Nest by Terry Goodkind (first published in 2016 by Head of Zeus)

As a fan of the Sword of Truth novels, I was pretty excited to give Terry Goodkind’s new book, Nest, a read. Nest is not Goodkind’s first foray into the world of the contemporary thriller. The Law of Nines (which I haven’t read) was also set in the real world, but according to the Review Journal it confused marketers and fans who didn’t know if it was suspense or fantasy.

Nest begins in a way that also had me guessing – but in the best of ways:

“For the past three weeks, John Allen Bishop had been keeping the devil chained in the basement. What, exactly, the devil had been doing in Chicago, John didn’t know and the devil wasn’t saying. What John did know was that over the past several days, the situation had been getting increasingly worrisome.”

I was instantly hooked. In fact, I found the first fifth or so of the book to be engaging, slightly mystifying and genuinely scary. And the premise – that some people have the ability to look into someone’s eyes and LITERALLY SEE that they are evil killers seemed like a great starting point for a suspense thriller.

But then things devolved.

As someone who enjoys a good thriller, I was curious what Goodkind would make of the genre. His Sword of Truth fans will know that he enjoys rambling on about made up philosophical dilemmas – sometimes to the point of exhaustion – a little too much. So I was wondering how he would marry that intrinsic part of his writing personality in the fast paced world of real life suspense.

He didn’t. In fact, he missed the mark by a mile.

Nest is an unsatisfying, bizarre mix of fast paced action (done well – I’ll give him that), unnecessarily gruesome torture porn, and long-winded, sermon-like lectures from the main characters. (Although, only from two of the main characters, mind you. The female protagonist barely speaks. She just serves to ask questions and listen to the other characters repeating themselves ad nauseum.)

The dialogue is so unrealistic it’s like he’s never heard a conversation between two people before.

Most puzzlingly, it’s like he’s forgotten that a good story-teller (which I know he is) is supposed to show the story, to guide it so that the reader can immerse themselves in it and experience the events.
Instead, reading Nest feels like the author is standing outside of the narrative, trying to explain to you what you should think and feel. 

And what makes it worse is what the author wants you to think and feel. From the Sword of Truth books I have always imagined him to be some sort of libertarian. But Nest made me wonder whether Goodkind’s politics aren’t extremely right wing.

It also suggests that he is a devout misanthrope and Islamophobe with a narrow worldview and a tenuous grasp of world politics.

So should you give Nest a try?

Well, only if you feel like listening to a conspiracy theorist mansplain faulty evolution, knife fighting and internet technology to you.  

Disclaimer: I was not paid in Bitcoin by a group of Darknet psycho murderer-torturers to write a bad review for this book.

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Watch Terry chat about writing, creativity and his book Nest.