Tag Archives: legend of the seeker

The Shannara Chronicles Ruined the Book

ShannaraНавес из дерева своими руками

Well, not everyone thinks so. But the split seems to be that readers of the book hate it, and those who haven’t read it don’t mind it. Just like Legend of the Seeker.

Not like Game of Thrones. With Game of Thrones, not only do readers and non-readers alike love it, but a great many readers like the TV series better. So what’s the difference?

Staying true to the story. Although Game of Thrones has been embellished, at the heart of it, it remains true to GRRM’s plot. It is an excellent adaptation of the books.

The Shannara Chronicles is more… ‘inspired by’ The Elfstones of Shannara than it is an on-screen adaptation.

Oh, how can I list the ways in which this TV show just ‘makes shit up’? (that’s technical jargon by the way—oh, also, spoiler alert if you haven’t read the book and intend to do so, or haven’t watched the series and intend to):

Dagda Mor

I only made it to the fifth episode before I got over the ‘just making stuff up’ thing, but I persevered out of some weird obligatory feeling.

So what did I like?

Well, they changed Amberle. She was a bit whiny and pathetic in the books, so I’m totally on board with empowering her and making her more interesting. Her motivations didn’t really stack up all that well in the book.

The Dagda Mor. I loved the way they made him look. I am not sure how I would have imagined it, but it will now always be just like this.

Allanon was commercially acceptable, if not exactly as described.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

Allanon

And the thing I absolutely, absolutely hated? This is the one that broke the show for me too.

The Reaper. In the TV show, it’s more like the Horseman of War from Sleepy Hollow, or even bit like the Balrog in Lord of the Rings. That’s kind of cool and impressive and visually exciting, but it’s not right.

You know what the Reaper should have been? More like Predator.

This thing is a natural-born killer. You don’t see it, not ever. People just die. One minute they are there, and then they are gone. You don’t see it, but you know it’s there. You know it is stalking you. You know it is coming for you.

And you know you can’t stop it.

It was the scariest and creepiest thing in the whole book, and they ruined it.

Game of Thrones has shown us how it should be done, so why are people still breaking good fantasy books???

P.S. As a side note, there are scenes where you can see that the weapon props clearly don’t have anything resembling an edge on them! You couldn’t cut a loaf of bread with Eretria’s knife, much less someone’s throat.

The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind: A Review

The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind: A Review

I love Terry Goodkind. I love the Sword of Truth books – OK with the exception of Soul of the Fire and Pillars of Creation, which sucked, because why, why, would you not use a character as awesome as Richard as your POV character? But moving right along…

 The Omen Machine felt strange to me. It didn’t suck to the degree of Soul of the Fire and Pillars of Creation (which, as a rule, I don’t re-read when I read the series again – I just read the last 50 pages or so to remind me where it ended before going to the next book), but it didn’t rock my world like the other Richard books. I would have to say I even enjoyed The Law of Nines more, and it isn’t even strictly a Richard book at all. So what was the problem with it?

It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I’ve summarised it down to these issues:

  • The book is primarily a mystery, albeit fantasy, without the impetus of a villain that exists in earlier books. The death of Jagang has left a void, and Goodkind attempts to fill it with a new villain, but for the early part of this book the main conflict is essentially discovering the answer to the mystery – what is the omen machine and what does it mean. I don’t feel this is handled with a sufficient degree of tension or suspense and I found the first half of the book quite slow and difficult to read;
  • I noticed instances of less than stellar writing more often than I usually would e.g. excessive wordiness and the like. Possibly this was because of the less-than-gripping storyline, which left me greater leisure to notice things. Usually the plot whirls me past so fast the words are a blur.
  • The book lacked the usual patterns I associate with Richard. Often I live in total dread of the terrible things happening to the characters and await that moment at the end where everyone gets his just desserts and Richard wreaks terrible, bloody havoc on everyone who deserves it. This time the problems for the characters seemed a mere inconvenience (until the very end) compared to some of the previous perils faced and the ending lacked the usual satisfaction. The tension was simply insufficient to the task. Repetition is undesirable but so are differences if the comparisons are unflattering;
  • The characters seemed to overlook what I thought were obvious problems (hello, you have an inflamed cut that magic can’t heal and this doesn’t concern you??) and encountered problems that seemed repetitious (how many times now have the people lost faith in Lord Rahl? OK, probably realistic but *yawn* so over it). While it may have been necessary to deal with some of these, perhaps it could have been handled with less detail. Of course, here I refer back to Soul of the Fire, which I consider to be a boring book wasted on making a point that could have been made in a shorter or more interesting fashion.
When you add them altogether, that’s some serious issues. I believe this might even qualify as ‘story porridge’ as Tobias Buckell puts it. 

To some extent, a reader should expect this book to be slow starting. Goodkind appears to be setting up a new multi-book plotline with a new villain, although I question if anyone could give Jagang a serious run for his money. The new villain takes a good stab at being more visually terrifying than Jagang, which isn’t a bad effort given Jagang wasn’t exactly a polished example of civilisation. That said, Wizard’s First Rule was the set-up for a multi-book series and had far greater tension and much faster pace, so this isn’t much of an excuse. 

If you stick it out past the first half of the book you may find yourself more engaged in the latter half of the book, but sad to say that isn’t much of a recommendation. I’ll be interested to see if the next book improves upon The Omen Machine

If we go with a strike rate of one dud book per five, hopefully the next will be much better!
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My Passion Play: Richard and Kahlan

Richard and Kahlan

The couple I have selected for my Passion Play is Richard and Kahlan from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. If I had to pick my favourite books, it would have to be this series. Without a doubt theirs is the greatest romance I have yet read. 

There is so much I would love to say about their tortured relationship but there are eleven books. A twelfth has just been released that follows the close of the main conflict, but unfortunately I have not read it yet. It would definitely ruin the series for any of you who haven’t read it if I was to go on about all the insurmountable obstacles Richard and Kahlan must face. Even the little I will say here will give away some secrets in the first book, Wizard’s First Rule. Don’t worry, I’m not giving away the ending. 

At the opening of Wizard’s First Rule, Richard Cypher is a woods guide in Westland, a land screened away from the magic of the rest of the world by a barrier made of the underworld. Out in the woods, he sees a woman pursued by four big heavily armed men. Although they are obviously trained soldiers and Richard has nothing but a belt-knife, he doesn’t hesitate to interfere. He doesn’t even know why they are chasing her. That’s just the kind of man Richard is. 

Things probably wouldn’t have turned out so well for him except for the intervention of ‘thunder without sound’. Of course, things also wouldn’t have turned out so well for her without his intervention either. From their very first meeting, Richard and Kahlan rely on each other.

The woman he has rescued is Kahlan Amnell. What Richard doesn’t know is she is the Mother Confessor of the Midlands, a land of magic on the other side of the underworld barrier. The Midlands lies in great peril from a tyrant named Darken Rahl and she has come searching for the long-lost great wizard to name a Seeker of Truth.

What we, the reader, gradually learn is that a ‘Confessor’ is a woman who has the power to compel others to love her. When she releases her power it makes ‘thunder without sound’. A terrible power and one the Confessors are bound to use in the name of justice. The Confessors travel the Midlands enforcing the law and taking ‘confessions’ when necessary. A heart-breaking part of her duty is when someone condemned to death requests a Confessor. She knows he must be innocent to ask to be touched, but she must touch him anyway and in so doing destroy him. 

The problem for Richard and Kahlan’s love is two-fold:

  1. Once touched by a Confessor’s power, that person is wholly and solely devoted to her, forgetting all responsibilities, family and friends. The person they were is destroyed. There is no cure to a Confessor’s touch, although sometimes someone proven innocent by a Confessor’s touch can be changed to an animal, which lessens (but does not remove) the effect of the Confessor’s touch; and
  2. A Confessor does not ‘summon’ her power, she ‘holds it in’. It requires effort on her part to do that. If she forgets, she will accidentally release her power and anyone touching her will be destroyed. A Confessor is rarely distracted enough to forget to hold her power in… except, say, in the ultimate moment of passion?
For this reason a Confessor’s mate is always a man she has touched with her power and never someone she actually cared. To make love to a man she cared for would be to destroy the very man she loves. 

What hope do Richard and Kahlan have?

Everyone else would tell them none, but Richard is a ‘rare person’ and to his mind every problem has a solution. It is this very quality that has made him ideal for the post of Seeker of Truth. Richard always finds the truth. No exceptions.

I’m not going to tell you how he gets around it. All I will say is have hope! 

Not too much, though, because their relationship is fraught with just about every conceivable hurdle.
I have been told by a few of my readers (OK, not that I have many just yet) that I do terrible things to my characters. I am but a humble apprentice at the feet of the master. The things Terry Goodkind does to his characters boggles the mind. Re-reading this series can be hard (as much as I love it!) because I read in anticipation of the horror I know is coming. 

Just to touch on some of the things Richard and Kahlan must overcome, there are several forced separations and kidnappings, the mistaken belief than one or both of them is dead (fortunately they don’t deal with this Romeo and Juliet style), and forced, consummated marriages to other people. 

No matter what terrible things Terry Goodkind does to this couple, I read on for the last 50 pages of each book. I read on, comfortable in my faith that all will be set right and generally bloody and terminal things will happen to the bad guys.

I live for the ‘You really shouldn’t have done that’ moment in each book. I crave it. Maybe it’s what I love the most. Richard is not unstoppable (no convincing good guy is) but there is a line that cannot be crossed. It usually involves something someone has done to Kahlan. And once crossed, there is no coming back. 

Down that road lies only the bringer of death and his Sword of Truth.

Author’s Note:There is a TV series loosely based on these series of novels. The books are much better. I haven’t even finished watching the TV series because watching it just made me miss all the cool things that happen in the books but not the TV series. Richard’s total awesomeness just doesn’t come across in the TV series, although I commend Craig Horner for his depiction of Richard. The limitations were due to the script deviating from the books and not Craig Horner’s performance.

Today’s dragon picture is of Scarlet, Darken Rahl’s red dragon, with Richard and Kahlan.