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The Pillars of Creation
Terry Goodkind
Tor Books, 553 pages

The Pillars of Creation
Terry Goodkind
Terry Goodkind was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, where he also attended art school, one of his many interests on the way to becoming a writer. Besides a career in wildlife art, he has been a cabinet maker, violin maker, and he has done restoration work on rare and exotic artifacts. In 1983, he moved to the forested mountains he loves. There, in the woods near the ocean, he built the house where he and his wife, Jeri, live. Terry Goodkind's first novel, Wizard's First Rule (1994), established him immediately on the epic fantasy scene. Subsequent books in the Sword of Truth series have climbed steadily up the national bestseller lists.

Terry Goodkind Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rob Kane

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I have always enjoyed the books in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series. The books are well written, interesting, and absolutely refuse to be closed until the reader is finished. The Pillars of Creation is the seventh book in the series, and it is as good as any of the others.

For a series consisting of seven fairly long books, the Sword of Truth is surprising uncomplicated. There are not countless numbers of plotlines intricately woven, and the cast of recurring characters is not all that large. Readers looking for something along those lines might be better advised to consider different books. However, this simplicity is no hindrance, as the stories are imaginative and engaging. There are but two primary protagonists in this series. The first is Richard Rahl, a former peasant who has become the ruler of the land of D'Hara. The other is the Mother Confessor Kahlan, now Richard's wife.

The continent on which the story takes place is divided into two large parts -- Old World and New World. Thousands of years ago, a magical barrier was put in place to separate the two lands. The New World was at one point sub-divided into three, but those barriers have fallen, and Richard has since united all three under D'Hara. The Old World has also been united, but under the Imperial Order, an oppressive empire headed by Emperor Jagang. Aside from seeking to constantly expand his empire, Jagang also seeks to eliminate magic from the world; a goal which, should it succeed, would have terrible consequences. The barrier between the Old and New worlds has recently been brought down, and now Jagang is attempting to conquer the New World.

One might be tempted to think that a seven book series involving only two main characters and a single major plotline would get boring fairly quickly. However, Goodkind has developed an extremely effective way of telling the story. In many of the books, one or more new protagonists are introduced for its duration. It then deals largely with the story of the new character(s), while the overall plot of the series seems to advance, almost in the background. By writing the books in such a fashion, Goodkind has ensured that each book has remained different and interesting, but that they still retain the shared elements that create the larger story. This method of story telling is much more pronounced in The Pillars of Creation, which focuses on the new characters to such a degree that the book can easily be read apart from the rest of the books.

The previous ruler of land of D'Hara was Darken Rahl, a tyrant of almost unimaginable cruelty. During his reign, he took a great number of D'Haran women to his bed, a practice that spawned a significant number of bastard offspring. Oba and Jennsen were two of those children, and they are the two new primary characters introduced here. Jennsen has spent her life on run with her mother, constantly being hunted by Darken Rahl's minions. Despite living her whole life in constant fear, Jennsen has grown into a generally good-hearted young lady, largely because of her caring mother. Now, years after Richard killed Darken Rahl, Jennsen's mother is brutally murdered by assassins of the new Lord Rahl (Richard). Confused and afraid, Jennsen receives help from a stranger, Sebastien, and they start off on a journey to escape from the new Lord Rahl's clutches. Oba, on the other hand, is a person who has known nothing other than belittlement and humiliation his whole life. He has grown into a man with an extremely warped perception of the world, and with a strong hint of cruelty inherited from his father. Having recently learned who is father is, Oba sets to claim the throne of D'Hara, which he feels is his birthright.

The Pillars of Creation is largely a book about both the physical and mental journey of Jennsen, and to a lesser degree Oba. As the two of them progress on their respective journeys, they learn more about and the world and themselves, including the mysterious voices each has been hearing since childhood. As Jennsen leaves her isolated existence and comes into contact with people, she must try to reconcile what she sees of the world and the people with her preconceived notions. Jennsen sees a world where people are filled with kindness and warmth, but her upbringing has led her to be suspicious of outsiders and whatever unpleasant things they seem to have planned for her. As events unfold, Jennsen spends most the book see-sawing between almost being unable to free herself from her misconceptions and almost letting her suspicions and misconceptions push her over the brink into darkness. Oba's journey is rather more straightforward. He has already accepted the path of darkness, and his story further chronicles his journey deeper into evil and madness.

The world of Terry Goodkind is one where evil battles good, and the line between the two is clearly marked. This battle takes place largely in the minds of the participants, rather than on the field of battle, which is something that has become more obvious in the latest books, especially so in The Pillars of Creation. The side of good makes use of reason and compassion, trying to win its war by allowing its targets to see the situation with clarity and make their own decisions. Evil tries to spread its message through misinformation and propaganda. In The Pillars of Creation, the battleground is in Jennsen's mind, and her choice could have severe repercussions. The importance of the good-evil conflict makes for a story full of drama and emotion. However, people looking for battles which are determined by sword and by magic will not be disappointed. When logic and reason fail to win people over to the side of good, Richard and his allies have no choice but to attack their enemies with both sword and magic.

Those people who have read and enjoyed the previous installments will no doubt also enjoy The Pillars of Creation. And, although they are advised to start at the beginning, there should be no problem for newcomers to the series to jump right in and start with this book.

Copyright © 2002 Rob Kane

Robert learned to read with a litle help from Lloyd Alexander, and he hasn't stopped reading fantasy since then. No matter how busy life gets he can always find time for a good book.


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