Monday, July 16, 2012

Reviews from an HBN (Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind)

Well, it's not one of the movie reviews I'd been talking about, but...

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of his father, a mysterious woman, Kahlan Amnell, appears in Richard Cypher's forest sanctuary seeking help . . . and more. His world, his very beliefs, are shattered when ancient debts come due with thundering violence.

In a dark age it takes courage to live, and more than mere courage to challenge those who hold dominion, Richard and Kahlan must take up that challenge or become the next victims. Beyond awaits a bewitching land where even the best of their hearts could betray them. Yet, Richard fears nothing so much as what secrets his sword might reveal about his own soul. Falling in love would destroy them--for reasons Richard can't imagine and Kahlan dare not say.
In their darkest hour, hunted relentlessly, tormented by treachery and loss, Kahlan calls upon Richard to reach beyond his sword--to invoke within himself something more noble. Neither knows that the rules of battle have just changed . . . or that their time has run out.
This is the beginning. One book. One Rule. Witness the birth of a legend.


My review as posted on GoodReads:

First off, I loved the TV series that was based off this, and was really annoyed when it went off the air. So naturally, it made me want to read the books. It also made me nervous about reading the books, because who knew what might have been changed between the two and who knew how disappointing the books themselves might really be (especially after seeing the kind of reviews that said, quote: "Don't touch!").

Turns out I was nervous for no reason, so far as I'm concerned. I was already biased in favor of this, but I liked it even better than the show! There were some aspects that were done in more detail that couldn't carry over into a TV series and some of the things that got on my nerves about the show made more sense here. I mean, apart from the whole Richard-and-Kahlan-instant-friends-for-life thing...

Let me start with Richard Cypher. As I said, already biased in his favor. After reading this, he's earned his spot as one of my favorite fictional characters. Living as a woods guide and believing magic only exists in stories, he's shocked one day when he helps rescue Kahlan, a woman with a mysterious and terrible power, learns his old friend Zedd is really a great wizard, and is named the Seeker, wielder of the Sword of Truth. It's Richard's duty to defeat Darken Rahl, an evil ruler in far-away D'Hara bent on world domination (heck, what evil ruler doesn't have that as an ultimate goal? I mean, really?). Richard is smart, clever, brave, and infinitely frustrated because he's fallen in love with Kahlan, but the secret of her power would keep them apart for good. There's not much to say about Richard. He's like most other fantasy heroes, but I still loved him and still cheered him on.

I have to say a few words about Kahlan. I thought she was great in the series, but I think she was a bit more appealing here. She came across as cool and untouchable in a few parts, but that's only to be expected. She's a Confessor, a woman with the power to make anyone she touches fall in love with her at the cost of their self and identity (hence the problem with Richard). But between those times, she felt more accessible. I got more of a sense of her loneliness and yearning to be an ordinary woman. But still, you don't mess around with Kahlan, especially when she's in the Con Dar! She'll do whatever she has to to help defeat Rahl, even if it means taking her own life. A bit dramatic, but dedicated.

I'm not going to lie to you, quite a bit of this felt like a hodge-podge of other fantasy epics, but some of it was pretty original...or at least the packaging for it made it look that way. Evil bad guy? Check. Handsome, capable hero easy to fall in love with? Check. Magical sword, wizard in disguise, and dragon to boot? Got all those too. That being said, I was still entertained throughout the whole thing, and knowing what was going to happen before it actually happened (partly through the show, partly because some of it was just predictable) didn't spoil the fun.

There was, however, one bit that knocked me stupid, and that was when Richard finally crossed paths with Denna, the Mord-Sith. Now, I already knew Denna was a nasty piece of work, but the whole part with Richard's torture and "training" was so intense and so horrible it really hurt! I don't mean horrible as in no good, but horrible as in I was bursting out "Oh my God!" about every two paragraphs. THAT part was definitely not for the faint of heart. But at the end of it all, it was so strange, because it was like being trained right along with Richard and slowly becoming Denna's puppet. How he finally broke free from her power was gut-wrenching, in a good way.

Derivative? Maybe. One I'm still getting for my personal collection? Of course. Yet another series I've gotten myself dragged into? You betcha!

Your humble book nerd,

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