Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sword of Truth Series: Chainfire

Chainfire: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 1 (Sword of Truth, Book 9)The Sword of Truth series continues with Terry Goodkind's ninth installment: Chainfire.

Chainfire is an epic struggle between the hero, Richard Rahl, and his friends. His greatest adversaries in this novel are those friends closest to him. He believes strongly in one thing and is focused to see it through, and yet he meets resistance from all those around him.
The time line serves to allow Jagang's army to complete critical strategic movements which will position them for the 'final battle'.
Another civilization is encountered briefly, yet plays a critical piece to the puzzle being worked out by the Seeker of Truth. 

It finally dawned on me while reading this novel and listening to another author's book the differences in introductory writing styles. Specifically, how an author is carrying forward recurring characters throughout a series. One style simply assumes the reader has participated in the previous installments and is already intimate with the characters. In this case, the next novel in the series simply continues the story with only minimal reference to the background story or recent events. This is akin to reading one really long novel that just happened to be broken up in separate physical books.

The other style assumes new readers are discovering the series mid stream, or sufficient time has passed to allow readers to forget important qualities and characteristics of the main characters. In this case, the author will use the beginning phase of the book re-introduce the main characters and to re-establish their defining characteristics.

The Sword of Truth series continues from one book to the next without gaps in the time line. Most begin on the following day, however, Goodkind devotes the first half of his book with the second style mentioned above. I believe this is why I was so frustrated with Soul of the Fire. I found it maddening to read about chickens and spend over 100 pages doing nothing with the story before the group finally started moving again. My perception of the story was that it was dragging on endlessly and further fueled my frustration when I neared the end and the climax was wrapped up in a matter of only a few short chapters.

Sword of Truth, Boxed Set III, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, ChainfireWhile it is true that Chainfire follows the same pattern, I felt much more comfortable with the pace of the story at the introduction. The group was traveling, rather quickly in an attempt to save Richard's life, and the development of the new plot line served to more naturally re-introduce the characters.

It makes me wonder, now, understanding this, if my attitude towards Soul of the Fire, might have changed had I recognized this before I picked up. Probably not, the chickens were really getting on my nerves.
What is your opinion? Do you appreciate an author who takes the time to re-introduce his characters every book? Or are you just impatient for the story to move along?

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