Grasping for the Wind Rotating Header Image

Book Review: Phantom by Terry Goodkind

I am currently in the middle of reading Terry Goodkind’s book Phantom. I have been an avid reader since the beginning and would devour the 4,000 word books in the space of hours in some cases.

Although I know him to be a devotee of Ayn Rand and her rather whacky philosophy of Objectivism, I have enjoyed his attempts at celebrating individualism and destroying blind faith. I have at times thought that his antagonist Jagang and the Fellowship of Order to at times be Christianity, Islam, and/or Marxism. It is obvious that the protaganist, Richard, is coming up against all of the religious beliefs that have ever existed in the world and systematically proving how they are insuficient for expereincing life to its fullest. The individualism of the Richard character always triumphs intellectually over all other perceptions of life, both what comes before and after. The series is almost an apologetic in the style of C.S. Lewis. Goodkind brings on all comers and rapidly and logically destroys the worldviews.

Phantom has made it obvious that the worst of the worldview sinners is those people who have faith in something other than this life. Whether it be Islam, Christianity, or any other worldview that requires faith (except ancestor worship or animism as personified in the Mud People) then it is evil because it requires faith. It is evil because it calls for the denial of one’s own desires in order to meet the desires of others. Of course, in the Sword of Truth series this is carried to its extreme in the Fellowship of Order.

It is fascinating to see how someone without faith in a Holy writ or much beyond this life and living for oneself views us. I do find it interesting the convolutions Goodkind must go through in order to show how must fight communally for the right to live as we please. In some cases, such as the right to fight back against an oppressor or those who harm us first I say Hurrah! But if one’s own desires are the ultimate goal of this life how then can we ever desire to fight together in common cause.

This book is great simply because it asks the questions we must ask ourselves in this modern day and age. Why do Americans fight to preserve our freedoms when, in postmodernism, our greatest goal should only be to do what feels right to us at the time? Why is the faith of Islam so often destructive, and why has Christianity also been in its less than lustrous past?

I enjoy reading Goodkind, if only for the questions he makes me ask myself. Although I may not agree with his interpretation in the end, I at least better know why I believe what I do. And who would have thought it from a work of epic fantasy?