There are so many defining elements that one can use to determine whether a book qualifies as being good or bad. Does it have a relatable protagonist? Is the plot of the story unpredictable? Does it abide by rules that make sense? Is it something that no one has ever done before?
Those are all important elements that can amount to an amazing story, but to me, it doesn’t mean anything if the book doesn’t somehow engage you on an intellectual level. I want a book that makes me think; a book that gets me to question everything I thought I knew about life. I’m basically saying that I want a book that goes out of its way to mess with my mind, forcing me to see the world from perspectives I’d never even considered before.
In The Law of Nines, Terry Goodkind creates a version of our reality in which we truly are not alone, but not in the way you might think. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say that the world Goodkind created in the Sword of Truth series and our world have a lot more in common than you may have thought. In this book, we get the chance to see our world from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know how it works, and is fascinated by things as simple as making tea or using a hair dryer.
Now, how much do I like it and would I recommend it? Let’s take a look!
Review: The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind
“Turning twenty-seven may be terrifying for some, but for Alex, a struggling artist living in the Midwest, it is cataclysmic. Something about this birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he has just saved has suddenly made him – and everyone he loves – a target. A target for extreme and uncompromising violence…”
I knew absolutely nothing about this book going into it, except that it was written by one of my favourite authors. From reading the synopsis, I was able to glean that it was a story of a conspiratorial nature, that focused on a guy named Alex. Then there’s the ‘beautiful woman coming into his life and changing everything’ cliché, a rather overused premise, but one that can still hold some intrigue if done right.
I had no idea, until the main character’s last name was revealed, that this book had any connection whatsoever to the Sword of Truth series. It didn’t give that impression at all, what with the lack of seekers, confessors, magic and Gar’s. Granted, it’s been a while since I read any of the Sword of Truth books, so it’s possible that there’s something in one of the – I want to say fifteen, although when I started reading them there was only ten, which is how you can tell it’s been a while since I read them – books that hints at some kind of connection between these two different storylines. This made it a little confusing for me once the two storylines collided, but it did succeed in making it refreshing, yet still familiar.
Designing a good female character who is the perfect balance between strength, courage & tenacity, and empathy & femininity is challenging. If they’re too much of either, I find they become immediately unlikeable, like Sansa Stark during the first season of Game of Thrones, and Cersei Lannister during… well, the entire series, really. On the one hand, you had Sansa, who very much behaved like a proper lady, and dreamt of meeting a handsome man who would sweep her off her feet and make her feel like a queen, both figuratively and literally. Now, this isn’t the bad part of her personality. The bad part comes with how incredibly naïve she is about the ways of the world, especially her inability to see that Joffrey is a sadistic creep, and the worst possible choice for a husband. Her life just keeps getting worse and worse, but you can’t help but feel that it’s her fault because of those aspects of her personality.
Cersei’s character is an example of a female character from the other end of the spectrum, one who is very strong, manipulative and understands very well how the world and the minds of men work, which aren’t bad qualities in and of themselves, but she portrays them in a way that basically make her look like a… well, you know. Not a very pleasant person, let’s put it that way.
Both characters have admirable qualities, but they lack balance, resulting in characters that you love to hate. In The Law of Nines, the female protagonist Jax is what I would consider a decent balance between the two extremes. She’s strong, vicious even when she needs to be, extremely loyal, and despite how out of place she feels being in our world, she learns quickly so that she doesn’t get taken advantage of. Jax is certainly one of the main reasons I kept reading this book, but sometimes, one reason is just not enough.
My overall impression is that it’s not a great book, but it’s still worth the read. It’s certainly an interesting side story, and there are several moments where I could feel my heart pounding against my chest when our protagonists found themselves with their backs against the wall and their lives on the line, but it was a bit of a struggle to read it through to the end. The story felt rather repetitive at times, even a little simplistic in its plot, and from start to finish, it kind of felt like I was reading two completely different stories that only sort of meshed together.
There was one part of the book that I really liked though, and I feel like that alone made it worth reading. I actually mentioned it in a previous post, which you can check out here. In short, the protagonists Alex and Jax were having a deep discussion about the similarities between magic and technology, and what our world would be like if we suddenly didn’t have access to any of our modern day technology. I find myself often saying that I’d be able to live without my phone and my computer if I had to, but I never stopped to consider it on a global scale, where the majority of humanity relies upon having access to technology to survive.
I also enjoyed the conspiratorial tone at the beginning of the book, evoking plenty of paranoia and suspense, as neither you nor Alex had any idea what was going on. I even enjoyed how they introduced Jax, this mysterious woman who comes out of nowhere, and initially gives Alex the cold shoulder following his rescue attempt.
So, not a great book, but not altogether terrible. If you want a sneak peak into the Sword of Truth series before reading it, then The Law of Nines might not be a bad place to start. I would classify it as the kind of book you read a few pages of before going to sleep every night. I don’t normally like to give a book a bad review, but I just found it too difficult to lose myself in this one. However, even bad or moderately good books have their merits and deserve to be read. You never know what you might glean from them.
What do you look for in a good female protagonist? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or on my blogs Facebook page, and until next time, keep on reading!