Keely's Reviews > Stone of Tears

Stone of Tears by Terry Goodkind
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Jun 30, 09

bookshelves: childhood, fantasy, america, reviewed
Read in January, 1999

It is always curious to see fantasy authors who don't consider themselves to be fantasy authors. Case-in-point: Terry Goodkind. The former landscape painter has told us how he isn't a fantasy author in every interview he's ever given:

"The books I write are first of all novels, not fantasy, and that is deliberate; I'm really writing books about human beings."(1)

"To define me as a fantasy writer is to misunderstand the context of my books by misidentifying their fundamentals."(2)

"The stories I'm telling are not fantasy-driven, they're character-driven, and the characters I want to write about could be set in any world. I'd like to address a broader audience."(3)


""What I have done with my work has irrevocably changed the face of fantasy. In so doing I've raised the standards. I have not only injected thought into a tired empty genre, but, more importantly, I've transcended it showing what more it can be . . ."

Then the interview usually devolves into a discussion of Ayn Rand and 'the meaning of art', just in case you missed the pretension of declaring fantasy books 'not fantasy!'

The guy certainly has a chip on his shoulder, but it makes me wonder whether he has actually read any fantasy. He doesn't seem to realize that the things he claims separate him from fantasy are fundamental parts of how modern fantasy works. A novel that's fundamentally about character interactions with a magical setting? How droll. Goodkind doesn't reinventing the novel; he doesn't even reinvent the fantasy novel, he just twists the knobs to get a little more steam out of it.

Michael Moorcock critiqued Tolkien as a false romantic, which is rather apt considering that his love story takes place almost entirely in absentia (prompting Peter Jackson to infuse some extra loving with a hot, elven, psychic dream sequence). Most fantasy authors rectify this by having the girl come along for the journey. Goodkind likes to keep the separation for much of the story as our hero tries to seek her out across a continent (though she is often just in the next room! Oh! What a tragic coincidence!)

Actually, after the first time it's just an annoying and painfully artificial way to try to hold off the conclusion for another hundred pages. It's a good thing Terry doesn't have to rely on magical or artificial means to keep his stories fresh!

The rest of the time, the hero finds the girl and lovingly transfixes her on his mighty sword. No, really. I'm not sure why these authors always end up feeling as if they have to dump their sex fetish issues at this particular juncture: "Huh, I dig BDSM. Maybe I should confide my fantasies in a book for mass publication".

I cannot think of a single female character in the entire series who isn't either raped or threatened with rape. If you want to give me an example of one, remember: I'm counting magical psychic blowjob rape as rape. I wish I never had the opportunity to qualify a statement with 'don't forget the psychic blowjob rape'.

I don't mind actual BDSM literature, but I'd rather have my own reaction to it than be told "isn't it totally dirty and wrong!? (but still super sexy, right?)" Porn for porn's sake is fine, but remember, Goodkind isn't some escapist fantasy author, these are 'real stories about real people' so he has to act like his magic porn is somehow a reflection of real life.

Goodkind's books are cookie-cutter genre fantasy, but the first few aren't that badly done, and if you like people narrowly missing one another, bondage, masochism, rape, and dragons, it might work for you, but the series dies on arrival part-way through, so prepare for disappointment.

If you are enjoying the series, you should probably avoid reading any of his interviews, as he rarely misses an opportunity to claim that he is superior to all other fantasy authors, and never compare him to Robert Jordan, because

"If you notice a similarity, then you probably aren't old enough to read my books."(4)

Goodkind truly lives in his own fantasy world if he thinks his mediocre genre re-hash is 'original' or 'deep'.

Then again, I've never met an adherent of Ayn Rand who didn't consider themselves a brilliant and unique snowflake trapped in a world of people who 'just don't understand'. The Randian philosophies are also laid on pretty thickly in his books, but at least he found a substitute grandmother figure to help him justify his Gorean sex-romp as 'high art'.

All in all, he's just another guy who likes to hear himself talk. Despite what he says, nothing separates his work from the average modern fantasy author, and like them, his greatest failing is the complete lack of self-awareness that overwhelms his themes, plots, and characters.

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

"The guy certainly has a chip on his shoulder, but it makes me wonder whether he has actually read any fantasy."

You wonder if he's a fantasy connoisseur?
Because I can tell you he did read fantasy: Tolkien.
Remember his response to Gollum, Samuel? That was almost plagiarism.
I will continue the series, but boy does Goodkind make it almost impossible to like his 'too perfect' Gary Stu of a male lead.
The women are as bad, of not worse, than Richard.
Great review.


Keely Well, I've read some interviews with Goodkind where he claims that he doesn't read very much, and that he isn't familiar with fantasy authors or the fantasy genre--though who knows whether he's telling the truth.

Anyways, glad you liked the review.


Dana Well put. I wanted to write my own review of the book, but now the best thing I could do is copy-paste yours.


Alexander Wrobel go jump off a cliff please


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