Jagang, Emperor of the Imperial Order, has invoked a bound fork prophecy binding Richard and Kahlan to a fate of pain, betrayal, and a path to the Underworld. At Jagang’s behest a Sister of the Dark gains access into the fabled Temple of the Winds and has unleashed a plague that sweeps across the lands like a firestorm consuming lives at an alarming rate. To stop the plague Richard and Kahlan are forced to sacrifice everything they have between them.
The fourth entry in Goodkind's Sword of Truth fantasy saga opens only weeks after the close of Blood of the Fold (1996). The evil Emperor Jagang is not dead, after all, but is still scheming against Richard Cypher, bearer of the Sword, and against Richard's betrothed, Kahlan Amnell, the Mother Confessor. The schemes go far beyond mere invasion or assassination: their centerpiece is a magically spread plague that brings hideous death, particularly to children. To stop this pestilence, Richard must find the long-lost Temple of the Winds; and in order to do that, he and Kahlan must forswear their love and each marry another. Sundry subplots involving the wizard Zedd and other well-drawn characters fill out the book. Goodkind's prose sometimes lags, but his ingenuity rarely does (his magical-traveling sliph is a gem), though the roles he assigns to women sometimes languish at the level of pop-feminism. Even so, the many readers who have traveled this far in the series should wander happily through this addition.