Book Review: The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) by Terry Goodkind
I was looking for another book to fulfill my abnormal need for fantasy this summer and the most recent find was The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) by Terry Goodkind. It’s could be considered a prequel to the Sword of Truth series (also by Terry Goodkind), but I’m not sure I’d classify it as such. It takes place hundreds (maybe thousands) of years before the first book in the Sword of Truth series.
Goodkind goes into detail about the creation of the first confessor and what she went through to become the first of her kind. It’s another example of Goodkind’s ability to create a strong female character and Magda Searus fills the role of the first confessor easily.
Book Description via Amazon
In the time before the Confessors, when the world is a dark and dangerous place, where treason and treachery are the rule of the day, comes one heroic woman, Magda Searus, who has just lost her husband and her way in life.
Before I go any further I must point out that The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) is the first book by Terry Goodkind which he has self-published. As a self-published author myself, this really caught my eye. He’s the first big-named author I’ve heard of that has made the transition. I was curious to see how things turned out.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed. Let me state here that I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the Sword of Truth series and have read the whole thing on at least two occasions. I had to literally force myself to finish this one. I didn’t have that problem with my least favorite in the series before this.
Why So Bad?
No action and too much dialogue. Let me repeat that. No action and too much dialogue.
Many Goodkind fans may argue, “It’s just the way he writes,” or that people have complained of the same thing in his other books. That may be true, but I typically enjoy a lot of dialogue. Action too, but very rarely does dialogue take me out of the story.
It’s easy to find six or seven paragraphs (full paragraphs) in a row where it’s just dialogue. Yes, yes, this happens in every Terry Goodkind novel, but it has its place. I would say probably 70% of this novel is dialogue. It wouldn’t have even been that bad had something actually been happening during said dialogue. The characters could have at least been walking down the street, tripping on stones, batting an eyelash, anything. If he were to add a single sentence after every fifth paragraph of dialogue, the story would have doubled in pace.
It felt as if he was worried there wouldn’t be enough time to tell the whole story of Magda Searus in a single novel. So what! If that’s what needed to happen, he should have broke it up into more than a single novel. That information was the only thing that kept me reading because it was something I wanted to know after reading the rest of the series, but a novel isn’t about tossing out facts, it’s about keeping the reader entertained.
If this book were changed into a fictional historic account, I probably would have enjoyed it more only because I would have been expecting the dull nature.
One More Complaint
There is a section in an earlier book in the Sword of Truth series when Richard (the main character) works his way toward the bottom of the wizard’s keep. In this book, Magda makes a similar trip, so similar that I wondered if I was reading the same pages as from the earlier novel. It dragged, and dragged, and dragged, and dragged, and dragged, and… I think you get the point. Fantasy is full of details, but the key is to use details that make a difference. After hearing about the 24th magically dangerous turn, I was about to light my Kindle on fire. Instead of ruining my Kindle, I skimmed the next 14 or 15 paragraphs.
The Good Stuff
After hearing me whine about how bad it was, you may be wondering how I have anything good to say. There are two parts in which I felt I was reading the old Goodkind. One was about a third of the way into the book, and the other was about 90% of the way into the book. Action sequences!
After the lack of any action earlier in the book, these took me by surprise. I hate to admit it, but I kept waiting for the main characters to sit down, have a snack, and then spend an hour talking about how they should be on their way.
MINI SPOILER ALERT!!! What I said above kind of happens. Not in the way I mentioned above, of course.
Those action sequences took hold of me and yanked me through page after page. I almost clapped with excitement. I kept patting myself on the back for continuing to read though it almost drove me insane.
While the facts were entertaining and the two primary action sequences were in typical Goodkind style, the lack of action throughout really took away from my reading enjoyment.
I give The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) three out of five stars. If this were another author, I may not have reached three stars because I wouldn’t have forced myself to finish the book.
Though it was Goodkind’s first shot at self-publishing, I hope he learns that it doesn’t literally mean, “self-publishing.” Indie authors use beta readers (at least they should), maybe even more so than traditional authors, to catch those slow parts and get some advice. If he had sent these to even five other people before publishing, I’d be surprised.
I eagerly look forward to Goodkind’s next book, hopefully part of the Sword of Truth series again. I know Goodkind is a great author, I’ve seen it. His book Faith of the Fallen continues to be one of my favorites.
If you’d like to grab a copy of The First Confessor (The Legend of Magda Searus) by Terry Goodkind, you can find it here on Amazon US, or here on Amazon UK. It can also be found here on Barnes and Noble. It’s currently only offered as an e-book, but a print copy may be offered in the future.