Title: Wizard’s First Rule
Author: Terry Goodkind
Publication date: 2003
In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher’s forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more.
His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence. In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them–for reasons Richard can’t imagine and Kahlan dare not say.
In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword–to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.
So in a spring of the moment I changed my mind (again!) and decided to put aside the Wheel of Time in favor of The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It just felt right and here I am, done with the first book – Wizard’s First Rule.
I read a few books of the series maybe a decade ago but I never finished them all so I think it is high time I did that.
I remember I was super in love with them and found them mesmerizing and amazing. The bestest, as Rachel would say (if you have read the book you’ll know who Rachel is 😀 ) Now that I have grown up a little (yeah, right!) I see things a bit differently, with clarity a fifteen-year-old me who had barely started reading couldn’t. I still find the story interesting and I still love Kahlan (mostly) but I can’t help but notice some problematic things too. But we’ll get back to that in a bit.
Wizard’s First Rule places the foundation of a major, epic story (duh!) with a lot of intriguing characters, countless adventures, impossible locations, magical creatures and a great deal of walking. No kidding! Most of the book is spent in walking and talking about walking 😀
The story revolves around Richard Cypher, a completely normal (ha!) woods guide who wants nothing but to be left alone (don’t we all?) But his life changes irreversible after his father is brutally murdered and soon after he stumbles into Kahlan and saves her from a ‘quad’ – a team of four assassins. Later on Richard’s own life is threatened again and again – and all of that in just the first 150 pages 😀
Basically what you need to know before you jump into this ocean of epicness is this: Goodkind‘s world is divided in three lands separated by a magical boundary that is failing – Westland, Middle Lands, D’Hara. Darken Rahl, the Ruler of D’Hara who is trying to conquer the rest of the world, has put the Boxes of Orden at play. There are three boxes – magic of the most ancient kind – and one of them can give him a full dominion over the world. Also, Richard is named the ‘Seeker’, an ancient title given to a person with special abilities. The title also comes along with a cool sword.
So with this in mind you should have already figured out Richard vs Darken Rahl is the main conflict. There are tons of subplots, of course, as any other self-respecting epic saga, but I think Goodkind went a bit overboard with it. The edition I read this time was all in one book close to 700 pages and it was long, too long. I am not sure if I lost my touch and I can’t handle such long books like I used to before but I felt overwhelmed. The paperback books I have at home has each book of the series cut in two (for example Wizard’s First Rule is in two books) so that also may be it.
It wasn’t that much the size of the book but rather the tension build-up that stopped me from enjoying myself fully. It kept going up and down, up and down and when the culmination at the end came I wasn’t awed or surprised or even disappointed. I was just ‘Ok. So there’s that.’ Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of awesome moments like Kahlan going into Con Dar, the Mud People staying and the Mord- Sith part. I loved the latter so much that I am ready to forgive Goodkind everything else just because of it. It was dark, twisted and kind of sad but in terms of descriptions, idea, originality and surprises – it blew me away. Best moment of the book – at least for me.
There are other things that bother me a bit like the over-explaining over simple things and the enormous descriptions of hardly relevant things but I think this is more due to the difference in reader expectations rather than poor writing. It’s not the only book written twenty (or more) years ago that has this but in Wizard’s First Rule is just more obvious. Nowadays we are looking for an active, action-packed, fast moving plot while the expectations were much different back then.
Still that epicness and the adventure-upon-adventure vibe is still there. There are so many interesting magical concepts in the story, one of my favorite being the idea of the Confessors. Goodkind heavily relies on religion to and you’ll see there are more religion-driven groups/societies than anything else. It is quite fascinating when you get used to the style and the pace.
I am not sure if a normal reader (a non-writer) would notice or be bothered by half of the things I mentioned (or didn’t) so it is safe to say that even with its downsides this book (and series) is still an awesome reading. I would give it a 4/5 rating and quickly move on to the next one in line 🙂
What about you? What rating would you give it? What are your thoughts and takes on The Sword of Truth: Wizard’s First Rule?