I wanted to like Confessor by Terry Goodkind. I really did. I loved Wizard's First Rule, Stone of Tears, Soul of the Fire and Faith of the Fallen. Blood of the Fold and Temple of the Winds were okay too but not as good. Pillars of Creation was good for what it was.
The last four books in the Sword of Truth series, Naked Empire, Chainfire, Phantom and finally Confessor were bad books. I don't mean they were bad books compared to his other ones (which, obviously, they were) but bad books all by themselves.
The worst part is that the story was still really strong. Goodkind set up a good world with good characters and put them in compelling situations. And he still writes action very, very well. And he has neat ideas that I haven't read in fantasy before. That's the part that kept me coming back.
The problem I have with the last four books is that what Goodkind writes about is directly contradicted by the way he writes it.
"Think for yourself" "Use reason" "don't listen to people trying to persuade you, think it out for yourself". While he doesn't necessarily use these words, these are his stances. I doubt that he'd argue with that himself.
He contradicts "Think for yourself" by spelling out every last detail several times. I like to think that I'm smart and well-read enough to reason out that if Jagang yells at Nicci for making him mad enough to hit her, that he thinks it's her fault. I don't need to be told it multiple times in a book, let alone a chapter, let alone a paragraph. I like to think I have enough capacity as a human being to see that Jagang telling Nicci how much he wants to have sex with her is his way of trying to tell her he loves her in his own warped way. I don't need to be told it multiple times in a book, let alone a chapter, let alone a page. Goodkind gives absolutely no room for a reader to think about what something means because he has already driven the point into the ground. These points lose their effectiveness because he has to explain them over and over again. See, impact is lost when there is over-analysis. That's because the action fades in the reader's mind due to the passage of time it takes to read the excessive explanation as well as the breaking of the spell that should be narrative. Have I made myself clear enough? Because I could explain it some more.
He violates the whole "Don't listen to people trying to persuade you on things" by using the last what, five? Ten? pages to basically decry religion. You would think that someone who was so into people reasoning things out for themselves would leave it to you to come up with your own conclusions. But no, if you believe there's more beyond this life, that sin exists and that you should hold yourself back from sin to enjoy eternity in heaven, that you hate life, reject reason and deserve to be removed from his world. I don't know what to believe where a higher power is concerned. Generally, I don't concern myself with those thoughts. To me, they're unproductive and I prefer my unproductive thoughts to be about football. I certainly don't think, however, that people who have faith in something they can't prove are doing so because they hate life. The point is, Goodkind is shouting this from the highest rooftop, trying to persuade you that he's right. Isn't that against one of the core themes of his book?
My first guess as to why the quality in his writing fell so far is lack of editorial control. Either Terry Goodkind got enough "juice" so to speak that he no longer had to go through an editor or the guys with the blue pen were intimidated and unwilling to cut into the sermon on the mountain. Or possibly they just thought that it would sell well regardless of what was in it. I don't like to think that the publishing world works any of these ways and I don't like to think that someone who wants to put the best story that they can out there would be willing to do that. However, I have come to the conclusion that Terry Goodkind was not interested in putting the best story that he could out there.
What I believe is that Goodkind wanted to get his message out there so badly when he realized that he had multitudes of fans, that he was no longer worried about the story. This was about what he wanted to say to the world. My opinion is that when you are a writer, you have a responsibility to the story before anything you owe your world view or your agenda. Terry Goodkind couldn’t get out of his own way and his ideals cluttered up what was otherwise an exciting, compelling story.
It's too bad, too. I don't know what Goodkind's goals are, when it comes to being an author but he could have been the guy who changed the face of Fantasy if he weren't trying so hard to be the guy who changed the face of Fantasy, if you know what I mean.
That said, I won't read any more that he writes. It's too much to get into a compelling story just to have it murdered by a hack of a writer whose ego is more important to him than the story is.