Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Review of Naked Empire

Title: Naked Empire
Author: Terry Goodkind
Date first published: 2003
Read the dutch translation


This book opens with Richard and Kahlan still in the Old World traveling back to the New World. A new character Owen pleads for Richard and Kahlan’s help in freeing his people from the hands of the Imperial Order. They are set upon by a seemingly mysterious dust storm that holds the silhouette of a man. They are sent a warning letter by Nicci, but before they are able to finish reading the letter they are set upon by Imperial Order Mercenaries. After learning that Richard has been poisoned by Owen they must travel back deeper into the Old World to the Bandakar. They find an ancient boundary protecting the Bandakar Empire from outside invaders came down two years past and now the Imperial Order has occupied this nation of frail-minded people. Soon Richard and Kahlan learn of a new monster that was created by Jagang’s Sisters of the Dark.


Naked Empire is the 8th installment of the 'Sword of Truth' series written by Terry Goodkind. A fantasy legacy as I much prefer it.
Of course I do realise that without having had reviewed the previous seven books, (which I've listed at the bottom of the review, for those interested), I'm jumping the gun, but as I've read those novels before this blog came into existence, there's nothing to be done. You can read those reviews under my goodreads account, which the link is ready to use in the rightside column.

But now, back to the story at hand.
Naked Empire is, as are all the other novels, a quest for the rules of wizardry. In each novel you, together with the lead characters Richard and Kahlan, are searching for a rule.
I'm not giving this away, since it makes up a whole lot of the book and I'm trying to keep spoiler free.
Fantasy isn't everybody's cup of tea since everything is made up, even the world itself, so it can be intimidating to read it. For me, it's my favourite genre and the 'Sword of Truth' has been amongst the best I've read so far.

The story picks up where it left off in the previous novel, on a hike through a scorching desert in search of a wizard to help Richard find balance in his power.
He needs to do this, since he hasn't quite learned to use it in its proper way and when the power gets too much, he suffers from headaches that, when not treated, become lethal.
Richard isn't alone on his journey. With him are his wife Kahlan, his sister Jenssen, his bodyguard Cara and two friends, Tom and Friedrich. On their journey through the Old World, they meet Owen, who instantly arouses doubt and suspicion even with him being so clumsily polite.
Later on they found out Owen had poisoned Richard, to coerce him into freeing his empire from the snatches of the Imperial Order.
Owen finds his cause justified, because he and the rest of the nation see themselves as being incapable of doing violence and demands Richard to do this for him. Richard and his friends follow Owen into this 'naked' empire, where they meet up with a small group of men who've been hiding in the woods.

Richard, desperately in need of the antidote, which is hidden in several locations, tries to convince these people that they have to fight for themselves, that cowering under violence done to them, is granting it more power. It is a belief in dead, rather than in life.

Richard does get his opinion out there and he preaches for people to take their life into their own hands, to fight for freedom, to embrace life. Even if you have to kill for that freedom, don't shy away from it. Those doing evil, have lost the right to their life and mustn't be mourned. When killing is justified, don't regret it, but cherish the result.

In all the extremity of his views, I do find a spark of truth in it. To bring up something rather disputed, don't we face the same question when it comes to the death penalty. In most places I know of, death penalty has been forbidden because we can't be the judge to let someone live or die, no matter what they've done.
But on the other hand, doesn't the life of the perpetratot get more value when he gets to live? In order to be able to live with a clean conscience we put more value in the life of the murderer than the lost life of the victim.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to start a discussion here. I'm simply showing both sides of the medaillon. It's not easy to be for or against it. I'm not even sure which side I'm on.

These are the kind of questions reading 'The Sword of Truth' has given me more than once. On the outside it might appear a strange story, but the deeper you delve into the novel, the more you read into it.

Previous novels in the Sword of Truth series:

Wizard's First Rule
Stone of Tears
Blood of the Fold
Temple of the Winds
Soul of the Fire
Faith of the Fallen
Pillars of Creation