In and Out of the Thrall
The day was hot, oppressive and cloying. It felt the way it does when I’ve opened the oven door after it’s gone through its self-cleaning cycle. Still, it felt good to be out in the fresh air. Since the building in which I work feeds temperature-regulated recycled air (so cool it feels like winter) to thirsty lungs, I get chilled even in summer. At the end of an hour outside I’m sufficiently warmed and ready to retreat to the mechanically controlled environs in the same way a gator suns itself on the bank of a pond before withdrawing to the cooler waters.
On this particular day I decided to enjoy my lunch in the diminutive park across the street with a fountain graced by an oversized purple-hued mermaid and planters containing raggedy dehydrated plants (Florida being in the midst of a drought). I wanted to get away from people talking business, away from the ringing phone and away from the insistent ding of my laptop as e-mails landed one after another in my inbox. I had a book to read. My heart raced and my breath came in short rasps as I read in the noontime sun, as much from the heat as the thrall in which the book held me. Each sentence took me deeper into the story’s depths with the same seductive grasp it used to seduce me with its feel and its look in the grocery store aisle weeks before. Terry Goodkind’s Phantom was a book I itched to pick up again and again, reading a paragraph whenever time would allow. Now I had the leisure of a lunch time, one full hour for my pleasure only. It was divine.
Twenty minutes later, engrossed in the words, deeply involved with the characters in the story, I was startled when simultaneous thunderstorms hit, one in the story’s setting of a place called Westland, the other in my small corner of Sarasota, Florida, where I was sat on my purple bench. The sun was suddenly hidden in a bank of clouds; how had I not noticed? Outdoors in the midst of a thunderstorm is no place to be—especially not in Florida. There is only one other place on the planet, that being in Africa, where lighting delivers more devastation on the planet than it does here in Florida. Rain would be a good thing, I thought, glancing at the wizened plants struggling for survival before running to retrieve my lunch wrappings, possessed by the stiff breeze, scudding along the walkway. Though I was disappointed that I could not read any further, I found the stormy coincidence intriguing. (No rain ensued, though the thunder rolled across the heavens rattling the windows all over the building.)
I spent the remainder of the week, deprived of sufficient sleep, reading till I fell asleep in my chair in the evening, feeling very much like Nicci, one of the characters, as she tried to find the secret that would set the man she is sworn to protect, free to fight the final battle between good and evil. I was tantalized into reading ever more, tethered to the book by some magical chain that would not release me till the last page. As the remaining pages became fewer and the final battle had not yet begun, I had a suspicion that there would be another book to wait for. Aaaaaugh! I was right. The final words on the last page said “Be sure to look for the next and concluding book in the Sword of Truth series.”
“Series!” I shrieked, scaring the dogs out of their nap and knocking over my now-empty cup, sending it tumbling across the lanai into the pool. I couldn’t believe it. I’d put everything aside to be able to retreat to my chair out in the Florida summer heat to finish this book—left dishes in the sink and beds unmade—only to find out that I would not see this final battle just yet. Had Terry Goodkind been anywhere close I probably would have given his ponytail a yank and begged him to tell me when this next book would be out, to tell me how long I’d have to wait for the sequel, the final piece. Nowhere did it say on the cover that this was part of a series.
I am hooked now. I dangle like bait on a publisher’s fishing pole in the summer sun awaiting the sequel. The only good thing is that I now understand that the list of books inside the front cover represents earlier books in the series and I find myself wanting to hunt them down and read them. The hook is now deeply embedded.
I love sci-fi/fantasy novels. I love them for the battles of good and evil in which good ultimately wins. I adore the concepts and ideals the authors are free to explore that in the real world are not politically correct and the way the authors let these ideas play out. Goodkind does credit to the genre with masterful use of detail, language, ideals, drama and plot. I admire the characters, so richly drawn that I sometimes recognize myself in them or people I know. I despise the characters who represent the evil in the world. I do hate it, however, when reality intrudes on this small world between two cardboard covers, the reality of economic supply and demand that says “money is to be made” by making me, the reader, WANT.
Do I regret having purchased the book? No! Not for a moment. My only regret is that I have to wait so long for the final battle to play out. It is rather like life, isn’t it? From discovery to purchase to the hours of escape and coincidence, I was enthralled, immersed and enslaved by the words and emotions wrung so thoroughly, so deliciously from me. I fervently wish to be so enslaved again.
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at