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Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Posted by travizzt on June 23, 2011

A Seeker has been named and now he is the key to stopping or starting a worldwide catastrophe.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Wizard’s First Rule is the first book in The Sword of Truth series. The rest of the series includes Stone of Tears, Blood of the Fold, Temple of the Winds, Soul of the Fire, Faith of the Fallen, The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, Chainfire, Phantom, and Confessor. There is another novel this is and isn’t tied into the series called Debt of Bones. Terry Goodkind has written two other novels; The Omen Machine and The Law of Nines. The Sword of Truth series was adapted into a television series called The Legend of the Seeker that ran from 2009 to 2010 for two seasons. Wizard’s First Rule was released in August 1994 and published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

Richard Cypher was an ordinary woods guide, but after look for answers to his father’s murder, he comes to the aid of a woman being chased by a group of men. After helping the strange woman, Kahlan, she tells Richard that she must find the Old Mage to save the Midlands from D’Hara and Darken Rahl. After bringing Kahlan to his old friend, Zedd, he is shocked to learn that he is the wizard that Kahlan is looking for. However, they are all shocked when Zedd names him Seeker and finds himself in a situation that he would never have thought to be in.

Criticisms:
1) Originality. Wizard’s First Rule‘s most noticeable issue is that the story, characters, premise, and setting rely on a lot of science fiction and fantasy clichés and tropes. These issues don’t hurt the story overall, but they are painfully obvious and can cause the story to be predictable. The only real bad thing about this is that when the story tries to be more original, it doesn’t stray too far from those clichés and tropes. It treads the beaten path of familiar territory, and doesn’t really leave it for too long. That is the most frustrating thing about Wizard’s First Rule. It can’t remain original. How many times has there been a young man who lost his family, mentored by an old man in a way of an unknown force with the help of a strong female counterpart to help stop evil? That’s really the main premise of Wizard’s First Rule. Thankfully, it does add-on to that particular trope, but only really adds on with more cliché situations and premises. It does all make sense and comes together in the end, but it still comes off as clichéd. This lack or fear of originality does have a negative impact.

Praises:
1) Characters. Wizard’s First Rule has a vast cast of characters and they are surprisingly easy to remember. Almost all the characters, aside from one or two, have distinct qualities and personalities. The three protagonists, Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, are decent characters, but are a bit generic. Richard is a decent character that is likable, but feels like he didn’t really develop. He does have some development, but it only skims the surface. Kahlan was an interesting character. She came off as strong, intelligent, and likable. However, she becomes trapped into fawning over Richard for most of the story. It does weaken her character, and makes her feel slightly insignificant. She’s still is a fun and likable character, but she felt weaker as the story went on. Zedd was probably the most interesting character. He never felt underdeveloped and always seemed erratic. You never really knew what he was up to. That isn’t saying that the main characters were mediocre, they were just fairly generic. They had endearing qualities that made you like them and as the story went on, you did get to know them better. For being the first book in a series, you need characters who you can grow to like and you do grow to like these characters. On the flip side, we have the antagonists. You knew they were bad as soon as they were introduced. This does hurt them in a way, but it was easy to find yourself growing to despise these guys and hoping that the protagonists will win. But the most impressive thing is that there are a lot of characters and you knew each one. There wasn’t a character who you forget. It was easy to recall who was who. Everyone felt distinct and unique in their own little way that allowed them to be remembered. That’s the most impressive thing.
2) Dark. Wizard’s First Rule takes a lot of dark twists throughout the story, but it’s never overly explicit in these times. Most of the darker situations are hinted at but never really explored deeper. The only dark element that is explored is when Richard is tortured late in the story, but even then it’s subdued and leaves a lot left for the reader’s imagination. Aside from torture, the story also brings up child abuse, pedophilia, rape, murder, fetishes, kidnapping, infanticide, among a vast amount of others. But before this turns off the average reader, nothing is really direct spoken about these things. Instead it’s implied and directly never really shown. It’s brought up, but hardly ever goes past being talked about. On a personal level, I like dark subject matter in fantasy. It gives it a more ‘realistic’ feeling to it, instead of “hero goes off and saves everyone, and everyone lives happily ever after.” It just gives it more impact. The darker tone really contrasts the happy moments, reminding the reader that things always aren’t always happy and that heroes do fail. This what makes Wizard’s First Rule memorable because you honestly start to believe that Darken Rahl is going to win, and the heroes will lose. This gives the story a hopeless feeling that wasn’t expected. The darker tones helps make Wizard’s First Rule feel different.
3) Pacing. Wizard’s First Rule was paced exceptionally well. It’s one of those novels where if you’re not careful, you’ll lose yourself in the pages and find out that five hours have passed. It’s not overly fast, but it’s never too slow. The pacing slows down when it’s needed, and picks up when things are happening. It doesn’t become overly descriptive and leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination, which helps with the pacing allowing the story to not be bogged down for too long. The pacing was just that good.

Side Notes:
1) Tears. Why does it feel like everyone cries on every other page in this story? It becomes slightly annoying after reading that Richard or Kahlan has tears in their eyes for the fiftieth time.
2) Oddities. There were a few times in the story that something felt ‘odd’. For example, why cut away from Rachel being saved or why did it feel like Richard never really felt that effected by the torture at the hands of a Mord-Sith? It just seems like things were cut out.
3) Cover Art. Currently there are three different covers for Wizard’s First Rule. The original cover shows Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, and a red dragon behind a golden city. This version looks like a generic fantasy novel cover, but the bright reds and golds do catch the eye. Unfortunately, it does hurt the eyes after staring at it for too long. The newer version features the live action Richard and Kahlan from The Legend of the Seeker television show. This one is okay, but looks standard and a bit too dark. The version I have shows a wonderful landscape with a waterfall being the center of attention. I do prefer this version because it’s just gorgeous. The scenery is breathtaking and after taking it all in you finally notice Richard and Kahlan on the stone. It’s a nice contrast to most fantasy covers.

Overall: 5/5
Final Thoughts:
Wizard’s First Rule is a great story, even if you’ve read it before. While it’s not all that original and borrows from many science fiction and fantasy clichés, it still blends them together into a fun experience. The main characters, while a bit weak, were interesting and fun enough for you to like them. They are likable characters and you find yourself wanting to discover more about them. For the amount of characters in Wizard’s First Rule, you can easily remember who is who. Each character was unique and distinctive. Wizard’s First Rule is surprisingly dark at times. There is a lot of dark subject matter brought up, but it’s never overly explicit, only implied. The dark subject matter allows for a more realistic and deeper story. Wizard’s First Rule is a fun and fast read. There never was any slow moments that ground the story to a halt, nor was there any fast moments that left you wondering what happened. If you aren’t careful, you can lose hours while reading. Wizard’s First Rule isn’t for everyone. It may be too generic for some, too dark for others, but it’s worth checking out.

5 Responses to “Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind”

  1. Moleman said

    I’m really surprised you still gave it a 5/5 despite the perfectly understandable flaws you point out. As much as I love the series, I’ll admit too that the first book was very “safe” in many instances and did use a bit more predictable cliches and whatnot. But at the same time, its really really fun so you find yourself not caring very much. Instead of feeling it unoriginal, you’re getting some of the best proven fantasy concepts combined into one story with a few really amazing new additions in the Confessors and Mord-Sith to name a couple. I’d hardly say that’s bad..

    The rest of the series is a lot more original and you’re going to already see that in book 2. Also if darker elements is what you love, then you will love Stone of Tears.

    • travizzt said

      Yeah, I was going to give it a 4/5, but I couldn’t think of anything else that bad. But you are right. The cliches and everything were blended into something that, while safe, was still enjoyable. Speaking of Confessors… I made a very odd connection between Claymores and Confessors, or it could just be my fanboyism of Claymore getting the best of me. I did really like the Mord-Sith and the how the story continued from that point. Didn’t expect that. Also I was surprised to feel that they would lose as the ending got closer and closer. It looked hopeless. It was a very enjoyable experience and I’m glad you made me read it!

      Yeah, I plan on reading Stone of Tears at some point. I’m just way, way behind on everything else.

  2. I pretty much agree with everything you said. I have read the entire series and really enjoy it. I don’t know if it’s because I have read all of the books and have had that much more time to get to know the characters and fall in love with them, but I think that they are the strongest part of these books. I feel that each character, even the more minor ones, comes in very developed with the many complexities and competing motivations that real people possess. In later books there are instances where just when you think you have a character figured out Goodkind introduces all this new information about their past and your understanding and opinion completely change.

    Anyway, this is the first time I have read your blog and I really enjoyed your review. I look forward to reading more of your stuff!

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