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Lord of the Rings

Terry Goodkind

Newest Release - The Law of Nines - in trade paper August 31, 2010.

Author Terry Goodkind published his first Sword of Truth series novel, Wizard's First Rule, in 1994, and his books have remained on the fantasy bestseller lists ever since. One of the most popular fantasy series in the world, the Sword of Truth books have captured the hearts and minds of readers worldwide.

Amazingly, these are Terry Goodkind's only books. Apparently, as Goodkind was working on the home he and his wife, Jeri, have built in the forests of the northeast, the character of Kahlan came to him and there evolved in his mind the world of the three lands - a world so many readers now share.

As with many favorite fantasy authors, Goodkind is not particularly adept at writing per se (too much long-winded recapping, heavy-handed and pedantic narrative), but his vision and his complete dedication to the world he has created overcome these drawbacks for his many fans. The Sword of Truth novels resonate with innumerable readers and, fortunately, Goodkind seems commited to continuing this series so that fans can expect more books to appear.

These are slow-paced, lengthy novels, and contain a great deal of graphic violence. We strongly suggest you read the books in order, as they tell a continuous story. The following bibliography includes very brief plot summaries of the Sword of Truth books.

Series Synopsis: True to the genre, a young man, raised in a quiet backwater, learns he is destined to lead the free peoples of the world against the coming darkness. In this case, the darkness is a new world order combining a distaste for magic and the worst clichés of tyrannical, communistic imperialism. Richard finds himself to be 1) the Seeker of Truth with a magic sword, and then 2) the Lord Rahl, leader of D'Hara, and, finally, 3) the first war wizard born in 3,000 years.

Richard falls in love with a young woman named Kahlan, the Mother Confessor of a coalition of kingdoms and people groups called the Midlands. Their love for one another is the bedrock of the series. Goodkind knows what love is and what a real marriage is about. We see the young lovers progress from adolescent longings to true commitment and partnership. I'm impressed at the way Goodkind developed their characters to reflect their strengths and weaknesses and the way they complement one another.

Each book in the series details a new threat, each more challenging than the one before, as Richard and Kahlan jump from the frying pan to the fire to the volcano. Each book also mentions in passing, at least, one of the wizard's rules - which the young couple constantly forget, ignore or deliberately break.

While the Sword of Truth novels lack the wicked humor of Martin or Erikson, or the laugh out loud sort that Jordan mastered, they still have pleasant characters and amusing situations to break the tension. This is a good thing since these books definitely qualify as adult fantasy fiction, not just due to graphic violence, but due to the deeply thoughtful themes Goodkind is trying to illustate.

Several years ago, I picked up one of the books in the middle of the series. Don't even think about doing this. The books must be read in order, not just to know what the heck is going on, but to appreciate the improvements in Goodkind's writing and the maturing of the characters over time. When I recently restarted from the beginning, I was initially put off by the slow pace, yet slowly drawn into a very satisfying relationship with Kahlan and Richard and the other characters. I can recommend the Sword of Truth series wholeheartedly.

Buy Sword of Truth Books by Terry Goodkind
Wizard's First Rule
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The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind

Wizard's First Rule (Sword of Truth, Book 1)

The evil wizard Darken Rahl must be stopped in his efforts to take over the three lands. Richard Cypher, unassuming woodsman and soon to be wielder of the Sword of Truth, is introduced as the hero on a quest to prevent Rahl's acquisition of a box (needed to consummate Rahl's horrid plan), with the aid of magician Zedd (unbeknownst First Wizard and Richard's grandfather) and the Mother Confessor, Kahlan Amnell (Richard's true love), among others. A detailed introduction to the characters and recent history of the New World.
Stone of Tears
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Stone of Tears (Sword of Truth, Book 2)

Richard Rahl aka Cypher battles his father's spirit with his new found magic and the power of the sword, while Kahlan, in her role as last Mother Confessor, leads the Midland armies against the forces of the Order. We discover there is a deeper evil beyond Darken Rahl, which will have to be dealt with eventually. We are introduced to the Old World, the sorceress Sisters of the Light, serving the Creator, and evil witch Sisters of the Dark, sworn to the Keeper. Richard gains the allegiance of the Baka Tau Mana, fulfilling their prophecies. A strong second outing.
Blood of the Fold
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Blood of the Fold (Sword of Truth, Book 3)

Book three contains a great deal of bloody action and moves along more quickly than the first two of the series (one of the shortest books). Focusing closely on the activities of Richard, Kahlan and Zedd, and less on the previous world-building, this is a terrific read for those who are already into the series and know what's going on. Richard and Kahlan are separated, as they each fight enemies in their own way, and Kahlan's strength and power become even more evident. As Goodkind's ability to express himself improves, we are treated to some interesting insights into madness and the extraordinary lengths the human mind will travel to justify itself. A treatise on self-righteousness not to be missed.
Temple of the Winds
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Temple of the Winds (Sword of Truth, Book 4)

The evil dreamwalker, Emperor Jagang, head of the Old World's Imperial Order, is alive and kicking and out to destroy Richard in this fourth installment. Meanwhile, a magical, deadly plague is killing thousands and the only way to stop it involves a perilous journey to the Temple of the Winds. Richard matures a great deal in this book, vastly increasing his knowledge of war wizardry and learning to trust his instincts. Fans wonder: will the marriage between Richard and Kahlan ever take place? More than up to par, there is no flagging in the series so far.
Soul of the Fire
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Soul of the Fire (Sword of Truth, Book 5)

In book four, Kahlan has accidently loosed the destructive power of the three chimes, chaotic elementals who now are killing people for sport and disrupting the magic that protects and serves the lands. They must be contained before the world is destroyed - but our heroes and heroines must guard against the threat from the Imperial Order at the same time. We are introduced to a new Midlands country - Anderith, and a lengthy lesson on one of Goodkind's favorite themes - people are stupid. Incredibly stupid. Mind-bendingly stupid. Richard, however, is not stupid, nor is Kahlan. Thank the Creator. Richard makes great strides in this novel towards discovering the extent of his powers, the underlying concepts of magic, his role as the Seeker and a war wizard in upcoming world events, and his understanding of human psychology. It ain't pretty.
Faith of the Fallen
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Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, Book 6)

Richard, Kahlan and Cara spend some months in the distant western mountains while Kahlan slowly recovers from her severe injuries. Their respite doesn't last long and they are soon separated once again when Richard is kidnapped by the Dark Sister Nicci. She spells Kahlan to herself - any harm to Nicci and Kahlan feels the same, including death. Nicci has a thing for Richard. The in-depth psychological profile Goodkind provides in backtracking to relate Nicci's life story is a powerful portrait of guilt, particularly religious guilt, and the self-loathing it can produce. An indelible example of an abuse victim accepting such abuse as well-deserved. Can Nicci be saved?

Meanwhile, Kahlan must lead the armies in defense of the lands against the Imperial Order - in spite of Richard's vision that all is in vain. The comtemporary parallels of people unwilling to see the truth and eager for peace at all costs are made clear.

As the story progresses, it becomes more and more a political treatise - a fantasy version of Atlas Shrugged - as Goodkind almost seems to channel Ayn Rand. Who is John Galt? Who is Richard Cypher?
Pillars of Creation
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The Pillars of Creation (Sword of Truth, Book 7)

Rather than a continuation of the series, this novel tells the stories of Darken Rahl's other living children, particularly Jennsen, Richard's younger half-sister. To balance the magic of always fathering a gifted Rahl, some of the Rahl descendents are completely, or pristinely, ungifted - not only unable to use magic, but unaffected by magic as well. Along with all his forebears, Darken Rahl attempted to kill his children, but these ungifted ones were better able to hide. Now, Jennsen is convinced that Richard, too, wants her dead, but after a lifetime of running and hiding, she is determined to turn the tables and go after him instead, with Jagang's aid.
Debt of Bones
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Debt of Bones

This very short novella (128 pages) is a prequel to the Sword of Truth series. In the time before the Boundaries, First Wizard Zedd, mired in grief and bitterness, is besought by young Abby to protect her family and community. A touching story, a must-have for fans. Reads like young adult fiction.
Naked Empire
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Naked Empire (Sword of Truth, Book 8)
by Terry Goodkind

Following Richard's reunion with his younger sister, the weary travellers find themselves entreated to help a distant land throw off the clutches of the Imperial Order. Unable to convince Richard to aid them voluntarily, he is poisoned and it becomes a race against time to find the antidote and free these pristinely ungifted and rather unbelieveably naive people from the clutches of the Order and their leader in those parts, a dark wizard recrafted into an old-time weapon by Jagang's Sisters of the Dark. On top of that, Richard is having those pesky headaches again, warning him that he's reached a new level in the use of his gift.

The main point to this particular book seemed to be as yet another platform for Goodkind to continue his lecture on the merits of enlightened self-interest, reason grounded in reality as the only yardstick by which to measure truth, and the futility and self-destructiveness of pacifism. However, now that a large number of pristinely ungifted people have been let loose into the greater world, the downfall of magic is definitely hastened.
Chainfire
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Chainfire (Sword of Truth, Book 9) (Chainfire Trilogy, Book 1)
by Terry Goodkind

"After being gravely injured in battle, Richard awakes to discover Kahlan missing. To his disbelief, no one remembers the woman he is frantically trying to find. Worse, no one believes that she really exists, or that he was ever married. Alone as never before, he must find the woman he loves more than life itself....if she is even still alive. If she was ever even real." book description.

The book description says it pretty well. Kahlan has been removed from everyone's minds, from all prophecy as well, and she herself has amnesia. She is absent from the whole book (spoiler: until the very end), which is mostly about everyone thinking Richard has lost his mind. Somehow, he must find out what happened and convince the others that it has happened.
Phantom by Terry Goodkind
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Phantom (Sword of Truth, Book 10) (Chainfire Trilogy, Book 2)
by Terry Goodkind

This is one of the best books in the series, moving along at a faster clip than most of the others and with a bit less superfluous wordiness (though, I still found myself skimming now and then). Kahlan is suffering from amnesia, but otherwise she is her usual resourceful and feisty self. First enslaved by the Dark Sisters, she now finds herself enslaved to Jagang, who intends to unleash the powers of the Boxes of Orden himself.

Meanwhile, Richard has had his gift stolen by an evil Witch Woman, who seems more than a match for Shota. In an effort to get to Kahlan, he has "volunteered" to play in a Ja' La team that is traveling to Jagang's camp to compete in a tournament there. The rest of the good guys are finally on board and studying frantically to find both a means of countering the Chainfire spell on Kahlan and preventing Jagang from successfully using the Boxes of Orden. All while magic is still being corrupted and destroyed by the contamination from the Chimes. Nathan returns to the People's Palace to serve as the protective bond for the D'Harans while Richard's gift is out of action. Best of all, Rachel returns, as delightful and daring as always.
Confessor by Terry Goodkind
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Confessor (Sword of Truth, Book 11) (Chainfire Trilogy, Book 3)
by Terry Goodkind

The concluding novel of the series moves along at a quick pace as the good guys hustle to find out what they need to know to about the Chainfire spell and the Boxes of Orden. Richard has infiltrated Jagang's camp and is working towards rescuing Kahlan. There is some really fast-paced and exciting Ja'La action - some of the best narrative in the book. Nicci is recaptured by Jagang and comes to appreciate Kahlan for herself. The ending is well-done, ties up the loose ends satisfactorily, and sets the scene for the new series Goodkind is now writing. I won't give any spoilers here.

As far as Goodkind's overriding worldview, as expressed throughout the Sword of Truth series, I found it ironic that he espouses a philosophy of enlightened self-interest based on reason, while all the magic of the books is driven by emotion, particularly righteous anger. At one point, Goodkind expresses the belief that emotion itself is shaped and, if necessary, redirected, by reason, a view I think is unproven at best, backwards at worst. It was also strange to me that he disses faith, while creating a magical world that embraces an afterlife and the immortality of the soul. Not only that, but his afterlife contains elements of reward and punishment based on the usual good v. evil model. The harshest sentiment involves Richard's actions at the very end, where he plays God and denies people of faith the very thing they desire, while keeping it for those who proclaim no interest in anything beyond our earthy lives. I thought that was pretty cruel and, frankly, hypocritical.

Overall, this was a good series and well worth the time. As far as Goodkind's political and humanistic views are concerned, your mileage will vary depending on your own take on human nature.
The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind
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The Law of Nines
by Terry Goodkind

"Turning twenty-seven may be terrifying for some, but for Alex, a struggling artist living in the midwestern United States, it is cataclysmic. Inheriting a huge expanse of land should have made him a rich and happy man; but something about this birthday, his name, and the beautiful woman whose life he just saved, has suddenly made him—and everyone he loves—into a target. A target for extreme and uncompromising violence . . . In Alex, Terry Goodkind brings to life a modern hero in a whole new kind of high-octane thriller." - book description.

In this new novel, a descendent of the Rahls (presumably through Jensen) is living in our boring, bland and non-magical world. But not for long, as he is soon visited by a surpisingly beautiful blonde from the other world. The Law of Nines could have been an exciting, tightly written, action-packed thriller. Instead, Goodkind wanted a 500-page novel, which he accomplished through using a third-grade reading level vocabulary and short, choppy sentences repeated ad nauseam as though we readers are seriously mentally deficient and unable to catch what might be going on. Good plot. Lousy writing. His politics as usual.