Tag Archives: terry goodkind

What Game of Thrones Got Right But Legend of the Seeker Got Horribly Wrong

In the last few years, two epic fantasy series have been adapted for TV – The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin, screening under the name of the first book, Game of Thrones, and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth, screening under the name Legend of the Seeker.

Of the two sets of books, I love The Sword of Truth more. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, don’t hate me, I do like A Song of Ice and Fire, but consider checking out The Sword of Truth if you haven’t already (except book 5 and 7, in my humble opinion…). Same goes if you like Legend of the Seeker – I really cannot emphasise how much better the books are than the TV series. 

Why are the books better than the TV series? Although the books are good I wouldn’t describe them as brilliant, but in my opinion Legend of the Seeker was as much an unmitigated disaster as Game of Thrones is a success. 

One has to wonder why? I have two theories, the second of which feeds out of the first:
  1. Legend of the Seeker was significantly adapted from the books, until it only bore a passing resemblance to the original story. Now I know changes may be necessary to adapt a book for screen, but these changes were so extreme they almost wrote a whole new story – in fact, for season two, it’s arguable they did, because Darken Rahl bit the dust in Wizard’s First Rule (the first book in The Sword of Truth) and that was pretty much endgame for him.

    By contrast,
    Game of Thrones has been very true to the books. In fact, you could almost go so far as to say they’ve essentially made a movie out of the book, and then chopped it into TV show length bites and screened it in succession. Legend of the Seeker instead made an effort to have individualised episodes with a connecting theme or story arc.

    Legend of the Seeker
    failed, but Game of Thrones has been a raging success – at least, Legend of the Seeker was axed after two seasons, and I’ll be very surprised if the same happens to Game of Thrones – and I think deviations from the main plot is a large part of the reason.  There is nothing wrong with the story in Wizard’s First Rule or Stone of Tears (the second book in The Sword of Truth) and either could have been done in the same way as Game of Thrones, instead of mangling the story beyond recognition to try and turn it into 22 connected short stories.
  2. As a result of the significant rewriting that occurred in order to film Legend of the Seeker, the violence and dark themes of The Sword of Truth series were significantly dialled back, and it screened as suitable for children with parental guidance (PG rating in Australia). If it had been filmed true to the books, it would have been suitable only for a mature audience – virtually the same audience currently watching Game of Thrones.

    On the other hand, Game of Thrones
    has been more or less true to the violence and sexual themes of the books. OK, maybe toned down a fraction, but it’s still clearly an adult themed show. I’m not suggesting so much that viewers want graphic violence and sex (I don’t know – maybe they do!) but changing this can very much change the nature of the setting. Would Game of Thrones be the same ugly, real world it is without the violence and sex? Probably not. To some degree you can control the way in which you portray it, but it must still be present.

    It wasn’t present in
    Legend of the Seeker, depriving that world of much of the true atmosphere of fear, horror and danger permeating the books, and without that backdrop the effect of the story on the viewer is significantly diluted.
I am enjoying Game of Thrones immensely, but almost the only thing I can think of that was right about Legend of the Seeker is the casting! Definitely no arguments about Craig Horner as Richard…

Have you seen both Game of Thrones and Legend of the Seeker? Which do you prefer, and why? Have you read the books? And if so, which do you prefer and why? Did you find Legend of the Seeker disappointing as compared to Game of Thrones or The Sword of Truth?

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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.