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Terry Goodkind "Sword of Truth"

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Answer truthfully - which is your favorite of Terry Goodkind's novels?  

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  1. 1. Answer truthfully - which is your favorite of Terry Goodkind's novels?

    • Wizard's First Rule
      3
    • Stone of Tears
      7
    • Blood of the Fold
      1
    • Temple of the Winds
      1
    • Soul of Fire
      0
    • Faith of the Fallen
      17
    • The Pillars of Creation
      0
    • Naked Empire
      0
    • Debt of Bones (Novelette)
      0


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So a few people on this board have mentioned Terry Goodkind and his Sword of Truth series, but for those who don't know what it is, I'll give a brief description. Goodkind writes fantasy novels, but bases them on objectivism. As a result, his books end up with a sense of life closer to Atlas Shrugged than Lord of the Rings. Instead of elves and trolls, he focuses on noble, rational human heroes who oppose evil conquerors.

Has anyone read the series? If so, what are your opinions on it? Also, does anyone know when Terry became an Objectivist? The earlier books have less of Objectivism in them, but by faith of the fallen, he's practically paraphrasing John Galt's speech.

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I was introduced to Rand via Terry's books, Skywalker. I am also part of a community of his fans, and an admin on his web site.

Terry's own favorite novel is The Romantic Manifesto. He has been a fan of Rand for 30 years. The Wizard's Rules are meant to be paraphrasal of her core values("The only sovereign I can allow to rule me is reason") as well as some of his personal philosophical views. I don't think he refers to himself as an Objectivist, however. Much like myself, there are certain topics where he would not seem to be in complete concordance. For example, consider how many times Richard sacrifices himself for the sake of others...

Faith of the Fallen is probably his best book, and certainly reminiscent of Rand's writing. By Naked Empire, he has almost completely stepped outside of mere fantasy writing in favor of being philosophically didactic (to no small outcry from the Sword-and-Sorcery sycophants, who feel he is being more pedantic).

But he is still one of my favorite authors. I find reading philosophal treatises tedious; books like Atlas and the Sword of Truth series add a little sugar to help the medicine go down... ;)

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Feldblum - you like George RR Martin? That's great. I love his books. Martin focuses on humans and the moral conflicts his characters face, instead of the usual "sword and sorcery" crap. He creates some amazing heroes, many of whom progress from moral uncertainty to virtue. He also has a very modern and vivid writing style that makes his stuff more gripping. But I thought most objectivists would dislike it, because it's not very overtly philosophical, and the heroes often get stuck in some terrible situations.

Scowler - I can understand no being "in complete concordance" with rand's views and thus technically NOt an objectivist - this is my situation as well. But I think it's clear that Goodkind is in agreement with rand's core values, especially in terms of Aesthetics. I haven't read any of his stuff since faith of the fallen came out, but I'm intrigued by your recommendation and I'll check his more recent works. Thanks.

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I didn't think Pillars of Creation was very good either - it seemed really irrelevant to the rest of the books. I'm told that some of the stuff that happens in that book will become very important in the later books, though. (Not that that excuses a good writer putting out a mediocre book, but it does mean it's probably not one to skip if you're reading the whole series.)

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I've read the first five volumes in the Sword of Truth series, so I guess I haven't gotten to the ones where Goodkind is more clearly Objectivist. The one I just finished reading, Soul of the Fire, seemed to be parodying the Clintons rather closely.

While I appreciate the heroism of the main characters, I really don't like the extreme emphasis on magic. Soul of the Fire's premise is that the world they live in would self destruct without magic. They dare not let it go out of existence, therefore. I can not understand why it is necessary to inject magic into the story at all. Why could it not simply be several kingdoms at war with each other, without magic? Of course, then it would not be fantasy. I guess I just don't like fantasy.

Another problem I have with the series is that it seems to be, literally, the neverending story. Will it never end? He seems to be milking it for all it's worth, and to me, it isn't worth anywhere near eight volumes, let alone whatever number of volumes it finally comes out to. It seems more like a saga, to me, and not a novel at all. It's like reading history, with every plodding detail narrated at length---at great length. Every volume is 500 pages or more.

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Wow, Kitty, I guess you haven't read much fantasy. Compared to most of the crap in that genre, Goodkind's magic is toned down, and his emphasis on the history of his world is minimal. As to "milking the series for all it's worth," I believe he announced a three part concluding volume to debut in January. Master Scowler wold probably have more knowledge about this than I. Also, if you want to try a fantasy with minimal magic, which pretty much just is "several kingdoms at war with each other," try george RR martin's "song of ice and fire" series. It's great, but much less explicitly philosophical than Goodkind, and Martin loves to get his heroes into some terrible situations. But I'm confident they'll triumph in the end. Also, that series has a set number of volumes - it's supposed to conclude after 6 books (three have been written and the fourth is on its way).

Just a question for the others: why is pillars of creation so bad?

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I rather enjoyed "The Pillars of Creation." Most of his reviewers complain on Amazon.com that the only reason that they hate it is because it doesn't involve the main characters from the past books. I didn't mind that at all.

"Naked Empire" is a great book as well.

Master Scowler: I have yet to see Richard sacrifice himself for anything that he does not value. The fact that he would die for the people he loves isn't the kind of immoral self-sacrifice that objectivists distaste, which is altruism. Richard Rahl is hardly altruistic in Goodkind's novels, if that is what you're suggesting.

His next book is entitled "Chain Fire," and is part of a 3-part conclusion to the Sword of Truth series. It should be released in Jan 05.

I used to be a part of his website for awhile. I got kind of bored with it though. Most of the people on the site weren't exactly rational, and it made me feel sick that some of their eyes actually took in Terry's books.

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The only other fantasy I've read is Lord of the Rings, and there is a great deal less emphasis on magic in that than in Goodkind's series. Frodo has the great ring of power, and the whole plot revolves around not using it. The purpose is to destroy it. All the major characters are tempted to use it (Gandalf, Elrond, Aragorn, Galadriel, Faramir), and only the moral weakling Boromir actually tries to take if from Frodo. In that sense, LotR is greatly superior to Goodkind's books.

George R.R. Martin's books sound interesting, though.

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Goodkind uses magic in his novels as symbols. He uses them to reference objectivist principles. He also uses it to mirror modern day technology. One example would be the journey books. He got the idea for them from the use of email.

Another example would be his use of prophecy in his books. He utilizes it to outline the dangers of contradictions.

Everything in his book is laced with objectivist principles. Most people just don't read deep enough, or just don't get it. He has mentioned this many times in his interviews as well.

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Soul of the Fire's premise is that the world they live in would self destruct without magic.
No offense, Kitty Hawk, but if that's all you got from it, then you missed the point entirely. The point of that particular aspect of SotF was quite clearly stated in the Wizard's Second Rule: "The greatest harm can come from the best of intentions". This is a paraphrase of "check your premises".

I believe he announced a three part concluding volume to debut in January.

Naked Empire was the first of three books on his remaining contract with Tor. I haven't heard that the third will end the series, personally. But I will concur with Kitty Hawk on this one. It's time to move on...

I have yet to see Richard sacrifice himself for anything that he does not value.

When Goodkind first released Wizard's First Rule, he was a different person. He will deny this, but that matters not. WFR irrefutably has a much different flavor than does Naked Empire. If you read his interviews, so does Terry. He was more "moderate" when he first came on the scene. Now he is treading the fine line of pedantic Randroid.

Pay very close attention to two things: The Keeper and Creator for one, and Richard's relationship with the D'Harans for another. He learned some very important lessons in D'Hara, not all of which Terry has yet addressed. I think the loyalty of the Mord Sith is still rationally questionable, as is the devotion of the D'Harans to the Lord Rahl (viz the logical errors of those who invested in D'Anconia's copper mines...) I'm waiting for Terry to resolve these topics; and I will be smugly validated if he doesn't...

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Pay attention to the Creator and the Keeper? What am I supposed to be looking for? Pay attention to the bond to Richard? Again, for what? What very important lessons did he learn, and why should I pay very special attention to the Keeper and Creator, and for what reason. What valuable knowledge have you aquired about these things that I am missing?

I do admit that he basically preaches the principles of objectivism in his latter novels as Ayn Rand did in "Atlas Shrugged".

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I've read the first two books because they were reccomended to me by my boyfriend, and I lent him Atlas Shrugged in return for copies of Goodkind's The Wizard's First Rule and Stone of Tears. We started noticing right away the similar themes and went to Goodkind's offical fan-site. They have a very in-depth forum and it is moderated by other readers, to discuss themes and concepts. There are also occaisonal chats with Goodkind himself, and in one interview transcript he is asked about Rand's influence and I believe he places her as his strongest influence and deems her one of the greatest minds of the 20th century or something in that vein. (These aren't direct quotes because it's been some time since I read the article). The site is:

www.terrygoodkind.com

The forum there is called the Journey Book.

I hope I didn't double/echo post... I don't have enough time online to read the other replies.

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No offense, Kitty Hawk, but if that's all you got from it, then you missed the point entirely. The point of that particular aspect of SotF was quite clearly stated in the Wizard's Second Rule: "The greatest harm can come from the best of intentions". This is a paraphrase of "check your premises".
I agree that was his point, but I think he did a poor job of illustrating it. It ended up sounding like a typical bit of environmentalist scare-mongering. One example was that if the plants around a certain river lost their magic, the river would be poisoned (because the plants had filtered out the poison), animals that drank from the river would die, people would lose their livestock, and it cascades until all the world is dead. Just as enviros try to make it sound like the world will end any time some sub-species (like the gray squirrel with the white stripe on his head and the 6 inch tail and a twinkle in its eye) has his habitat disrupted.

Goodkind uses magic in his novels as symbols. He uses them to reference objectivist principles. He also uses it to mirror modern day technology. One example would be the journey books. He got the idea for them from the use of email.

Well, I don't see the point of mirroring modern day technology in a story set in a medieval society. That's just an anachronism. Carrier pigeons would have made more sense than a magical form of email.

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Well I think based on Rand's philosophy, Richard's "self-sacrifices" can be seen in terms of him doing things for people he values, because it's worth it to him to help those people. That's not altruism in the pure sense.

Scowler, it sounds like you've got a problem with Terry's current outlook. "Pedantic Randroid" is pretty harsh. That said, I definitely agree that in his old interviews, he sounds much less like an Objectivist, and in his current ones, he sounds like Leonard Peikoff. The Keeper and the Creator in WFR and SoT are pretty serious judeo-christian allusions and don't fit in with what he's writing now. As such he seems to have completely abandoned them. I agree that he probably won't be able to resolve the conflicts between his earlier and later novels by the series's end.

My only problem with the sword of truth series is this disjointedness. The books are all over the place - Pillars of creation, as you note, doesn't even have much of the main characters! And the wizard's rules don't all fit together - in particular the "magic of forgiveness" one doesn't fit in with the hard-line Objectivism he seems to subscribe to now.

By the way, do you read any other fantasy?

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I used to read the Sowrd of Truth series several years ago (before I discovered Ayn Rand), and really enjoyed the books. This was probably due to their philosophical nature; science fiction & fantasy literature is what sparked my interest in philosophy in the first place.

I'm not sure why I stopped reading them - I probably got sidetracked by other books. Now that I know Goodkind is an Objectivist, I will be sure to pick them back up!

I also really enjoy "The Wheel of Time" series by Robert Jordan, Herbert's "Dune Chronicles," and Heinlein (especially "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress").

Does anyone have comments on these?

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Could never get past a couple of chapters in Dune, and I've tried to read it about a half-dozen times...

That's a real shame. The series as a whole is a masterpiece. It's a must for anyone interested in philosophy. Most of the *meat* is held in the fourth book, "God Emporer of Dune," whic could conceivably be read independently from the others. Although the last two, "Heretics of Dune" and "Chapterhouse: Dune" may be of most interest to Objectivists, as they focus a lot on the philosophy of Herbert's Mentat logicians, and the pitfalls of the Bene Gesserit's mysticism.

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I was introduced to Rand via Terry's books, Skywalker.  I am also part of a community of his fans, and an admin on his web site.

I should have known!

When I first saw your nick I thought of Goodkind, who likes the word scowl like no author I've ever read. :)

I started reading the Sword of Truth series last year. I read all of it before the last volume (Naked Empire) was published. I ordered it as soon as it came out and read it too.

I wonder - what are your favorite books in the series? Mine is currently Stone of Tears and Faith of the Fallen. I think Goodkind's war scense are the best I've ever read in ficiton. They prove a deep research on historical battles. Sometimes I recognize Hanibal's tactics, or scenes that seemed to pop out of the war of the Greeks and the Persians. But Goodkind of course manages to create something new, which is what makes his writing great.

I am sorry to say, though, that I think the last 2 novel are far from his best. Naked Empire is not perfectly integrated... there are too many abstract ideas and too little plot to support them.

Still - his mastery of suspense is amazing.

I remember very few books that held me like SOT. I could not stop reading, even at the cost of studying for my exams. I could hardly focus on my other reading between volumes.

My friends who read the books after me have had the same experience. Did you experience something similar?

(I'm specifically interested in these question as an aspiring fiction writer)

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I started the first book as a break from academics before midterms, and finished the whole series within a week and a half.

Woah, you read fast, man! :D

It took me around two months to read the entire 7 books, and I thought I was really fast!

Well, you have to discount the few days in between where I searched the bookstores for the next volume. It's a little harder to find SOT in Israel. They usually hold only the first few.

Matt - why do you think SOT is so suspenseful?

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