Debt of Bones by Terry Goodkind

tg_debtofboThe Sword Of Truth series is one of the biggest fantasy franchises there is. The first entry in the series, Wizard’s First Rule, is the highest paid first book from a Fantasy author, and the series has sold over 26 Million copies worldwide in 13 languages.

Debt Of Bones is a novella that explores one of the defining historical moments of the Sword Of Truth series. It was first published as part of an anthology – Legends – in 1998, but was later published in hardback and paperback.

We are introduced to one of our main characters, Abby, as she waits amidst the throng of supplicants waiting for a chance to have an audience with the First Wizard – Zedd. Upon meeting him she is surprised to find he is young – not old and wizened as one might expect – and is engrossed in a dozen conversations at once as he orchestrates military and political strategies to defend their lands from the evil D’Haran empire.

Abby’s daughter is captured by the enemy forces and her hometown has been razed, and thus she desperately seeks The First Wizard’s help. She brings him an artifact – bones – that carry the magical essence of a debt that he is bound to honour, and demands he save her child.

But Abby learns that The First Wizard has greater concerns – such as the lives of millions of innocent people if the D’haran advance is not stopped, and cannot afford to risk the war to save one woman’s daughter.

The story shows fans of the Sword Of Truth series Zedd’s conjuring of The Great Barrier that separates the three lands of Midlands, Westlands and D’hara that we are introduced to in Wizard’s First Rule. And as always with a Terry Goodkind story, we are challenged with the uncomfortable question of what would we do in this situation, as Abby and Zedd fight for their lives, the lives of their children the lives of the homeland.

It is a story of betrayal, redemption, honour and duty. Goodkind has a rare mastery of dialogue – it is expositional and yet drives characters and plot all at once. The way he describes magic use is like a cross between art and physics – beautiful, intricate and complex.

All of Goodkinds works carry an addictive strength that leaves you craving more once you have finished. Debt of bones is a short novella – disappointingly short, as Zedd is one of the most interesting and popular characters, and the origin of the Borders is such an integral part of Midlands history (it is an event that essentially sets the rest of the series into action) and I feel it deserved it’s own full length novel to explore properly.

That been said – Goodkind is masterful and manages to create a compelling story with characters you invest in within a small span of pages (112 pages.) It is a great read for Sword Of Truth fans who will love to know more about the First Wizard Zedd and the origins of the Barrier.

For readers new to Goodkind, I would recommend reading Wizard’s First Rule first, and follow the series chronologically. You will instantly become enamoured with his world and those who dwell within, and when you then read Debt of Bones you will get so much more out of it.

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