Sword of Truth #1: Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Read: 1 September, 2012

I’ll just be upfront and say that I didn’t really enjoy Wizard’s First Rule. I think that a big part of it was that I was looking for something similar to A Song of Ice and Fire and this is what kept getting suggested. While both do contain magic and dragons and pine trees, that’s about where the similarities end.

The story feels like a vehicle for Goodkind’s social/political philosophies. That’s fine, at least some of the “lessons” and thought exercises were interesting, but he brings out the Libertarian crazies with the Queen. From then on, it was just so over-the-top that it became silly.

And, honestly, I felt kind of insulted. Apparently, Goodkind takes the Wizard’s First Rule (that people are stupid) a little too seriously, and that assumption about his readers comes through loud and clear. Whereas George R.R. Martin just tells his story and lets the readers interpret it as they please, Goodkind has no such respect for us. Rather, he repeats things over and over in every conceivable configuration to ensure that we get it (even when characters are supposed to be dying and struggling just to breathe, they’ll waste multiple sentences trying to explain something that could have only taken 3-4 words at most).

To continue my comparison to A Song of Ice and Fire, Martin certainly writes a lot, but all of it serves a purpose in the story. Goodkind, on the other hand, just seems to be trying to fill pages. Through the first 3/4 of the book, stuff just happens without any impact at all on the story. The adventurers are travelling, they’re attacked, they fight off the attackers, they move on. If you were listening to Wizard’s First Rule on AudioBook, you could easily fall asleep and have no idea that you’d missed anything when you wake up.

The last thing I want to gripe about is how bloody perfect Richard and Kahlan are. Over and over again, we’re told that they are the first to do this, or the only ones to do that. In fact, the only real sense I can make of the magic system is that it seems to have been designed specifically to keep giving Kahlan and Richard more ways to be extra special.

I found the story to be too simplistic for adult readers, but the torture porn was too explicit for young readers, so I really don’t think I could recommend this book to anyone.

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