09 September, 2011

Review: The Omen Machine, by Terry Goodkind

The Omen Machine [US][UK] marks Goodkind’s return to the Sword ofTruth storyline as well a retreat from his foray into the ‘thriller’ genre (seemy review of The Law of Nines). Rabid fans beware. What follows will set you frothing at the mouth.

The Omen Machine is a dull reflection of Goodkind’s earlier Sword of Truth novels. It lacks the fine prose and intricate detail most of his previous works possess.“Dull reflection” might even be too much of a compliment. The Omen Machine is overly mechanical and the plot so linear it makes you cringe. What was once a convincingly plotted storyline with just the right amount of unpredictable twists and turns hasbecome a prime example of linear predictability.

The new crop of villains remains shallow and uninteresting.What little mystery surrounds them is just barely sufficient to keep you turning the pages. They are more elements of convenience than anything else. Richard, after all, has to triumph over someone! It becomes evidently clearfrom the structure of the Omen Machine that the next book will complete this post Sword of Truth duocalypse currently know as “A Richard and Kahlan novel.”

Contenting itself with a regurgitation of the same basicstory line, a tried and true bestseller technique for Goodkind, is the novel’s only saving grace. Fans will find themselves, once again, assaulted by the lovestory between Richard and Kahlan. Fans will also enjoy the excruciating detail with which library science is explained. What a fascinating subject! Last but not least, and this is for the hardcore Goodkindites out there, fans will be left amazed at how noble and smart Richard is.

No review of a Sword of Truth novel would be complete without a proper gripe about Goodkind’s awesome powers of characterization. Yes, I know, this has been chewed to death already, but just a quick little comment and I will let you go. So. I submit to you that the only reason Richard and Kahlan appear so noble and avant-garde is because every other character iscompletely devoid of common sense. Essentially, everyone besides our two infinitely loved protagonists is an idiot. What I mean by this is that they are truly stupid. These are the type of people who would jump into a volcano if you told them not to. No particular reason needed. Which is essentially what happens.

I haven’t said anything substantive about the novel becausethere really isn’t much to say. You can guess at the general pace, story arch and villains if you have read the previous books. That isn’t to say you will know exactly who they are, but you can definitely guess that they are hell bent on destroying Richard because:
a. they hate him personally for some past action
b. they hate his philosophy because theirs is better
c. they hate the fact that he is blocking the road to world domination
d. prophecy says they have to kill him/manipulate him
e. they want his power
Mix and match any three of the above and you have every villain in the series.

Ok. I am done. With this review and this author both. I gave this a shot with the hope that Goodkind would redeem himself. I was wrong. Let me know what happens.


Bryce L. said...

The sordid relationship is finally over? Wow.

Jamie Gibbs said...

Here's my quandry - I've read every Terry Goodkind novel, from Debt of Bones to The Law of Nonsense, so as a completist I feel I need to read the Omen Machine. Though my rose tinted blinkers have long since been removed, should I read it for the sake of getting through the series?

I'd expected bad reviews, but that somehow makes me want to feel the disappointment myself :P

bloggeratf said...

@ Jamie

That was why I picked this one up. I've been along for the long ride myself and had the strong urge to just 'finish it' if you know what I mean. Problem is, the story really was completed for Terry with the last book of the main series. He didn't intend to continue after that. He wanted to write thrillers. To me, that becomes abundantly clear in this book. He is no longer invested in this as he once was.

The book wasn't terrible. It was just too familiar and unimaginative. It was a tough choice, but I would rather spend my time reading original sf/f and discovering new authors than keep riding this lame horse, though I understand your quandary! It is a tough choice.

Bastard said...

I call bullshit. You read the book not because you wanted to to see if Goodkind redeems himself, but as an excuse to piss on him once more lol.

Though as mentioned before, I kinda have enjoyed SoT, I had considered myself done with the series. Though I'm a completist too, so I'll be reading this at some point.

P.D.Blake said...

I gave up on Goodkind around about Chainfire. It seemed that every problem Richard encountered needed to be described and analysed in at least three different ways.

I also felt that Kahlan was just too, well, whiney.

The only character I liked was the pet gar from the one of the earlier books.

Wizard's First Rule was brilliant, as were the next three or four, but it then started to go downhill.

bloggeratf said...

@Bastar. Yea. I can imagine that partly being the reason for my review as well. I am angry and someone needs to pay! I guess the main point I am trying to get a across is that there is so much good sf/f to read it really is a pity to waste your time on this, even if you are a completist. The SoT series ended. This is "A Richard and Kahlan novel" so don't feel obliged.

@Blake. Exactly! I just wish I was smart enough to stop at that point. Like Bastard I guess, I am a completist too. I need to know what happens!

Bastard said...

@Alec, sorry. I missed that it was you posting. I thought I was Seak. But, it applies just the same.

I still think that SoT seems like a good entry level fantasy series for the inexperienced, but as an experienced reader it doesn't seem worth touching.

Anonymous said...

I am barely 100 pages into this, and am finding it dull...it's like they all have "dummy lines" in a mock play of what they series use to be. I, also, read all the books...and TG had a lot more "juice" in the characters. Now, they just seem lifeless. IDK if this is worth continuing...why I looked up the reviews. I think he should have just left it that the war was won, and R and K lived happily ever after. Woe is me :(

Anonymous said...

I tried to read this book the other day and quit about 100 pages into. The characters have become stupid and frankly it was just boring. This will be the last TG book I pick up, having read ALL of the SoT series and the Law of Nines. Sorry, should have quit while you were ahead Mr. G.

Mike said...

Wow. I really enjoyed Sword of Truth. But this is just shit. It's actually annoying to read. Your characters used to act like adults-- no longer. Terry, write something you want to write. This reads like Robert Jordan writing garbage for yet another paycheque.

Grant Stoutenburg said...

The SoT series had a good closing at the end of Confessor. Why make Omen Machine? If Goodkind was gonna continue the story, how about write an entirely new story with the same story setting but a new cast? Kinda like how Debt of Bones was a prequel.

Anonymous said...

Why is there always something keeping Richard and Kahlan apart? They're one of my favorite couples, why can't Goodkind just allow them to be happy? Live happily ever after.

Anonymous said...

So I picked this story up as an ebook- never having read Terry Goodkind before. The library overexplication left me cold. The dialogue seemed to just be everyone repeating the same conversations over and over- I made it to about Chapter 20 of 86. After reading the comments posted here, I may, perhaps, in time, consider reading one of his earlier books. But not for a while.