Monday, August 06, 2007

Essays on the Sword of Truth

Yep, we don't just make jokes about evil chickens, rising things and spine-ripping action. Here are a few of the more serious analyses of Goodkind's writing (thanks to WLU for sourcing them all - head to the ASoIaF forum if you need context or want to discuss...)

On Not Feeding the Yeard


To my fellow lemmings of discord (if I can be counted among that heady group):

There has to be a way from either a) actually causing people to read the books or b) Goodkind getting some sort of benefit or satisfaction from it. I can think of two possible solutions.

1) Have people sign a 'Yeard pledge', where if they are going to read the threads, they must promise they will never read the books, or at the least never buy them new.

2) Everyone who ends up reading the books as a result of this forum must write a letter to Goodkind. The letter must detail how much they loved his world building, cool magic system and awesum combat-writing skillz, but wished he would spend less time focussing on Richard's speeches and all that boring talking. Then go on to detail how the books could be turned into a wikid vidje game, and how the books are even better when you read them while on drugs that you purchased only from pushers who have killed a baby. Or terrorists. Finish with a discussion of the role-playing game you are writing based on the Sword of Truth world. Explain that the Sword of Truth itself is a +5 vorpal blade with optional colour-changing and cool-sound making enhancements. Try to find a fat guy to sweat on the pages. The p.s. should be how mad you are that Robert Jordan keeps ripping Goodkind off.

If we're lucky, he'll die of an aneurysm before publishing Confessor.

Sweet.

- WLU


On Richard's Character


A page or so ago we were talking about whether Richard would have been as homicidal as he turned out to be if he had never fallen into Denna’s clutches. I posted a snipped from Wizard’s First Rule before he was taken prisoner by Denna in order to prove that he was always pretty crazy.

However, I suppose you could make the argument that it is the Sword of Truth’s magic that makes Richard thirst for blood. I recall one instance in the story where Zedd explained to Kahlan that before Richard took up the Sword of Truth that he was as “gentle as a lamb.”

Frankly, that is untrue. Zedd’s “gentle as a lamb” statement is what is called an “informed attribute.” Jabootu defines an informed attribute as:

When a character displays a mediocre or even inept level of skill in some discipline (anything from dancing to writing to fighting), yet we are shown other characters lauding their talents. This is to signal the audience that, at least in the universe presented in the film, these people are to be considered as highly proficient at their craft, however much this belies the evidence of our eyes and/or ears. EXAMPLE: When we watch actor ‘Frankie Fane’ chew up the scenery in The Oscar, yet learn through dialog that his performance was considered to be skilled. Informed Attributes can also pertain to non-apparent character traits, as when one character notes another’s purportedly high intelligence or sexual magnetism.

I think that description fits Zedd’s “gentle as a lamb” line in Goodkind’s books. However, I would add that even if Richard’s homicidal aggression is not an inherent part of his personality from the get-go, Richard would have still made all the brutal, bloodthirsty decisions and actions he has made throughout the book.

Because, you see, there is at least one aspect of Richard’s personality that definitely cannot be attributed to the Sword’s magic, or Denna’s 70 page long torture session.

Richard’s planet sized egomania. I have not read all the books so far, but the ones I have read never mentioned all consuming selfishness as one of the side effects of using magic. No, Richard brings his egomania to the table himself. He can’t lay the blame at anyone else’s door.

And it is his egomania which prevents him from seeing anyone or anything that does not conform to his view of reality as his enemy. And because Richard associates everything good, noble, and true with himself, Richard must conclude that if someone is his enemy, he must be utterly evil. And, anything evil must be utterly destroyed.

Richard’s short temper certainly exasperates issues, but in the end it is Richard’s belief that he is the center of the Universe that makes him truly a monster.

Let me give you just a brief example of his narcissism from the thirds book, Blood of the Fold. Before I set the scene, you need to understand what a “devotion” is. You see, over in D’Hara, to honor their Lord Rahl, every day the D’Harans chant:

Master Rahl guide us. Master Rahl teach us. Master Rahl protect us. In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. Our lives are yours.

And they keep on chanting this same refrain for two hours each day.

Richard and a bunch of D’haran’s have just been attacked by a bunch of eeeevil beasties straight from Fantasy Book Central Casting. Richard had been having trouble convincing the D’haran’s that he was their new Master Rahl, since he had killed his father, Darken Rahl. Well, Richard rips through the evil beasties like shit through a goose and that apparently impresses the D’Haran’s enough and they acknowledge Richard as their new Lord and Savior. However, the monsters managed to kill a couple of Richard’s bodyguard’s and in order to honor their sacrifice-well just read for yourself…

[extract from Blood of the Fold]
With a sickening wheeze, the air left her lungs for the last time. Her sightless eyes started up at him.

Richard drew her limb body to himself as he wept, a despairing response at being powerless to undo what had happened. Gratch put a claw tenderly to her back and Cara a hand to his.

“I didn’t want any of you to die. Dear spirits, I didn’t"

Raina squeezed his shoulder. “We know, Lord Rahl. That is why we must protect you.”

“We’ll give her a proper D’Haran funeral, Lord Rahl.” General Reibisch, standing beside him, gestured toward the table. “Along with Edwards.”

Richard squeezed his eyes closed and said a prayer to the good spirits to watch over Hally’s sprit [sic], and then he stood.

“After the devotion.”

The general squinted one eye. “Lord Rahl?”

“She fought for me. She died trying to protect me. Before she’s put to rest, I want her spirit to see that it was to a purpose. This afternoon, after the devotion, Hally and [Edwards] will be put to rest.”

Cara leaned close and whispered. “Lord Rahl; full devotions are done in D’Hara, but not in the field. In the field, one reflection… is customary.”

“I don’t care what you have done in the past. This day there will be a full devotion, here, in Aydindril. Tomorrow, you may go back to custom. Today, all D’Harans in and around the city will do a full devotion.”

The general’s fingers fidgeted at his beard. “Lord Rahl, there are a great many troops in the area. They must all be notified and-”

“I’m not interested in excuses… If you cannot accomplish this task, then do not expect me to have faith that you can accomplish the rest.”

General Reibish…turned back to Richard and clapped a fist over his heart. “On my word as a soldier in the service of D’Hara, the steel against steel, it will be as Lord Rahl commands. This afternoon all D’Harans will be honored to do a full devotion to the new Master Rahl.”



Soooooooo… to honor the death of two people who died protecting you, you are going to have all your troops kneel and scrape on the ground and chant your name for two hours straight. Gee, how thoughtful of you Richard.

When I first read this I was reminded of that episode of the Simpsons where Homer almost forgets Marge’s birthday. He frantically looks around town for a gift. In the end he buys a new bowling ball fitted to his hand, knowing that since Marge doesn’t bowl, she will likely give the ball back to him. So in essence Homer buys a bowling ball for himself on his wife’s birthday.

Selfish. Selfish. Selfish.

One more point to add in support of my arguments that Richard was already screwed up before he got the sword. Zedd explained that the Sword of Truth could not be handed off to just anyone. It was the job of the First Wizard (Zedd) to find the one person who was capable of wielding the Sword of Truth in the proper manner. If you read between the lines, it seems clear to me that the only possible people who can wield the Sword are self-righteous, narcissistic, bloodthirsty morons.

Does that description fit anyone we know? In other words, being psychotic is a prerequisite for wielding the Sword and Richard was just about the only person with enough bats in his belfry that Zedd could give the Sword too.

- Zap Rowsdower


On reading the entire series


Actually, this is what spawned (at least) my supreme dislike of our dear TG...I started reading his books when I was younger, thought they were alright...SotF came out, and I was not impressed. My friends and I agreed that it was ridiculous, and the only interesting part was the pseudo-grey baddie Dalton Campbell. Then came Pillars of Creation, which fundamentally changed how I viewed SoT, and made me realize certain things.

1. I was only reading the books solely based on the fact that I had already invested both time and money in them. After reading about 200 pages into it, I flipped through the book looking for the words "Richard" or "Rahl", because I really didn't enjoy the Jennsen/Oba storylines, and just wanted the book to progress the story (basically, SotF seemed like a sidebar, and I wanted TG to shit or get off of the pot with advancing the plot).

2. I co-bought Naked Empire with my roommate (we both no longer wanted to spend the full price of the books, after PoC), and this was good because the book was a huge hunk of shit: up until FotF, the books at least seemed to push forward with the main storyline. SotF and NE both seemed like rewrites of FotF, with corrupt democracy and peace-loving hippies substituted in for commies (Richard goes into a nation, they are stereotypes, he makes some long fucking speeches).

3. I believe I read Chainfire from the library: it seemed to advance the plot, but the speech-to-story ratio had gone up. Haven't touched Phantom yet (may get it from the library over the summer, before Confessor rears its ugly head, and chase it with a few bottles of bourbon), and it's not very high on my priority list.

I really didn't care much one way or the other until TG's whole "people who stopped reading my books are children, anyone who doesn't like my books are death-choosers" remarks, and the original incursion by a nameless idiot onto another message board, who made a ton of stupid comments regarding people (among them, myself) who don't like SoT.

I know I have carte blanche when it comes to my opinions, and since I did in fact feed the Yeard in the past, I think I have a right to express my discontentment with the shit he put out onto a page. As for people who say "Oh, you don't have to read it...you're obsessing about something that you hate", I say "Fuck you, I walked off that cliff already, and anytime I can dissuade someone else from doing the same, I will."

After all, if a perfect stranger came up to me and said "I heard this milkshake made out of shit is great, should I try it?", I would knock it out of their hands. I'd even go so far as to post preemptive warnings about said milkshakes, and let everyone know that "Hey, I sort of liked the first flavors of milkshakes that Yeardi Queen put out. But the fecal content just gets worse, and regardless of the people who say that the shit tastes just like chocolate, you probably should not poison yourself with it."

- VigoTheCarpathian


On Darken Rahl's Evil Plan


Something has been bothering me for a long time. Ever since I first read “Wizard’s First Rule,” there was one scene that I never really understood. I must have re-read the scene at least a dozen times, but I’ve never been able to really make sense of it.

I have been haunted ever since.

Self doubt has gnawed away at me for years until I have finally reached this point. In order to exorcise the demons of confusion and discord Tairy afflicted me with so long ago I want to set up the scene for you exactly as it was set up in the book and see if it makes sense to any of you.

You see my problem is this- when I read the scene, it just doesn’t make any sense at all. I’ve squinted my eyes and tilted my head but to no avail: this scene seems totally ludicrous no matter how many times I read it. I asked myself: is Terry Goodkind smarter than me? Maybe Terry’s thinking is so sublime, that it is on a completely different intellectual plane.

It starts about on page 140 of my paperback copy of “Wizard’s First Rule,” so those of you who have the book in your possession can reread it yourself and verify that I am not imagining anything.

Let me set the stage. Richard has just saved Kahlan’s life and taken her to Zedd in order to seek his help in order to save the Midlands from Darken Rahl. Zedd, Kahlan, and Richard are interrupted however, by an angry mob. There have been a lot of strange goings on recently such as a two headed calf being born. The mob accuses Zedd of being a witch because they’ve all seen him doing amazing, inexplicable things over the years.

Zedd manages to defuse the situation using a pretty stupid bit of deception that I won’t go into. As the mob disperses Zedd informs Kahlan and Richard that something is wrong:

[extract from Wizard's First Rule]
Zedd stood with his hands on his bony hips, watching the men go. “Idiots,” he muttered under his breach. It was dark. The only light came from the front window of the house behind them, and Richard could barely see Zedd’s face, but he could see it well enough to see he wasn’t smiling. “My friends,” the old man said, “that was a stew stirred by a hidden hand.”

[Snip. Snip. Snip.]

“As I said, this was a stew stirred by a hidden hand, the hand of Darken Rahl. But he has made a mistake tonight; it is a mistake to use insufficient force to finish the job. In so doing, you give your enemy a second chance. That is the lesson I want you to learn. Learn it well; you may not get a second chance when your time comes.”

Richard frowned. “I wonder why he did it then?”

Zedd shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe because he doesn’t have enough power in this land yet, but then it also was a mistake to try, because it only served to warn us.”

They started toward the door. There was a lot of work to do before they could sleep. Richard began going through the list in his head but was distracted by an odd feeling.

Suddenly, realization washed over him like cold water. Richard inhaled in a gasp. He spun around, his eyes wide, and grabbed a fistful of Zedd’s robes.

“We have to get out of here! Right now!”

“What?”

“Zedd! Darken Rahl isn’t stupid! [Debatable] He wants us to feel safe, to feel confident! He knew we were smart eough to beat those men, one way or another. In fact he wanted us to, so we would sit around congratulating ourselves while he comes for us himself. He doesn’t fear you- you said he’s stronger than a wizard- he doesn’t fear the sword, and he doesn’t fear Kahlan.. He’s on his way here right now! His plan is to get us all at the same time, right now, this very night! He hasn’t made a mistake, this was his plan. You said it yourself, sometimes a trick is better than magic. That’s what he’s doing; this was all a trick to distract us!”

Kahlan’s face went white. “Zedd, Richard is right. This is how Rahl thinks, the mark of his way. He likes to do things in a manner you do not expect. We have to get out of here this very minute.”

“Bags! I have been an old fool! You are right. We must leave now, but I can’t leave without my rock.”



OK. Let me try and sort out this mess once and for all and maybe give my tortured brain peace at last.

"That was a stew stirred by a hidden hand." First of all, nothing in the angry mob confrontation scene indicates that this is the case. As far as I can tell, Zedd weaves this conclusion together out of thin air. Nothing about the mob indicated that they had been either possessed by Darken Rahl’s magic or had been simply been tricked by Darken into attacking Zedd. The mob is there because Zedd possesses strange powers and there have been strange and evil goings on in that region of the Westland. So, it seems the only thing the mob actually did was to reason that since Zedd had strange powers he might be the one responsible for their current problems. Frankly, this does not seem like an incredibly large intuitive leap. I fail to see how Zedd can justify his whole “stew stirring” comment. Christ, Zedd doesn’t even give us “I felt a disturbance in the force.”

Now, lets move on to “But he has made a mistake tonight; it is a mistake to use insufficient force to finish the job. In so doing, you give your enemy a second chance. That is the lesson I want you to learn. Learn it well; you may not get a second chance when your time comes. Maybe because he doesn’t have enough power in this land yet, but then it also was a mistake to try, because it only served to warn us.” This is a very strange thing for Zedd to say since only a few pages before it is revealed to Zedd that Darken has opened the boxes of Orden and by doing so he has made himself invulnerable to any and all types of harm. In addition to that, Zedd already knew that Darken was the most powerful wizard on the face of the Earth and that’s even someone of Zedd’s own considerable magical ability could not hope to challenge Darken Rahl. It therefore seems strange that Zedd would think that Darken had to resort to using a bunch of inbred yokels to carry out his dark designs.

Which brings me to Richard’s “remarkable” revelations. I know Terry was trying to make Richard seem smart and heroiffic. However the first time I read this scene I said to myself “hold on here- if Darken Rahl knows where to send the redneck mob after Zedd and co. then he obviously knows where the heroes are hiding.” I do not consider myself a genius, and yet I reached this conclusion within a split.

Now, as for the rest of the stuff Richard babbled- gargh I can’t even begin to describe how stupid this is.

Lets reconstruct Darken’s plan step by step, shall we? It is the only way to completely fathom Goodkind’s idiocy.

Even though Darken Rahl is the most powerful wizard on Earth and he is totally invulnerable and he knows the exact location of the heroes, he decides to:

A. Utilize a redneck mob of the local yokels to confront the heroes.

B. Rahl knows that not only will the heroes defeat the mob, but that the heroes will somehow discern that the mob was “a stew stirred by the hidden hand,” of Darken Rahl.

C. This is good for Rahl, since this will force the heroes to sit around for the longest time gloating about how they outsmarted a bunch of rednecks instead of saying “Ohmygosh! Darken Rahl knows where we live! Run away, run away, run away!”

D. So, while the heroes are gloating over their victory over the rednecks, Darken will swoop in and capture them, even though he could have done exactly the same thing, minus the redneck mob and warning the heroes that he knew exactly where they were.

Now, it is just me or this “plan” incredibly stupid? Or am I missing something? Does this whole sequence make sense and I’m just too dense to understand it?

- Zap Rowsdower


The secret of Goodkind's appeal


Goodkind's appeal is like McDonald's appeal. It's quick and easy to eat (read), it tastes good (it is satisfying on a basic level), it's easy to digest but wreaks havoc on your body (it takes very little reflection to swallow and destroys your ability to critically analyze), and if you really thought about what goes into it, you wouldn't eat there (actual reflection reveals the intensely harmful, shallow and desensitizing nature of the writing and world).

Goodkind's writing taps into basic human instincts, and I mean like, caveman basic. It's the same instincts that make you slow down for a car accident, turn and look when you think you see a naked person, and cheer on [national event] Day. It's the novel equivalent of a slasher flick - a bit of violence, a bit of tits, and in the end the good guy wins. It's not news, its olds. It's Cops, Montel, Sally Jesse, TLC presents the World's Fattest Man. It's news about the guy who kept a girl locked in his basement for 5 years then killed himself on a set of railroad tracks. Worse, it's a fly-on-the-wall view of what happened in the basement, then the train running over his head. It's every movie where the good guy gets beat to a pulp, but somehow manages to get up and win. It's the War on Drugs propoganda without the CIA forcing people to chose between growing the only viable crop in their dry, nutrient depleted soil while there's a gun pointed to their head or starving.

People want to see gross things, horrible things, but they also want in the end to see the bad guys punished and the good guys to win. Everyone is safe, even if they have to go through something harrowing in the end, the main people are safe. Richard will get tortured again and again, Klan will get almost raped, but you know they will never die, or actually be raped. Richard and Klan can get away with whatever they want because they are right, the people are right, not their actions. It reduces the world to simple things, we never have to wonder who is right, who we should cheer for, because no matter what, it is always Richard. The complicated world is distilled down to a simple fact of 'believe in this person, and you are correct'. It's the same simple view of the world that gets America criticized in foreign policy, so there's already a built-in audience for it. 300 million bored people with tremendous disposable income and a pre-existing penchant for unquestioning acceptance of 'the good guys' (Fox 'News' and CNN), who are already fed a steady diet of violence, sex, black-and-white good and evil on the evening news, freaks and titilation, the moral restraints of the Bible along with constant access to everything the Bible is against, all wrapped up in the idea that an action can be good or bad because of who does it, rather than what is done or why. On top of that, it's got a 'you can do anything if you try it, because you are soooo smart' invincible superman who is good at everything (when really he's not smart, he's magically enhanced) that we all wanted to be when we were kids that we can live out our fantasies in. Plus, he's got a hot girlfriend who's demure and pure when in public but has a turboslut switch he can flip on whenever he wants. And she's not quite as smart as he is, she always listens, and when she does disagree, she's always wrong.

In short, Goodkind provides a series of voyeuristic narratives which maintain a gruesome level of contrived tension, in easy language, with a protagonist we always wanted to be, lots of naughty bits, all wrapped in a ridiculously uncomplicated worldview that simplifies problems down to cushy decisions that generally can be solved with some speech showing how smart you are (against a straw opponent) or a sword. The villain always wears a black hat and the hero always gets the girl (who is a cheerleader in public and a harlot in the bedroom). All decisions are easy and all problems are resolved in 700 pages or less.

Or to be really short, it supports the idea of an world free from doubt.

But that's just what I think.

--------

One thing I missed out on (what happens when I compose at work) is his approach to 'justice'. It relates back to the instant gratification and moral simplicity thing. The villains are always punished in a most gruesome and gratifying way. We touched on it in many previous posts, and Demmin Nass is the best example. Just before he's about to triumph, some deus ex machina bullshit never alluded to in the past gets them out of their painted corner (fake paint, that just kinda appears out of nowhere, like the First Wizard, who threw up barriers separating a CONTINENT, is powerless because of...ya know, stuff). Then, when she finds out her honey is in danger, she attacks the source of the news (in my mind, she cuts his balls of not because of his pedophilia or his vicious leadership of his quads, but because she's upset about her lovey-dovey being kidnapped, tortured and possibly killed). But fortunately and gratifyingly for her readers, she can force him to cut his own balls off and eat them, despite the fact that the essential being that was Demmin Nass ceased to exist as soon as she Con Darred him. He could have been used, provided information, betray his boss, be a front-line fighter, the best possible personal guard ever. Instead, he dies because she doesn't have the brains to restrain her gushy love-vengeance and goes for the McDonalds for 30 seconds of gratification.

- WLU


The appeal of Goodkind-bashing


So, why do we bash Goodkind? Firstly and foremostly, because it's funny. We don't have a particular agenda to push, and we certainly don't "hate that he exists"; we just find him a ripe subject for parody and mockery. It's harmless fun and has produced some good discussion and some great comedy, as well as building a friendly online community. Portraying us as hate-filled fanatics is just not accurate.

But why Goodkind? There are plenty of bad writers out there, why have we chosen this particular one? Well, the main reason is the perceived pomposity and self-importance of the man himself. From his online interviews, he comes across as terribly arrogant, claiming that his books are revolutionary and original, and that he has serious philosophical points to make. We feel that this attitude makes him fair game. If he was just a mediocre writer who was happy to rake in the money, we'd probably still have a quick chuckle about the poor writing but then leave it at that; his constant claims to greatness leave him wide open to exactly this kind of criticism.

The quality of his writing is the most obvious area for criticism. The tropes and storylines are derivative, the plot twists are contrived, and the descriptions are overlong and frankly quite boring; one mark of a good writer is the practice of "show, don't tell", and Goodkind usually does the opposite. The worldbuilding is very sloppy and does not follow its own internal logic - for example, distances between places seem arbitrary depending on the demands of the plot. Goodkind has stated in interviews that the world's internal consistency is unimportant compared to the story's real human themes, but that's not a very good excuse; most writers can manage both.

As mystar has correctly surmised, our main problem with Goodkind is his philosophy, and particularly his attempts to force it into his storylines by any means necessary. The situations he creates to illustrate his philosophical points are unrealistic, and seem to only exist to show the heroes as moral, even when they commit actions that we consider abhorrent. His depiction of the moral spectrum as being simply Good or Evil is overly simplistic and in fact rather dangerous; having Richard's every act defined as Good simply because he is the hero is dishonest, and removes from the reader the option of making their own moral judgement.


On Moral Clarity


[Wikipedia definition of Moral clarity]
Though the actions of the United States and its allies may lead to civilian deaths or other forms of collateral damage, and may involve temporary alliances with undemocratic regimes, these actions are justified by the greater moral necessity of defeating terrorism and thus promoting American values and ensuring long-term U.S. security.

Opponents of action against terrorists are guilty of promoting moral relativism or moral equivalence, in which the allegedly similar means of both anti-terrorists and terrorists are used to blur the moral differences between good and evil.


Oh yes. Richard is truly the essence of moral clarity.

I don't have problems with people who believe they are morally right in certain, if not many things. Lots of people are like that, including me. I have problems when certain people disregard the possibility that they are morally wrong or incorrect, in certain, if not many things. I dislike them even more when they do not consider the fact that there are times when morality is relative and ambiguous, and changing.

Despite what the definitions seems to say, I think morality is relative. It varies from place to place, culture to culture. What could be taboo in a certain society could be perfectly normal in another. Also, there are times when the lines between right or wrong isn't clear. Morals change as well. It's the way of the world. Hell, even truth changes. What could be true today may be false tomorrow.

And it's the world that Richard (and by extension Terry Goodkind) rejects. They want clear, defined rules and lines, black and white, no gray.

SoT is, as mentioned before, an escapist fare, which is why many people like it. Many are sick and tired of trying to figure out what's right or wrong or making compromises on certain things. SoT is like the soothing balm from reality for them. There is very little compromise or gray areas in SoT, and the heroes able to do what he wants, no matter what, without having to compromise his beliefs and desires because they're morally right.

When I first read SoT with WFR, I admit I enjoyed parts of it, mostly because for me, it was fun to see the bad guys get their comeuppance. I'm a very passive reader, and for most part content to be entertained. Of course, this was before I found out that SoT was not fantasy (gasp!) but is actually about the nobility of the human spirit.

And why is this about the nobility of the human spirit or of man? Why because of the moral clarity the heroes possess, of course.

Which is just about the shittiest thing I've ever heard in my life. Having moral clarity does not make you an example of the nobility of the human spirit. It makes you an example of being a rather high-minded, escapist, rigid idiot.

Tolkien, I would totally understand if someone told me that this was a book on the nobility of man or whatnot, but SoT? I mean, how can something with be about truth or the nobility of man when its heroes and its author does not consider the possibility or even allow the possibility that they are not morally right or that morality can be relative. How can it be about the nobility of man when the heroes slaughter mercilessly those whose beliefs disagree with him? How it can be about truth when it doesn't seem to acknowledge the truth that morals are relative and ambiguous?

- The Wolf Maid


On Idealogical Continuity


I've always thought that Goodkind didn't start out with quite as much moral celery as he developed toward the end, and so he's constantly having to retcon his earlier ideas to make them more celerious. Now, I know he denies this, but hear me out.

Take the prophecy thing for example. In a book which claims to make choice paramount to morality, prophecy seems to be slightly at odds to the central theme of the whozamawhatsit, doesn't it? I mean Richard spent the whole of Stone of Tears worrying about that stupid prophecy that was going to kill Kahlan. Ideologically it would have made more sense if Richard or Kahlan had made some other choice, showed that prophecy has no effect on freewill and so neatly avoided the whole mess, but no, instead the prophecy is fulfilled albeit in a rather half assed way. I think Goodkind realised three books later that prophecy didn't really fit with his message and started trying to water it down a bit, and I know it's all terribly complex with dead prophecies and prophecy forks and so forth, but with all this still I don't recall there ever being a prophecy turn up on the page without it coming true in some way.

Same thing with the moratorium on meat, only more so. He made meat bad because Ricahrd balancing out his killing seemed cool and real, but then he realised that it didn't really gel with Yeardian ethics, retconned, and so gave the fans a mistake they can claim that Richard made, and mistakes make for super three dimensional characters don't you know. Especially the contrive, plot-hole filler type that aren't actually mistakes when you make them - in fact when you do the damn thing in the first place it's ingenious and solves a lot of problems - but which become mistakes only once your author realises they are ideologically unsound.

- Will

6 Comments:

Anonymous WLU said...

Context is for suckers, you death chooser!

1:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting...
The whole Rahl family seems to be composed of male morons...
That stuff w/ the devotion isn't really understood by the writer of the essay

12:45 am  
Anonymous Jason said...

I will have to agree with you on certain aspects of Goodkind's writing. When compared to a more impressive world builder like Robert Jordan, TG's writing abilities seem amateur. But, I will have to argue with you on your points about Richard. If I remember correctly, Richard never attacked anyone just for the sake of doing it. Yes, he would summarily destroy Imperial Order soldiers whenever he saw them, but this was only because they were at war. Jagang decided that he wanted the whole world to follow his crazy communistic ideas, and Richard was against it. As far as the devotion goes, if again I am remembering correctly, it is a part of the spell that protected all D'Haran's from Dream Walkers. Your thoughts on the scene about Zedd's trick and the rednecks. You are right, it doesn't make a great deal of sense, but the series as a whole was enjoyable for me. I didn't focus so much on the sex part of it, and my military experience has sort of desensitized me when it comes to violence, but my overall take on it was that Richards ideals were not that everyone should do as he does in order to be on that good side of things. In my reading through the books I decided that Richards ideals were that every person think for themselves instead of letting others do it for them. Doing for yourself is better than allowing others to do for you. It seems like an attack on current welfare issues in the US and people wanting their free handouts. SoTF, not my favorite...Naked Empire, not my favorite, but as a whole I think he did have a few creative ideas. I have never read any interviews on him, but doesn't his photo in this books have this creepy stalker look of a guy from Creepytown?

10:51 pm  
Anonymous Mr Spoon said...

Goodkind is dislikeable not really because he is a bad writer (he is very mediocre in an early-Dragonlance way) but in the feeling of moral nastiness that comes out of his writing. Reading Goodkind is like being trapped in a lift with a political weirdo who doesn’t realise how aroused he gets when he talks about punishing criminals. The combination of sermonising, straw-man arguments and weak logic just isn’t good enough to make his writing as intelligent as, say, David Eddings (who I don’t especially rate), let alone the serious philosophy Goodkind claims it to be. There is a continual sense – even when Richard is supposedly on the losing side of things – that the world is being manipulated to give Richard a continual stage to preach from. Consequently, the arguments all seem false. I hesitate to say that Goodkind is the sort of person his books make him seem to be, but I got the impression that I was reading the work of someone who gets very excited the thought of rape and torture, especially towards women. And as for moral clarity – what more does that really mean than “I am right because I’m sure I am”?

3:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Jason.... and concerning the context-matter: You cannot understand the full extent of the meaning of something by just ripping out a piece of text that sounds reasonable and convenient for your own beliefs. That puts it like you want to see it.
One true thing, and it doesn't derive from terry goodkinds philosophies but is my own viewing of things, is that the world is just the thing we want it to be... we as individuals see the world with different eyes. so each person has its own reality.
to some people SoT might seem a heep of shit, to others it might appear as well-written.
i read through all essays or reviews on this board and i must admit that, though i like this series, those comments let me see that topic from another angle...
thank you for that.
and the wolf maid has got a point.
i agree almost to everything she said... i like the thinking she did...
and you're constantly mentioning robert jordan... is the wheel of time recommendable?
thanks for being so direct so that everyone can see the critical side of TG's novels.

9:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've "read" every single book, though I'll admit I didn't read half of the last 2-3 as I was skiing the dialogue praying to sweet jebus that the story would just abruptly end at that point. I'd have to say this is one of the funniest things I've read in quite some time:

"Reading Goodkind is like being trapped in a lift with a political weirdo who doesn’t realise how aroused he gets when he talks about punishing criminals."

QFT.

6:48 pm  

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