Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sword of Truth series review

When I read Wizards first rule what would have been four or five years back I was impressed. Sure there were some rough edges but this was Goodkind’s first book those could be addressed. The story was relatively original, the writing was solid and the characters were interesting. It seems I was too optimistic.

Books two, three and four can be summed up as the ‘invent a new villain for Richard to save the world from’ books. This usually involved adding a new area to the world where this threat originated from. In sum this was the result of poor plotting, giving very little thought to future installments to concentrate on the now. It also illustrates poor world building skills. The first book gives the impression that the midlands is filled with a variety of magical creatures, yet very little mention is made of these in subsequent books. There was also an element of plagiarism, the sisters of the light introduced in the second book were so similar to the way that Aes Sedai in Wheel of Time are portrayed and organized that they had to have been copied.

Book five was bad, there is no way around it. One POV was from a character who had no redeemable qualities. That is a feature of Goodkind’s characters they are either very good or very evil, there is no grey whatsoever. Characters can however move from one state to another, for example the incredibly evil Nicci turns incredibly good.

Book six, Faith of the Fallen, was by far the strongest in the series and I really enjoyed it. This was the first book Goodkind’s put forward his (Aryan Rand’s) philosophy and by far the book
where it is best articulated in the series. It didn’t feel like it was being forced down my throat and the character Nicc intrigued me.

Book seven was okay but the series went down hill rapidly from there. The last four books can be summed up as Richard giving long, elaborate, yet poorly articulated lectures. The quality in the writing really deteriorates as well. In the end Goodkind turned his series into a platform for the seemingly perfect Richard and Kahlan to spout his philosophy. Yet even this is unsuccessful as incidentally these characters are huge hypocrites. Somewhere in the middle books Kahlan orders that her half-brother be executed, the reason being that he is following the orders of his full-sister the queen of a small country in withdrawing their troops from the central army to protect their own country. So much for the rights of everyone to live their lives as they see fit (as long as they don’t impinge on other’s same right) and to take responsibility for themselves. It seems almost as arbitrary as something Jagang, the evil villain, would do. At the end of the series Richard dooms future generations to having no afterlife for the sins of their forefathers. A tad evil and overkill wouldn’t you say? Interestingly the more moderate character of Zed is appalled by such actions, especially the former, highlighting the protagonists hypocrisy. I don’t think the author did this intentionally either which is kind of interesting in itself.

The worst part about this series is that the author never smoothes those rough edges, his writing ability has in fact regressed by the final volume. In sum I would say that the
Sword of Truth is a below average fantasy series that is marred by poor plotting. It is a
shame the few decent books were dragged down by the rest. 5.5/10

Wizards first Rule (7/10)
Stone of Tears (6/10)
Blood of the Fold (6/10)
Temple of the Winds (6/10)
Soul of Fire (5/10)
Faith of the Fallen (8/10)
The Pillars of Creation (6/10)
Naked Empire (5/10)
Chainfire (5/10)
Phantom (5/10)Confessor (4.5/10)


  1. what the hell are you talking about. these books are all 10 out of 10 except for pillars of creation. everything ties together perfectly, terry goodkind did an amazing job writing these, it may somewhat ramble continuesly by making like 11 books, but they all make perfect sense and connect to one another in a Perfect sequence. you no nothing craig or whoever commented above this

  2. @ glacial2 Firstly, I have yet to read a 10/10 book. In my opinion for a book to score that high it would have to be perfect. The Sword of Truth novels are far from perfect. Though everyone is entitled to their own opinion.Secondly I suggest you branch out a bit in what you read. You might be surprised at what you find and will put Goodkind's work in perspective.

  3. hmm... a bit scathing i think by the reviewer. The series is not perfect, in my opinion. The element which best exemplifies this is the fact that Goodkind does in fact abandon all of the magical creatures that inhabit the midlands. He replaces them by opening up the world, which i liked, but also fails to complete the previous idea in some respects. I also disagre with the comment about book 5, Soul of the Fire, which is in my opinion a great deviation from the main themes in the book. I really liked the political approach as it offered another viewpoint for which the reader could look at the world of the story.. I think that blood of the fold and faith of the fallen are the two standout climax points in the series, unfortunately with 5 books left goodkind never reached those heights again. I would give the series an 8/10.. very solid, very interesting, very thought provking... also very long lol

  4. I really liked all the books. Yes, "Pillars of Creation" was a little bit of a drag from the rest of the series but it was still enjoyable in it's own respects. Anyway, i've been trying to collect all the hardcover sword of truth books with the dust jackets that are in the photo display above, but have been having a hard time finding a few. Still looking for "Blood of the Fold" through "Naked Empire". If anyone can help me find those dust jacket copies I would be greatful.

  5. Good series. What's important is that the story is something that can hold its readers. It definately does. I was disappointed in the fact that the protagonists never found a way to defeat the villains militarily....that could have made it even more interesting. I also felt that the search for the confessor narrowed down the scope of the series somewhat. The Sword of Truth novels gave me hours of entertainment.

  6. Hah, I could write an essay on how plagiarized the SoT is from the Wheel of Time series.