First in the Sword of Truth fantasy series for young adults (basis for the Legend of the Seeker television series).
While searching for the killer of his father, George, up near the boundary, Richard discovers a hostile vine and espies a four-man ambush being set up on a lone woman, Kahlan, hiking the trail. It just isn’t in Richard’s character not to help the woman and he barely manages it. In the process, he makes a friend. Her mission requires his and Zedd’s help and this, in turn, requires that they cross back over the boundary and return to Kahlan’s country, the Midlands, where magic is still used.
Zedd recognizes Fate and must accept Richard’s own destiny granting him the position of Seeker. An office which is chosen by the man’s character; a wizard simply confirms the fact. They are helped in their escape by Chase, one of the boundary rangers and a good friend of Richard’s until the attack forces them to split up sending Richard and Kahlan through the Narrows on their own. Choosing their own way of finding the third box of Orden. For they only have until the first day of winter before Darker Rahl must open the third box. If Master Rahl should do so, the world will quake beneath his power and all must submit to the tyranny of a man bathed in his own sense of righteousness.
The main characters include Richard, the primary character in everything even to having his solitary “adventures” receiving strong attention when compared to the others’ adventures when they’re not with Richard, Michael is his older brother and has just been named First Councilor for the Westlands, their particular country, and Chase leads the boundary rangers, an almost invincible breed of men who are all too aware of the dangers that exist in the boundary lands.
Zeddicus “Zedd” Zu’l Zorander is an old man in the Westlands who has been teaching Richard for most of his life about herbs and life. An old man who has a deep, deep secret while Kahlan, a person of magic from the Midlands, tries desperately to hide the truth of who she is, a Mother Confessor, from Richard, terrified that she will no longer have his friendship if he knows.
Darken Rahl is the ruler of the D’Hara and is the son of the wizard whom Zedd vanquished with wizard’s fire years ago. Father and son both are tyrants who would rule the world in their way with no opposition. Well, actually, Darken does like opposition, it’s so much more fun to cause pain to people. Denna is the Mord-Sith responsible for breaking Richard to pain. Forcing him to lose all memory of who and what he is.
While the primary goal of this story is to prevent Darker Rahl from acquiring the three boxes of Orden and thus taking over the world, it certainly doesn’t prevent an overload of adventures for Richard, Kahlan, and Zedd as they traverse the boundary and its shadowy dangers, evade the Quad assassin teams, ride dragons, battle with wolves, build rapport with the Mud People, and suffer the agonies of torment from a Mord-Sith. For that last one, lordy, Goodkind has got one evil imagination! That doesn’t count the side adventures of Richard’s brother, Michael or Rachel’s sufferings under Princess Violet.
As much as I hated the torment Richard suffered under Denna, the Mord-Sith, I do understand how it really was the making of him. Kind of difficult to avoid making that connection…
On the whole, I enjoyed the story very much with its great variety of action and interesting characters and I am looking forward to reading the Stone of Tears. I just wish it hadn’t been quite such juvenile writing. Oh, it wasn’t a constant. Just every little few pages, the segues felt too abrupt and unfinished. In a book that is over 800 pages long, that adds up to a lot of rough writing.
The cover is a mixture of the story and fantasy with its castle up on a hill—didn’t appear in the story—and Richard with his legs braced, about to slash downwards with his Sword of Truth as Kahlan, her long hair and white gown swirling, throws a bolo of light.
The title is about the driving force one must always consider in life, the Wizard’s First Rule states that “purpose is more important than truth”.