Goodkind continues the extended adventure begun in Chainfire as Richard struggles to reunite with Kahlan in the face of the approaching Imperial Order. I enjoyed Phantom, because it finally has Richard acting on a scale grand enough to affect the plot in a way I haven't seen since Blood of the Fold. In the intervening novels, Richard usually gets drawn off on a tangential adventure that then loops back into the plot. In this trilogy, Richard's actions directly affect the main myth arc, which is a refreshing change, considering he is the main character.
Here we get a sense of how truly clever Jagang is. Pillars of Creation gave us a better measure of his character, but we spend even more time with him now and watch him through the filter of Kahlan. Even without her memories, she is still tenacious--Jagang likes this. And we begin to see the seeds of his ultimate downfall--naturally, it's pride. He forbears raping Kahlan because he wants her to remember her identity before he rapes her. That's a mistake: delays only cost the bad guy his life. She also notes that his position as an emperor is paradoxical in a society that values egalitarianism and a lack of individual distinction, thus foreshadowing the Imperial Order's eventual demise: it is a paradox, a contradiction, and thus a violation of the Wizard's Ninth Rule.
The first two thirds of the book were somewhat boring and expository (think Stone of Tears). However, the ending made up for that with Richard's decisive actions. The fact that Richard can pass as a nobody among the Imperial Order is one of his biggest strengths. I can't wait for the look on Jagang's face when he sees that the point guard of the Ja'La team playing his team is in fact Richard Rahl. But that's for the next book. Which I have sitting next to me.