J.G. Keely's Reviews > Temple of the Winds

Temple of the Winds by Terry Goodkind
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Jun 30, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: childhood, fantasy, novel, america, reviewed
Read in January, 2000

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.

My Fantasy Book Suggestions
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04/17 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Amber Nice review. I've liked the books so far, but have to agree on some points you made. I agree most that you shouldnt read any of Goodkind's Interviews, he is a pompous arse. The books are good, but he's no f'ing Rothfuss.

J.G. Keely Thanks for the comment, glad you liked the review.

I've never read Rothfuss, though I have heard his name mentioned before--though not always in glowing terms.

Amber I'd recommend him if you like Fantasy. He's only two novels into his first trilogy, but I loved both of them. Thought it was some of the best stuff I'd read in years. Plus, the anticipation of the third novel is kind of enjoyable.

And You're welcome. I did like the review, it was honest and well written.

Karyn I have to agree with both of you. Also, you should really read the Patrick Rothfuss books...they are pretty great.

Merri I concur. Great review.

J.G. Keely Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

Randy Rose I didn't much enjoy Wizard's First Rule, but I liked the next two, especially Stone of Tears. Now, I am halfway through Temple of the Winds and I am realizing that, other than Zedd, I don't like any of the characters. I also completely agree with you on just about everything you wrote.

As a male, I also find it quite disturbing how much rape and other violence toward women is present in fantasy novels, Goodkind's or otherwise. I know rape is a reality, but these books are fantasy. Do they have to mimic reality in its more grotesque forms? Especially the threat of it against every single female character. It's fucking ridiculous. Fantasy authors must have some serious mommy issues.

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