this time and stuff can happen differently. Princess Thundertwat, Violet that odious little shit, didn’t die, but instead came back to life because the witch woman Six healed her and now she’s back to torture revenge everyone but oh wait no maybe not. You see, the real, real, REAL prophecy is… Goodkind cheated everyone. He basically took everything that he had established and rewrote all of the rules to shoehorn his new plot ideas. It’s like Max Landis bitches about in the The Death and Return of Superman. Goodkind kills death. You can’t believe anything he’s told you before because now the rules are different. It’s such a fucking cheat. He basically changed up the entire story to set up this weird metaphor. And all the rules and prophecies and promises setup beforehand turn out to be malleable.
You can change rules in your story, you can retell your story, you can do so many things, if you play fair with your audience. Goodkind doesn’t. He’s so intent on speechifying and having characters cry and making everyone love Richard. He’s so intent, now that he has this stage, to hammer the audience with this overblown, repetitive speeches that tout his Ayn Rand Paul worldview. It’s just embarrassing. This is honestly harder to slog through than Left Behind. But I refuse to be beaten. No matter what bullshit you spew. Haters gonna hate, and I’m a big mothafuckin hater.