Roxane's Reviews > Wizard's First Rule

Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind
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's review
Dec 29, 09

bookshelves: audiobook, fantasy
Read in March, 2009

I might never have read this series hadn't it been for the TV show Legend of the Seeker. It's not that I found the TV series so good that it made want to read the books. Quite the contrary, it was the irregular quality of the episodes that gave me the sense that something good lay underneath all this and I wanted to check out the source material for myself.

Again, this is one of those fantasy novels that begins like any other fantasy novel: evil leader wants to conquer the world, chosen one armed with his magical sword aided by a wizard and other supernatural beings and creatures will go on a quest to right the wrongs of said evildoer. The beginning is quite boring really, and then, something happens, something unexpected and which was probably even more unexpected back in 1994: the main character gets pretty graphically tortured by a Mord Sith and believe me that those SM scenes have nothing to do with Jacqueline Carey's. Like it or not, that's the moment when you realize that this is not fantasy for children. Pedophilia, sex and rape are among the subjects broached in the first book and so are issues of power, especially with regards to Richard's use of the sword (phallic symbol much? Let's not get too Freudian...).

So these delicate subjects are dealt with in the novel that doesn't mean that it is always done in the most intelligent way especially when it comes to the portrayal of women in Goodkind's medieval society. Again, this is a matter of perspective. As I've already mentioned in a previous review, I do not like the rape (or near rape) of women to be used as a plot device meant to trigger the narration. Plus, as far as female characters are concerned, the first book only gives us examples of women that are either broken creatures who take pleasure in inflicting pain or beings full of love but unable to control their powers (meaning their love) and condemned to be forever alone because of it. And I'll admit that I prefer Kahlan's character in the TV series to the Kahlan in the book but hey, there's a 20 year gap between the two so that might explain it.

The one thing that I appreciated throughout the novel is how Goodkind made a point at stating and demonstrating that all actions have consequences and that good and bad are two faces of the same coin. Evil is never purely evil, Goodkind always gives us the reasons behind the characters' actions and not giving into traditional Manichean fantasy settings. Same goes for good: the consequences of Richard's use of the Sword of Truth are pretty severe. Victory is not assured just because Richard possesses the sword. It's a lot more complicated than that and Goodkind smartly weaves issues of power with the rules of magic he's set up in his world.

This novel is far from perfect. I can understand how the treatment of female characters could prevent some readers from reading the rest of the series. I listened to the first one as an audio book and have the second one that I hope to be able to get to soon. While I do regard this series with a critical eye, I can also see in what regards it might have been ground-breaking at the time of its publication.

Recommended but not for the kind of heart.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Kathryn I'm looking forward to hearing what you think of this one! Or more accurately to see if your opinion of it matches mine. Yikes.

Roxane Review coming up soon I promise!

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