Scott Johnson's Reviews > Faith of the Fallen

Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind
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did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction

Ironically, this was the least rape-y of the series thus far, but it made me the most angry.

First, rape. There wasn't a lot of that here. There was that one scene where Nicci gave away all of their money and then everyone decided to attack her for more. Pretty sure that was headed in a rape-y direction. Then there was that one scene later where she used sex as a weapon against Richard by having that one asshole have sex with her because Kahlan would feel it via the spell that was the excuse for the entire plot. Pretty sure it was not established that that's how that spell worked until Goodkind wanted to basically rape Kahlan at a distance this way.

Lastly, there was the threat of rape BY OUR SUPPOSEDLY STRONG FEMALE LEAD. She literally threatens to throw her half sister back into the rape pit from the second book. I can't stress this enough: This is a book where even our protagonists use sex as a weapon. Rape is just another tool, the go-to punishment of choice.

Similarly, when the assassin is captured later on (of COURSE it's the asshole from the proxy rape scene, there are only 3.5-4.0 million people in the Order army, it makes total sense that this ONE person would be involved), there is an extended scene of extreme torture. This is supposedly the side of good, torturing someone for a day before finally killing him, simply for petty vengeance.

Conveniently, because this just happened to be the guy who was involved with Richard and Nicci, this choice is vindicated because it leads to the information necessary to set up the usual "let's wrap everything up in a nice bow in 10 pages at the end" anticlimax.

The usual criticisms continue to apply. There is no growth of any character, except Nicci in a superficial, forced way. Her whole "I need to learn something from Richard" quest was baffling, and seemed entirely contrived as an excuse to capture Richard and force him into these horrible situations again. The biggest growth is in the ancillary characters Richard influences in the old world; it's a bit small, and a bit simple, but the bar here is so low that it stands out as an anomaly.

Before I get to the big theme here, I now have a new hobby: finding and highlighting the worst simile Goodkind constructs (he can't quite take that next leap to actual metaphor, from what I can see).


Kahlan sighed. Sometimes attempting to follow Richard's reasoning was like trying to spoon ants.


If you say so, Terry. Moving on....

The big elephant in the room here: Libertarianism.

There were a few undertones throughout the series that were so thoroughly overshadowed by the extremely troubling social problems (i.e. rape is basically a currency here), so it was not a complete shock that this came up. However, it was a very abrupt shift that this was dragged out as the sole focus, and we are treated to my favorite repetition again, this time in political screed form!

I have not been this angry while reading a book in a long, long time, if ever. We're chugging along with the routine annoyances that I'm numb to at this point, when suddenly Nicci and Richard are in the old world in some city. Side note: Again, distance and time are treated for convenience here. Weeks and months pass over one sentence, continents that were impassable barriers in book 1 are crossed without a thought.

Richard basically bumbles around the city trying to find a job and a place to live. Each person he interacts with provides the least subtle diatribe possible revealing that they are FILTHY SOCIALISTS!!!

I have highlighted so many passages here that made me rage. There was one in particular that was something that has literally come out of the mouth of my father (a Trump-supporting racist who once criticized me for posting about how grateful I was that my food stamps finally kicked in, saying I should feel proper shame about it and also it makes HIM look bad since he, despite being very well off, wasn't helping me himself at all).

About 3 pages after Goodkind stepped onto his soapbox, I had to put the book down. I was getting indescribably angry, but also felt a need to finally google this guy. I had avoided this as I came into this series spoiler-free, both about the plot but also why everyone disliked the author. I wanted my opinion to be entirely informed by the writing, and this section reeked of libertarian hatred of taxation, social programs, and the poor....to an almost comically exaggerated extent.

Sure enough, I googled around and discovered a few things. Firstly, because of his name, I had apparently been picturing him as Terry PRATCHETT. If there is an afterlife or you're a ghost or something, I'm so sorry good Terry. This dude, however, looks like the polar opposite of a kindly grandpa. He looks like a guy you'd go out of your way to avoid in a bar if you were a woman BEFORE you knew he wrote about all of this problematic shit like red leather dominatrices and rape pits.

But most importantly, I found this quote....


Weymouth, MA: In your opinion who is the most must-read, cutting edge writer publishing today?

Terry Goodkind: Ayn Rand.


Nailed it.

It's very clear from these ramblings that Goodkind hates poor people. He very emphatically believes that if you are not successful, it is only due to your own laziness. He presents the idea of taxation (again exaggerated on a cartoonish level) as literal theft. The entire section is one giant reductio ad adsurdum of what he mistakenly believes is what socialism looks like.

Without further ado, let's get to specific passages....


Of course, the land's projects would, in the end, cost more. Unskilled workers were, after all, unskilled. A man who was expensive, but knew his job, in the end cost less, and the finished job was sound.


This is one I highlighted as a positive. I KNOW, RIGHT?! My exact note in the text is, "This is perhaps the most oddly cogent thing in this series so far."

I just wanted to lead off with this because I do give credit where it is due. Oddly, he goes on to be vehemently anti-union, which is the polar opposite of this idea, but for a brief moment of clarity, there was sense and actual valid commentary coming out of this contrived exploration of the filthy commie city.

It's an idea I have been discovering as I've moved up to a very well-paying job, a long way from the days I was applying for food stamps. It's something that was, of all places, in a Cracked.com article a while back: Having money, after being poor for so long, leads to having to make huge adjustments to the way you think. One of those ways is in buying higher quality products. Your instinct to buy the cheapest thing, out of necessity when you had no other option, is actual -- counter-intuitively -- the most wasteful choice.

I did this with computers. I bought whatever laptop was on special because I didn't have over a grand to drop on a machine. Even the $600 clearance sale was stretching it, but I needed a computer to function. They usually lasted two years, max. Flash forward to my first programming job where I decided to invest in a quality machine so I had something more powerful and reliable to work on the road. That $1400 machine lasted me seven years and is still going strong.

Investing in quality costs more up-front, both in purchasing merchandise and in choosing someone to perform a service, but it does, in the end, cost you less in the long term.

It's a wonderful gem I found in the mountain of horse shit surrounding it I wanted to share.


"Therein lies the problem. Remember when we came through? How those people were killed when the Dominie Dirth rang?"
....
"Remember when we came in, how they said they all rang, and everyone out in front of the Dominie Dirth was killed? They all rang together, as one."


Cue the Member-Berries. But I highlighted this because it was a half-assed attempt at excusing the recycling of the same plot for the third time. It's getting old, having Richard or Kahlan kidnapped and stripped of their power....again.


"But if I should decide I do, Richard, you will comply with that, too."

Nicci was a beautiful woman, the kind of woman most any man would eagerly accept. It was hardly that, though, that made him believe her. It was the look in her eyes. Never had the vague possibility of the act of sex seemed so vicious


Sorry, I'm literally just going through these in chronological order to keep all the quotes in one section, so we're back on rape.

It's "good", I guess, that men can be raped, too? Far from an #alllivesmatter counter to rape culture, it is often completely dismissed that men can also be rape victims. But it's funny how differently he treats the concept of rape when it is a man as the victim. It is not a flippant plot device, it is given gravitas and is a looming threat. It feels so different from "I'm going to throw you in the rape pit for three days to break you before your execution".


"Ordinary people don't have your luck, Richard. Ordinary people suffer and struggle while your luck gets you into a job."

"If it was luck," Richard asked, "then how come my back hurts from lugging that load of iron bars into the warehouse?"


This is a REALLY contentious point with me. Please take a look at my review of a fantastic book, Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. It is an argument I have with my father repeatedly.

Luck is a massive factor in success. Saying so is not intended to strip away one's accomplishment; as I say in that review, one must necessarily work hard to take advantage of opportunities. But luck is necessary to have those opportunities that others do not.

Here, Richard falls backwards into a lucky break. Sure, he worked hard hauling that iron to secure himself a place to sleep and a connection to use to claw his way into a job....but how was it even possible for him to do so? He happened to arrive in this specific city, on this very particular street, at the EXACT time that this man's driver was abandoning him (more on the "I can only do what's in my exact job description" nonsense later).

Yes, Richard, you worked hard, but that opportunity was not presented to literally anyone else on the planet. Had that man not been making a delivery that day, had you arrived an hour sooner or taken a slightly different path through the city, none of this would have happened. You have an advantage over others who might have been just as willing and able to do just as you did, namely that you were fortunately at the right place at the right time.

This is at the core of the idea of privilege. The concept is not that you should feel guilty for having advantages, but merely that you acknowledge them. That simple act shifts your perception of others. When you acknowledge that not everything you have flows 100% from your own skill and effort, when you factor in that there were factors you cannot control that give you a leg up, then you begin to give the benefit of the doubt to others who are less successful.

Sure, that poor person might just be lazy and mooching off of the system. Or, like I was, they could have been laid off without notice or reason. They were not prepared with massive savings to live on because they had just (seemingly) found their feet again and were working hard toward that goal but didn't have enough time before it happened again. You begin to develop this alien concept, to so many Americans, called empathy.

You start to support social programs because you begin to see them for what they really are: Giving those less fortunate an opportunity. They don't "encourage laziness and dependence", but simply pass on a small measure of the good fortune required to get started. Sure, there are those who don't take advantage of that opportunity, but the argument then becomes that we shouldn't help anyone lest we accidentally help one person who doesn't "deserve it".


"It's my choice to fix those stairs and make the place I live a little better instead of whining and waiting and hoping for someone else to do something for me"


Here we see his hatred of the poor coming to the fore. He is directly blaming the poor for simply being lazy and "waiting and hoping for someone else to do something for me". It's the classic argument against "entitlement", aka social programs to help people, and it is ludicrously applied here.

The situation was that the stairs into this building were in disrepair. Richard lectures these people for not simply fixing it themselves....but it becomes very clear that no one has the skills to do so (Richard does because of course he does....even more on that later). When this comes out, he continues by saying it's their choice to "waste their time", and they should be using their time to "learn" instead.

Once again, a classic argument used to blame the poor for their own situation. To a privileged douchecanoe like Goodkind, you are not allowed any "luxury" when you are poor. If you take out a smartphone at the grocery store while paying with food stamps, you should be executed on the spot, never mind that it's not really optional anymore and was probably purchased before you unexpectedly lost your job.

The poor should be dedicating every moment of their waking lives to "learning", implying that they are simply jobless because they have nothing of value to make them employable....the long way of saying they are lazy and worthless. These same people will often launch into diatribes against any poor person going to the movies or watching television, as that is proof positive that they are responsible for their own lot in life, wasting it as they are on frivolous entertainments (never mind that these brief distractions are the only thing holding their mental health together sometimes).

Actual opinions aside, just fuck this author for so blatantly lecturing his readers in this way. In an interview I found when I was googling around, I found some rant he had about how he thinks good writers should tell their readers how life should be lived correctly. Just fuck this guy's arrogance.


"What's the difference? They just take it from me anyway and give it out. I'm not really losing any pay, other people are losing my pay."


This is a point where I highlighted this with a note: "Holy fuck did my dad write this?" and then put the book down to take a long break.

This is literally something he has said, out loud and unironically. He and others like him constantly use the fallacious argument that, "There's no point in working harder, because if you make more money, they take more taxes away." He sincerely believed at some point that if he made more money he would actually end up with less, as his taxes would increase more than his pay. That's theoretically possible only in the tiniest band of incomes...we're talking a few thousand dollars at most, and the difference is a few hundred in the end.

These people believe taxes are literal theft. There is no argument to use against this level of willful ignorance, no amount of logic or reason will ever convince them otherwise.


You got to take other people's needs into consideration. You have to consider the good of everyone.


This, in isolation, might have been another gem extracted from the horseshit. However, in context, this is presented as literally an evil idea. It is the core idea behind this straw-man society Goodkind has set up that he then extrapolates to the point of lunacy, where "the good of others" means "you are literally forbidden from delivering goods because other companies need a chance to deliver some too".

I really never thought I would read a book where "you need to care about other people" is presented as an evil ideology.


I can't put other people out of business by being unfair and delivering more than they do, or else I have trouble, and I get replaced by someone who will not be so unfair to his competitors.


Here we are drinking deeply from the Kool-Aid of Randian economics. The free market and competition are king. Never mind that we tried that once and it led to monopolies that fostered a class of a few billionaires you could count on your fingers and millions in poverty working for same.

He literally argues for vertical monopolies at one point! He has some discussion with a charcoal maker, who wants to also own and control the means to deliver his own product. He also wants to chop his own trees rather than pay outside loggers to do so.

It's a simplified example (don't expect complexity from Goodkind...ever), but he is describing a vertical monopoly where one company controls the supply, production, and distribution, thereby allowing them to set prices however they like without outside interests to keep them in check. Where raising charcoal prices might lead to loggers charging more for their wood (since it now has greater implicit value since what it becomes is more valuable), thereby canceling out some or all of he additional profit, if you control things end to end every price change only affects your profit margin, not expenses.

Again, we tried this. This is why we have Anti-Trust law in this country, albeit in a now-weakened state....


"The workers' group assesses most of my wages, since I'm able to produce, and gives it to those who don't work. Because I can work, I've becomes a slave to those who can't, or don't wish to. Their methods encourage people to find an excuse to let others take care of them."


Fuck. You.

That's all I have to say about that one. It's so blatantly, transparently hateful that that's all the response this preaching deserves.

Let's end on one last item: Richard being perfect. This last quote, I attached the note: "Getting severe Kvothe vibes now", referring to The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss, wherein the hero Kvothe is the most perfect man to ever live, who can do anything and pick up any skill instantly.


In the two months Richard had worked at carving for the Retreat, he had come to understand the nuance of carving in stone.


Screw you lazy carvers who study this their entire lives, Richard learned that shit in two months to the point where he finishes the book creating a statue so beautiful that everyone who looks upon it weeps and it literally converts an evil woman to the side of good and provokes a revolution.

What.

It hilariously parallels Kvothe's musical prowess, where at one point any woman who hears him play his lute and sing dissolves into a weeping mess.

At no point was this ability implied until the very beginning of this specific book when he inexplicably carves these things for Kahlen at their cabin. There is also a huge difference between carving wood and stone, Terry.

I'm not even going to get into how he got away with working on that statue with no oversight to be able to pull these shenanigans. I'm reaching the character limit allowed for a review on here and my brain is incapable of parsing this atrocious writing anymore.

I'm probably going to take a break from this series now. This book was so terrible and made me so angry that I need to walk away and maybe reread a beloved COMPETENT series as a palate cleanser.

This was one of the single worst books I've ever read. Not only was the plot utterly stupid and pointless, but the amount of righteous preaching was intolerable. The entire book is one giant reductio ad absurdum against the evils of filthy socialism.
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Reading Progress

November 26, 2018 – Started Reading
November 26, 2018 – Shelved
November 26, 2018 –
10.0%
November 28, 2018 –
24.0% "I'm starting to drag with these. Every book feels like the same thing at this point, starting off with a painfully slow intro that summarizes previous books worse than Rowling in early HP. I'm sure we'll get more of the same until the actual "conflict" is set up around 50% in, then it will be resolved around 95% over about 3 pages."
November 28, 2018 –
26.0%
November 30, 2018 –
32.0% "Literally recycling the same plot for a third time. I highlighted a passage where the author addresses this and tries to make an excuse for it. Acknowledging your laziness does not make it less lazy. Fucking hell, come up with something other than "someone kidnaps/enslaves Richard somehow"."
December 2, 2018 –
67.0% "We've reached the old world, and just 3 pages into setting up that society I had to finally google Goodkind because my libertarian radar was going crazy....sure enough, I find quotes where he's calling Ayn Rand the greatest author to ever live. I highlighted so many enraging quotes...."
December 2, 2018 – Finished Reading
December 3, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
December 3, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction

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Kaitlynn Probably the best libertarian fantasy culture I've ever seen was the garouda in the Bas-Lag trilogy. And even they unambiguously condemn rape as one of the worst things you can do.


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