Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Siege of Stone


The third entry of Terry Goodkind’s The Nicci Chronicles opens with the Old World’s city of Ildakar still ablaze from civil war caused by an insurgent group led by the enigmatic Mirrormask. The ancient stone army outside the city also becomes animate after a millennium and a half of petrification, led by General Utros, who served the long-deceased Emperor Kurgan, and aims to conquer the very city that had turned him and his soldiers to stone in the first place. Meanwhile, within Ildakar, Bannon, joined by Lila still finds himself haunted by bad memories of its fighting in its arena.

Moreover, the nautical Norukai, led by King Grieve, plan to attack Ildakar as well, whilst the Ildakaran Wizard Renn meets the traveling Verna, who seeks the fabled archive of Cliffwall. Former Sister of Darkness Nicci briefly meets with General Utros, with Nathan Rahl, recently regaining his magical abilities, discovering a sliph in Ildakar, a transportation method used numerous times by his distant descendant Richard back in the Sword of Truth saga. The imprisoned Sovrena Thora broods in her captivity, still believing Ildakar to be hers, and Bannon is distraught at the city’s new enemies.

Ildakar’s wizard duma discusses how to combat the massive ancient army, with Nicci working day and night to rally the city’s defenders into fighting shape. In the meantime, General Utros laments over his long-lost love Majel, and attempts to seek an alliance with the gray dragon Brom, who is reluctant to join his crusade. One significant possibility to counter the threat of Utros’ forces is the development of transference magic, and the forces of the General and the Norukai ultimately catch Ildakar in a pincer attack. The action truly intensifies in the final chapters, with Utros and Norukai forming an alliance, and the general narrative left unresolved.

Regardless, I definitely enjoyed the third entry of the late Goodkind’s Nicci Chronicles, given its endearing characters and fantastical action, with plentiful backstory and some reminders as to things such as Nicci’s background and origin of her magical abilities. Siege of Stone also didn’t seem to suffer from the frequent punctuation errors prevalent in the Sword of Truth stories, and the relative brevity of the chapters makes the book readable in small bursts. Granted, maps of the Old World, with only the New World cartographically depicted back in The Sword of Truth, would have been welcome, but I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel to those who enjoyed its precursors.

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