Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth Series

Many fantasy stories begin with a seemingly ordinary man embarking on an extraordinary mission and Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth is no different. We have Richard Cypher, a regular forest ranger, who begins his quest when his father is brutally murdered by a powerful wizard. In his journey, he meets the exquisite Kahlan Amnell, his future life partner, and together they experience tales upon tales of sorcery, mythical beasts, and magical boundaries...for Richard is named the Seeker, the one who is destined to hold the Sword of Truth. As such, he struggles with the responsibility of bringing order in a world that's about to be engulfed in darkness.

Richard and Kahlan's epic story spans eleven novels, namely:
  1. Wizard's First Rule
  2. Stone of Tears
  3. Blood of the Fold
  4. Temple of the Winds
  5. Soul of the Fire
  6. Faith of the Fallen
  7. The Pillars of Creation
  8. Naked Empire (portion of the cover scanned here)
  9. Chainfire
  10. Phantom
  11. Confessor

I had just received Confessor as a Christmas gift and I must say that I liked how the story ended. But before that, I would like to warn anyone who wishes to try this series that the first book is a trap. It leads you to read the second book, then the third, then the fourth...until you have already so helplessly entangled yourself in the lives of Richard and Kahlan that you'd find yourself forced to finish the series.

Ironically, Wizard's First Rule can stand pretty much on its own. Besides Richard and Kahlan, it introduces a bevy of highly intriguing characters like the powerful First Wizard Zorander, the Sorceress Adie, the feisty red dragon named Scarlet, the smart child Rachel and the Witch Woman Shota. Wizard's First Rule is probably the most action-packed of the entire series, as the plot is complete with all the necessary elements required in a movie trilogy. It even has the perfect ending. Who's not to say that Goodkind didn't intend for it to be a series initially?

The sequel, Stone of Tears, is equally riveting. Goodkind introduces more interesting characters like the beast Gratch, the thousand-year-old prophet Nathan, and the Sisters of the Light. Most of the characters I find myself drawn to were those that came from the first and second novels. Unfortunately, by the time Temple of the Winds came out, I was already starting to lose interest. None of the next installations that followed -- with Pillars of Creation being my biggest disappointment -- are as intense as the first two, but by the time I had come to realize it, I had already wanted to see Richard's ordeal finished. Chainfire and Phantom are the most cruel teases, as the author managed to dangle cliffhangers twice with these. Both had me waiting until the next year to find out what happens next: one year from Chainfire to Phantom and a year and a half for Confessor.

Confessor, however, managed to salvage what was left of my waning attention span. It has a weak beginning, though. The first half is filled with annoying talk. Every chapter discusses the same topic, except that they are discussed by different people. I found myself getting frustrated until Goodkind began describing how the sport Ja'La dh Jin (The Game of Life) gets violent and gruesome. Something about metal balls smashing into an opponent's face got my blood pumping. That was the only time I actually began to get into it. The pace picks up halfway through, with twists and turns that would delight any Terry Goodkind fan or those that have awaited characters that hadn't appeared since Blood of the Fold. The ending is satisfying and I couldn't help but marvel at how every little detail -- from the drop of an ink to the passages of a blank manual -- work to get such an amazing conclusion.

If there's one thing I'd like to commend Terry Goodkind for, it's how he creates such impressive female characters. This attribute can be considered both good and bad. Good because they grip you so tightly, you almost feel like not letting go. Bad because Goodkind has a tendency to not write about some of his best characters for a very long time. While I'm not too impressed with Richard himself -- being so "default" despite his very few shortcomings -- the women are so gloriously flawed and powerful at the same time! Take Rachel, for example. I am not overly fond of kiddie heroines, but she is probably the first one to make my heart race with her misadventures. To name a few of my other favorites: Kahlan, Adie, Scarlet, Shota, Sister Nicci, Sister Verna and the Mord-Sith Cara. All female. All with traits that make you want to delve into their backgrounds far beyond what the series can offer.

I won't exactly recommend Sword of Truth to conventional fantasy fans. Many tend to compare it with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Robert Jordan's works, or other sagas like Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis's Dragonlance. While Goodkind's works, in fact, are under the fantasy genre, I noticed that he waxes philosophical. Sometimes overly so. His concepts aren't exactly new to fantasy enthusiasts, but the way he tells it makes me feel like I could apply the Wizard's Rules in real life.

If you want to know if the series is worth buying, all I could say is, "Get the first three books then the last three. Rent everything in between. Unless you plan to collect."

Rating: 8/10



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3 comments :

  1. COMMENTS FROM THE OLD SITE:
    1. skysenshi says

    ** SPOILER ALERT **

    Just in case you’re wondering if Goodkind does create wonderful male characters…he does. They happen to be rare…and he just has the nasty habit of killing some of them off.

    As for why I didn’t like Pillars of Creation, well…If you took out the people that made you like the series in the first place and put the protagonist’s pointless half-sister Jennsen in the limelight, you don’t really have anything solid to hold on to. With my interest abating at book 4, I didn’t really appreciate having a totally unrelated story (with totally unfamiliar characters) being inserted in book 7. I guess this book would’ve been great as a standalone, but since I already knew the truth before Jennsen did, I just got annoyed with every misguided decision she makes throughout the book. And guess what? You could take her out of Confessor and it wouldn’t have mattered.

    January 2nd, 2008 at 10:21 am


    2. andy (http://drewbocz.multiply.com/) says

    “While Goodkind’s works, in fact, are under the fantasy genre, I noticed that he waxes philosophical. Sometimes overly so.”

    I’ve read on some other boards that he mostly takes his philosophy from Ayn Rand (who wrote Atlas Shrugged). I haven’t read Rand yet but I might pick it up one of these days.

    One of the reasons that I like this series so much is that I see myself agreeing with the philosophy of life.

    January 2nd, 2008 at 10:39 pm


    3. skysenshi says

    I agree with about 7 of the Wizard’s Rules and don’t really mind his philosophies. It’s when the monologues reach more than 3 pages that I start skimming. Haha!

    I’m a bit curious about Ayn Rand, too. Read about her in Terry Goodkind’s Wikipedia bio.

    January 2nd, 2008 at 11:36 pm


    4. Bo0k Lov3r says

    they are all great books but some characters should not ‘appear’ too much around…… ^_^

    July 12th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oooh, just saw this post now. Did you try watching Legends of the Seeker? :) It's based on the Sword of Truth series :)

    My friend who's a hard core fan got slightly miffed though since they changed a lot of details from the book. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yep yep! I reviewed it:
    http://www.skysenshi.com/2010/08/legend-of-seeker.html

    ReplyDelete

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