Saturday, January 9, 2021

Shroud of Eternity


The second installment of the late Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth sequel series, The Nicci Chronicles, opens with Nicci and her company, chiefly the antediluvian ex-prophet Nathan Rahl, encountering disembodied heads as a warning of advancing through the Old World, now part of the D’Haran Empire. Afterward, they come across a petrified army that plays a role in the book’s ending events, and they eventually reach the city of Ildakar, shut off from the rest of the world by a magical shroud, and where an insurgent group led by the enigmatic Mirrormask causes trouble for the ruling wizard duma.

The city’s wizards welcome their visitors with a magnificent celebration, with the ungifted Bannon Farmer, also part of Nicci’s company, feeling somewhat out of place. The Wizard Commander of Ildakar, Maxim, makes his acquaintanceship with Nicci, and Nathan makes his with the skin-specializing Fleshmancer Andre, who creates a martial abomination that plays a sizeable role in Ildakar’s gladiatorial arena and has a past connection to Bannon. Meanwhile, Verna, a minor character from the Sword of Truth saga, feels the call of what remains of the Palace of the Prophets, with other minor dramatis personae including the scholar Oliver, Peretta, and the fisherman Kenneth.

Nicci ultimately discovers that Ildakar still practices slavery, formally outlawed in the D’Haran Empire, and makes her case to the wizard duma, the civic sorcerers preparing to further isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Bannon soon finds himself involved in the gladiator battles, whilst the scholar Oliver values the knowledge he gained traveling across the Old World. Ildakar’s Sovrena Thora finds herself in a bind at the hands of Mirrormask’s rebels, the identity of the insurgent leader himself revealed, and the city goes into flames, with Nicci and her companions departing in the end.

The second installment of Goodkind’s Nicci Chronicles is overall an enjoyable sequel with plentiful expansion of the world established by the Sword of Truth saga, though some maps would have been welcome, with the New World cartographically depicted in some entries of the prequel series but never the Old World. Furthermore, some of the chapters involving rather minor characters within the franchise’s universe seem somewhat unnecessary and don’t seem to contribute much to the central narrative. Regardless, those who enjoyed the books that occurred chronologically before it will most likely enjoy Shroud of Eternity, and I look forward to reading its successors.

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