Myself being someone who really leaped into the zombie fad that has taken over the world over the last two decades, I can say that I have seen it all. I mean, of course, that I have seen so much of zombies that I am thoroughly bored with the entire genre.
Zombie stories neither surprise nor entertain me anymore. The best that I had seen lately was Z-Nation, with its zombie tornado and other such cool and interesting things. They were the first to hit up many very cool ideas, and for a bit I was interested in the zombie culture again!
Well, then they made Murray some sort of zombie king, and the zombie baby, whatever. Everything got weird and, to me, highly unrealistic (there really is a very fine line to walk when it comes to realism when dealing with the walking dead), so I left again in disappointment.
Then, we come to the later books by Terry Goodkind. In them, he basically introduces two different kinds of zombies: the walking dead and the half-people. His ideas here a new and cool, and I absolutely love them!
Now, to explain to anyone who has never read Terry Goodkind’s the Sword of Truth series, it is not a zombie or post-apocalyptic series. It is very much a fantasy series, complete with wizards and magic and dragons and all that. So, these zombies do not exist because of a virus but because of magic.
Let’s start with the walking dead. Here, we have people who are, of course, dead. Then, wizards are able to reach through the body (magically, not physically) and into the Underworld, pull out the body’s soul, and trap that soul in a kind of limbo. In this way, they can then use that trapped soul to force the body to move. It becomes, then, a powerful weapon that is strengthened by magic, obey’s orders perfectly, and can’t be killed. Even chopping it into bits may stop it, but wont kill it. A finger will continue to attempt moving until it reaches its target. It can never succeed at that point, or course, but it will still try. The only way to truly stop the magic, it seems, is by destoying the body entirely (burning it). Worse, because there will always be dead, there are an unlimited number of weapons that a single wizard can use.
These walking dead do have one weakness, however; they are stupid. They do as instructed but don’t actually have any brain power to think or strategize.
Thus came about the creation of the half-people. Instead of harvesting the dead, this technique instead uses the living. The souls of the living are ripped from their bodies, then are trapped in the same kind of limbo as the souls of the walking dead. By doing this, they are able to create a smarter weapon who can plan and strategize, and are leaders and organizers of the walking dead. They are living people, so they can be killed in the normal way, but wont corrode or die on their own, and so are effectively immortal. Also, these people can use magic, where the walking dead cannot.
However, there was an unforseen consequence to creating these half people. After, how can one live without a soul? Apparently, not very comfortably. After some time, the empty body craves to have a soul of its own again, and so the half-people began eating people. Their belief is that be drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a soul-walker, they can catch that soul for themselves. This never works, of course, thus making their appetite for a new soul insatiable.
I have to admit, though, that this idea of why a zombie must eat people sounds far better to me than the idea of the zombie’s brain being stripped down to that single motor function: hunger.
Cool, though, right?
In reading the next book, some points that I have been foggy on have been a bit cleared up and are different from what I have said here, so I wanted to correct them.
The half-people do not live forever. Apparently, they age and die like anyone else. They can also give birth. However, since the half-people have no souls, their children don’t, either.
I have to say, though, that I don’t actually like it this way. After all, without souls, the half-people are incapable of feeling empathy. That is part of a higher level of reasoning that is simply beyond them. So, how can they care enough to have sex? Even assuming that they still have that drive, how can they care enough to raise a baby? There has been nothing in these books to indicate family units, and it has shown no children, only adult half-people. I prefer my own explanation, but I did want to clarify as to exactly how Terry Goodkind created these half-people.