Yesterday, I finished the book Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. I originally became interested in the book as a result of seeing the TV show Legend of the Seeker, which is loosely based on the book.

In the novel, Richard Cypher is an unassuming woodland guide in a region called Westland. His land is separated from the two other lands of the world, Midland and D’Hara, by the “boundary”, a magical wall where the separation between the living world and the underworld has been removed. The intention of the boundary is to protect Westland’s residents from the effects of magic, which is prevalent in the other regions.

During the course of the story, Richard encounters Kahlan Amnell, a beautiful woman in strange dress being pursued by large armed men. He helps protect her, and makes a friend of her. Her mission is to find a particular wizard whose name has been forgotten due to powerful magic, then convince or force him to name a Seeker of Truth so that the Seeker can return with her to the midlands and kill the evil Darken Rahl. Of course, she doesn’t realize that Richard would eventually be named that Seeker, and that one of his closest friends is the wizard Zedd, the one for whom she searches.

The book started off interestingly enough. I think I saw some efforts of the author to bring the story to paper by writing a chapter and then letting things happen. That’s fine. But because things didn’t feel exactly full planned, the overall story just seemed like an unrelated flow from one thing happening to the next. This is not to say that the story was unenjoyable, just apparently disjointed.

There were some details that I think were lost along the way toward completion. For example, Richard has a necklace with him from the beginning of the story. This necklace can be traced magically by his enemy, Rahl. But when he intentionally loses the necklace for other reasons, this does not cause Rahl difficulty – it is never mentioned again.

Also affecting continuity, now that I think about it, was the scene where Chase shows up at Queen Milena’s castle with horses. I thought that a prior scene, where Kahlan and Richard run into the child, Rachel, in the wayward pine, was fantastic, and I wondered how these characters, who were at that time so rationally opposed to each other in their heads yet still on the same side, would eventually work out their issues. But Goodkind’s solution - throw Chase at them to get them all together - while effective, seemed so much less clever than that first scene that I was disappointed.

Nonetheless, there were points in the book I enjoyed. This book did not suffer from as much Harry Potterism as many fantasies tend to. You know the effect: You read through the whole book wondering how certain things seem to keep coincidentally happening, or how a magic described one way by characters seems to keep working certain other strange ways, and then you get to the end of the book and Dumbledore explains everything away with some stupid thing that doesn’t even make any sense. “Harry was saved by his dead mother’s love.” No, he should have been turned into a hash brown. Yes, much less of that silliness.

I would have appreciated some way to guess how Richard was going to save everyone in the end, but what was offered seems plausible. I was actually thinking that could be a way around the problem in the TV show, but never considered it in the book, for some reason.

One fascinating aspect of this book, and the one thing I think makes Star Wars even worth considering, is that the bad guys aren’t exclusively “bad”. Sure, they commit atrocities, I grant that. But if you remove that, and look at what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, they have their own justification. Not only do they have a reason for what they do, but they think what they’re doing is right. The book Soon I Will Be Invincible has some of this same notion.

Another interesting bit is the difference between the book and the show. The mythos for the show is just a bit wildly different than the book.

A significant example of the difference: In the book, Richard’s father gives him the Book of Counted Shadows. The book is a guide to opening the magical Boxes of Orden, and knowing which one does what. Richard destroys the book, but not before memorizing the whole thing perfectly.

In the TV show, Kahlan gives him the book, which is used to grant the seeker magical powers. Richard determines that the book is too dangerous to exist, and destroys it. Apparently, opening the Boxes of Orden is a well-known process.

There are other little things. There are certainly places in the book where the TV show couldn’t go. Particularly, the show’s interpretation of Denna was significantly abbreviated. Still, it’s satisfying to see the differences, and I’m not unsatisfied with either standing on its own.

One thing I particularly liked about the book was the wizard’s first rule itself. But that’s a secret you’ll have to read the book (or apparently Wikipedia) to find.