This is the first book in the Sword of Truth series. I almost didn’t read this book thanks to the mediocre tv adaptation, Legend of the Seeker. Luckily, I got past my bias and read the thing.
The book follows the adventures of Richard Cypher, a talented woods-guide and an average joe (yeah right! Like anyone’s going to buy that!). A few weeks ago, his father was brutally murdered in his own home. The only clue to the who the murderer might be is a strange root. Richard turns detective and is out in the woods looking for this vine when he spots a damsel in distress. The damsel in distress is Kahlan, Mother Confessor, a woman of great power. He learns that she is searching for a powerful wizard. Richard takes her to meet his friend, Zedd. Then things start going bad as various creatures try to kill the three.
The parallels with Lord of the Rings are obvious. The world is divided by three magical boundaries. The magic free Westland is pretty much the shire, the magic infested Midland (Middle-Earth anyone?) is people by all manner of mythical creatures and beings, and then there is D’hara, ruled by the Dark Lord Darken Rahl (Sauron wannabe). There is even a golum like creature called Samuel, who has been twisted into a wretched creature by the magic of the Sword of Truth. They are on a quest to find the third box of Orden (the one ring) to keep it out of the hands of Darken Rahl.
Despite the obvious resonance with LOTR, and the cheesy behaviour of the characters, the story has enough twists and turns to keep the reader interesting. There is an obvious theme of opposites, Additive magic vs Subtractive magic (dark magic), Confessors vs Mord’Sith (Star Wars reference?) anger vs love, but still manages to keep the story going. There is a Star Wars style twist at the end that I saw coming from a mile away.
The cool things about this book are the way mage fights are described. Scarlet, the red dragon, is the archetypal intelligent dragon with a heart of gold. The Mord’Sith, the dominatrix’s of the magical world that live for pain and torture. The uncool things about this book are how everyone has to be uber-powerful, Richard is the most powerful Seeker ever, Zedd is the greatest magician alive, Kahlan is the most powerful Mother Confessor ever, and Chase is the uber-warrior (apologies for using uber twice), Scarlet is a little too archetypal, and what with the Mord-Sith dominatrix’s.
Despite the cheesiness of this fantasy novel and the over the top characters, I still found myself enjoying the story and the battle against all odds. I think some readers will absolutely hate this book whilst others will definitely love it.