Temple of the Winds (Sword of Truth, Book 4) - Terry Goodkind
I'm glad I didn't give up on this series. This was the best book yet. Jagang sends Marlin, a wizard-assassin to kill Richard, and he brings a double-bind prophecy that foretells of a time when Kahlan will betray Richard. At the same time, an old flame, Nadine shows up, and tells Richard that the sorceress Shota has sent her to marry Richard. This arouses jealousy in Kahlan and is a point of contention in their relationship. In fact, one of the fun points of this book is that the opening words are from the Mord-Sith to Kahlan, "Should I kill her?" and this carries through, beginning the next few chapters, until finally one chapter begins with Kahlan saying, "I'm going to kill her!" Richard's brother, another bastard son of Darken Rahl, shows up. A plague develops and Richard must find the Temple of the Winds in order to halt its progress. The last 100 pages are non-stop action with great twists and turns. They held me spellbound as they wrapped up so many threads from the book. The themes of betrayal, the difference between intent and action, and how love binds us to others are prominent in this book. I won't give away the final pages, but something very special occurs and it almost brought me to tears. In my opinion, this was the best book yet, and makes wading through 1000's of pages worth it. Now, on to the fifth book...
Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth, Book 5) - Terry Goodkind
At the end of Book 4, Kahlan, in order to save Richard's life, had to perform a ritual where she pronounced the names of the three chimes. By doing so, she unwittingly let the chimes loose on the world. The chimes slowly absorb magic. Without the aid of the Sword of Truth or their magic, Richard and Kahlan must reverse what they have done and bring the world to right. In order to do so, they must travel to Anderith where the ancient weapon Dominie Dirtch resides. The story of what the repression of the Hakens by the Anders is compelling. The corrupt leaders exercise control over the Haken by feigning righteousness and superiority. Richard believes he can convince the Anders and Hakens of the truth and goodness of his reign and their need to submit to D'Haran rule rather than the brutal Imperial Order, but in the end the people choose the oppression and bondage of their corrupt rulers. They reject Richard and while shouting out "Give Peace a Chance" they are overrun by the Imperial Order, who could care less for their peace marches. This is a moving, powerful, and disturbing part of the book. Finally, the way that one male leader in Ander exacts his vengeance on his sex-crazed Sovereign and the Sovereign's power-hungry wife and his own star-struck wife is absolutely unbelievable. The force of what he has done does not come through until the final moments. In the end, having been "voted out" by the people of Anderith, Richard leaves for the Westlands. Now, on to Book Six!
Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, Book 6) - Terry Goodkind
This book was tough trudging through. The first 200 pages were great. Richard builds a home deep in the Westland woods so that Kahlan can heal from the near-fatal beating she took at the end of Book 5. It was great to see Richard and Kahlan (and Mord-Sith protector, Cara) happy together for awhile. They are then split up by Nicci, a dark sister who has the power to leave the presence of Jagang. She is searching for an elusive answer and hopes to find it in Richard. This is where the story becomes a bit outlandish. But that won't stop me from proceeding to Book Seven!
Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth Prequel Novel) - Terry Goodkind
This short novel tells the story of young Zedd's creation of the boundaries separating the Midlands from D'Hara and Westland. Zedd, the trickster, uses his wits to defy and deceive Panis Rahl's invading forces. Originally, Zedd must have told a sorceress friend that the boundaries would move into D'Hara, killing all its inhabitants. Zedd tells her that this cost is too high, and that not all D'Haran's are guilty because of their leader's evil. It was nice to read a short Sword of Truth novel for once.