Naked Empire (Sword of Truth, Book 8)

Naked Empire - Terry Goodkind Know the phrase "jumping the shark?" It's that moment in a series, book or television or feature film, where a once-loved franchise moves into a point of no return. With almost all the series I had read before Sword of Truth, I had been lucky if I liked it to keep liking it. This and L.K. Hamilton's Anita Blake are what ended that happy streak, and ended my practice of sticking it out to the end no matter what. With Hamilton, I finally quit some time ago mid Book 17, and am happier for it. With Goodkind I stuck to the (very) bitter end. And I'm not alone in feeling disappointed with a series that at first enthralled me. A lot of people feel Goodkind lost it when he began to insert more and more of his political philosophy into his books. It certainly helps if, like me, you're basically sympathetic to a libertarian philosophy. The first dividing point seems to come from the reviews I've seen with Soul of the Fire, the fifth book, where people first notice some preachiness. Goodkind's philosophy becomes much more overt in the plot with Faith of the Fallen, with its clanging anvils about the evils of socialism, but for the record, I still was greatly enjoying the series there. I hated The Pillars of Creation; I wanted to strangle Jennsen by the end, and her little goat too! But all was well I thought when here the focus returned to Richard. Well, except in this novel the preachiness did become nigh unbearable even to me here in the choir. If anything did annoy me in Faith of the Fallen it was how Richard had become a Marty Stu. OK, great tracker, leader, general, magician. But now a sculptor to rival Michelangelo in greatness? In Naked Empire I thought I saw another trait of Marty Stu-ness. Or maybe just authorial ego amok? Richard is never wrong. He never even thinks he might be wrong. And this is where I thought Richard's adversaries truly were straw men I couldn't believe could ever be encountered outside fiction. I did enjoy this novel much, much more than The Pillars of Creation though or would the concluding Chainfire Trilogy. There was still life in the series, and characters I still enjoyed like Cara. That's why I'm rating it as high as I am. Probably also helped Naked Empire came out in paperback just as I was reading through the series. Sheer momentum propelled me forward I'm sure. It was a very different case when Chainfire came out in hardcover after I had to wait for it. Naked Truth was the last book in the series I could (barely) enjoy at all.