J.G. Keely’s review of Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, #6) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah, it's been a while since I read these so unfortunately, I couldn't pick out specific moments to tie into my arguments. It ended up being more about the general reaction I had and which I'd seen in other people.

It's true that the magic system can be overly convenient, which is a problem. I actually don't mind if magic is inexplicable in a book, because magic tends to be more magical when it is an unknown element, but it should be inexplicable in a way that confounds the heroes instead of solving their problems for them.

And yeah, the 'lurid scenes' do get rather dull over time, since they tend to be pretty similar and usually extraneous to the story.

message 2: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely I hadn't read your review, but I just checked it out. I did enjoy reading the first book in the series (though that was a long time ago) and thought it was more entertaining and energetic than Robert Jordan or Paolini. However, it's not really very different from most of the fantasy that's out there.

I don't actually remember much of the Randian philosophy that Goodkind throws around, but I know he has a reputation for being very one-sided and unsubtle about it, which is never good. I agree that it's better for an author to try to develop ideas naturally and let the reader come to their own conclusion.

About the names, that can be hard. It's certainly true, if you think about it, that it doesn't make sense to have biblical names in a fantasy world, but then, not all authors are good at coming up with new names. I feel like having a 'normal' name is better than a stupid made-up name with a bunch of Ys and Xs and apostrophes in it.

But I never got the idea that Goodkind knew very much about linguistics or etymology or cultural root meanings for names, so I don't think he would have done very well making up his own. Tolkien put a lot more thought into it, but that was his specialty as a professor, and even then, he borrowed his linguistic roots from Welsh and Old Scandinavian dialects, so it wasn't like he was making things up out of thin air.

Thanks about the reviews, glad you like them, and thanks for the comment. It's always nice to discuss a book with someone who has some thoughts on the subject.

message 3: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely "I do not believe that something original is truly original; everything is derived, everything comes from some inspiration of nature, of life, or of logic."

Certainly, everything comes from some source, but I don't think that makes it 'unoriginal'. I mean, we are born from our parents, but that doesn't mean we are the same person as our parents.

One of the common definitions of 'genius' is the ability to take two different sources of inspiration and draw a new conclusion from their synthesis. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was once sketching a river in preparation for a painting, and noticed how eddies and whirlpools formed around certain rocks. He then drew a little sketch in the corner theorizing how such currents could work to create a constant flow of blood from the heart.

He took observations about how rivers worked and applied them to his knowledge of human anatomy and by combining those very different things, he came up with an original idea, one that we didn't know was true until this past decade when we were able to use real-time imaging on the interior of the heart.

And we can see this synthesis of different sources of inspiration in other places, too. For example, with Tolkien, he's combining the Norse Eddas, the Welsh epics, British fairy tale tradition, Miltonian Christian theology, conservative Tory politics, and existential concerns sprung from WWI to create a story that has a lot of original elements.

Most of the modern writers in fantasy, contrarily, don't have a lot of different sources of inspiration. Mostly, they are inspired by Tolkien, and that's why they all tend to sound the same. In my experience, a greater variety of different inspirations will allow an author to produce something 'new', while having only a few inspirations will result in something redundant.

"Think if magic itself, it is the concept that has been brought to life after thousands of years of wishful thinking. Imagine, our forefathers sitting there in a hot and stuffy room, wishing that they could just magically make it cold. Or wanting to go to a town instantly through teleportaion."

Actually, I'd say magic has more to do with trying to understand the world than with wishful thinking. human beings see pattens everywhere--even when they don't actually exist! And humans also see themselves everywhere, which is called 'pareidolia'. For example, we see faces in light switches, or in the grain in wood, or in a stone crag.

This means that our ancestors would see a storm come, or a house get washed away in a flood, and then they would try to understand why it had happened. They would try to make patterns of cause-and-effect and try to think of agents who could have made things happen.

For example, a person's cow gets sick and stops giving milk, and so they theorize that someone has done something to the cow. Since they know no one has come to physically hurt the cow, they start to think maybe someone was able to hurt it without touching it, and suddenly, they are accusing someone of witchcraft.

You can also look at the fairies of British fairy tales, who are very powerful and intelligent, but who have a system of laws and psychology that are completely alien to our own. This allows people to feel like there's a reason things happen, whether good or bad, and also allows them to imagine they have some kind of control, based on whether they appease or upset the invisible fairies. People like to have an illusory sense of control.

These same magical theories developed into Astrology and Alchemy, which were attempts to understand how the world worked and why things happen, but which were based on incorrect theories based on limited information.

And since magic is based on what people can imagine, and what they understand of the world, it's not surprising to see that magic actually changes over time. You mention our ancestors fantasizing about teleporting to the next town, but if you read Greek epics, fairy tales, and knightly stories of wizards, you'll discover that teleportation doesn't show up as a magical power until our scientists start theorizing about it.

I agree that a lot of authors use it for wish-fulfillment, or for making their plots work these days, but that isn't the origin of magic, and it isn't how magic is used by many authors.

"I love a story of struggle and love and magic. That pretty much sums up every fantasy story . . . there is only so much you can do with a magic-based story. You have magic, you can add a bit of romance, you can create a system, and then you can interact in your world . . ."

I'd say that's true for most modern epic fantasy based on Tolkien, but I haven't found it to be true for fantasy in general. There are a lot of authors, especially earlier authors like Dunsany, for whom magic is never a simple system, but is always a large, mysterious, incomprehensible force of nature.

There are also authors like Moorcock, who take it the other way, using the metaphysics of magic to look into the future of human thought, so that their fantasy starts to operate like science fiction, looking forward to the possibilities of mankind rather than our past or present.

I think one of the biggest problems of a lot of modern fantasy authors is that their magic is so ordinary, so contemporary, and so easily comprehensible. They take modern concepts like guns and bombs and trains and they make their magic act like modern technology, which isn't very magical.

And likewise, there's nothing specifically wrong with having a love story, or a battle between the hero and some opposing force, but those are hardly necessary in a fantasy story. Some of the most interesting fantasies I have read were centered around very different themes and rarely touched on love or 'evil'.

But then, I often find the struggle between 'good and evil' to be too simplistic and repetitive to make up the heart of most stories. I think too many people already paint anything different as 'evil' and don't bother to understand it. Like a magic item mcguffin, a thoroughly evil antagonist is just a simplistic way for a writer to wrap their plot up. It's especially frustrating when there is no good reason for the villain to behave that way.

But this response is probably long enough. Thanks for discussing the genre with me, it's always nice to have someone to trade ideas with.

message 4: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely I do write, but I haven't finished any books. I have a lot of plots and outlines and characters, bits and pieces, but no complete books. I do have some complete short stories, and I posted a few of them here on Goodreads, if that interests you.

I think part of the reason I tend to think magic started as an explanation, and not as wish-fulfillment is because it tends to be used by characters other than the main character in stories, especially early stories. For example, you have Odysseus who doesn't have any magic of his own, but is constantly encountering other magical creatures and people around him.

If main characters do use magic, it's usually an object or ritual that they don't really understand and which comes from some other source. This trend still exists in modern writing, where the hero tends to just have his wits and strength while the villain has magic, such as in the stories of Conan or in Lord of the Rings.

It's interesting to note that the character of Gandalf is not actually a human being, but an immortal spirit from another world who helps men and hobbits. He has magic because he is a magical creature, a part of fate.

Certainly modern stories often have the characters skilled in and using magic, but this is a more recent development. Even in cases where ancient heroes are magical, such as with Hercules, it doesn't usually manifest in unique magic powers, but in an intensification of normal human abilities, such as strength and speed.

Feel free to take as much time as you like to get back to me. I know I wrote a lot, but I wanted to respond to the many interesting ideas you brought up.

message 5: by William (new)

William Yea, the book was okay and not necessarily my favorite of the series.

message 6: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Grayless If you were going to abandon one of this series I would have gone with Pillars Of Creation! That was the most painful book of the series for me to read!

message 7: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Well, I'm glad I didn't get to it, then.

message 8: by Blaine (new)

Blaine Heya,

This is my favorite of the series. It was the Pillars of Creation which I cared for the least, feeling as though my previous time reading about characters I had cared for were rather ignored. It was the sixth when I finally understood how Objectivist Goodkind was. I had never researched it prior but I saw major hints in previous books (more in every subsequent book). I don't do detailed reviews, and i won't here, especially since it has been years since I read the series, but I do remember the that I thought the ending was powerful and that's what I remember of it (that and the last novel in the series which I found extremely clever). Nikki annoyed me (which was kind of the entire novel surprisingly). I enjoyed the simplicity of the novel without it seeming dumbed down (as you say in another review..I think of The Giver...which I consider a favorite from nostalgia... haven't read in a decade). Anyway, I think this is Richard as maximum "Richard". It was philispohical and I never felt forced (though I do see some respectible aspects of Objectivism). It was nice to have Richard at Maximum after investing in him through 5 (or 4 depending) dense novels.

message 9: by Blaine (new)

Blaine Keely wrote: "Well, I'm glad I didn't get to it, then."

Perhaps it has been too long..I thought Pillars was book 5, Faith book 6.

message 10: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Book 5 is 'Soul of the Fire'. Thanks for the comment, it's nice to hear from someone who enjoyed it, even if it's been a while since you read it.

message 11: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Graham This is one of my favorites in the series. Seeing your ratings are so low for most of the series, I wonder why you even bother to keep reading them. I feel that this book shows the strength of the human spirit, and hope.

message 12: by Blaine (new)

Blaine I think he mentioned that he originally liked them but in fact did stop reading them at this point in the series.

message 13: by Michael (new)

Michael Pate I just read your Giver review - and my first thought was, I wonder what this guy would think of Faith of the Fallen? I didn't have to wonder long.

And it is about what I expected. We obviously have very different tastes.

message 14: by Bill (new)

Bill I agree 100%, except about the part regarding D&D no longer being fun as an adult. :) I think you can see the differences in opinion right along ideological lines with this one. Either you think helping the poor and unfortunate is tantamount to forced thievery for ungrateful scum or it's a basic tenet of society to support the underprivileged. Ayn Rand fans no doubt adore the polarizing imagery of Nicci's childhood.

message 15: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Bill said: "I agree 100%, except about the part regarding D&D no longer being fun as an adult."

Well, as I got into college I found the system far too limiting for the sorts of stories I wanted to tell, and the types of characters and worlds I wanted to portray, so I moved on to explore more versatile, open systems. After that, the experience of going back to D&D (which I still do occasionally) feels rather stifling.

But yeah, I find the Rand stuff rather silly, myself.

message 16: by C. Grant (new)

C. Grant Maledy Totally with you. Had to force myself to finish it and refuse to read anything by this dude again. Even though its been years, I think of it whenever an author starts trying to be political and dumb.

message 17: by J.G. Keely (new)

J.G. Keely Yeah, he's a pretty extreme example of how bad writing can get when an author can't figure out how to shut up and tell a story.

message 18: by Victoria (new)

Victoria McVay Terry Goodkind isn't alone in his love of hearing his own voice… I think you conveyed your feelings of the book and your opinion on Goodkind early on, did you really need to write a novella?

message 19: by Hope L. Justice (new)

Hope L. Justice Were they female readers? Maybe it's Richard's enslavement :p.

I did finish this book and didn't mind finishing it. I actually had a harder time getting through Temple. I waited for each book to come out, so I was never of the series. I was also really young when I read it. I was simultaneously reading Harry Potter if that gives you a clue.

message 20: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Obrigewitsch I abandoned this book in the first few chapters. The king of the land hiding in the mountains with no guards and getting harassed by the local peasants, was just way to stupid for me, after the last book being about killer chickens and over 600 pages about new characters that die ingloriously of STDs at the end.

message 21: by Baylie (new)

Baylie I find this odd that so many people feel this way. Everyone kept telling me this was the best in the series. And I mean EVERYONE. My maintenance main even left me a note when he saw I was reading it.

To me it was just ok. Nothing special but not as bad as temple.

message 22: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Q This is my favorite one so far. I also never made it past this book but am today starting #7 finally after years and years. I like this book best because I enjoyed the story of Nicci. That is about all. I enjoyed the adventure into the old world and the revolt from within.

message 23: by Diego (new)

Diego Pamplona I never saw a comment with so many bullshit. Excuse me for think so, it is your opinion and feeling about it, but my friends and I, who read the whole series, see this book as the best of the entire SoT saga.

message 24: by Jon Matte (new)

Jon Matte Nail on head, exactly my experience with the author, series and this book.

message 25: by Nathan (new)

Nathan First off, there are some very strange sexual parts for sure... but I’m not sure why you kept reading to this point if you felt so strongly about his books.
Do us a favor and stop reading them, so that we don’t have to read your long-winded complaints for the next book as well.
It’s addicting, I know, I couldn’t stop reading your garbage either.

message 26: by C. Grant (new)

C. Grant Maledy No worries, pretty much everyone quit somewhere in here and we aren’t going for seven.

message 27: by Tamro (new)

Tamro What exactly do you have against the Song of Ice and Fire series?

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