When I started reading this, I thought this was the last book in a trilogy. I was really disappointed when I learned there would be another book. It’s not that I don’t like the story. The problem isn’t the storytelling, it’s that Goodkind is a terrible writer. This book reads like a first draft. Like the author got everything he could think of down on the page, but then didn’t go back and clean it up. That means there’s a lot of repetition, and a good portion of the book just reads like page filler. It’s even worse than the last book.
For the most part, the story in the book is solid, if predictable. The pace of events is quick, but the repetitive dialogue slows everything down. Many of the twists are obvious long before they come to fruition, but they work within the narrative, so it’s mostly forgivable. The ending is a little unexpected, but knowing that there’s another book on the way means that it the twist will likely be resolved there.
When it comes to the characters, I had a real problem with some of them this time around. In this series, I’ve found the characters to be pretty flat. Each of them has their role, and they fill that role with consistency (that’s not necessarily a good thing, Richard is a horrific Mary Sue). In Severed Souls, it felt like Goodkind was trying to add some depth, but in doing so the characters lost their consistency. They didn’t act like they have in the past. I had a real problem with Kahlan in particular. In previous installments she’s been a strong, independent leader when she was on her own, and a naive, doting, damsel in distress when Richard is around. It was a little annoying that her personality shifted so dramatically based on Richard’s presence, but at least it was predictable. Here, she’s completely unpredictable. One minute, she’s deferring to anybody on everything, the next minute everyone is falling over themselves to do what she commands. She bounces back and forth between being a firm commander to an impatient, stubborn fool, despite her situation. He encounter with the witch-woman was probably the worst. Kahlan’s been set up as a life-long politician, yet gets visibly frustrated at the slightest delays, even though she’s causing them by her interruptions and lack of listening comprehension. Then, with no change in the answers she’s receiving, Kahlan completely shifts her stance and just accepts everything she’s being told as undeniable truth. It drove me nuts.
What annoys me the most is that I’ll still probably read the next book, Warheart, if for no other reason than to finish the series so I don’t wonder what happens. Like I said, the storytelling is solid, and Goodkind has built a great world. I just really wish that the story could be told in a more enjoyable way.