Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book review: 'Wizard's First Rule' by Terry Goodkind

This is the book (or one of 'em) that the recent tv series 'Legend of the Seeker' was based on. The series was a jolly wheeze and on the strength of enjoying the double helping each week I treated myself to the book a few weeks ago. I finally finished it last night but have very mixed feelings.

The story was great - a real page turner. I liked most of the characters, who were warm and sympthetic and less one-dimensional than many fantasy genre characters. And I really enjoyed some of the mind-stretching philosophy Goodkind wove into the story, where nothing was quite what it seemed and good wasn't always 100% better than evil. It really made you think.

But oh dear! The style! For the most part it's terribly, terribly basic, of the 'she did this, he said that' variety, and so repetitive I found myself skim-reading huge chunks. The hero, Richard, would be holding an internal argument with himself while tracking through a forest, and forty pages on he was still have the same internal argument with himself in the same forest. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but not by much.

This is an example of what I mean, but it's not the only bit. There's more. Lots, lots more. Three more paragraphs of this argument alone, and another seven hundred pages in the book....

But what was wrong with taking the sword? What could it hurt to have its help? Wouldn't it be foolish to turn down any assistance? Apparently the sword could be put to any use its owner wanted, so why not use it in the way he wanted? He didn't have to become an assassin, or anything else. He could use it to help them, that was all. That was all that was needed, or wanted; no more.

The cynic in me can't help thinking that it's very easy to write a 100,000 word book if you repeat every idea/sentence eight times in slightly varying ways.

Would I read another book in the series? Unless anyone can convince me that Goodkind has changed his style and tidied up his English, probably not. Which is a shame as it's basically a great story...

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