Title: The Omen Machine
Author: Terry Goodkind
Series: Richard and Kahlan #1
The Overview: #1 New York Times-bestselling author Terry Goodkind returns to the lives of Richard Rahl and Kahlan Amnell—in a compelling tale of a new and sinister threat to their world. In addition to concluding the Sword of Truth series, The Omen Machine also launches the new series of “Richard and Kahlan.
This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name) kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. So let the Q&A begin!
I’m a Richard and Kahlan fan to the point where my unborn child would’ve been named “Kaylen” had he been a girl, thereby representing my all-time favorite female character from anything I’ve ever read. If that’s not fangirl enough to show my passion for elements of this series, I don’t know what is. I was willing to overlook the Pillars of Creation because I thought the Chainfire trilogy really redeemed the ending of the saga. Heck, I was even willing to overlook the uninspiring prequel The First Confessor, but finally have to admit that this series is no longer doing anything for me. Omen Machine lacked everything that once made the series special. I’ll elaborate:
Did you really give the Omen Machine a chance?
I think so – I read at least half of the book, if not more, before deciding to put it down.
Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?
Emphatically, YES! Fantasy is my favorite genre and I still consider the Sword of Truth series a must-read for fellow fanatics.
What ultimately made you stop reading?
I mentioned above that I feel the series has reached a point where it no longer contains the elements that made it special, and unfortunately it also exacerbated all the things I’ve criticized it for. For examples, Omen Machine lacked a sense of adventure and discovery (not to mention world building), didn’t have a clear purpose to the story (or villain, as far as I read), had zero romantic tension/love story, and really didn’t give the characters much to do other than stand around and argue over magical theory. And argue they did… holy shit.
Goodkind has always been accused of needlessly beating his readers over the head with concepts that are fairly simple to grasp. In Omen Machine, there was essentially nothing other than theory and concept driving the plot, and the resulting tirade of repetitive dialogue was enough to make me pull my hair out (and don’t even get me started on the ten page argument the characters had over how to implement a card catalog system in the palace library). It’s like Richard had to say everything four different ways before he was completely satisfied, then a talking-head character would step in and say “what you mean?” and he’d proceed to explain it four more ways. Then, another character would jump in and add one more tiny nuance of a fact and the whole cycle would start all over again. After one such scene went on for over twenty pages, I decided they had about ten more to finish the conversation and continue the plot before I got fed up. After another dozen more had passed with no end in sight, I’d had enough! I put the book down. For all I know the characters beat each other into bloody pulps with all the explanations. I just knew I didn’t want to risk joining them.
This is harsh, but I’m really disappointed in Goodkind. Omen Machine came across as self-indulgent and lazy – it always takes more effort to edit your work down to something concise (which this book desperately needed) than it does to add more detail. But then, cutting out all of the needless repetition would mean he wouldn’t have been anywhere near his word count and would’ve had to replace the vacancies with things like, I don’t know, storytelling and plot advancement. That’s a scathing as you’ll probably ever hear me get, but I just expected so much more at this point and he really let me down.
Was there anything you liked about Omen Machine?
Would you read anything else by this author?
Yeah, I actually would if he started a new fantasy series with fresh concepts and characters. I feel like part of his problem with this novel was trying to extrapolate more from the story that had nothing else left to give.
So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?
I definitely still recommend the Sword of Truth series, but unless you just can’t stand not having a new book with Richard and Kahlen’s names in the text, I’d say skip this one. Honestly, I thought the ending to the SoT series was really satisfying, so I’m going to continue pretending like the saga actually ended there.
Other books you might like better: