An oldie but goodie, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind, first published in 1994, kept me turning pages and sneaking in time to read when I should have been doing work.
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When Wizard’s First Rule came out, most critics viewed it positively, saying things like it was charming, wonderfully creative, and intriguing. Like all good critics, however, they also had their criticisms, suggesting the story was somewhat derivative of other standard fantasy stories, not close to the brilliance of Tolkien, and targeted toward mature fantasy fans because of its long section of sado-erotic torture.
It did quite well in terms of popularity, selling more than 25 million copies, and spawning fifteen plus more books in the series, the latest one just published recently. It even had a TV show based on it between 2008 and 2010 called the Legend of the Seeker.
I didn’t come across it until a few years ago, first being attracted to it by its cover art by Doug Beekman (not the cover art shown at the bottom of this post). But, I was hooked within a page of reading the book. The style of writing is very clear and easy to read, so much so that the pages fly by while the mind envisions the many dramatic scenes. At the same time, the writing is not literary in the sense that it often tells you what characters are feeling or seeing rather than showing you. For instance, the very first line is: “It was an odd-looking vine.” We’re just told rather than shown.
The plot centers around Richard, the protagonist, who wants to know why his father was murdered. In the process of investigating, he meets Kahlan, the love interest, who is being hunted by a group of men because she is seeking the First Wizard to name the Seeker of Truth in order to stop the antagonist, Rahl, from taking over. The Seeker of Truth, who turns out to be Richard, is given the Sword of Truth and goes on many adventures with Kahlan to figure out how to stop Rahl, who has opened some magical boxes, which would give him complete power. Richard is eventually captured and tortured, but manages to use his Sword of Truth to escape, falls in love with Kahlan, who has a unique magical ability to make anyone her servant with a single touch (but it is typically limited to one touch in a certain amount of time), and together they confront and vanquish Rahl–in large part due to Richard’s unconditional love for Kahlan.
Along the way, there are many plot twists and action scenes, all with a fair amount of suspense. This is what kept me reading, even through the dreaded torture section, which I personally felt was totally unnecessary and really changed my overall opinion of the book.
The characters are fine, each unique, yet some are drawn out better than others, like Richard and Kahlan compared to Rahl. The fantasy ideas are good, just familiar enough but with some new magic to keep things interesting. And the plot twists and suspense are great. You also get your money’s worth with the 836 pages (in paperback), pages that really do fly by because the writing is so easy to read. The only drawback for me, and it’s a big one because I favor clean reads, is the sado-erotic torture and some of the themes used to make the main henchman known as a bad guy.
So, if you don’t mind some adult scenes, and want a fast-paced fantasy story that is full of adventure and suspense, then this book will be worth your time and money. If you’re like me and sensitive to some of those adult scenes, you can completely skip certain sections with no loss in plot value and still enjoy the book. You can click on this link to take you to the Amazon page or click on the picture below.
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Photo Credit: ninocare from Pixabay.