Let’s just take a moment to appreciate this bit of quality prose:
THERE WAS A SOUND. Small, soft, spitting.
In the fog of half sleep, half wake, it made no sense, no matter how hard he tried to understand it.
So at first I was largely indifferent to Richard and Kahlan, then repulsed by them, then I kind of had my mind blown by how unlikable they are, and now I just find them incredibly boring. I’ve gone to start this chapter about five times, realized it was a Richard and Kahlan chapter, then slowly slid off my chair into the fetal position.
Anyway Kahlan returns and reveals that instead of running off to kill herself she decided to keep watch while Richard slept, and possibly catch him some breakfast, like a good waifu. And she cried a lot because of course she did.
And then I remembered some things I needed to tell you about which roads to avoid, and about where you might go. I just keep thinking about things I needed to tell you, things you need to know. Before I knew it, I realized you were right. About everything.
Okay, I actually do think Richard was right in this situation, but the way he went about trying to explain that was completely off-putting.
Kahlan timidly asks to be allowed to return to Richard’s side as his guide, but insists on finally explaining what a Confessor is as well.
Richard wasn’t sure anymore that he wanted to hear her secret. He had just gotten her back; he didn’t want to lose her again
She clearly feels that she needs to tell you so go fuck yourself, Richard. More so than usual I mean.
He felt proud of her, for catching the rabbit on her own, the way he had taught her
After a page of pointless waffling Kahla finally reveals to us what a Confessor is (and by “reveals” I mean “explains the stuff I already read about in a wiki weeks ago).
The Book of Counted Shadows suddenly flooded through. his mind. Verification of the truth of the words of the Book of CountedShadows, if spoken by another, rather than read by the one who commands the boxes, can only be insured by the use of a Confessor . . . .
(A reminder that Richard still hasn’t told anyone else about the book, because it’s easier to string stories out until they reach the 600 page minimum that all fantasy novels are for some reason required to abide by if people don’t tell each other things. Just ask Robert Jordan)
A bit more waffling, and then we learn that
“It is the power of love.”
I already know what a Confessor does, and that is by far the weirdest and most misleading way of describing it. Presumably this was written for dramatic impact even if it doesn’t make sense.
Once touched by it, you are no longer the person you were. You are changed forever. Forevermore you are devoted to the one who touches you, to the exclusion of all else. What you wanted, what you were, who you were, no longermeans anything to you. You would do anything for the one who touches you. Your life is no longer yours, it is hers. Your soul is no longer yours, it is hers. The person you were no longer exists.
If I spliced this into a selection of misogynistic MRA talking points about women ensnaring men I wonder how long it would take for people to work out which one was the book quote.
Anyway once Kahlan uses her Confessor touch the person she confessored at is under her control forever. Darken Rahl can’t be confessored and it only works partially on sentient non-humans like gar. Some confessors are more powerful than others; naturally Kahlan is the best confessor to ever confess (the Confessorest, if you will).
“I am the Mother Confessor.”
I seriously have trouble with the idea of Kahlan in a position of authority. Absolutely nothing about her personality suggests she’d be suited to it, or that people would accept her as a leader.
Kahlan lifted an eyebrow to him. “Queens bow down to the Mother Confessor.”
Yeah, no one’s bowing down to Kahlan.
The Confessors used to live with the wizards in a place called
HogwartsAydindril (classic fantasy name right there, you can tell because it sounds stupid) “no one dares lay claim to it”. This book really seems to creepily fetishize the notion of the authority that’s beholden only to itself and all tremble before it and shit.
“In the past, arrogant rulers had thought to make the Confessors submit to their word. In those times, there were farsighted Confessors, now revered as legends, who knew they must lay the foundation for our independence, or forever submit to domination; so the. Mother Confessor took the rulers with her power. The rulers were removed from their thrones, and replaced with new rulers who understood that Confessors were to be left alone: The old rulers, those who were taken, were kept in Aydindril as little more than slaves. The Confessors took these old rulers with them when they traveled to the different lands, made them carry the provisions and luxuries of travel. Back then, there was more ceremony surrounding the Confessors than there is now. Anyway, it made the intended impression.”
Keep in mind right before this Kahlan talks about how the confessors were above any regional laws, which means the “independence” the Mother Confessors wanted to maintain was actually dominance. So what we have here is a society of mind-controllers who can supersede the sovereignty of any kingdom or nation-state at a whim. Yeah, I wonder why some people might have had a problem with that idea.
Closing a land to a Confessor is tantamount to an admission of guilt, and is sufficient cause for the leader to be taken from power. This is why the Mud People, for example, allow me in, even though they do not often let other outsiders in. Not allowing a Confessor access would raise questions and suspicions. A leader involved in any sort of plot would gladly grant a Confessor free access, to try to hide their involvement in any subversion.
Or in other words the Confessors were tyrants.
There’s some more vague moral relativism to try and justify all of this, and Richard and Kahlan waffle some more (God how these two characters like to waffle).
Kahlan goes on to explain that Confessors are the final arbiters of truth, which they spend their time seeking. They’re sort of like Seekers, if you will. Except the Seeker-seekers Jack Baur their targets into revealing the truth (or just doing what they say, really) whereas the Confessors use mind control. Specifically they confessor at criminals who are going to be executed, to make sure they’re actually guilty. You may have noticed an obvious flaw in this setup.
The problem of executing an innocent person by accident of course exists in the real world as well. Personally my preferred solution to this dilemma is to just not execute people, but I guess permanent mind control is good too.
Kahlan starts to cry (of course) while relating the story of the first man she ever confessored into confessing. Three guesses as to what his crime was, and the second two don’t count. After hearing his confession Kahlan ordered him to die and he promptly dropped dead on the spot. So to recap: the Confessors can not only mind-control people, they can also kill them instantly with a single word in a manner that leaves no evidence behind. Yeah, I’m really starting to understand why some of the Midlands rulers weren’t too happy with this arrangement.
Confessors are independent; people resent that. Men resent that none of them can rule us, or even tell us what to do. Women resent that we do not live the kind of life they do, that we do not live in the traditional role of women; we do not take care of a man, or submit to one.
I’m really wondering why Goodkind felt the need to bring gender into this, instead of just saying “people resent us because we can waltz into their houses any time we want and mind-control them on the slightest suspicion that they might be up to something funny”.
We are seen as privileged
YOU HAVE SUPER POWERS YOU ARE FUCKING PRIVILEGED
Our hair is long, a symbol of our authority; they are made to keep their hair short, as a sign of submission to their man and every other per- son of higher status than they
I can’t remember if I mentioned this before, but in the first Rachel chapter it’s mentioned that (I believe) lower-class women are supposed to keep their hair short. In other words the Midlands are pretty sexist! I wonder if that’s going to get addressed in later books when Richard [SPOILER]s the [SPOILER].
It is ironic that we are less free than they, yet they don’t see that part of it. We do
their distasteful tasks for them, and yet we are not free to choose what we will do with our own lives. We are prisoners of our power
No. Shut the fuck up. You have mind-control powers and you’re above the law, you’re not a “prisoner” of anything. You know who is a prisoner to your power? Everyone else.
Anyway when Confessors reach the age to become a mother they have to have a Confessor-daughter so there’ll be more confessors. They can’t have husbands or BFs because reasons, so instead they have to find a “mate”.
They all know they have no say in the matter; any who stood in the way of a Confessor’s
choosing would be taken by her.
So the Confessors are basically raping men. Are we supposed to think they’re evil or is that just the conclusion I’m coming to in defiance of the text?
We are taught from a young age that the mate we choose must be a man of strength, so that the children we bear will be strong
That’s totally how that works.
Anyway the point of all of this is that Richard and Kahlan can’t be together because if they have sex she’d lose control of her power and mind control him (that’s literally what she says, not me paraphrasing for comedic effect).
More waffling and Richard gets around to asking about male Confessors.
Why do you always say `she,’ `her,’ `daughter’? Why always women?
Every single mention of wizards has implied that they’re all male, and yet the same question doesn’t get asked. Gee I wonder why.
“But the power is stronger in them; they need no time to recover
The male confessors are more powerful, of course. But sometimes they get corrupted and turn into Evil Overlords so it’s okay!
For some reason, it takes the unique compassion of a woman to handle the power, to be free from its corrupting influence.
Anyway the male confessors running around being evil was a problem so wizards slaughtered them all and now if any confessors have boys they mind control the husband into murdering the baby by putting a metal rod against their throat and standing on both ends.
brb gonna go backflip into traffic
Richard suddenly realized that he hated the Midlands
Wow this is being handled in the clumsiest way possible.
Richard and Kahlan’s whiny star-crossed lovers BS goes on for a while longer.
“You said no man can command a Confessor. You are wrong. I command the Mother Confessor herself. You are sworn to protect me, I hold you to your duty as my guide.”
He only wished he were alone so he could cry
Both of you go jump off a bridge.