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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Wizardís First Rule

Reviewed: December 4, 2005
By: Terry Goodkind
Publisher: TOR Books
836 pages, $8.99

With the Stone of Truth novels the questions was a little more complex† and my hesitation had to do with the sheer size of the task. Did I really need to start another fantasy series loaded with five centimetre thick installments? I was further put off by the fact that the American author has had some uncomplimentary things to say about Canada since 9/11, as reported on a number of fan websites.

But the publisher kept sending me new hardcovers of later books in the series, tomes I hardly dared lift without succumbing to that readerís ailment known as Stephen King Wrist, so I gave in and picked up a paperback edition of this 1994 book, which is where it all begins.

Happily, it could also end here. While there are clear signs of untied plot threads, and I already know there are at least four more books, this one actually tells a complete story and does a decent job of it.

As much as Iíve enjoyed Robert Jordanís Wheel of Time saga, it does suffer from a sort of cliffhangeritis that Goodkind avoids.

We meet Richard Cypher, a simple woodsman. He saves a woman named Kahlan who is being pursued by three nasty assassins, takes her back to his native village and home and soon finds that they have to flee for both their safety.

From an old friend named Zedd, who turns out to be a wizard, Richard learns that he is a special individual with a mission. Only he can safely wield the Sword of Truth, which is the only protection against the dark forces rising in the Midlands region of the world. It used to be that the wild magic there was blocked from entering Richardís Westland or the eastern land of Díhara, but the mystic barriers are falling due to the workings of a wizard named Darken Rahl, and Richard has to meet and defeat this powerful ruler before things fall apart utterly.

Reading this in the light of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Goodkindís support for the invasion of Iraq, I couldnít help but read preemptive regime change into Richardís commission from Zedd, but this would have been written after the first Bushís Gulf War, so thatís not actually likely.

There are shades of Tolkien here, as well as shades of George Lucas and touch of Dungeons and Dragons. There is forbidden romance and some really nasty bondage stuff in the last quarter of the book. All this is part of Richardís education as a wizard/warrior, and while thereís a lot of action in this novel, Richardís growth into a role he fills very reluctantly is the main feature of the novel.

The second book, Stone of Tears, is now staring at me. Itís 100 pages longer. My son has read it and says itís very good. I suppose Iím committed to giving it a try, but not just yet.

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