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Book Review: Wizard's First Rule
What defines an epic fantasy? Is it the 700+ page count, the black and white villain, or the average farm-boy that all of us can identify with? Maybe it's the party of adventurers, consisting of an elf, a dwarf, and a wizard who refer to people and places that we can't pronounce. Personally I would not define epic fantasy this way. Pigeon-holing the genre would be a disservice to books like Wizard's First Rule, which manage to bring something new to the table while still paying homage to the greats that came before it.
We begin Wizard’s First Rule through the eyes of Richard Cypher, a woods guide, living in one of the three primary land masses; the Westlands. The other two land masses are the democratic Midlands and the dominering land of D’hara. But it isn’t water or mountains that separate these lands, but a magical boundary that, if entered, will instantly banish the unfortunate soul into the underworld.
Like most fantasies, Richard finds that his simple home life is soon disrupted as a mysterious woman in white appears in the Westlands, claiming that she made it through the boundary. Richard is then quickly instructed that the leader of D'hara, Darken Rahl, is planning to flood his way into the Midlands and Westland and gain power over the world. Sitting on top of this is Richard's sudden realization that he is the 'Seeker of Truth', one of few heroes named by a Wizard and given the Sword of Truth to feret out misdeeds in the land.
What follows is an epic journey back through the boundary and into the Midlands. With only the help of Kahlan, the myserious woman in white, and the village crazy; Zed, Richard must uncover Darken Rahl's plot for world domination and thwart it with what little time is left.
Personally I loved this book. It gave me everything I loved about epic fantasies while keeping the ideas fresh and bringing new locations, creatures and characters to the table.
Terry Goodkind has a great way of exploiting Murphy’s Law and creates a level of suspense that is held most commonly in thriller novels. Whatever the staples of the genre may be, Goodkind manages to keep the reader on his toes to the very ending, which leaves you feeling as if you just went through the journey yourself (in a good way).
The book isn't without its share of flaws. Despite a lot of new and original ideas, we see some
reused ones as well. One particular character to note was Samuel, someone who
had, over time, devolved into a small hunched over creature, who constantly
grabs for the main item in the story. If that isn’t a reference to Gollum then
I don’t know what is. We also see some familiar creatures, like the dragon, but they can easily be overlooked (if you aren't a fan of them) and as the series progresses, Goodkind goes a long way to separating his world from other fantasy offerings.
I also had a few issues with repetitious facial animations. It would seem that these characters do a lot of peering under their eyebrows and smiling just after being described as smiling. It isn't really a bad thing, and it is hardly noticeable, but since it is a habit I myself am trying to break, I couldn’t help but notice it.
So in short, if you are a fan of epics, epic fantasies, or just fantasies, this book is definitely worth checking out.
5 out of 5