Pillars of Creation follows the adventures of a young woman, Jennsen, illegitimate daughter of Darken Rahl, as she travels the world in search of escape and vengeance. She is aided by a spy of the Imperial Order who may be more than he appears to be. At the same time, Jennsen’s unique ability may mean the end of all life, if she and Richard don’t discover the truth in time.
Many reviewers have lamented the departure from the main plot line. True enough, the storyline here has little to do with the last installment, with the Midlands war and Richard’s liberation of Altur’Rang. However, there are enough materials to advance some aspects of the story, notably the whereabouts of Nathan and the Imperial Order’s attack on Aydindril. We also learn a great deal about the hitherto mostly unknown land of D’Hara and its people under the rule of the new Lord Rahl. This installment expands the Sword of Truth universe while introducing a character who may prove to be essential later in the series.
The writing is impeccable. I think Goodkind has gone a long way from the first book. My main complaint has to do with his pacing. As he has done in some previous installments, the story plods along until it builds up into a climax in the last few chapters. Much of the story helps to build the characters, and characterization is something Goodkind is very good at, but he tends to overdo it sometimes. Goodkind brings to life a very sympathetic character in Jennsen, but he also creates some remarkably revulsive and twisted characters, and readers are forced to bear with these rather one-dimensional creatures to the point of exasperation. In Goodkind’s fashion, the climax tends to come in a frantic rush, with characters converging and clashing in an all-or-nothing melee. In this one, though, the end seems to be too sitcom-like and neatly wrapped for my taste. At the same time, it leaves out enough details to leave me somewhat unsatisfied, such as what the “pillars of creation” have to do with anything or why Richard and company happens to be travelling to a wasteland in the middle of nowhere.
Perhaps some of these questions will be addressed in the next installment, but then again, perhaps not. The only thing certain is that we’ll have to wait six months to find out. But I suppose such is the lot for fans of epic fantasy.
My ranking of the series so far is as follows:
Book IV: Temple of the Winds Book III: Blood of the Fold Book VI: Faith of the Fallen Book II: Stone of Tears Book I: Wizard’s First Rule Book VII: Pillars of Creation Book V: Soul of the Fire
Originally posted December 13, 2001 on Amazon.com