Wizard's First Rule is the first Terry Goodkind book in the Sword of Truth series which is also the basis for the ABC television series Legend of the Seeker. This is a review of this remarkable book.
This isn't your typical epic fantasy book. Yes, it has all of the normal trappings you would expect such as an epic sized quest, plenty of conflict, and of course a dragon or two. This book has all those things but it has significantly more. In Wizard's First Rule Goodkind shows us more than just an epic adventure story where our hero attempts to save the world from ruin.
Our hero is named Richard Cipher and we adventure with him on a journey to becoming a seeker. A seeker's role is to find the truth in things and a seeker's sword has the word “Truth" engraved on it. And it is in this journey to find truth that Goodkind takes this story from just a story to a real exploration of truth and the nature of good and evil. There are many conversations and situations that explore the bipolarity of good versus evil and the grey area that lies between the two. Doesn't it make sense that even the evilest of men believes that what he is doing is righteous? Yes it does and Goodkind takes a good hard look at this. He raises questions in your mind about the whole nature of truth and the real commitment it takes to find the real truth. This is an intelligently written book that gives you more than just a story. It gives you lots of food for thought.
Unique Twist on the story
A typical and effective tool that a writer will use is to put our hero on a time limit -as time counts down the tension builds. It is very effective writer's tool and in this novel Goodkind puts a nice spin on this. He puts the evil bad guy on a timer. Our protagonist (Darken Rahl) has a very specific time limit if he is to achieve his personal goals that will bring ruin down on the world. And our hero, along with a small group of companions can foil it all if they can just hold things off long enough for time to run out. It's a wonderful reversal of the usual time limit based story.
The Story and Writing
The story and writing are superb. There are some interesting and surprising plot twists and things that happen. In other words you go along for quite a wild and exciting ride. And there are some unique fantasy themes and ideas like the Boxes of Orden and the Book of Counted Shadows which are both central to the story and quite unique.
Avoiding some of the Pitfalls of typical epic fantasy
One of the biggest problems I run across with epic fantasy series is the complexity they often contain. Many series of books have enormously complex worlds with a cast of characters that numbers in the scores if not hundreds. This complexity can get very confusing as various factions, lordships, families, and bloodlines partake in the story. In Wizards First Rule there is none of this. We are introduced to the central characters early in the book and as the story progresses we meet a small number of new characters that are central to the story. It all flows very smoothly and it all stays on target. You won't have to take any notes to keep track of all the characters.
Theme and Reading level
This book is not for children or for the faint of heart. There is some graphic violence and an extended torture scene that you will find unsettling. I found it uncomfortable to read and this is exactly the point that Goodkind was trying to make. If you want to carefully study the ethics and morals of the battle between good and evil you have to fully show both sides of this coin - both the good in all its goodness and the evil in all its dark and unsettling reality. The only real way to defeat evil is to first see it and acknowledge it.
Wizard's First Rule is an intelligently written and exciting epic fantasy story that goes beyond just a story. It is also an examination of ethics, values, morals, and the perpetual battle between good and evil. It will make you think about the nature of the struggle and the real purpose of the hero.
For a guide to lots of great information about fantasy on the web visit his site at: The Fantasy Guide - Your guide to Fantasy Books
If you want to learn more about the television series Legend of the Seeker which is based on The Sword of Truth:
Legend of Seeker