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Dubious quotations from The Sword of Truth

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I find it deeply disturbing that the protagonist of a book which is supposedly based on Objectivism can get away with "I don't know how I did it", when referring to the way he resolves all problems in the plot during the climax. I'm now reading book three which - it seems - will be like book two when it comes to climax, and judging by a number of reviews I've read on the Internet, book one is an exception to the rule. Richard resolves problems by means of instinct and gut feeling. Can someone explain to me how any of this can be called Objectivism, or at least based on Objectivism?

I'm going to use this thread to quote from the book the passages I find to be non-Objective, especially those in complete contrast with the philosophy of Objectivism. Feel free to contribute and comment. I'm not going to backtrack (quote from passages I've already read), but instead I'm going to quote as I go from where I am at the moment in Blood of the Fold. I'm going to rate each quote according to how much I think it is opposite to Objectivism, using the following system: weak (when I can see how this particular quote can be Objectively justified), moderate (when my explanation is a bit of a stretch), strong (when I can't see any Objective explanation), contrary (when I think the quote challenges the ideas of Objectivism). Here's two quotes now:

From Blood of the Fold, Chapter 29 (strong):

In helpless abandon, Richard gave himself over to that calm center, the instinct beyond the veil within his mind. He let himself fall into the dark void. He relinquished control of his actions to what would be. He was lost either way.

Why is it not Objective: Richard's giving in to his instinct rather than reason. At first I thought the last sentence was a bit redeeming, that he had no other choice but to let go. But that's exactly when one must switch on rational thought. Prior to this on several occasions it is mentioned that something's telling Richard (in his mind) that what's happening is wrong. At this very moment, he should try to figure it out rather than let go.

From Blood of the Fold, the end of Chapter 30 (moderate):

Richard is a war wizard. It is his instincts that guide him, and everything he has learned and holds dear forge his actions.

Why is it not Objective: Richard's instincts guide him? What is he, a mere animal?

Probable explanation: From the perspective of the characters who have not yet fully formed some concepts, Richard's actions may seem like instinctive when, in fact, they may have been thought through. This is a bit of a stretch, though, because as you can see from the previous quote, he does give in to instincts, at least sometimes.

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I always wondered about this as well. Outside of matters of his gift, Richard is shown as a man of reason and integrity - "instinct" is the last thing I would imagine guiding his actions. But then Goodkind constantly reminds us that his gift, and by extension his entire nature as a "war wizard," is guided not by his conscious, rational thought, but by his feelings and emotions.

As an example (A bit of spoiler ahead, if you haven't read it yet), when Richard and Berdine first visit the Wizards Tower -- he admits explicitly that the only reason they did not die horribly is because Berdine was constantly distracting him, thus allowing his gift to "guide" him through the traps, without the interference of his focused intent disrupting it.

Furthermore, every time he does something really fantastic, it is attributed to him being really, really pissed off, beyond all rational thought, and thus in the perfect position for his gift to take over and kick the bad-guys asses.

On the other hand, throughout the majority of the books, Richard does figure many things out through conscientious application of his reason to the matter at hand -- which just makes it more confusing when Goodkind proceeds to tell you that Richard's nature is that of instinct, not choice.

Edited by Sarrisan

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I read the series in Dutch but at such occasions I thought that his feelings were guided by his chosen values.

And that his gift acted more like an additional sense with many automated responses like bodily reflexes one might master trough training.

The defences of the wizards castle might have been specifically aimed at warding of someone who is actively trying to gain entrance.

And him being allowed to go trough all of them could be tied to prophecy.

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Without getting into the realm of spoilers, Richard undergoes a process of integration over the course of the novels. In Blood of the Fold, his war wizard powers are new to him and because his gift is largely driven by anger and need, he tends to view his gift in terms of an emotion/thought dichotomy. He gives up eating meat in Stone of Tears (and Blood of the Fold) because he proceeds under the assumption that this provides balance to his gift.

As Richard's story progresses over the course of the novels, he gradually checks these premises. He discovers that emotions are not separate from or antagonistic to rational thought. He begins to understand that emotions are a response to values. But this integration does not happen all at once for him.

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As an example (A bit of spoiler ahead, if you haven't read it yet), when Richard and Berdine first visit the Wizards Tower -- he admits explicitly that the only reason they did not die horribly is because Berdine was constantly distracting him, thus allowing his gift to "guide" him through the traps, without the interference of his focused intent disrupting it.

Yes, that's what I wanted to quote just now but I'll skip it since you mentioned it. However, there's one other thing that's bugging me and it has to do with the prophecies.

Nathan and Ann have repeatedly discussed how to influence the events so that they should take the correct fork in the prophecies. The both of them knew a lot about what was going to happen, centuries before Richard was born. They knew it in such detail that Nathan was able to write The Adventures of Bonnie Day, that they knew they should acquire The Book of Counted Shadows and who to give it to, that they knew exactly which people to influence and which not to influence just so that the prophecies should take the correct fork.

But doesn't that make them limited by the prophecies? They could have acted so as to prevent the whole ordeal from ever happening, but since there was no existing fork in the prophecies, they haven't considered it. They turned all the prophecies on the "right" forks into the self-fulfilling prophecies (which is, by the way, the only kind of prophecy that I believe can come true), just because they neglected to act.

On the other hand, throughout the majority of the books, Richard does figure many things out through conscientious application of his reason to the matter at hand -- which just makes it more confusing when Goodkind proceeds to tell you that Richard's nature is that of instinct, not choice.

Yes, I find that confusing too. Just as I find confusing those instances where he claims selflessness, yet Goodkind doesn't neglect to mention every single selfish reason for whatever it was that Richard did.

In Blood of the Fold, his war wizard powers are new to him and because his gift is largely driven by anger and need, he tends to view his gift in terms of an emotion/thought dichotomy. He gives up eating meat in Stone of Tears (and Blood of the Fold) because he proceeds under the assumption that this provides balance to his gift.

As Richard's story progresses over the course of the novels, he gradually checks these premises. He discovers that emotions are not separate from or antagonistic to rational thought. He begins to understand that emotions are a response to values. But this integration does not happen all at once for him.

That's great, but I still think Goodkind gives Richard's instincts too important a role.

When he defeated Darken Rahl again in The Stone of Tears, he walked out of the room and told his captain that he had no idea how he did what he did. At the very climax of the book he proclaims he had no idea what he was doing -- that he doesn't know how he ended it all. A majority of authors I've read who do not claim to be Objectivists -- and would probably speak against it if asked -- don't do that. It's ghastly!

As far as I can tell, to humans instincts can only say "run" and "hide". Everything else is sheer luck, or skill (or the mixture of both). Richard has no skill and luck just doesn't come in those amounts.

I don't see what it was that prevented Goodkind from making other books more like the first one,

when Richard literally figured out a way to beat Darken Rahl.

THAT was interesting! What have I to look forward to at the end of the Blood of the Fold? That he's suddenly going to shoot lightningbolts and kill all his enemies and at the end of it all in a blind haze he's going to say "I've no idea how I did it" and Goodkind's going to credit his success to his good instincts? That's just lame -- much like the end of The Stone of Tears.

Edit: Changed wording.

Edited by source

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What have I to look forward to at the end of the Blood of the Fold? That he's suddenly going to shoot lightningbolts and kill all his enemies and at the end of it all in a blind haze he's going to say "I've no idea how I did it" and Goodkind's going to credit his success to his good instincts? That's just lame -- much like the end of The Stone of Tears.

The vast majority of SoT books do not end via Deus Ex Machina. Most plots are resolved as in WFR, with Richard (or other characters) using reason to solve their problems.

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The vast majority of SoT books do not end via Deus Ex Machina. Most plots are resolved as in WFR, with Richard (or other characters) using reason to solve their problems.

I actually can't believe how similar my previous guess was to the actual ending of the book, so that's 2 out of 3 for me with the Deus Ex Machina ending.

Anyway, here come the quotes:

He didn't know if the sense of danger was a true perception or not, but he dared not ignore his feelings. He was learning to trust in his instincts and be less concerned with proof.

'Wizard's Third Rule: Passion rules reason. Kolo warned that it was insidious. I've been breaking it by thinking I had broken it.'

The above two combined seem to say:

I should act by instinct and not concern myself with proof, because if I think I'm letting my feelings control my reason, then I'm breaking Wizard's Third Rule.

The first quote by itself is a horror as it is. I said before and I'm saying it again - Goodkind gives way too much importance to instincts. Maybe he just got lazy after doing a great job in WFR? I don't know, but The Stone of Tears and Blood of the Fold are the only two books I've ever read that get more and more boring as the story reaches its climax (well, with the exception of those that are also annoying).

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Actually, Blood of the Fold is the low point in the entire series in my opinion. Wait until you get to Faith of the Fallen.

Also, keep in mind that some of the Wizard's Rules are warnings as opposed to recommendations.

Edited by Tenzing_Shaw

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In regard to the prophecy thing,

he does acknowledge that (Much) later in the series, culminating with Kahlan giving Ann a proper thrashing on the subject (Which ends up being kind of useless... for reasons that happen later in the book, as you'll see).

Also, I always envisioned the third rule as being a warning rather than a statement - i.e., that irrational people often allow their passion to rule their reason, and that it is a mistake you should (As a proper good wizard) be sure not to make. Admittedly I have not read the book in a while, and no longer have a copy, so I may be mistaken. EDIT: Ah, I see I missed Tenzing already mentioning this.

In addition, I would feel like I'm hiding it if I don't mention it, but Richard does grow out of these things for good eventually, but it doesn't really happen until book 6. And at that point, it's like he just suddenly changes on a dime -- suddenly he's a hero of John Galt proportions, speeches and all.

As I said, I haven't read the books in some time, so you are probably in a better position to make these judgments, but these are the thoughts I remember having during my second reading of the series. (During the first, I was very young and mostly blinded by what was my first decent heroic fantasy stories. For all his faults, Richard is a much more admirable role model than most out there, at least before I discovered Ayn Rand.)

Edited by Sarrisan

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I'm nearing the end of book 2 right now (and yes, I read the spoilers...shame on me). One thing I think may be being forgotten here is when Denna appears to Kahlan, she tells Kahlan that Richard is mad - partly. That part of him was driven insane by the torture that he was put through by her at Darkan Rahls order.

With that in perspective, would it follow that the irrational statements Richard makes at various points in the books you're discussing stem in part from that Madness? That like Denna (but to a lesser degree), his ability to reason was impaired by his own trauma? It seems to me that after such torment, recovery would be a long process taking years. What is the time frame between books 2 and 6?

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With that in perspective, would it follow that the irrational statements Richard makes at various points in the books you're discussing stem in part from that Madness? That like Denna (but to a lesser degree), his ability to reason was impaired by his own trauma? It seems to me that after such torment, recovery would be a long process taking years. What is the time frame between books 2 and 6?

An interesting point of view, but I'm not sure it hold water. After book 2, Goodkind never again mentions Richard's partial madness -- I always assumed that by the end of book 2, the revelations he'd made had "cured" him.

Am I wrong? Does Goodkind ever mention that Richard retains trauma (Except for his nightmares, which he apparently never remembers) from his experiences with Denna?

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An interesting point of view, but I'm not sure it hold water. After book 2, Goodkind never again mentions Richard's partial madness -- I always assumed that by the end of book 2, the revelations he'd made had "cured" him.

Am I wrong? Does Goodkind ever mention that Richard retains trauma (Except for his nightmares, which he apparently never remembers) from his experiences with Denna?

I don't know - since I'm only in book 2 - but if he never remembers his nightmares, that *might* be suggesting that his subconscious is still dealing with issues that his conscious mind isn't aware of.

But I'm not terribly committed to the theory. This is a fantasy series, and suspension of disbelief applies here. :lol:

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I don't know - since I'm only in book 2 - but if he never remembers his nightmares, that *might* be suggesting that his subconscious is still dealing with issues that his conscious mind isn't aware of.

But I'm not terribly committed to the theory. This is a fantasy series, and suspension of disbelief applies here. :lol:

It makes sense from a realistic point of view, but remember that this is the product of an authors mind. I think that, if Goodkind wanted Richard's choices (Post-book 2) to be effected by his trauma, than he would mention it somewhere. Otherwise, how are we to know?

Maybe he mentioned it, but used subtle language, so that not everyone would notice it. Does anyone here remember something like that?

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Actually, Blood of the Fold is the low point in the entire series in my opinion. Wait until you get to Faith of the Fallen.

I get there by waiting? :)

Also, keep in mind that some of the Wizard's Rules are warnings as opposed to recommendations.

Agreed, but that does not disaffirm the blank-out suggested by my conclusion made from the quotes I've given.

Quote:

Blade, be true this day.

This is an interesting line that pops up on various locations throughout the series until now (I'm currently reading Temple of the Winds, Chapter 24). The last time it was mentioned in this book,

Richard already knew what would happen when he swung his sword against Cara (what's curious, though, are his thoughts after the blade stops, when it's revealed that he wasn't certain -- it's curious because I was). However, in previous instances of this quote, Richard left the fate of the people he was about to use the Sword against entirely to the blade. To me that seemed like some sort of intellectual laziness on his part. The blade will only kill (unless white, of course) if there is absolutely no doubt in the wielder's mind of the victim's evil. That means Richard should be able to discern for himself the outcome of such use. But he isn't doing that. Instead, with this line, he is trusting the blade to be the judge, with himself acting only as the executioner.

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I get there by waiting? :P

I should have said read until you get to Faith of the Fallen. :)

Seriously though: if you don't, you will be missing a masterpiece (and some of the other later books in the series are excellent too).

I think that when Richard "lets his sword decide", he is actually deciding. In effect, he is asking himself: "do I truly believe that this individual deserves to die?" If the answer is no, he will unconsciously stop the sword. Perhaps the action of swinging the sword at the person he is judging serves to concretize the absolute fact that the person will die if he lets the sword continue. If he is prepared to accept that outcome, then he will let the sword continue; if not, not. I think that Richard doesn't know beforehand whether the sword will stop because the judgement is still too much of a floating abstraction for him-he needs the action of swinging the sword to make the situation more "real".

I do acknowledge that Richard is not fully integrated in the beginning of the series, and sometimes makes irrational statements or does irrational things out of ignorance. Many characters in Atlas Shrugged do this too, until they learn better. So the question is: is this a purposeful decision by Goodkind in order to show how Richard uses his experiences to eliminate the contradictions from his character? The other option is that Goodkind himself changed while writing the series. Either way, I am very pleased with the outcome. Richard's initial occasional irrationality doesn't bother me at all; I am more interested in the quality of the plot and characterization. That is why Blood of The Fold is my least favorite SoT book; not because of thematic reasons.

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I do acknowledge that Richard is not fully integrated in the beginning of the series, and sometimes makes irrational statements or does irrational things out of ignorance. Many characters in Atlas Shrugged do this too, until they learn better.

I think this may be one of the bigger problems here, and it comes form the fact that The Sword of Truth is such a long series. In Atlas Shrugged, you know that any mistakes that the characters make will be resolved by the end of the book, so you are free to withhold judgment until you have read the whole thing. But Richard's story goes on through 11 very long books, during the writing of which, Goodkind himself is likely to have gone through personal changes himself, which makes it difficult to know whether what your reading is a simple irrationality that the writer intends to one day have Richard fix, or an error that the writer made when formulating the character.

Edited by Sarrisan

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But Richard's story goes on through 11 very long books, during the writing of which, Goodkind himself is likely to have gone through personal changes himself, which makes it difficult to know whether what your reading is a simple irrationality that the writer intends to one day have Richard fix, or an error that the writer made when formulating the character.

Suppose Goodkind did in fact change his views during the series. What difference would this make to the reader? The only conceivable difference would be if the corresponding change in Richard was abrupt and/or unconvincing. Personally, I was very convinced by Richard's progression towards complete rationality. So there are two cases:

1. The change in Richard was convincing because Goodkind had been planning it all along.

2. The change was convincing because Goodkind used his own experience of changing his convictions in order to expertly portray a similar change in Richard.

As long as you agree with my evaluation that the change in Richard was portrayed well, I don't see how either of these cases presents any problem at all.

Finally, an occasional irrational statement by a main character in a novel does not bother me much when that character has Richard's sense of life.

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I do acknowledge that Richard is not fully integrated in the beginning of the series, and sometimes makes irrational statements or does irrational things out of ignorance. Many characters in Atlas Shrugged do this too, until they learn better. So the question is: is this a purposeful decision by Goodkind in order to show how Richard uses his experiences to eliminate the contradictions from his character? The other option is that Goodkind himself changed while writing the series. Either way, I am very pleased with the outcome. Richard's initial occasional irrationality doesn't bother me at all; I am more interested in the quality of the plot and characterization. That is why Blood of The Fold is my least favorite SoT book; not because of thematic reasons.

I'm now reading book 5 and surprisingly enough, book 4 didn't have any quotes that stand out as being too irrational, like some I quoted from Blood of the Fold. There were a couple of instances but they weren't strong enough to make me put them here.

However, I wouldn't say that book 4 satisfied me much.

Still the plot revolves around the prophecies and I don't like that one bit. Moreover, at times the book was a drag. I was waiting (*cough* reading) for something to happen - for Richard to figure something out - and was disappointed. I was also disappointed in Kahlan not being able to figure out it was Richard with her in that room when they were supposed to "consummate" (I hate that word in this context, by the way) the marriage - the marriage from the prophecies that is. Even I knew it. Still the book had some highlights, but nothing that wasn't already dealt with in Wizard's First Rule.

I'm looking forward to the next book, and then the next. I'm expecting Soul of the Fire to be better than the previous couple of books

on the grounds that Zedd is finally back with Richard! If as you say Richard learns during the series, then I'd say it's extremely important for him to have Zedd nearby. He can teach Richard about magic so that he can finally stop relying on "instinct", which was what spoiled books 2 and 3 for me.

In any case, I'm not going to stop reading until I'm through with the series. These books are by far the most captivating I've ever read. I must admit that I haven't immersed myself this deep into the story even as I was reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

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With regards to prophecy, Richard also comes to understand later on that free will is the counter to prophecy.

Argh! Spoiler!

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Furthermore, every time he does something really fantastic, it is attributed to him being really, really pissed off, beyond all rational thought, and thus in the perfect position for his gift to take over and kick the bad-guys asses.

I think this was purely created as a balancing mechanism so that there would be suspense rather than Richard being able to easily destroy enemies at any time, like would be the case if he had full control of his gift.

In book four he briefly has full control of it, but loses that control as a price for leaving the Temple of the Winds. While he has full control of his gift he can use it easily is much more powerful than in any other stage of the series (he even easily creates a new Sword of Truth, something even the wizards of old found hard). This increased ease and power came from knowledge and thus being able to use his gift more rationally.

Also, bare in mind that he is doesn't know how to use his gift. Remember no one, not even Zedd, Ann, Verna, Nathan, or anyone else, know how his gift works and thus cannot train him. How can he use it rationally considering that?

I also suspect Goodkind, like many people, misused the word "instinct" by using it when either the word "intuition" or the term "auotmated knowledge" should of been used.

I read the series in Dutch but at such occasions I thought that his feelings were guided by his chosen values.

This is indeed the case, which is why i argue despite what i just said, he was more rational in his use of the gift than many give him credit for.

I don't see what it was that prevented Goodkind from making other books more like the first one,

when Richard literally figured out a way to beat Darken Rahl.

THAT was interesting!

Actually, Goodkind has Richard (and other characters such as Kahlan) do that in every single book. Goodkind never use a purely magical solution. In fact in many cases he doesn't use a magical solution at all (the best example is book 6). But even in the case of magic solutions he still has Richard use his mind to figure something out (the best examples are the 3 books in the Chainfire trilogy, but book 5 is also a good example).

As for the Third Rule, it doesn't mean, "I should act by instinct and not concern myself with proof, because if I think I'm letting my feelings control my reason, then I'm breaking Wizard's Third Rule." It means, as the clarifiaction in the book says, that many people wrongly act on passion rather than reason, and that they should do it the other way around. That is a good message and true.

As for prohpecy, right from book 2 Richard hates prophecy and Nathan tells Richard that free will is the balance to prophecy. And Zedd says in book 1 some prophecies are self-fillfulling because the people that read them make them happen. So right from the beginning Goodkind doesn't give prophecy much credence. This is fleshed out much more in Book 6 and Book 10 or 11 when first Kahlan, then later Richard blame Ann for causing a lot of the horror of the prophecies happen by making them possible by bringing Richard to the Old World and that had she not done that they never would of happened.

Finally, like many people have already said, Richard grows out of these mistakes. Some don't happen for a while (eg, the aforementioned not eating meat thing). My guess (based on his style) is that Goodkind had those mistakes there on purpose knowing they were mistakes so as to have character development.

I'm nearing the end of book 2 right now (and yes, I read the spoilers...shame on me). One thing I think may be being forgotten here is when Denna appears to Kahlan, she tells Kahlan that Richard is mad - partly. That part of him was driven insane by the torture that he was put through by her at Darkan Rahls order.

With that in perspective, would it follow that the irrational statements Richard makes at various points in the books you're discussing stem in part from that Madness? That like Denna (but to a lesser degree), his ability to reason was impaired by his own trauma? It seems to me that after such torment, recovery would be a long process taking years.

What is the time frame between books 2 and 6?

Several years. My guess is that Richard is nearly 30 by then given he started book 1 in his mid-20s.

Am I wrong? Does Goodkind ever mention that Richard retains trauma (Except for his nightmares, which he apparently never remembers) from his experiences with Denna?

As I recallhe doesn't mention them again. However, Denna did tell Kahlan that he may never fully recover.

It makes sense from a realistic point of view, but remember that this is the product of an authors mind. I think that, if Goodkind wanted Otherwise, how are we to know?

By remembering what Denna said to Kahlan.

The quote, "Blade be true," is about the accuracy of his swings and thrusts of the sword. It simply means he hopes he is accurate in his use of it. It does not mean he trusts its "judgement."

Also, bare in mind that until later books (book 5 onwards) where Richard starts intellectually oustripping even Zedd and even in some of the things he thinks about magic, Richard is still learning about reason, especially from Zedd. This was a clearly intentional part of the series, especially given that with exception of the rare cases of Richard figuring out one of the Rules on his own (Rule 6 and Rule 11, which even Zedd didn't know) he was taught the Rules.

Argh! Spoiler!

Not really given that, as I said, Nathan says it to richard in book 2, which you have already read.

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According to one part of Chainfire, the events of approximately book one to eleven are roughly three years apart. Though I would put it at a little more than this, I do not think that it would be more than three, certaintly not four or more years.

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As far as I know, only about a year passes between books 1 and 6, but time starts to move faster after that. In Faith of the Fallen, Richard

spends a little more than a year in the Old World with Nicci, and at one point laments that he's spent more time away from Kahlan than he spent with her.

So from book 1 to the beginning of book 6 is I'm guessing about a year, and then to the end of book 6 is another year.

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Sorry, it is Confessor where Richard seems to think that it is about three years from when he left Westland during the events of Wizards First Rule...

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