Confessor is the eleventh novel in Terry Goodkind's epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth, and the last in the Chainfire trilogy bringing an end to the current story arc involving the Imperial Order. The book was announced on February 20, 2007 on the author's official website. The book was released November 13, 2007
Richard Rahl, leader of the D'Haran Empire, has been captured by an Imperial Order commander, who lets Richard live if he will be the point man for the commander's Ja'La dh Jin team. During Richard’s imprisonment, he is warned by a cloaked specter that he is now a player of the Boxes of Orden. Sister Ulicia is also visited by this figure, and is told that the time to open the Boxes has been reset to one year from the first day of winter-the day that Nicci put the Boxes into play under Richard's name. The witch woman Six breaks into the Wizard's Keep during this time and steals the third box of Orden from Nicci and Zedd. Zedd discovers that The Wizard's Keep is being affected by the contamination of the chimes, and must be abandoned. He puts a spell over the failing Keep to protect it from time and future damage.
Jagang's excavations in the Azrith Plains reveal catacombs under the People's Palace, which provide a secret entryway. Three Sisters of the Dark enter, killing Ann and capturing Nicci, by combining their powers to overcome the Palace's spell-form. Soldiers are sent into the catacombs to prepare an attack, and the hole is hidden. The Sisters of the Dark discover what they believe to be the original Book of Counted Shadows.
Upon a surprise visit from Jagang, who is sizing up the members of rival Ja'La teams, Richard realizes that he needs a disguise so that Jagang won't recognize him. He solves this problem by obtaining red paint, and covering the faces and bodies of his teammates and himself by intimidating symbols and parts of spell-forms. Not only is the effect daunting, it sets the team apart and effectively conceals Richard's features. His team meets and defeats Jagang's team in the tournament final, but Jagang, refusing to accept his team's loss, announces the win is invalid. This unfair decision causes a riot in the camp, during which Richard and Nicci escape and Kahlan is 'rescued' by Samuel. Richard and Nicci (helped by Adie) go back to the Palace through the catacombs, where Nathan and Cara help them wipe out the Order forces hiding there.
Rachel is lured into Tamarang by Violet, who has drawn a spell around her that sets 'ghostie gobblies' after her. On her way, she is given a piece of chalk by Shota in disguise as Rachel's mother. Rachel continues to the mystical caves and moves the spell around her to Violet, who is promptly destroyed by the 'ghostie gobblies'. Rachel then takes the spell off of Richard to restore his gift. She is again visited by her 'mother', who sends her off to deliver a message with Gratch. Zedd is captured by Six, and discovers that the witch woman is in league with Jagang and has helped attack D'Haran forces in the Old World. Richard is warned by Nicci that he must not reveal his love for Kahlan to her, or the sterile field around the Chainfire spell will not restore her memories for him - but will restore to others their original memories from before the Chainfire event was started. She explains that it is similar to how Richard could not be told about the way to love a Confessor without being touched by her power-foreknowledge would contaminate the and it wouldn't work.
Richard then helps Jillian, the priestess of the bones and dream caster from Caska, give the Order's army terrible nightmares. Jagang is given particularly nasty dreams, mostly involving Nicci. Richard is taught many spells and spell-forms by Nicci, and then sends himself to the Underworld, using Denna as a spirit guide, and retrieves everyone's memories of Kahlan, which he correctly reasons must be in the Underworld because they don't exist in this world. He successfully retrieves them - but is attacked by the beast, which was attracted by the use of his gift. Richard does the only thing he can think of, and risks his life to destroy the beast by unleashing Additive magic into the underworld. He is slammed out of the Underworld, and into the middle of a gathering of the Mud People. He is greeted by Rachel, who, with Gratch's help, had told the Mud People to hold a gathering to help him. Meanwhile, at the Palace, from where Richard has been missing for days, Nathan assumes Richard is dead and accepts Jagang's terms of surrender, which include surrendering Nicci to Jagang, and giving the Order's gifted access to the Garden of Life in order to open the boxes.
Samuel attempts to rape Kahlan after several days of journeying. During the struggle, she touches the Sword of Truth, which causes the affects of Chainfire to be countered. She recalls that she is a Confessor, and releases her power into him. Even though she remembers that she is a Confessor; she does not recall anything of her past. Samuel reveals that he is an agent for Six, and that Richard and Kahlan were once married. Samuel dies when he realizes that he was going to rape Kahlan, his mistress, and she could not forgive him. Richard meets up with Kahlan on the way to Tamarang. He won't answer her questions about the circumstances of their marriage, for fear of contaminating the sterile field, which greatly upsets her. To make amends and to show he does care for her, he carves for her a smaller model of spirit.
Six has imprisoned Zedd, Tom, and Rikka, and as Richard and Kahlan arrive in Tamarang to rescue them, the witch woman appears. Shota arrives just as Six is about to recapture them, in disguise as Six's mother. Shota kills Six and then Richard, Kahlan and Zedd fly back to the People's Palace on the red dragon Six had enslaved. The dragon turns out to be Scarlet's son Gregory, whom Richard saved when he was just an egg.
Back at the Palace, Richard surrenders to Jagang's terms, allowing him and his Sisters of the Dark into the palace so they can use the Garden of Life to open the boxes of Orden. During the ritual, Jagang goes, unguarded, to the cell where Nicci is held. She promptly locks a Rada'Han around his neck, rendering him powerless, and eventually kills him unceremoniously, insisting that he will not become a martyr or have a drawn-out, climactic death.
Back in the Garden of Life, the Sisters of the Dark complete the magic to find out which Box is correct and open it. At first, it seems they were successful. However, it becomes increasingly clear that something is wrong. Richard explains to the furious Sisters that all of the Books of Counted Shadows were fake keys - they mention Confessors, which were created after the boxes were. He also tells them that even if they did have the true key, they would still fail because of their intent. The Book of Life warns against hatred and malicious intent in the very beginning, and since they were using the power for evil, no matter which box they opened they would forfeit their lives. This is proved when the Sisters are sucked into the Underworld.
Richard explains to everyone that the real key to the Magic of Orden is the Sword of Truth. Much to Richard's dismay, Kahlan tells Richard she loves him, proving that she is not a sterile field and that emotions have contaminated her chances of regaining her memory. Richard puts the Sword over each box in turn. Each box on the side turns the sword black; the one in the middle turns it a brilliant white. Richard stabs the box, capturing the magic of Orden. Now in command of life and death, he uses the magic to send the followers of the Order to a new world, devoid of all magic, as they wished. Richard's half sister Jennsen and the rest of the Pillars of Creation decide that they wish to go to this new world too. They feel that because they have no magic, a world without magic is a better place for them, because in this new world magic will be bred out because of their presence. Tom, the man that loves Jennsen, also goes to this world so that he can be with her. Richard also uses Orden to repair the damage caused by the Chimes, and to remove Chainfire and send it off to the new world he has created, where instead of causing harm it can serve a useful purpose - ensuring the complete removal of magic from that world, and removing all its inhabitants' memories of their previous world. As Richard goes to close the doorway, he fears Kahlan is lost because the sterile field required for Orden was tainted. She then tells him that she was protected because she realized she had fallen in love with him on her own, similar to his realization of his love for her at the beginning of the series, thus bringing the story full circle.
As an epilogue, there is a short look at the other world, where Tom and Jennsen are expecting a child, who will carry on the Rahl name, and where people are gradually forgetting Richard and everything from their previous world. The book ends with the marriage of Cara and General Meiffert. It is revealed that the Sisters of the Light have moved into the Wizard's Keep, where along with Zedd, they can continue to teach young wizards. Chase (now a Warden of the Keep) and his family have also moved into the Keep, as have Adie and Friedrich, who have discovered love in each other. Zedd asks Richard what else he did while he had Orden's power, but Richard is vague. He only admits to taking the spell off of red fruit, so that it is no longer poison, and that he brought back the Temple of the Winds.
After the wedding, the devotion bells begin to ring, and people bend to kneel. Richard stops them, saying that devotions are no longer necessary, because everyone's life is their own to live.
The final rule can not directly be quoted, yet using the final book of the series "Confessor" it can be understood.
In Confessor, Richard goes through great struggle to obtain a book left for him by Baraccus, a great wizard from the past. Richard believes this book entitled Secrets to a war wizard's power will be a means for him to finally understand how to use his gift and therefore in essence be the solution to major problems. Once he obtains the book however, its pages are blank and his grandfather Zedd informs him that Baraccus left it blank to illustrate the meaning of the rule unwritten. Using this knowledge Richard reasons that "The book of counted shadows" could not possibly be the key to the boxes of orden, and that in fact the sword of truth was the only way to harness orden's power of life itself. Incalculable effort had been put into obtaining the knowledge contained in "The book of counted shadows" by Jagang and the sisters of the dark, and in the past that it was well protected, yet when the sisters of the dark finally used it that effort was all for nothing. As far as the knowledge within the book was concerned, there was 'nothing in it', much like Richard's "Secrets to a war wizard's power". The sword of truth, representative of its namesake, was key to life.
The secret to Richard's power is that he seeks the truth. In seeking truth he turns a blind eye to corrupt ideas and embraces that which is the essence of life itself. The sisters of the dark assumed the truth to be what they had always been told by others and never thought to verify it themselves. The price they paid for such an oversight was their lives. Moreover, the sisters would never have been able to access the power of life even with the sword because they were acting through hate. Richard, on the other hand intended to use the power to help those he cared about and thus had the ability to harness the power of life. "those who have come here to hate should leave now, for in their hatred they only betray themselves" - translated from The Book of Life. That book too was empty to the sisters because of the path they followed.
One must always seek the truth in life for themselves, rather than simply believing that which they are told without their own rational understanding and justification for that belief. Failure to do so can lead to a life of clinging to empty promises and following trails of false hope. The knowledge gained through seeking the truth, if used for the purposes of good, is the key to enjoying life to its fullest. Those who use the truth for hate however, only betray themselves.