First of all, I don't understand all the harsh reviews of Terry Goodkind's SoT series. Perhaps the themes in his books have appeared in other stories, but that's true of every author. Any fantasy author who has written about magic, wizards, beautiful women, elves, dwarves, dragons, swords, quests, traveling, a great evil foe, etc. has copied that theme from someone else. Many reviewers compare these stories to Robert Jordan's. They may have similarities, but the biggest difference is that Goodkind's books are INTERESTING. If Robert Jordan came up with these themes first (which he didn't), he sure didn't know what to do with them. I'm glad that Goodkind did. It takes Jordan a whole book just to get his characters to finish breakfast.
Others have recommended Terry Brooks over Terry Goodkind while in the same breath complaining that Goodkind copied the themes in his books. Did any of you ever read the Sword of Shannara? The first 100+ pages were a rip-off of The Fellowship of the Ring.
One reviewer, who ranked this book with ONE STAR wrote, "The evil emperor simply wants to control the world, wow...that's so amazing. We have no idea why he wants to control the world or how he got in a position to do that". If this reader had actually bothered to read the words INSIDE the book, he/she would know that why Jagang wanted to rule and also why he has the power he does. If you're going to rank a book as ONE at least read it. If you can't understand it, that's your problem, not the book's.
My last tirade is concerning the repetition others have complained about. He does fill you in on things you might have forgotten from previous books, but it is not overdone in the least. I think it is very helpful, especially if you read the books as they were published and had to wait a long time between each one.
My comments on this whole series can be summed up in the phrase, "it's great"! I read the books; I enjoyed them thoroughly and would recommend others read them.
on December 27, 1996
Once again, Terry Brooks masterfully weaves his
storytelling magic in The First King of Shannara, the
eighth installment in the popular Shannara series. A
prequel to the series, this book embodies the classic
fantasy world in which the battle between good and evil
predominates in the story. Brooks, master of his art,
allows these "Tolkein-esque" elements to form only the
backdrop of a solidly forged epic, powerful and moving,
allowing readers to embrace characters as only Brooks can
create and develop them.
In great detail, The First King of Shannara answers
many of the questions raised in previous books: the fall of
Paranor and the Druids, the forging of the Sword of Shannara
, the discovery of the Black Elfstone, the origin of Allanon
, and more. Hundreds of years after the First War of the
Races, the outcast Bremen, the last of the Druids, is the
only force that convince the people of the Four Lands that
their only hope to prevent subjugation lies in uniting --
and in using the magic they fear above all else.
Whether dedicated fan or first time reader, this novel
will enthrall you, capturing your full attention and binding
you to the web woven by Terry Brooks. This book in the
least deserves the highest recommendation, and connot be
done justice by any summary, however massive. Only by
personally experiencing the latest work of Brooks can one
understand the wonder and proportion of it.
on August 30, 2009
...Sad, but true. The series seems to be spiraling in a direction I don't like. I long for the days that Kahlan and Richard hiked the woods together on their hapless way to fight evil. It hasn't happened for two books since Wizard's First Rule and I don't think it going to happen anytime soon.
This book, the third of the series, is the worst so far. Easily.
Without spoiling too much, the story has all the heroes separated, once again, for the entire book. Kahlan and Richard are apart.. again. [Sigh] Part of what made the Wizard's First Rule so good was the interactions of Kahlan, Richard and Zedd. Reading them all on their own is really lacking. It wouldn't be as bad if there was more of a grand reunion. But this book, like Stone of Tears, fails at that miserably. The main characters are, for a second time, rushed back together at the end to do a hurry wrap up and they seemingly act as if they were across the street from one another. I really think Goodkind has trouble painting a picture of the big crescendo moments. Richard, Kahlan and Zedd are fighting this whole book to get back together... When they finally do, it comes off as ho-hum. It shouldn't be like that.
Antagonist time. So it was Darken Rahl in book one, the Keeper in book two ...and now a guy name Jagang trying to take over the world in book three. This guy gets NO introduction except how he cows down the six Sisters of the Dark that fled in book two. Of course he has them naked and being raped in no time. Goodkind sure does love his gratuitous molestation and rape as this continues his overly descriptive ways from the second book. One thing I find myself thinking now in having read these books is that when strife rears up and a female character gets captured or even is in danger of getting captured, I wonder how they are going to get molested this go around. Seriously. Poor Kahlan. Everytime that girl gets in trouble, someone is trying to rape her. It's something that has become very predictable since book one. Girl + trouble = guy (or guys) try to rape them. Its moving from uncomfortable reading to a tad ridiculous and gratuitous.
So thats all you get on Jagang. He's a "Dream Walker" that is wicked powerful if he breaks into your mind. And he ain't too kind to females. Then he disappears for the rest of the book. The other two predominant baddies are heading up the Blood of the Fold. Tobias and Luneta. Incestuous brother and sister that are all sorts of crazy. Tobias is.. well, flat out insane and Luneta is addled in a sad, childlike way. The kind in which she really didn't know any better. So you get the honor of reading two perspectives of crazy people. Honestly, I didn't find them interesting at all and in the end they didn't serve much of a point. But you can't talk about Tobias and Luneta without the highlight of their existence in this book. As you likely have read in a review or two, Tobias gets control of his enemies by.. wait for it... cutting off their left nipple and carrying it around in a box with him. Yeah.. Thats really all I have to say about that.
There is the potential of a huge war in this book which doesn't really come to as grand a head as you would think. Tobias and Luneta have the Blood of the Fold army, Jagang has the Imperial Order and Richard has D'Hara. At their disposal seems to be millions of soldiers. Yet another thing I have issue with here. Goodkind loves making his armies INSANELY huge. Every time he mentions armies here or there, its always in the area of 200,000 troops. In one part of the book Richard informs one of his generals to take 100,000 troops and go look for Kahlan. WHAT!? Does Goodkind understand how many freaking people that is or what it would take to maintain a mass of soldiers that big? He treats 100,000 as if its 50 guys traipsing through the woods. The Midlands, Westland and D'Hara are, in my estimation, smaller than Middle Earth in Tolkien's novels. Seeing what it took to move armies around in that world that were a tenth the size of Goodkind's makes the army talk in this book all the more silly. It kills immersion when he throws out unrealistic numbers like he does and the words lack weight when its made to sound so trivial. "Move 100,000 men over there and take 250,000 men to my house while the remaing 75,000 will go to the store and get some milk". Ugh.
This is really turning into a rant-fest so I'll wrap up saying that this book wasn't bad. It added to the depth of the series introducing the Blood of the Fold and hearing more about the Sisters of the Light ..but it just wasn't very exciting. It took weird turns in places like, for instance, introducing Lesbianism into the medieval setting. Richard and one of his Mord Sith have a long heart-to-heart on being a lesbian. Talk about weird and out of place. Its things like that, that kept this book from being as immersive as the other two.
If you are this deep in the series you most likely will go on (like I will). But you have to be getting scared since the books really are going downhill fast. And if you're like me and have read some reviews on the last book in the series, seeing things like 'the first four books are the only ones worth reading', etc... you have to be real scared. Oh well.. onto Temple of the Winds. Can you feel my excitement? Wonder who's going to try and take over the world in that one?
There is no question Terry Goodkind can write a spell binding fantasy adventure. Like the first two books, Goodkind combines magic, action, and good old human frailty and self doubt into a page turning story which makes the reader desperate to find out what happened to these characters after the book ends.
That said, this book was not up to the quality of the first two installments of the Sword of Truth series. First, the action sequences were too short and not well connected to the rest of the plot. But more importantly, by having his main characters spread all through his Old and New Worlds, not knowing what each of the others were doing, lead to a disconnected plot. There were simply too many unknowns, which despite the 600+ page length, were never meshed into a coherent story.
Finally, Goodkind spent far to much of the book first setting up the penultimate battle between good and evil--actually two battles--and then spent too much time setting up what were obvious tantalizers to the next installment in the series.
On the positive side, we did learn all about Gars and Mirswiths--making them seem like thinking, sentient beings rather than just creatures of magic programmed to be good or evil.
All in all, a good read--but definitely don't start the series here. Must read one and two first, or this book will be a waste.
I was (as usual) pleasantly surprised to see Terry Brooks attempt to give us a prequel to his enormously successful and fantastic debut, 'Sword of Shannara'. As I started to read 'First King' I began to think that a few facts brought into evidence seemed out of whack with what had been written before in the original first book ('Sword'). After I finished the book, I went and re-read 'Sword of Shannara' and sure enough, there are just a few places where the facts originally set forth by Allanon were re-written a bit different in 'First King'. Now this is just a small annoyance, but for some reason it really got to me. Other than this, I had to say that it was an exceptional fantasy novel. I also have to say that even though the events pre-date the 'Sword of Shannara' you don't have to read it before beginning the series (although if you haven't read any of them, I would recommend going in order if you can). What Brooks does best is develop characters you can identify with, ones with flaws and problems, sometimes impossibly difficult problems...but that is why we root for them and feel like we can understand with them, they are like US. The bad guys are really bad (in this case, I don't think ANY evil creature in ALL the Shannara books is as bad as the Warlock Lord) and the good guys are good, and there are a few who are questionable...he gets you to wondering whether or not they will step up to the plate when necessary or will they fold and cause a tragedy...well without ruining the story (which should be familiar if you have read 'Sword') some do and some do not (I'll let you find out who they are on your own--it's much more fun that way). Let me just say this: IF you are a Terry Brooks fan, you will probably LOVE this book. If you are NOT a fan of Brooks, you should STILL LOVE this book. I just can't see anyone who is a fan of fantasy not enjoying EVERYTHING written by Brooks...I just can't fathom it. Anyway, 'First King' IS a great addition to the series, and after reading it for the 2nd time, I STILL enjoyed it, but those little details that were altered still managed to get under my skin. If you don't catch them, then don't worry, just sit back and enjoy a great read.
on January 14, 2012
I got a kindle and was excited to down load this series. I purchased the first two books. The story is the same but the editing is atrocious. It doesn't totally kill the book, but it definitely takes away from the reading experience. I have these books in hard copy and am going to pull those out again. I am not going to pay $9 for this garbage. If there is a point in this series where it becomes readable in electronic form, please let me know and I will download the series from there. Otherwise, I am done with this series in this form.
on July 6, 1998
Many of these reviews have really bashed Goodkind's book, so I would like to say my piece. I have not read Robert Jordan, but I have read David Eddings and many other such fantasy quest writers. I have enjoyed them all. I would like to point out that "there is nothing new under the sun." So everyone complaining about how Goodkind borrows such and such needs to shut-up. Most of the fantasies I've read have been very similar in plot and character, but each is very good according to how the author goes about it.
I must say that I find Goodkind unique. I do feel that the story could use less violence because some of it is gratuitous. But I find his characters very real and touching. They are very easy to empathize with. I found myself actually crying with the characters.
Many fantasy authors I have read are fun to read but I have no trouble putting down most of their books (with the exception of Tolkien and Brooks) when I have to. Goodkind, on the other hand, keeps enough mystery in his series to keep you hooked. It's got lots of action and even romance, albeit a troubled one.
I see many of you complaining because the characters are flawed--some of them are really flawed.I really like this because if we're honest with ourselves, we don't always go around pure as the driven snow. Everyone has a really bad side to them even if they do have to dig deep to find it.
Goodkind has presented characters who are struggling to do what's right against powerful odds. Yes the Confessors are a strange group to belong with the good guys. But I don't think Goodkind is trying to present the 'good guys' as being perfect. He's saying, 'OK, here's somebody willing to compromise. Let's get a wedge in there and maybe we can change the whole system.' Kahlan is that wedge. Yes she is the Mother Confessor but she is very burdened by this and would like to change the way a lot of things are done. If some of you would read a litte more carefully you would realize that she doesn't like the way the Confessors have ! been operating. Another example of change is the way Richard is trying to influence those chicks with the torturing rods. He has also made quite an impact on the Sisters of Light. They are the scariest 'good guys' I've ever seen!
Goodkind's world is not always pretty. In fact, it's often downright ugly and scary. This makes it seem all the more real and fascinating. Perfection is boring.
Goodkind has created an entertaining series that is sure to win more and more fans. His characters are real and most are dynamic not static. He keeps the revelations coming on top of more mysteries. He presents a world, though superficially different than ours, that is actually quite close to home. But his protagonists are characters who can and do rise above adversity. They are not perfect and make their share of mistakes, but you love them for it. Why, because Goodkind has created characters we would like to be.
Thank you, Mr. Goodkind, for your series.
on February 7, 2012
This review is specifically for the Kindle edition of this book, not about the story.
For the story, this is the kind of writing and story telling that some people like
and some do not. I happen to like it, sometimes. It is what it is, and I don't
have much to say about it from that point of view.
I am moved to write a review specifically because of the quality of the Kindle edition.
Simply put, this is a poorly edited version of this book. It's not unreadable by any means,
and it is far from the worst example I've seen, but there are typos on what seems like
every few pages, and it is distracting and annoying.
Clearly the person(s) responsible for producing the Kindle edition did not bother proofreading
the text. You simply cannot read more than a few pages of this without finding some obvious
I have read the original paperback edition, a few years ago. I am not going to bother
comparing the printed text with the Kindle text, but I do not recall that original edition
being so poorly edited.
Also I will say that I just finished reading the Kindle editions of the first two volumes
of this series, and they were much more carefully produced editions.
I would like to urge the publisher to go back and do a better job on this.
For some Kindle books I have received updates from Amazon for corrections in editions of
a few other books. I would hope that would occur in this case as well because this
is a much more outstanding example of a book very obviously needing correction.
on October 25, 2002
I'm new to the fantasy genre and just recently stumbled upon the SOT series -- and I'm hooked. I'm finding that I'm staying up all night more and more because I can't wait to find out what happens next. I'm currently on the Temple of the Winds, and Blood of the Fold seems a distant memory -- even though I only finished it last week. While Blood of the Fold has not been my favorite, it was great nonetheless.
One of the things I love about this series is that Goodkind manages to constantly introduce new characters -- I thought I only cared to read about Richard and Kaylan -- but now I'm also excited about Verna, Warren, etc. and look forward to Goodkind developing those characters. (I probably have the spelling wrong because I'm only listening to the audio tapes). I also love the humor via the Mord Siths. And I don't want to give too much away, but the way Richard takes control of things is very satisfying.
There are, unfortunately, subplots which I did not take to. I thought too much time was wasted on the blood of the fold -- it didn't really lead anywhere. The storyline about the Mriswith was also not very well developed -- it was tossed into the mix with little explanation.
Oh well, I better stop before I give too much away.
on October 27, 2005
I highly recommend to read the sword of shannara and the heritage of shannara series first, for two reasons first you will understand this book a lot better, and second because is really amazing to read the history of the world and of the characters that you knew in the first seven books and understand what is happening not by what they told you on the first books but by actually reading every part of it.
now, if you already have done that, this is an excelent book, an amzing book and it relates the story of Breman, Allanon`s father, and of the war that caused everything that will happen in the forst seven books and in the later six.
Read it, you will enjoy it.