Buy on Amazon • Series Reading Order •
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.
Review by Travis Starnes
Wizards First Rule follows the exploits of Richard, the soon to be seeker, and Kahlen, the confessor, as they embark on an epic journey to save their world from an evil wizard who set on taking over the world. This is the first book in a series of contemporary fantasy novels in the vein of JR Tolkien.
I want to start off by saying I did actually enjoy reading this book, although the following review might make you think otherwise. Yes, this book does have some things going against it but in spite all of those I enjoyed my time reading it and that is all that really matters. I rated this book a 4 out of 5 purely on my emotional connection to it, and I do recognize the large number of fantasy readers who feel the structural and technical problems with the book can’t be overlooked. To them I say this book was still a fun read even if it is not perfect.
For starters you can’t help but like Richard. He is sort of an uber-every man, which seems like a contradiction in terms but Goodkind somehow pulls that off. I found it easy to sympathize with him and I was in his corner from day one. Some of his supporting cast also really pull this book out for me. Zed is entirely lovable and the relationship between Chase and his kids really hit me as a parent. Unfortunately not all the characters reach these levels. The villains are so ridiculously evil that it stretches the bounds of believability. It seems unlikely they would have been able to reach the lofty heights that they did in the story. Also the love story is incredibly weak and juvenile. Richard and Khalan go from just meeting to being totally in love after spending hardly any time together. It is quite possibly the least convincing and moving love story of all time. My shear apathy at how this part of the book plays made me generally dislike Khalan overall as a character, which isn’t 100% fair as she does have some enjoyable moments outside of their childishly written love story.
That is the main problem with this book. The writing is fairly childish. I don’t mean technically how it is written, although it will not win any awards for its prose, but instead the structure, plot, and overall tone of the book. Much of the plot is highly formulaic and derivative of other well-known fantasy titles. Very little of this book feels fresh and original. The world building seems very shallow and when they explain the past and how things came to be the way they are, the events either come off as poorly sketched out, uninteresting, or just bad. The journey itself also makes little sense. The characters make intuitive leaps that seem more author ex machine then clever plotting. The twists are telegraphed a mile away and are generally uninteresting when they do show up. The pacing is pretty solid, I will give that to Goodkind, and the book doesn’t really drag at any point.
The book is very long for a fantasy novel but still reads quickly. Over all the writing level of this book reaches the level of mediocre young adult fiction, which would be fine if that was the targeted audience, but it wasn’t. There are a lot of very adult topics in this book and it is entirely inappropriate for the young adult audience, which makes the juvenile plotting and dialogue stand out so much more.
Like I said at the beginning this review may sound like I did not like the book, which isn’t true. The characters of Richard and Zed really worked for me and every time they were “on screen”, which was pretty much the entire book, they were enough to keep me reading. Goodkind managed a weird feat in that he wrote I book I did not like but still enjoyed reading it. Not a situation I would have thought possible.