"Trouble will find you," multiple characters in the novel say. Of course, that's absolutely wrong. If I'm reading this book, trouble has already found me.
If you've ever read anything at all by Terry Badkind, you'll know that the name Rahl means trouble. In his Sword of Truth series, it meant repetitive "non-fantasy" violence and lengthy monologues. Here, in his totally original thriller The Law of Nines, it means repetitive "non-fantasy" violence and lengthy monologues. It turns out you can take the Terry out of the fantasy, but you can't take the fantasy out of Terry.
There are spoilers ahead, but since I sincerely hope you won't purchase this book, there's no reason to stop reading the review.
Alex Rahl (yes, I know) is a struggling artist living in Nebraska. Seeing as Goodkind was an artist before he became, in his opinion, one of the greatest writers of today, I'm sure this character will be as totally original as the rest of the book. Full sarcasm implied. Well, as Alex-- or is his name Mary Sue?-- walks down the road, he saves a woman from being run over by a truck with a pirate flag. This is the best part of the book. Yeah.
The woman's name is Jax Amnell (yes, I know), and she comes from a parallel dimension (but, as Goodkind assures us, this is not fantasy) where a great man with the name Rahl did some vaguely hinted-at things. I think that even considering how bad The Law of Nines is, Goodkind is still trying to sell us the Sword of Truth series. Jax is immediately (I mean by page 3) established as a love interest for Alex. Despite initially being quite cold, and even contemplating killing him at the beginning, Jax falls madly in love with Alex in about a week. Yeah.
So, there's some prophecy about Alex being able to unite the two worlds with some kind of gateway, and it ties into the land Alex just inherited on his twenty-seventh birthday. But it's not fantasy. Apparently, when a member of the Rahl family (but not by blood, since it applies to both his father and mother...weak) turns 27, they go insane. His dad's dead; his mom's institutionalized.
Well, after an attempt to seduce Alex, his girlfriend, who happens to be a queen from the other world, decides to call in the heavies to beat Alex to submission in what is an absolutely bizarre, pointless, and stupid tazer sex scene. But that's over quick when Jax the deus ex machina fairy saves the day at the last moment. That's a paragraph I'll never type again.
Then they're captured the next day by the doctors at his mom's asylum. They turn out to all be evil and from another world, as well. How many people in this book are actually regular Earthlings like me? To be perfectly honest, not that many. But it's not fantasy. There's a drawn out scene where the characters are drugged, and I feel like I slept through it. It's quite boring, and it lasts fifty pages. After a naked torture scene (I think Goodkind has a weird fetish) they escape in a massively dull sequence of violence. It's intriguing to see how good Alex the artist becomes with a gun and a knife in a matter of days.
As the story plods along clumsily and readers beg for escape, it reveals a slew of contrived character moments and not-fantasy cliches. The dialogue is so cheesy it could be served with Ritz crackers, and the prose feels like it was written by me, age thirteen. Except I was more original. Characters magically figure out things at perfect moments, Jax becomes a total wimp in a matter of pages and the climax is extremely disappointing. The last few chapters seem like Goodkind is trying to lay ground down for a sequel. Don't read it; don't read this.
I was never expecting great things from Terry Goodkind, but I wasn't expecting this. Word gets out quickly, though. When the book came out, it debuted at #10 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Within six months, the first edition hardcover I got was languishing in the bargain section of the bookstore for $5. And that's paying too much. Seriously, avoid this book like the plague.
My rating: 2/10.
When I finished, I needed some good writing to get that taste out of my mouth. So I turned to the fail-safe King of fiction once again. Tune in next time.
Coming Soon: The Green Mile.