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Wizard’s First Rule – Terry Goodkind

15 Feb

Wizards_first_rule

One man, Richard Cypher, holds the key to the fate of three nations of humanity but until he learns the Wizard’s First Rule his chances of succeeding in his task are slim. And his biggest problem is admitting that magic exists at all…A novel of incomparable scope and brimming with atmospheric detail: in a world where heart hounds stalk the boundaries for unwary human prey, blood-sucking flies hunt on behalf of their underworld masters, and where artists can draw more than your likeness, there is no place to hide, nowhere safe. Here magic makes love twice as sweet, betrayal and loss twice as bitter.

This book perplexes me even years after reading and pondering upon it.  The story promises so much and then sort of delivers a little bit but doesn’t at the same time.  Stuff like this bothers me, it should have been a good 800 odd page epic first book in a massive heroic series that would replace my need for a big saga after The wheel of Time and of course all the Middle Earth mythology had been devoured.

Although I am more wary of fantasy these days due to a much more varied diet of words and ideas.  I still like to indulge in epic world quests, that way I can pretend to do the same quests on various planes, just without the sword or having to sleep in an inn to replenish my Hit Points.  When browsing the ‘must read fantasy books’ this is one that inexplicably always seems to be mentioned and if you can’t believe the readers of their own genre, then where is the humanity I ask you?

I like build up, the calm before the storm which demands to be savoured before our heroes are plunged into a new world of discovery and adventure.  I didn’t want to have the whole plot set out for me in the first ten pages like it was here. There was lot plot, an obscene amount of coincidences rendering the whole idea a farce,  as well as a lot of acceptance about life changing events.  Once all this is neatly wrapped up then on we move on and start the story proper..  It was all a bit mental and disappointingly unbelievable especially as there isn’t enough plot for the length of book leading the author to indulge in character building segments which don’t work. Everyone seems to delight in doing things they shouldn’t do according to their own beliefs.  This inconsistency and two-dimensional nature makes caring about the characters a very difficult task.

All is not lost though, for this is fantasy where characters are there to drive the plot which is an okay one but it feels like a story that is set to run and run.  To provide depth to the world it’s backed with ideas of faux philosophy which are very heavy-handed and unoriginal to say the least.  Character conversations sometimes seem to consist solely of exposition making the plot pacy yet paradoxically not.

The writing is average at best, it can be quite dull in places, the 60 page bondage and torture extravaganza was off-putting, there simply too much torture and violence yet I was anesthetized to any feeling of peril because of it.  Voyeurism is possibly what makes this such a love or hate book. Personally for this reader the absence of harsh scenes would have made the odd bit of nastiness much more effective but here its a case of too much to often and unless you have a certain niche enjoyment it just becomes vulgar.  Adult is definitely how I would term some of the subject matter,  It adds nothing to the plot either other than to garner some publicity.

It isn’t Tolkien, sadomasochism stuff aside.  The world is quite well realised with a few nice set pieces but the lack of a detailed map annoyed me as a lot of the places couldn’t be located with a degree of accuracy and as a completest I like that sort of thing, why have a map and then not utilise it?  There are also lots of other recycled ideas from other fantasy series, it becomes a distracting game to spot them and as I am not heavily read on my fantasy then I am sure there are a good few I missed.  To be pulled out of a world so frequently makes the read disjointed at best.

The ending was disappointing too, especially after having waded through the last 800 pages to reach the conclusion but it leads onto the next book so already you are trapped in the ‘must find out what happens’ obsession which was, for once easy for me to escape from as book 2 felt very repetitious of events that had happened in the first book and book 3 was where I was truly and finally cured.  Half way through after some particularly cheesy scenes and speeches that would have looked good in classic 80’s film Highlander I decided to move on.  I think this is where my love affair with fantasy really ended, since then apart from finishing Jordan’s wheel of Time and picking up the latest Discworld book, things just haven’t been the same.

Having said all that I did at the time find myself curiously satisfied by the book but in no way do I find this a masterpiece of the genre that people claim it is. In fact I would go as far as to say that I find it disconcerting as well indicative of the publishing industry to allow books of this standard to be given such hype and to encourage writers to write down to this standard.  Is there a reason that people are being dumbed down by various media, of course there is!  I think this is one of the causes with 25 million copies of the series’ books being sold.

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25 Comments

Posted by on 15/02/2014 in Fantasy

 

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25 responses to “Wizard’s First Rule – Terry Goodkind

  1. nancyrae4

    15/02/2014 at 20:05

    Excellent review. This book came highly recommended to me, but it was a disappointment. I was exhausted after hundreds of pages of detailed description and not much happening. Have I become THAT 21st century reader – eager for action, world-building within reason, strong plot, and a satisfying ending?

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    • Ste J

      15/02/2014 at 20:10

      Well if you had become such an abomination as THAT 21st century reader I would shudder…with excitement, salute you and congratulate you for your demanding need for quality literature and also for your critical nature and need for substance over word count and derivative fictioneering.

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      • nancyrae4

        23/02/2014 at 00:18

        Thanks. You just described my first novel:) In my dreams!

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        • Ste J

          23/02/2014 at 09:50

          Well I would be happy to read it when you are ready to publish it, reading your blog posts, I have a taste for how you write and I like what I read, so keep up the positive hopes and you are guaranteed a great review off of me if you put in the phrase ‘confused wombat face’.

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  2. evermoreevil

    15/02/2014 at 20:10

    A great review as always. It seems to me that this book smacks of ‘overkill’. Too much of everything, and therefore in many ways lacking. There are a great deal of smaller, more imaginative fantasy novels out there. It is just a shame they aren’t given the same kind of promotion!

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    • Ste J

      15/02/2014 at 20:14

      Exactly, there is quality fantasy out there…I guess it is my own fault for searching out opinions according to the masses. I really should have been asking the people who read a lot of the genre. You’re right it was overkill, I appreciate grim British films even though I don’t particularly like the subject matter, the stories can be strong but this was just uninteresting, I would think a good editor may have helped as well.

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  3. colemining

    16/02/2014 at 01:46

    I started the series eons ago. Liked the books- the concept of the Confessor and all that- but lost the plot and haven’t caught up with the saga. It really does have too much stuff going on- it became somewhat exhausting keeping up with everyone as paths diverted and came back together.

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 20:08

      I don’t mind a bit of complication, it just needs to fee like its going somewhere. Good luck to you if you wish to carry on…in fact I will salute you with sort of moonshine distilled in a rusty radiator if you finish them but don’t rush on my account.

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  4. gargoylebruce

    16/02/2014 at 02:49

    Well thank goodness for that. The blurb sounded exceptionally interesting, then I got a bit worried that it was 800 pages worth, but if you’re not happy with it, I will leave it off my TBR. Phew. Think I may have just dodged a bullet there!

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 19:54

      A weighty bullet which would irritate you into submission. They are good paperweights though, to this I can attest…the series can also be used as a step to reach high things which is good news to all but parents.

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  5. Christina ~

    16/02/2014 at 04:29

    Reading this thoroughly insightful and cleverly phrased review I was reminded of my Terry Goodkind experience…which is that I read an entire series….and cannot remember which it was. I am known for an excellent memory….perhaps I blocked it out from a case of severe disappointment? lol.

    It is sad indeed for there are more than many books I have read in the Fantasy genre that not only do I remember vividly (!) and thought brilliant…but sadly did not receive the hype his have, in my humble opinion.

    Perhaps, we are in a fantasy world where not so great books rule and there is another realm where the truly great books are revered? Just saying… xxxxxx

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 19:58

      I shall be leaning on your vast knowledge again to lead me through the sci-fi and fantasy minefield as I am a bit clueless. Which reminds me I need to make that list of books to hunt for you when I get to the local second hand bookshop…which is another chance to do the blog post that I was planning to do before…positivity again!

      Bring me to the realm where good books get the praise they deserve, where the standard is high and we all realise what we have been missing. xxxxxx

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  6. The Book Haven

    16/02/2014 at 17:54

    I wanted to start Sword of Truth series a number of times, but warnings about Goodkind keep on surfacing. I’ve kind of given up on him.

    Have you tried Paolini’s Eragon or Terry Brook’s The Sword of Shannara? Though not in the same league as The Wheel of Time, both are good.

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 19:52

      I am planning to get to Brooks’ stuff at some point in the next year or two. I am not sure if Eragon is something that will grab me…I did pick up a copy once to browse but as I remember the initial thoughts were to go pick up something else.

      Goodkind does seem to split the reading public…I enjoy putting my foot firmly in one camp but for some reason never get the hate mail that I expect…

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  7. Al

    18/02/2014 at 22:10

    I find fantasy books difficult. I think it is because the only ones I have read are ones by Margaret Weiss & Tracey Hickman (both authors wrote at least 6 books together) and others like R. A. Salvatore. I read a lot of fantasy books about 25 years ago. They were books based on the Dragonlance™ and Forgotten Realms™ worlds of Dungeons & Dragons™ and they held my sway. I have other fantasy books in my library, but I worry about reading them.

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 20:14

      I haven’t heard of the first two authors but I have read a Salvatore book, I forget which these days. Fantasy books do seem like an inordinate risk when compared top other genres. These days if they aren’t substantial and have internal logic that is consistent with sanity then I tend to disregard them but each series does seem daunting I agree.

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      • Al

        23/02/2014 at 09:55

        Mind you, I say that and I am reading the Game of Thrones books and they are fantasy

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        • Ste J

          23/02/2014 at 10:08

          I have been tempted by them on and off, they seem epic so I am waiting until someone tops the balance for me significantly in one or other direction.

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          • Al

            23/02/2014 at 10:23

            Well if I didn’t like the first one, I wouldn’t have brought the remainder of the series. I would say they are worth it even if you haven’t seen the TV series.

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            • Ste J

              23/02/2014 at 10:29

              I have avoided the TV series just in case I ever get around to them…one day.

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  8. thejerseygal®™

    18/02/2014 at 23:49

    Is this a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings kinda book, save it’s less than? Great review. I’ll avoid the book. Harry Potter, for me, was not all that.

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    • Ste J

      22/02/2014 at 20:04

      It’s more of an epic adult fantasy, although it tries to be more sophisticated than The Lord of the Rings it becomes more derivitive with each book. LotR worked because of its simplicity, its attention to detail and plot, although the characters didn’t particularly grow they were good enough, Goodkind’s aren’t. Harry Potter went downhill after book 4 for me, Well after book 3 really. I perhaps need to review a few more of them.

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      • thejerseygal®™

        23/02/2014 at 00:10

        Harry Potter failed me. Maybe I failed it with expectations. Not sure. LofR seemed broad and alive but I agree with the character development. Maybe plot based. Nothing too too too deep. Good for the young teenage mindset.

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        • Ste J

          23/02/2014 at 10:05

          The problem with Potter for the most part is that it was a essentially a children’s book and they can go either way. When adults read that genre it tends to make me wary but I was younger and had no expectations at the time, these days I may dismiss it a lot quicker if I started to read it.

          LotR also worries me, I enjoy it but these days people tend to view it as some sort of classic and for the genre it is but it gets way to much attention these days. It was alive though as you say and more complex in its execution than Potter was. Tolkien did say he could have gone on for another 1000 pages but chose, sensibly to stop. I find a lack of that these days in books from all genres.

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          • thejerseygal®™

            23/02/2014 at 17:51

            I agree. The LotR gets way too much attention and is exalted as a sacred work. Maybe because of the movies. I did feel the books went on forever, maybe because of his depictions, but wow if he went on for another 100 pages, even, I would’ve bailed. My attention span isn’t that great! Or maybe that’s how I felt about the books.

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