Richard Cypher lives the quiet life of a woods guide in Westland with his loving father, ambitious brother Michael, and close friend/village crazy Zeddicus Z’ul Zorander. But Richard’s peaceful existence is shattered when his father is murdered and magic infiltrates his homeland. Darken Rahl, a dangerous wizard, is poised to take over the known world and it up to Richard, with the help of his friend Zedd (who is really a powerful wizard) and the beautiful and mysterious Kahlan Amnell, to save everyone. And it doesn’t stop there, as powers even more nefarious than Darken Rahl threaten.
Part of the brilliance this series is the way it touches on human nature. From the Wizard’s Rules (“People will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they’re afraid it might be true.” ~ Wizard’s First Rule) to the philosophical war fought over the course of the twelve book series (the twelfth being being a prequel) lays humanity bare. Goodkind forces us to examine our the best and the worst of ourselves. The Wizard’s Rules are mostly obvious and common sense, yet they are used as turning points of the stories, important facts that everyone knows and yet continuously ignores (“The greatest harm can result from the best intentions.” ~Wizard’s Second Rule). But it is hate and fear of the unknown, which has led to murder and corruption throughout history, that takes center stage in the Sword of Truth series and Goodkind handles these issues with skill.
The love story itself is unique in that even once the couple surmounts the barriers of their forbidden love, circumstances and enemies conspire to keep them apart. But always, their relationship is what allows them to prevail, a testament to their commitment and feelings. No matter how many times they are nearly ruined, no matter whose fault it is, always you continue to hope that they will find their way back together. And always, they manage, if just barely.
But perhaps the best showing of Goodkind’s skill of representing humanity’s strengths and weaknesses is his portrayal of Cara, the Mord Sith who has been groomed in the art of torture since childhood. Like Seven of Nine from Star trek Voyager, Cara is pulled from the dark world she has known for so long as is slowly brought back to a gentler, kinder side. Her transformation is compelling and her struggles are believable. I found myself cheering for her, more than any other, despite her not being the central character of the story.
I have only a few complaints about this series. The first is that any book with a moral message runs the risk of being more sermon than story. In the later books of the series, as the adventures became a little more farfetched and wild, the books became preaching, each one filled with multiple repetitive speeches telling us what we should believe. My other problem is that Richard ended up being too all powerful while still inept. Most of his successes ended up being things that he stumbled on rather than actively did himself and often he did it without knowing what he was doing. In Wizard’s First Rule, the first book in the series, Richard actively and with his own smarts defeats Rahl, but later he seems to luck onto the solutions simply because he is such a strong wizard. It makes it harder to feel the danger and threat of the story when you know that whatever happens Richard will suddenly be strong enough, through no skill of his own, to defeat the enemy. But even with these problems, the series remains compelling.
Goodkind artfully constructs a world so detailed that it takes on a life and reality of its own. If you love fantasy and want to immerse yourself in characters that you can follow for a long time, The Sword of Truth series is definitely worth the look.
Read the series:
- The Sword of Truth, Books 1-3: Wizard’s First Rule, Blood of the Fold, Stone of Tears
- The Sword of Truth, Books 4-6: Temple of the Winds; Soul of the Fire; Faith of the Fallen
- Sword of Truth, Books 7-9: The Pillars of Creation, Naked Empire, Chainfire (Trilogy Part 1)
- Debt of Bones (Sword of Truth Prequel Novel)
- Phantom: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 2 (Sword of Truth, Book 10)
- Confessor: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 3 (Sword Of Truth, Book 11)