Terry Goodkind continues to follow the odd coupling of Nicci and Nathan deeper into the Old World, beyond Tanimura and Kol Adair, and into the ancient city of Ildakar. An interesting bit of fable and myth, it is a realm hidden from time and space by a magical shroud, raised at great cost over a thousand years ago to protect against an invading army. Its ruling class of magically gifted nobles are all but immortal, enjoying their glorious Utopia, but there is clearly something rotten beneath that perfection.
It's that rotten element that makes the novel so intriguing, especially with its corruption of magic and humanity. Blood magic and bloodsports, slavery and sacrifice, and fleshomancy are all dealt with over the course of the story, but it's the latter that is truly chilling. Human lives are mere playthings, raw material for magical experimentation, used to create monsters, super soldiers, and a race of human cattle. Goodkind uses those creations to explore some of his most familiar themes of social justice and social engineering, but somehow glosses over the question of cannibalism in a glaring fashion.
Nathan doesn't have a lot to do here, other than bemoan his lack of magic and desperately grasp at any the chance to restore his power. It sets him up as a victim, and leads to some foolish choices that are not in keeping with his character. Bannon fares much better, smelling the rotten underbelly of Ildakar long before the others, and coming around to a truly heroic role following a clichéd (but exciting) plot twist. It is Nicci who shines brightest here, and while it takes some time for her to do much more than sulk and skulk through the halls, she is a complete bad-ass in the final chapters.
The heavy-handed political and moral philosophy of The Sword of Truth makes an unfortunate return here, and it telegraphs some of the key plot twists in the second half. There were too many moments where I found myself thinking "Yup, saw that coming," but there were still some surprises.
Shroud of Eternity wasn't as solid as Death's Mistress, but it does have a fantastic cliff-hanger that promises some fun in the third volume.
Hardcover, 528 pages
Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by Tor Books
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of this title from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my review.