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“Future and Fate depend on both the journey and the destination. Kol Adair lies far to the south in the Old World. From there, the Wizard will behold what he needs to make himself whole again. And the Sorceress must save the world.”
This is the witch’s prophecy that truly kickstarted warrior-sorceress Nicci and wizard Nathan’s Old World quest in Death’s Mistress, the first book in The Nicci Chronicles, setting some very high stakes for this epic tale moving forward. Nathan “made himself whole again” by reclaiming his magic, but when Heart of Black Ice, the final chapter in Terry Goodkind’s sword-and-sorcery story opens, the eponymous Nicci has yet to “save the world.” No pressure, Nic.
For those who have yet to dive into the action-packed fantasy world of The Nicci Chronicles, the series follows badass Nicci and her companions (chiefly, the aforementioned Nathan and cabbage-farmer-turned-swordsman Bannon) on their ambassadorial missions through the Old World. As is often the case in epic fantasy, shenanigans—many of the magical variety—ensue, involving everything from selkies and silphs to stone soldiers and legendary spells. Goodkind is known for his thrilling fight sequences and battle scenes, as well as his expansive worldbuilding. The Nicci Chronicles gives him the continued opportunity to stretch those writerly muscles.
For those who have already dived into The Nicci Chronicles, Heart of Black Ice picks back up following the battle at Ildakar, which ended with the city Brigadooning itself behind a shroud of eternity, leaving a ragtag group of wizards, scholars, soldiers, and Sisters of Light led by reluctant commander Nathan, to attempt to stop the more than 100,000 reawakened soldiers ready to lay waste to the Old World after 15 centuries of stone sleep. #OldWorldProblems
It doesn’t help that General Utros, the leader of the reawakened soldiers, is teaming up with King Grieve, the leader of the barbaric Norukai slavers. While Utros is continuing the mission of conquest Emperor Kurgan set him on 15 centuries ago, uncaring that the emperor and his empire have long since past, Grieve just wants to watch the world burn, and get plenty of pillaging in along the way. Separately, they are massive threats to the people of the Old World. Together, they may be unstoppable…
These are the kind of stakes fantasy series excel at, and The Nicci Chronicles is no different, bringing together storylines and important characters from the previous three books in the series, while also alluding to thematic and character elements from Goodkind’s beloved Sword of Truth series, in which the character of Nicci was first introduced. (Don’t worry. You do not have to have read Sword of Truth to enjoy The Nicci Chronicles, though of course it adds a layer of depth.)
The result is suitably monumental—the kind of fantasy series catharsis we often spend years if not decades waiting for when it comes to other franchises, Goodkind has given readers of classic fantasy in less than four years. If you’ve been waiting for this series to wrap up before diving in, then now is the time. It all ends with Heart of Black Ice(well, for now), and no one is safe.