Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

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Wizard’s First Rule is the second to last book from my Thrift Store Fantasy Reading Challenge.  Almost done!  I had never heard of this book, nor the author, Terry Goodkind.  It can be a little intimidating starting a thick book with no clue about whether or not it will be a good one.

Wizard’s First Rule is an epic fantasy adventure story in which Richard (the Seeker) has to defeat the evil Darken Rahl.  He is aided by a beautiful but powerful woman, a wizard, and a few others.  The majority of the story is taken up by their journey to find a magical object which must be hidden from Rahl, and by the many scrapes they find themselves in.

I am still conflicted about this book. Was it good? Was it bad? Did it mess with my brain? Probably so. There are parts of it that I really like and parts of it that made my stomach churn.

The frequent graphic violence (including sexual violence), is just so overwhelming. If that had been watered down dramatically, I think I might have liked the novel more. Of course the writing isn’t stellar, but it’s hard to fairly assess anything else in the book when all you can think about is a dominatrix, a pedophile, and people’s heads cracking open like melons.

What I liked:

  • I liked the variety and different types of characters.  It seems like there was a lot of thought and imagination that went into the diverse inhabitants of this fantasy world.  You get to see people who are pure and people who are quite diabolical.
  • I liked that they were going on an epic adventure and that their journey took many detours (it reminded me of The Lord of the Rings quest).
  • The beginning and end of the book.  The last third of the book, in particular, really picks up in plot twists and complexity.  Even though there were parts of this book that I didn’t like, I will probably read the next in the series because the end of the book was an interesting segue into the next.

What I didn’t like:

  • The main characters seemed almost bipolar at times, going from saying they would protect someone with their life one minute to holding a sword against that person’s throat the next.  Real people don’t act that way, but hey, maybe they were under extreme stress?
  • I felt like the book could have been shortened by not repeating phrases over and over.
  • One of the characters seems to me to be almost a rip-off of the Gollum character from Lord of the Rings.
  • I understand that terrible things happen in war, but personally I was very uncomfortable with how candid the author was about things like sexual exploitation and gory violence.
  • The middle of the book was more difficult to get through–I had to force myself to keep reading.  It seemed like it was lacking any urgency in keeping the story going.

So, there you have it–my mixed feelings on this book.  I feel like there are definitely people out there who would really dislike this book because of some of the intense subject matter.  If you’re uncomfortable with the occult, gory violence, or sexual themes, I would recommend you skip this one.

Possible Objections:

  • A lot of violence & gore
  • Not very subtle references to sexual violence against women & children
  • Sexual themes, including S&M and references to anatomy
  • 2 instances of the b-word
  • Occult themes

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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