The Economic Agendas of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors, Vol. 2 — Terry Goodkind

conanlibertarianTerry Goodkind

I realized that there is one author, at least, who I am totally competent to critique even without the benefits of having his books before me: Terry Goodkind. That’s because you don’t actually need to read The Sword of Truth series to understand what they’re about, you can just go type “libertarian porn” into google and you will probably get the same experience.

Okay, they’re not quite that bad. After all, I did read all of them, and at ~800 pages a pop times 11 novels, that’s 8,800 pages I bothered to get through. Admittedly, that was over the course of 12 years, beginning in seventh grade when I first picked them up because I got bored waiting for Robert Jordan to crank out his next book, and finally ending this past summer when I was studying for the bar, and therefore procrastinating with a Terry Goodkind novel was marginally less frustrating than the BarBri books I was actually supposed to be reading.

But in between the decent chunks of sword-and-sorcery fantasy in The Sword of Truth, Terry Goodkind seizes every possible opportunity to turn his characters into hoarse mouthpieces for the Libertarian War Against Communism. It’s kind of funny, the first dozen times it happens. And then it starts getting annoying, when you find yourself wondering if the speeches were simply copied and pasted from a speech that same character gave two books ago. And then finally by about book 6 or so, every time you see a character launch into a major speech, you just skip ahead six or seven pages until you find where the quote marks stop and everyone goes back to stabbing bad guys.

A rough synopsis of the series [SPOILER ALERT] is that Hank Roark Richard Cypher, a simple woods guide, is actually the leader of the D’Haran Empire, and the beautiful Dagn- Domini- Kahlan has been sent to fetch him. After securing his title as Supreme Commander of the Old World, he then must fight the rampaging horde of liberal democrats in the New World that wish to destroy individualism and promote the idea of from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

Anyway, they all live in a world where it is possible to conquer the forces of evil simply by demonstrating to them your noble, liberty-loving spirit and your adamant refusal to live your life for another.

In one book — no clue where, I’m going to stab at a guess and say somewhere around #5 — Richard makes a statue of a naked woman. This statute is so magnificent that merely by looking at it, you can tell that the woman in the statue is a Fierce Libertarian, and her dedication to her capitalist values inspires all who see it to gape in awe and wish to live up to higher ideals of liberty. Stop me if this is sounding familiar. Oh, that’s right, Howard Roark already made that statue.

It was sort of stupid when Ayn Rand did it, and it is downright riding the short bus when Terry Goodkind does it. C’mon. Not even Michelangelo made statutes so fantastic that everyone who glances upon them understands the precise philosophical views that the sculptor was trying to convey. At least when Heinlein incorporated sculptures into his books (i.e., Rodin’s La Belle Heaulmiere), he chose ones that actually exist and therefore can actually have an emotional impact on the reader.

If Goodkind had actually written the philosophical treatise he imagines his books to be, he’d be guilty of creating strawman arguments that are so absurd they make a Volokh Conspiracy comment thread look like a reasoned and fair minded intellectual exchange. The bad guys in The Sword of Truth are all communist caricatures. They have no normal human emotions, but rather are propelled to their actions only by a fierce hatred of life and freedom; they feverishly believe that their own lives are meaningless, and that only by living for others can they find their true purpose.

The evil soldiers are generally too in love with death and destruction to be reasoned with, but the simple townsfolk — the ones who don’t mean to be evil, but are accidentally evil due to their failure to analyze the communist lessons they have been taught — are more malleable. They only believe in communism until Richard gets a chance to come along and patiently explain to them that, yes, it’s okay to be proud of yourself and to think that your life is worth something. And then they are all instantly Enlightened, and wish to dedicate their own lives to Richard’s cause.

It doesn’t take much to enlighten the peasantfolk, really; one suspects Richard would have had an easier time fighting Emperor Jagang’s horde if he’d simply airdropped thousands of libertarian pamphlets all throughout the New World. For instance, at one point, Richard is able to convert an entire New World town to be Republican voters simply by repairing his front step.

Fine, it was a little more complicated than that, but I don’t have the books here to contradict me, so that’s close enough. But seriously. Richard — who is stranded and anonymous in the New World — is living in Stalingrad or somesuch, and wakes up one morning and goes to fix the broken front step on the porch. The townspeople watch in awe. “Why would you do that?” One of them asks. “Why not wait for someone else to fix the step for you?” “Because,” Richard patiently explains, “I can only control myself. I will do what I can to make my own life better, and not wait for someone to fix it for me.”

And bam, the townspeople Get It, and convert en masse away from communism. Screw this living-for-everyone-else nonsense! My life is valuable! I’m going to go fix another porch step! Let’s go throw a Tea Party!

The most irritating quirk about Goodkind is his inability to understand what it is he’s written. In an online interview, when asked how Sword of Truth differed from other fantasy novels, he answered,

“First of all, I don’t write fantasy. I write stories that have important human themes. They have elements of romance, history, adventure, mystery and philosophy. Most fantasy is one-dimensional. It’s either about magic or a world-building. I don’t do either.”

Okay, Goodkind, let’s count the number of things wrong with this sentence.

1) All fantasy novels have “important human themes.” That’s the ‘novel’ part, not the ‘fantasy’ part.

2) Most — actually, scratch that, all — fantasy novels have an element of romance, history, adventure, mystery or philosophy to them, and most fantasy novels contain all of those aspects.

3) Some fantasy is one-dimensional. See, for instance, the characters in your books. Who believe in freedom and liberty. And never waver from their dedication to their Libertarian values, no matter how much you torture them. Your characters are walking one dimensional stereotypes who have inner lives that are about as complicated as a golden retriever’s. So I wouldn’t be throwing stones from that glass house, Mr. Goodkind.

4) True, fantasy can roughly be defined as speculative fiction that’s premised on the presence of magic and/or takes place in a world created by the author. Now, the Sword of Truth takes place in a strange land known as “The Old World,” which is further divided into three regions known as D’Hara, the Midlands, and
the Westlands. Each of these regions have reasonably substantive back stories, customs, and histories. Furthermore, your two major characters are notable because one of them happens to be sorcerer with the power to use both Additive AND Subtractive magic and the other is that last in a line of magical women who have the power to kill you with their brains (well, and with their touch). Now, how exactly does this prove your books are not typical fantasy…?

And, finally:

5) You wrote an 11-goddamned-books-long series about a farmer-turned-king who wields magic and stabs people with swords. You write fantasy, dude, hate to break it to you.

He also ridiculously claims that, although his books have magic in them, it’s different from all that mystical magic mumbo jumbo in other fantasy books, because in his books magic “is a metaphysical reality that behaves according to its own laws of identity.” Riiiiight. Because no other fantasy book ever has invented magic that has special characteristics and its own particular set of rules that must be followed in order to successfully wield it.

What bothers me the most is Goodkind’s apparent belief that there is something mutually exclusive between “being fantasy” (or “being science fiction”) and “being a serious work with philosophical themes.” That is absurd on its face; one look at George Orwell and Ray Bradbury should prove that.

Moreover, Ayn Rand, whom Goodkind is quite open about having a giant crush on, had no problem with telling stories through science fiction. Anthem is very clearly a scifi novella. And, trivia fact for all the Ayn Rand fans out there — before Rand wrote The Fountainhead, her first plan was to write a space opera before an editor dissuaded her. (Much to my disappointment, I might add.)

Even aside from its heavy handed obsession with Ayn Rand, The Sword of Truth can be heavily criticized for the failings it has as a fantasy novel. It’s a separate rant that doesn’t belong here, but I never got over the frustration of feeling like Goodkind was a poor man’s Robert Jordan. Everything Goodkind wrote, Robert Jordan wrote first. (Okay, and everything Jordan wrote, Tolkien wrote first. I can’t rightly rag on Goodkind for copying his Samuel after Jordan’s Padan Fain without noting that both are essentially Gollum…) Even the names are similar. Take, for example, how Robert Jordan invents an ancient rediscovered magic that, when used, can rip apart the fabric of the cosmos, and names it Balefire. Goodkind than invents an ancient rediscovered magic that, when used, threatens to rip apart all of the cosmos, and he names it… Chainfire. You get the idea.

Terry Goodkind also has a slight issue in that every single one of his female characters between the ages of 13 and 60 is raped on a minimum of one occasion, and the major female characters each get raped at least one hundred times. This is not an exaggeration, that actually happens. I don’t know why his editor didn’t say to him, “You know, you ought to think of something nasty to happen to your heroines that doesn’t involve multiple gang rapes.” Or if the editor did, Goodkind obviously didn’t listen. To his (mild) credit, Goodkind continually emphasizes how wrong and evil the rapist characters are, but that doesn’t stop the constant barrage of violent sexual assaults from making the series really uncomfortable to read at times. If Terry Goodkind really thinks rape is such a horrible thing, then why does he feel the need to include it in a scene every third chapter?

Final Thoughts: If, despite this blog post, you do find yourself reading The Sword of Truth, and are becoming overwhelmed with its smug air of superiority, here is a handy trick to make it more entertaining: Every time you see “Richard” in the text, in your mind cross it out and replace it with the word “Dick.”


See also: Vol. 1, Jack London, & Vol. 3, J.R.R. Tolkien.

40 thoughts on “The Economic Agendas of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors, Vol. 2 — Terry Goodkind

  1. Pingback: The Economic Agendas of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors, Vol. 1 — Jack London « The View From LL2

  2. Pingback: The Economic Agendas of Sci-Fi and Fantasy Authors, Vol. 3: The Economic Apathy of J.R.R. Tolkien, the Anarchic Anti-Industrialist « The View From LL2

  3. It’s amazing your head is shoved so far up your own ass you can’t bring yourself to enjoy one of the most entertaining and compelling pieces of literature to be written this century.

    • Thanks for making my day — this is the single most entertaining comment this blog has gotten yet. (The competition, sadly, is not all that stiff, but congrats none the less.)

      Also, if you really think Richard waxing rhapsodical about Kahlan’s perfect hair for 1,000 pages is one of the most entertaining and compelling pieces of literature this century, may I suggest you go check out Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series? Because it sounds like that would be right up your alley.

  4. It seems to me that you are a very troubled and insecure individual who cant simply enjoy an amazing and well structured story. Its for enjoyment if you dont like it then dont read it you stupid bitch.

  5. Your critique is slightly off, in that it is a general attack on the entire series, when in fact there are two Sword of Truth series. Books 1-4, were a standard sword-and-sorcery fantasy series, with some libertarian themes. Then, out of nowhere, Book 5 was just a paragraph-for-paragraph rewriting of the Fountainhead. From then on, it was just an extended treatise on Objectivism, with some sword-and-sorcery fantasy thinly overlaid on it.

    (I might be off by one book on where the switch occurred, as I’m doing this from memory.)

    • You’re right about the books not turning into Atlas Shrugs With Swords until later in the series — I actually just bothered to look it up again now, it’s in book 6, it looks like. Faith of the Fallen.

      But I think the whole series opens itself to criticism, either due to Goodkind’s refusal to acknowledge that it is a work of fantasy, or the blatant ripping off of the Wheel of Time, or the creepy rape fetish. (Oh hey, look, another thing it has in common with Atlas Shrugs!)

      But no, the libertarian theme was not that objectionable, I don’t think, until way later. But I haven’t read the earlier books since middle school, so it’s the later ones that stick out the clearest in my memory.

      It always felt to me, though, like Goodkind had exactly one Wizard’s Rule to start off the series, and once he used that one up, he wasn’t really sure where to go with it.

      • I think you grossly underestimate how common rape was in feudal times, which were not-too-unlike the times represented in the series in some respects. I don’t think it’s too much because I think he was trying to conveight he depraved state of the world. To describe something liek this as offensive or fetishized makes you seem like a bit of an idiot who doesn’t understand the greater point. Have you read “Running with Scissors”? In my recollection maybe 25% of the book’s pages are devoted to gory detail of, well, have a read for yourself. This book was considered one of the best of the year by critics and was mandatory reading in my high-school, yet you’re telling me that Goodkind’s 5 – 10% ( probably lower given his wordiness ) excludes his books from being considered good? Come on.

        • Even if there was some point in human history in which every woman could be expected to be raped 100+ times during the course of a five year period, I would still feel comfortable in questioning Goodkind’s narrative decision-making. No other major (or minor) fantasy/science fiction author that I can think of seems to have similarly decided “hey, you know what’s a good idea? Let’s talk about rape for 5 – 10% of every book I write, that is the best way in which literature can convey how totally depraved all these communists are!”

          But no, it’s not the constant rapeyness that excludes Goodkind’s books from being considered “good.” The series’ total lack of nuance or ambiguity, awkward dialogues, constant Randian rip-offs, and Mary Sue characterizations already do that.

          Plus, the hero and moral paragon of Goodkind’s series once round-housed an eight year old girl in the face, severing her tongue and shattering her jaw and teeth, because the eight year old said mean things to him. … You kind of forfeit any claim to being a decent book once you cross that line.

          • “But no, it’s not the constant rapeyness that excludes Goodkind’s books from being considered “good.” The series’ total lack of nuance or ambiguity, awkward dialogues, constant Randian rip-offs, and Mary Sue characterizations already do that.”
            “But I think the whole series opens itself to criticism, either due to Goodkind’s refusal to acknowledge that it is a work of fantasy, or the blatant ripping off of the Wheel of Time, or the creepy rape fetish. ”

            You’re contradicting yourself. You list the rape as something objectionable which opens it up to criticism. Why bother even mentioning it in your criticism of the book if you then go on to list legitimate criticisms ( nuance, ambiguity, awkward dialogues, etc. ) .

            “Plus, the hero and moral paragon of Goodkind’s series once round-housed an eight year old girl in the face, severing her tongue and shattering her jaw and teeth, because the eight year old said mean things to him. … You kind of forfeit any claim to being a decent book once you cross that line.”

            You lose all critical credibility when you claim there is any connection between a book in which characters and heroes act morally and a book which is good. I need not provide you with any of the milions of paragons of literature in which precisely this sort of thing take place.

          • … You realize both those sentences say the same thing, right? “Sword of Truth has a lot of problems. One of them is its constant fixation on rapeyness.”

            You lose all critical credibility when you claim there is any connection between a book in which characters and heroes act morally and a book which is good.

            Except Richard kicking in an eight year old in the face is portrayed by the book as a good thing. Richard is not a hero who, under intense stress and despair, lashed out and attacked a child. Richard is freaking John Galt — he is the noble libertarian savior, who does everything right because he loves Freedom. See, e.g., the books’ lack of nuance and ambiguity.

  6. It seems that if one favors the libertarian theme, they like the books. If they both notice and dislike the libertarian themes then they find reasons to not like it.
    Of course there will always be those that don’t like something because it just does not fit them. But that is not the case here.
    I am a libertarian. I always have been, even before I knew there was such a party or labeled ideology. I took a long hard honest look at the world and the people in it and came to understand things the way I do now. In fact I was quite surprised to find like minded persons out there more than a decade ago. As you might imagine I liked the series. Because I understood the themes I was able to understand the characters and identify. This, I’m sure, adds greatly to one’s potential enjoyment of the books. If you do not understand, or deny the truths (the premises) behind the themes I doubt you would like the story or the characters. At this point it would be easy for anyone to pick apart any series, as every work of art (writing, painting, etc) especially one as extensive as some 8-9 thousand pages can always be put in a bad light and dissected for apparent flaws; most of which look like such only in isolation. I see a lot of this here.
    Whether it is a great series or a poor one for its ideology is in large part relative. You do not have to be a libertarian to like it, but it helps. Even someone who opposes libertarian thinking may like the story if they can avoid critiquing the themes as they read, and instead see the world created through the character’s eyes without prejudgment.
    Thus, it is my humble opinion that the critic here should recuse himself from deciding the merit of these books because of his bias.

    As a side note, I took breaks from BarBri and read Sanderson’s Mistborn novels (waiting for more Jordan as well, which helps since he’s now writing them). They were very good. No objectionable ideologies detected.
    In fact the only writer I could not read was Turtledove. I read one book and chalked up the rampant sexism to the mythology of the story. I got a quarter of the way through another before I just had to put it down. I’m no expert as I did not finish reading even a second book, but what I did see was bad. I like my female characters to be fully developed parts of the story, not just necessary and objectified pieces. Like I said though; I could be wrong about him.

    • Yeah, no, I’m a libertarian, too. It’s not the ideology I disagreed with — it’s the books.

      Although “disagreed” with is not the right term. It’s not that I thought they were ‘wrong,’ it’s just that they are ridiculous, in quite a few places. Also, they are so completely a fantasy series. There are a lot of absurd things about the Sword of Truth, but the fact Goodkind doesn’t think they’re a fantasy series is the most absurd of all.

      It’s not that I didn’t enjoy them. I wouldn’t have read 9,000 pages of something I couldn’t stand. But damn, if I wanted to satirize SoT, I could probably go on for a thousand and one blog posts. There’s just so much ridiculousness there to choose from.

      Ignoring the possible critiques from the perspective of a fantasy fan, there is plenty to critique from a libertarian angle as well. Goodkind also doesn’t actually present the ideology of “libertarianism” in his books, at least as the term is understood by most the world. Objectivist, maybe, libertarian, no. And Jagang is a caricature of evilness, not an accurate representation of the sorts of antagonists that libertarians might face in the real world. Not to mention, what kind of libertarian ubermensch has his subjects kneel down and pray to him five times a day — and if they fail to pray to Richard on schedule, they lose their minds? Creepy.

      Also, “his” bias? I’m a chick. How closely did you read this post, anyway?

  7. Wow, what a fascinating read; thank you, I genuinely enjoyed it, both in terms of your humor (“Conan The Libertarian”) and critical inspection. I wish that I had as firm of a grasp on how to “properly” take a stand as you seem to, and yes, I know this sounds sarcastic, but I am being genuine in stating this. I came across your page while searching for information about Terry’s political and philosophical leanings. You’ve shared a number of interesting points, and as I’ve rather enjoyed and (dare I say) felt inspired by some of Terry’s (misguided?) ideologies, this combined with your perspectives leave me with the need for further introspection. I don’t fully agree with your observations, but yours are very interesting indeed, and has been a worthwhile read. I’m now left to consider that my somewhat conservative views, lesser experienced world view, and male gender could have contributed towards me being a more receptive reader of this series of books. I wonder if publishers consider targeted marketing by similar demographics? I briefly reviewed some of your other articles on this web-site and you are clearly in a league of talented analytical professionals.

    Yes, I do realize that this topic is concerning a particular author’s fictional writings and his personal ideology (or perhaps confusion), yet I am drawn into “thinking out loud” here about some of my own self-reflection, and I apologize in advance for this topic deviation. I seem to have at least some leanings resembling yours and Eric’s, thus my appreciation for your article and my half-hour spent writing this. On the U.S. political front I’ve started to sway from the Republican view towards the Libertarian view, although since all parties seem to regularly get hijacked choosing sides is rarely black and white. (Although the “if you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain” quote seems an attractive mantra, albeit barbed and simplistic.) On the theological front I’ve sought to establish an attachment with some sort of a “single higher power” belief system that I can most closely relate to, albeit not precisely, given my atheistic/logical personality and upbringing. I realize that this “Libertarian while seeking a higher power” position could seem to be somewhat contradictory by many accounts–yes, I know, messy.

    Being a husband and a father, and being right-leaning in many aspects, the resultant of this muddled life equation seems to steer me towards Judeo-Christian communities. I’d like to think that I’m making the right decisions, but it’s not easy nor clear-cut: trying to be true to my instincts and ability to reason, while also being left with the sense that I’m somehow “selling out” by seeking to participate in a traditional religious community, and yet this seems necessary in my case so as to be a “more compatible” and better husband, father and contributor to the community. Of course all of this rambling about which way to lean or believe is influenced by one’s environment (i.e., having family or no family, progressive coast or conservative bible belt, etc.).

    Perhaps if you’re ever passing through the Midwest then I could trade a few mugs of espresso for some more of your thoughts. Well, I’d better get back to the holodeck.

    • I don’t think there is anything about being conservative or male that would particularly predispose you to liking the books. Sword of Truth is a fun fantasy series that tries to work in some ideology alongside the sorcery and stabbity bits — it has an extremely wide and diverse fan base, even if the Objectivist crowd is probably the most vocal in their fanship.

      But the Objectivist-type Sword of Truth fans are the most absurd part of the entire series. They believe that the looks are literally beyond criticism. Goodkind himself is a good example of this, as are many of the commenters that contributed their, err, thoughts to this post. Goodkind actually once had the following quote up on his website, about his critics:

      Values arouse hatred in these people. Their goal is not to enjoy life, but to destroy that which is good — much like a school child who does not wish to study for a test and instead beats up a classmate who does well. These people hate what is good because it is good. Their lives are limited to loathing and indifference. It isn’t that they want to read a good book, what they want is to make sure that you do not. Ignore them.

      Phrases like “values arouse hatred in these people” just don’t work outside of the Bible, an Ayn Rand novel, or the Chronicles of Narnia. The man is egotistical to the point that it has debilitated his critical thinking skills — to him, his critics don’t criticize his work because they have different tastes when it comes to fantasy novels or they have a different perspective on libertarian ideology, they criticize it “because their goal in life is to destroy that which is good.” Anyone that absurd is just asking for mockery — which I did my best to provide in this post.

      (And if you need more proof that Goodkind isn’t entirely in his right mind, just check out his ‘About the Author’ photo. Dear god, that ponytail. The man has to be delusional, someone completely in control of their faculties could not have possibly thought that a rattail + Chuck Norris pose was a good idea.)

      • It’s just false. It sucks do to lack of truth. Goodkind is trying to write his Atlus Shrugged with ridiculous amount amounts of romanticism and stuffing simplistic libertarian ideals in the puffy sloppy margins. Libertarians are always overly romantic. Because they have to sell their stupid ideology their simp hyper romantic readers.
        Just dumb

  8. I read these books as a young teenager, and absolutely loved them. Richard (my name twin) was pretty much my object of worship as a 13 year old boy, and I think the early books taught some good life lessons about critical thinking. The Wizard’s First Rule about lying was quite useful as well.

    It saddens me greatly to look back on the series as a 20 year old who is politically engaged, and realise what a load of libertarian tripe it all is. At how the entire latter of the series is essentially a gigantic straw man. It also saddens me to see what an egotistical, deluded prick Goodkind is himself.

    I think I’ll give Wheel of Time a read.

    Good blog post.

  9. I have to comment – not so much on your post – but on some of the comments. Wow, watching people freak out when you point out something that should have been obvious to anyone with a working knowledge of political idealogies is some entertaining shit. Now, I’ll confess that the first time I read these books (not all of them, as the series was only about 6 books long at the time), I didn’t see it, but in my defense, I was a teenager and had no idea who Ayn Rand was. Now that I know, well, to be honest, I still enjoy the books, I can just see them for what they are. And that’s ok, to think critically about something you like, and recognize the places that it’s problematic!

  10. The books are ok aslong as you skip the preachy bits and don’t set your standards to high 😉 I prefer Hubert but to each his own 🙂

  11. I read this review because I was considering giving these books another shot. I read Wizard’s First Rule a few years back and didn’t have as many objections as the writer here, however I remember thinking the book was bland and predictable and generally poorly written.

    People are free to be fans of these books – I just prefer my writing to be of a higher standard – such as Steven Ericsson or GRRM.

    After reading on this review (and others) about what a douche Terry Goodkind really is – I won’t buy his books…

    Thanks for a well written, informative and entertaining review.

  12. Spot on. I loved the books, but even I was rolling my eyes when EVERY single woman that ever existed in the history of the novel was repeatedly raped. We get it–war is violent.

    By my count, 1 underage boy was raped, and about 10 million women. If he was going for a gritty “real war” type scenario to show how bad it is with sex being used as a weapon, he’d have thrown in some gay rape too. Obviously, that’d turn off the reader (what nerdy teen boy wants to read about his peers getting it up the ass?) so he gave them some fan service in good old fashioned women sex slaves.

    The rantings didn’t bother me. I never read Ann Rand. I never read too deeply into Goodkind’s characters’ monologues. I just chocked it up to generic fantasy. (I mean, the heroes always INSPIRE some downtrodden group to sudden enlightment and action)

    I just thought it was corny how additive magic was automatically trumped by subtractive. It seemed very generic and unbalanced. If one type creates and another type destroys, is it hard to imagine something being created faster than it is destroyed? Subtractive always cut through the other. So why didn’t the followers of the Keeper (that was the evil god-thing right?) simply cut down entire armies? Nothing existed to stop them.

    The other corny aspect was the polar nature of emotions. Love and junk coming from the light, and hate and envy coming from the dark. Coming from a psychological nature, emotions are just emotions with no inherent good or bad.

    Plus, everyone loved Richard. He was perfect in every way and followed by everyone he met. Especially women. What a dream fantasy for us guys–to be perfectly liked. He is just a little bit too lucky and things go his way too much. Anything bad that happens to HIM is actually happening to a woman around him. He gets tortured? No biggie, the woman torturing him falls for him and they have S&M sex. His love interest goes missing, beat up, or wiped from existence? No biggie, as he needs to fight off all the women willing to fuck him until he finds his perfect woman again… All his problems are actually the fact the women around him are being raped all the time.

    All in all, the books were reduced to generic imbalances common in poor writing. Had to look past a lot to admire the characters and struggles. But I liked it overall. But I also can easily critique it for a long long long time.

    • Richard kicked in the face of a little girl, Defran Rahl helped those who needed medical attention, Kahlan had a bit of a bloodlust, Nicci never changes emotions but simply sides. Characters had much more depth than you give them credit. You DID read a fantasy novel, so the major themes were going to quite obviously be fantastical. I’m not sure why you’re complaining about it.

  13. I loved following the books as I went through school but I did always hate the objectivism and libertarian crap being rubbed in my face. I agree with some of Goodkind’s philosophy but I hate the right wing crap

  14. Late to the party, but excellent article. Took a little while to realise that Goodkind is less hack writer and more batshit insane. I read the first three or four over a decade ago, and they were alright (although everybody that I’ve spoken to that has read both Terry Goodkind and Robert Jordan tends to enjoy more the series they read first, calling the other a knock-off). I’m glad I never bothered to finish the series. I might, just to be able to more accurately mock. Anyways, thank you for these words, and never mind the ad hominem attacks on this article: clearly rabid fanboys will always be rabid fanboys. Also, you have a vagina, and that clearly infuriates Goodkind fans. 😛

  15. Thanks for the great commentary–I’ve seen this criticism elsewhere but this is the only place it’s been explained thoroughly and convincingly. Sorry that some folks have taken to insulting you for having an opinion! Cheers.

  16. I am a bit OCD when it comes to finishing book series, I had to read Twilight for a class in college and ended up reading the whole series (wow do I regret that), but I can’t bring myself to finish this series the only book I have left to read is Confessor and I can’t imagine ever reading. The writing is just so bad, constantly rehashing everything that has happened not just in past books but from earlier in that book, it feels like the same conversations and explanations happen over and over. I can’t decide if he is simply trying to fill pages or is trying to be considerate and catch up all the sane people who may have missed things by skipping pages trying to find the ending points of Richard’s exhausting monologues. The constant Xeroxing of not just other authors ideas and plot points but his own as well, and characters who act against any kind of sense of logic until Richard sets them straight. We have villains with such vague illogical motivations you can’t take them seriously, and the sheer number of times a deus ex machina is used becomes comical and takes away any kind tension later in the series, we get to see Richard either break some founding magical rule or pull a new one out of his bum in order to save the day over and over again. Oh yes and did I forget to mention RAPE!!!!!!!!!!! good grief by the time I stopped reading I no longer thought of Goodkind as simply a bad writer but also a pretty creepy fella, who obviously has some weird fetishes, I mean Richard is basically tortured by a woman in a full leather catsuit with some kind of freeky magic dildo. All in all the only reason I made it to Phantom was the need to see the madness end and say I completed the series but not even old Zeddicus Zul Zorander can stumble upon some kind of deus ex machina that would get me to read one more word of Goodkind’s writing.

  17. Is no one even going to touch religion here? All those who believe Goodkind’s antagonists to be illogical and narrow-minded must never have had a thought against dogma preached by followers, of any sect for that matter.

    I think, much to the contradiction of the author of this post, that Goodkind’s greatest achievement in the series is his understanding of all sides of politics, not one-sided facets of characters as she suggests. Even her own example of Richard kicking in the face a a girl (stereotypical embodiment of innocence) when she promised him all the torture she’d have done to a true innocent, directly contradicts her statement of such characters (Richard being wholly good by common standards).

    As for her attacks on rape? Why stop there? The multitude of much more gory scenarios of torture must have slipped her mind. Regardless, these were all written with a desired intent for the reader to feel. It’s even stated, how such actions are harbored by ideals of those holding to the teachings of old and that of the Order. THAT is what Goodkind was trying to get across and THAT is what makes this series such great Libertarian porn. Not knowing the true reasoning behind being a Libertarian, the author of this post tries to attack a heavy use of rape. Have you ever read the Bible, Miss Susan? Rape, torture, and murder abound. Goodkind’s point of using such impacting topics are to show, cut and dry, why individualism should be held so high.

    Your life is the most valuable thing you can posses. Anyone who tries to control it is going against Libertarian views and those expressed by the series.

    Never stop it, but please try to be less childish in your criticism of author’s intentions and actually read into how such themes might be applied in the real world.

  18. I read all the books in the series and I disagree with you that they are terrible. However, most of the things you pointed out are spot on. As entertainment, the books can be great. But I don’t read into the hidden agendas behind the stories. All those books we had to read in high school, Animal Farm and whatnot, I always failed to break them apart and find the true meanings behind them.
    I know your blog was written years ago, and I apologize for commenting on it now. But I just had to. And had to share it too! Thanks for the entertaining read!

  19. I’ve read all the books of the serie (I am a little bite crazy) or I was broken by a mord sith….
    So I totally agree with you. Thanks for this , it made my day ! I laugh a lot. Thanks.

  20. Pingback: [Top Ten Tuesday] Books I feel Differently About Now - The Layaway Dragon

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