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Phantom    by Terry Goodkind order for
by Terry Goodkind
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Phantom follows Chainfire as the second volume in the concluding trilogy of the long-running Sword of Truth saga. In the previous volume, series hero, Richard Lord Rahl, was healed of a mortal wound, only to discover his wife Kahlan missing - not only in person, but also in everyone's memories except his own. While he was naturally obsessed with finding her, everyone around him believed him delusional, to the extent that even he began to wonder.

As the first episode ended, an amnesiac Kahlan was forced by the Sisters of the Dark to steal the Boxes of Orden from the Garden of Light in Lord Rahl's palace. We follow parallel stories - of Kahlan and Richard - in Phantom. Kahlan has been enslaved by the Sisters of the Dark and is controlled (and regularly punished) by them through an iron collar. Though forced to do their will - and watch the cruel deaths they inflict on others - she bravely fights them at every opportunity, and suffers the consequences. Oddly - since the Sisters invoked the Chainfire event to wipe everyone's memories of her - she begins to encounter a few individuals who are able to see her. Her existence has not been totally erased. But the Sisters eventually fall - with Kahlan - into a trap sprung by the vile Emperor Jagang.

Richard has discovered that there are dangerous repercussions to be anticipated from the Chainfire event, and fears that magic is being erased from the world. He also learns of the last days of the first War Wizard, Baraccus, and of a mysterious book the latter left for him - the problem will be to locate it. After a few of the usual brushes with death that seem to be around every corner for Lord Rahl and his friends, witch woman Shota shows up with horrific news of the fate of Galea. She also reveals that an Old World witch woman named Six is working against them. And Richard finally (and sensibly) chooses guerilla warfare over direct battle (which his forces would lose) with Jagang, sending small groups to attack the Old World. Six's machinations separate Richard from Cara and Nicci, he encounters and learns from night wisps, and ends up traveling as a captive (but also a prized Ja'La player, his identity unknown) with Jagang's army.

Richard and Kahlan finally meet again (though she has no recollection of him) as the episode ends. And Nicci takes a serious step, putting the boxes of Orden in play, ensuring that Richard will be the one to lead the final battle, for 'all or nothing'. This epic saga has grown very convoluted, with many subplots and a huge cast of characters to follow. The author also includes rather lengthy dissertations on the anti-individualistic philosophy of the Order, including the Emperor's explanation to Kahlan that 'The Fellowship of the Order teaches us that to be better than someone is to be worse than everyone' (reminiscent of George Orwell's 1984). Fans will be delighted with Phantom, which sets the stage nicely for a dramatic and violent conclusion to the entire Sword of Truth series.

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