Once upon a time, I weirdly thought that fantasy series were always trilogies. Well, I was wrong. The Sword of Truth won’t prove the contrary with its 17 novels. Terry Goodkind sure has ideas, even if some weren’t the most original at the beginning. But, let’s start with…
What is the Sword of Truth series?
The series began in 1994, more than ten years before becoming a TV show know as Legend of the Seeker — it was pretty good, you should watch it. At the beginning, Richard becomes the Seeker of Truth and must therefore fight for justice in the Midlands. During his quests, he travels with the Confessor Kahlan Amnell (his love interest) and his mentor and grandfather, the first wizard Zeddicus Zu’l “Zedd” Zorander.
Together, they fight powerful evil forces who seek to control the world.
The Sword of Truth books in order:
What you must know is that each novel was written to stand alone — except for the final three of the first series that were intended to be a trilogy. That said, even if they are in form independent, they are linked by ongoing events that occur throughout the series and follow a same timeline.
If you want to read the story in a chronological order, you must start here. That said, it’s probably better to keep those books for later in order to really appreciate what it delivers.
- First Confessor – The novel is set centuries prior to the main Sword of Truth series. Married to the powerful leader of her people, Magda Searus is protected from a distant world descending into war, until her husband unexpectedly commits suicide. She rapidly discovers that there may be more to her husband’s suicide than anyone knew. What she finds next, no one is willing to believe.
- Debt of Bones – It’s a novella and it’s the story of young Abby’s struggle to win the aid of the wizard Zedd Zorander, the most important man alive.
II. First Series aka The Sword of Truth Series
This is the better entry point, the real beginning of the series.
- Wizard’s First Rule – In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help. His world is shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence. In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword
- Stone of Tears – Amid sudden and disastrous events, Richard’s life is called due to satisfy those treacherous oaths. To save his life, Kahlan must forsake Richard’s love and cast him into the chains of slavery, knowing there could be no sin worse than such a betrayal. Richard is determined to unlock the secrets bound in the magic of ancient oaths and to again be free.
- Blood of the Fold – Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell stand against the ancient forces which besiege the New World – forces so terrible that when last they threatened, they could only be withstood by sealing off the Old World from whence they came. Now the barrier has been breached, and the New World is again beset by their evil power.
- Temple of the Winds – The power-mad Emperor Jagang confronts Richard with a swift and inexorable foe: a mystical plague cutting a deadly swath across the land and slaying thousands of innocent victims. To quench the inferno, he must seek remedy in the wind…
- Soul of the Fire – Separated from the Sword of Truth and stripped of their magic, Richard and Kahlan must journey across the Midlands to discover a dark secret from the past and a trap that could tear them apart forever. For their fate has become inextricably entwined with that of the Midlands – and there’s no place so dangerous as a world without magic.
- Faith of the Fallen – Emperor Jagang is rising once again in the Old World and Richard must face him, on his own turf. Richard heads into the Old World with Cara, the Mord-Sith, while his beloved Kahlan remains behind. Unwilling to heed an ancient prophecy, Kahlan raises an army and goes into battle against forces threatening armed insurrection in the Midlands.
- The Pillars of Creation – Unlike the other books, the protagonists are not Richard and Kahlan, but Jennsen Rahl and Oba Rahl, Richard’s half siblings. Tormented her entire life by inhuman voices, a young woman named Lauren seeks to end her intolerable agony. She at last discovers a way to silence the voices. For everyone else, the torment is about to begin.
- Naked Empire – Richard Rahl has been poisoned. Saving an empire from annihilation is the price of the antidote. With the shadow of death looming near, the empire crumbling before the invading hordes, and time running out, Richard is offered not only his own life but the salvation of a people, in exchange for delivering his wife, Kahlan, into bondage to the enemy.
The next three novels were written as a trilogy called the Chainfire Trilogy.
- Chainfire – After being gravely injured in battle, Richard awakes to discover Kahlan missing. To his disbelief, no one remembers the woman he is frantically trying to find. Worse, no one believes that she really exists, or that he was ever married. Alone as never before, he must find the woman he loves more than life itself.
- Phantom – On the day she awoke remembering nothing but her name, Kahlan Amnell became the most dangerous woman alive. As her husband, Richard, desperately searches for her, whom only he remembers, he knows that if she doesn’t soon discover who she really is, she will unwittingly become the instrument that will unleash annihilation.
- Confessor – Descending into darkness, about to be overwhelmed by evil, those people still free are powerless to stop the coming dawn of a savage new world, while Richard faces the guilt of knowing that he must let it happen. Alone, he must bear the weight of a sin he dare not confess to the one person he loves and has lost.
III. The Richard and Kahlan series
This new series begins where the last novel in the Sword of Truth series ends.
- The Omen Machine – An accident leads to the discovery of a mysterious machine that has rested hidden deep underground for millennia. The machine awakens to begin issuing a series of increasingly alarming, if minor, omens. As Zedd tries to figure out how to destroy the sinister device, the machine issues a cataclysmic omen involving Richard and Kahlan, foretelling an impending event beyond anyone’s ability to stop.
- The Third Kingdom – Continuing the story arc started in The Omen Machine, the story picks up with Richard and Kahlan who are stranded in the Dark Lands after having survived their encounter with the Hedge Maid.
- Severed Souls – From the far reaches of the D’Haran Empire, Bishop Hannis Arc and the ancient Emperor Sulachan lead a vast horde of Shun-Tuk and other depraved ‘half-people’ into the Empire’s heart, raising an army of the dead in order to threaten the world of the living. Meanwhile, Richard and Kahlan must defend themselves and their followers from a series of terrifying threats.
- Warheart – All is lost. Evil will soon consume the D’Haran Empire. Richard Rahl lies on his funeral bier. It is the end of everything. Except what isn’t lost is Kahlan Amnell. Following an inner prompting beyond all reason, the last Confessor will wager everything on a final desperate gambit, and in so doing, she will change the world forever.
IV. The Nicci Chronicles Series
Onetime lieutenant of the evil Emperor Jagang, known as “Death’s Mistress” and the “Slave Queen”, the deadly Nicci captured Richard Rahl in order to convince him that the Imperial Order stood for the greater good. But it was Richard who converted Nicci instead, and for years thereafter she served Richard and Kahlan as one of their closest friends–and one of their most lethal defenders. Now, with the reign of Richard and Kahlan finally stablized, Nicci has set out on her own for new adventures.
- Death’s Mistress – Nicci must keep her travelling companion, the unworldly prophet Nathan, out of trouble. But her real task will be to scout the far reaches of Richard Rahl’s realm. This will take her and Nathan to visit the mysterious witch-woman Red, to tangle with the street life of the port city of Tanimura, to fight lethal battles on the high seas, and ultimately to a vast magical confrontation far from home…with the future of life itself, in the Old World and the New, at stake.
- Shroud of Eternity – Nicci and her companions―the newly powerless Nathan and the youthful Bannon―set out on another quest after driving ruthless Norukai slavers out of Renda Bay. Their mission: restore Nathan’s magic and, for Nicci, save the world. Guided by the witch-woman Red’s mysterious prophecy, the trio makes their way south of Kol Adair towards a wondrous city shrouded behind time, Ildakar.
- Siege of Stone – Nicci, Nathan Rahl, and Bannon remain in the city of Ildakar after a great internal revolt has freed the slaves and brought down the powerful wizards council. But as he fled the city, capricious Wizard Commander Maxim dissolved the petrification spell that had turned to stone the invading army of General Utros fifteen centuries earlier. Now, hundreds of thousands of half-stone soldiers from the ancient past have awakened, led by one of the greatest enemy commanders in history.
- Heart of Black Ice – Taken captive by their enemies, King Grieve, along with Lila and Bannon are about to discover the terrifying force that threatens to bring destruction to the Old World. The Norukai, barbarian raiders and slavers, have been gathering an immense fleet among the inhospitably rocky islands that make up their home. With numbers greater than anyone could have imagined, the Norukai are poised to launch their final and most deadly war.
This book is a thriller, not a fantasy novel and it’s mostly connected to the rest with slight references, but not with a direct link. That said, there’s a connection with “The Omen Machine” and you should read “The Law of Nines” before if you want.
- The Law of Nines – Alex, a struggling artist living in the Midwestern United States, inherit a huge expanse of land that should have made him a rich and happy man; but something about this 27th birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he just saved, has suddenly made him-and everyone he loves-into a target.