|Submitted by Dutch |
(Jul 01, 2010)
I'm somewhat easily led by bad hype. It's one of the reasons why Ive never stuck my nose into Twilight. So it was with great trepidation that I opened up Wizard's First Rule on the suggestion of a friend. I've heard of the strong political overtones the series has and Ive read interviews of Goodkind and like many celebrity objectivists (Not all) of his ilk, he comes across as a snidey pompous git. But I decided to throw negative press into the wind and crack Wizard's First Rule open and try it.
Well I'm 350 pages in and my judgement at this point, a resounding .....uhhhhh. I really don't know what to make of this book. I feel like I'm sifting for diamonds on a beach; small moments of brightness amidst a very dry read.
Let me point out first, that WFR is by no means a horrid book, its just so....dry. Thats the only word to spring to mind. Goodkind relies heavily on telling the readers what a character is feeling as opposed to letting their actions dictate their mood and while thats not a bad thing, he does it a lot. Yes I get it; Richard is angry, his heart bursts with hot need; I GET IT! Maybe its because Im spoiled for authors that really stretch the English language like China Mieville but Goodkind's writing is droll and often repetitive.
The characters are not really anything that I find overly interesting; Richard is dull and seems to have only two emotional switches; angry and insightful, and when he's insightful he channels the author. He comes across as just bland enough that the reader can stick their head into his and become Richard. Zedd is an interesting character for me; a wizard who is a dirty old pervert and I never tire of his antics. But then we have Kahlan. Kahlan is the book's indefinite milksop and weepy maiden. She cries, weeps on Richard's shoulder, pines for him, mopes about having power she cannot use and then repeats the cycle and after a while I stopped caring. But there are subtleties to her character that I found refreshing (Kahlan claiming Richard was her whore when they stopped at a disreputable inn was priceless) but the subtleties are rare and I actually find the minor characters more interesting (Chase is a favourite at the moment and he disappeared after three chapters...ugh and as for Samuel I keep thinking he's gonna say PRECIOUS every second line). It seems like the lesser characters are more interesting because they are not affected by Goodkind's politics.
Speaking of politics, Goodkind's branch to Objectivism is there and it exists in the form of the villains. Queen Milena's rant about the evils of selfish men (a farmer of all people refusing to share his food with greedy nobles) is a direct finger towards communism and Darken Rahl's open hand to unite all people under the banner of Father Rahl is a subtle jab at the same evil. It seems that Goodkind's editors reined him in in this novel and the worst of his politics came later when he was given more freedom. But the polemic is not too bad here so I'll let it slide.
But Rahl....ohhhhh Rahl! Now I like well-created villains. A good villain to me lets his actions dictate his villain status. Raistlin Majere was an effective villain not because he was the biggest baddest dude in the Dragonlance series, but because every little thing he did contributed to his character and made him a deep meaningful character.
To me Darken Rahl is not a villain; he's a caricature of a villain. He's all the worst qualities of humanity rolled up into one and spat out on display. He tortures his subjects with glee, he sacrifices children, he demeans and rapes women, his Captain of the Guard is a child molester, he has evil scars across his face that he licks, he has bouts of mania. I don't so much as grip the pages in terror when he arrives on stage, as I laugh my backside off; he's so gloriously (im assuming unintentionally) over the top that I keep reading just to see what boundary he'll overstep next.
So what's my verdict then? I have absolutely no idea; I feel like there are things I should like about the book, but on the same page, those same things get roped back by droll writing, boring narmy characters and an uninspired plot. I only give it two stars because its not a complete train-wreck.