Monday, August 15, 2011

Wizard's First Rule

Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, #1)Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars: ***^

My thoughts on this book are pretty conflicted. Wizard's First Rule is over 800 pages long, so this post is probably going to end up very lengthy. I'm going to go through this by point and explain my thoughts in each area.

First off, characters. In books, characters are the most important thing to get right. If you can't find a reason to care about them, there's no reason to read the book. So, characters. Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Chase, Darken Rahl... they're all very interesting, dynamic characters with varied personalities, strengths, and flaws.

The book spends the most time with Richard, and his biggest flaw is pretty obvious--he's impatient, and it gets him into trouble a few times. Kahlan has problems of her own; she likes the idea of being friends with Richard and so she is afraid to tell him what she really is. Actually, Richard is unusually patient with her about this, now that I think about it.

Darken Rahl is an interesting villain. He's very good at twisting ideas to make others believe him, and he's so confident in his plan for the boxes of Orden that he lets his enemies roam without giving them too much attention. On the other hand, he is like a child when it comes to certain matters, mostly pertaining to his scar. Because of that, he slaughters girls who come to his bed. Plus he's constantly licking his fingers and rubbing them on his lips and eyebrows. (The book mentions that action so many times it's almost ridiculous.)

Second topic, description. Here's one place where I'm totally torn. The highlights of this area are his character, clothing, and location descriptions, which give vivid imagery without overdoing the language. They're precise. Where it fails is the overly graphic gore. The first time this happens is when Darken Rahl butchers a little boy. Instead of telling us that he murdered this little kid and turned him into a monster, it explains in depth how he pours molten lead into the kid's mouth, cuts him open, mashes up his organs and eats them and smears them all over his naked body. I... did not need to know about that. A simplified sacrifice would have sufficed. The book also talks about splattering brains, spread-out intestines, and the last bit of the book is spent in pain and morbid sex mode. Not pleasant.

Dialogue. I didn't feel like there was ever a time where the dialogue was forced. Although it was at times lengthy, I didn't feel like there was a convenient misunderstanding for the purpose of explaining the world, like I often find in other Fantasy, for example, The Wheel of Time. It was different than how we speak, but it fit the rhythm of the story very well.

Now for the setting. The world this book is set in, its rules, was probably the strongest part of Wizard's First Rule. The magic was somewhat different from other books I've seen. It fed off of particular parts of human emotion. The sword feeds on anger, on wrath. The Confessor's touch is really just the power of love. The Mord-Sith deliver pain. Zedd reads clouds and manipulates things in subtle ways, such as sharpening a knife or making food cook faster.

There was one thing that bothered me about Zedd's power, however. It's basically useless. Whenever there's a battle, he ends up paralyzed or helpless. The only time it seems to be really helpful is in the beginning, when he catches a gar and sends it off after a group of D'haran soldiers (called a quad).

Last, the plot. I loved part of it, hated part of it. The pacing was effective through the first quarter, moving fast enough to keep the action going, but not skipping over it. It introduces most of the characters during this time, but as I said before, the descriptions were enough to give a good image without going overboard on the detail.

The part with the Mud people was... not my favorite. To be honest, I don't think that the book needed it. Richard and Kahlan waste a lot of time there, and while their little relationship develops a little, most of the time is spent trying to convince the elders to call a gathering to find the last box of Orden. And what happens? They don't know where it is, and Kahlan ends up leading Richard to Shota even after several hundred pages back where she thought of going there and decided against it. They should have just gone there in the first place.

The third quarter of the book is definitely my favorite. I loved the parts with Rachel and Giller (and not just because my name is Rachel!). I loved the exchanges between Zedd and Kahlan and Richard as they traveled toward Queen Milena's castle.

The last part with Denna shouldn't have gone on as long as it did. It could have taken twenty pages to cover what took more like two hundred, and it completely stops the action for the pages and pages and pages and pages of torture. Hooray. (note sarcasm)

I'm sad to say the ending was predictable. I saw the 'betrayal' coming from the very beginning. I saw the purpose of the Wizard's First Rule, I saw the trick Richard was going to play, I saw it coming for hundreds of pages. But it was still fairly enjoyable, still satisfying to watch it play out. And it did so almost exactly as I figured it would... well, except for randomly having the betrayer's head on a spear. Yes, that felt totally random.

Anyway... I've gone on for far too long about this book. Until next time, peace.



  1. Wow! That's a long book! Good job finishing it.

  2. I really liked this book as well as the next two books in the series (even though they're just as long). After that the series takes a turn for the worse and in many ways feel more like romance novels than epic fantasy. Of course, I have the same complaint about the Clan of the Cave Bear series.

    Good review!

    1. Thank you!

      I have a really hard time sticking with series of books; I do a lot better with stand-alones, and I think it's mostly because the first book or two are the best. There are exceptions, but when a series takes a serious turn from it's original, it usually means I won't be reading it any more.