Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Travelling Back in Time: Wizard's First Rule

This is my July 8-14 book. I'm slipping, I know. It'll be rectified soon. Hope everyone else's summer is as packed with fun as mine - and not just the fun of sword and sorcery.

July 8-14: Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind

Fantasy (1994 - 600 pp.) 

For those familiar with The Sword of Truth, this entry should be coming almost two decades too late. For those unfamiliar with the series, it's become one of the definitive sword and sorcery series and Wizard's First Rule is both its first installment and somewhat of an origin story. A magic sword, dragons, a muddled story behind a courageous hero, the kind of realistically awkward human interaction only fantasy can muster... it's all here, and how! An equally important mention is that this book fits at least indirectly with the American theme I was trying to get going, as it fits nicely within the long list of real and fictional American-written works exploring medieval themes. 

I really like what Terry Goodkind does within his world. The characters are believable inasmuch as willing suspension of disbelief will allow - that is to say, the guy with the magic sword has relatable childhood memories, the cartoonishly enchanted girl he likes still struggles with her feelings, etc. A few are too far gone into the stock realm, like the antagonists who derive pleasure from hurting people seemingly for the purpose of establishing them as our friends' enemies. The settings are varied, with enough of the world left open for later books yet plenty of forests, swamps, mountains and plains explored here. (What about the islands? Many a self-assured fantasy nerd like me should love that reference.) The plot twists get a little over the top, underscoring what I tend to dislike about magic's tendency to venture into a deus ex machina more often than it should, and there are a couple plot inconsistencies I won't share due to anti-spoiler concerns. I was jumping to the front of my couch a lot, though, which is really the main thing I could have asked. 

Like many fantasy novels, Wizard's First Rule is a light read but a long one. There are times when it takes a while but Book a Week's constraints are to blame there. Wizard's First Rule feels like a book that's already been read by everyone who would really be into it, but then again, I hadn't. 

Ease of Reading: 9 
Educational Content: 2

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