Terry Goodkind

Vladd67

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I've never read any of Goodkind's books, and judging by the hatred the vast majority of readers on this (and other) forums have for them, I don't think I ever will. But I think perhaps you guys failed to consider a possibility: Terry Goodkind is a genius! Why? Because it's all an act!

Think about it for a second; no one could have the kind of ego and unshakeable self-belief that Goodkind displays in the interviews. Maybe he fakes it. Like saying that he puts a lot of thought into his names, while apparently he has characters named 'Richard' and 'Zedd'. It was tongue-in-cheek. I mean, come on! No one can be that oblivious!

Have you guys ever seen pro-wrestling i.e. WWE? Well, you know how there are wrestlers who'll be fan-favourites for a while, then they'll smack another 'good' guy in the face with a steel chair and then turn 'heel', that is to say, a 'villain'? I think that's what Goodkind has done! He whacked all of you in the face with the steel chair of his mediocre writing and giant ego.

You see, at some point, he realised that he probably wasn't good enough to compete straight up with George R. R. Martin, Erikson, Jordan, Mieville and the new guys like Abercrombie, Rothfuss, Lynch etc. So, he decided that he'll drum up interest by 'turning heel'. That's why he comes off as having a God complex; he's playing it up! The man's brilliant!

That's gotta be it, right?



Ummm... right...?

If only
 

Ursa major

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If I may quote something I posted (in December '07) in a thread about the death of Karlheinz Stockhausen:
Yesterday, on a radio arts review programme, I heard an enthusiast for Stockhausen's work being interviewed. One of the things the man said he liked was a work that, so he said, required the audience to have fasted for four days first. (I hope I heard him correctly - even with someone like Stockhausen, it seems more than a bit odd!)

On hearing this, and having heard about other similar stunts, I wondered whether some artists are amused by, or even despise, some of their more ardent followers and cannot resist the urge to play jokes on them.
The next post in that thread included this:
From the Stones concert at the Altamont on through to the excesses of John Cage and beyond, artists have been known to express their disdain for their acolytes in some pretty sadistic, bizarre and unconventional ways, what amounts to little more than high-profile pranksterism.


So why you may be correct about Goodkind's behaviour, you might be misidentifying his target:
He whacked all of you in the face with the steel chair of his mediocre writing and giant ego.
perhaps should be:
He whacked all of his fans in the face....
And he did it because he can.
 

mr715

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First time post. I would really appreciate any reply because I've found this thread incredibly interesting.

I've read Ayn Rand and all of Mr. Goodkind's books. I want to offer a qualified criticism of Mr. Goodkind's work from the perspective of intellectual consistency, quality of writing, and thematically meaningful plot.

Mr. Goodkind writes extremely strong women in the same sense that Greek myths told stories of strong women - they are idealized, desexualized (indeed androgynous), and static. Kahlan is a profoundly strong woman in early books. Duty trumps emotion because she carries such a profound burden...however...

Then came series decay. Wizard's First Rule (a spectacular if contrived escapist fantasy) presents a novel, a world, and characters. It is "medium" fantasy - active magic with fantastic creatures, but most of the rules are the same as the real world. There are dragons, there are spells that prevent the consumption of red fruit, there are mysterious forces, there are dying races and ancient, arcane lore.

Wizard's First Rule resolved a love story between a strong male character and a strong female character, transcending class and obligations, defeating enemies, all for love. They succeeded and the story ended.

Stone of Tears was a successfully written epic fantasy sell out. The story had been told. But it was still an interesting story.

Blood of the Fold was filler. Temple of the Winds showed Goodkind's unusual sexual preferences I believe. It had scenes of incredible violence and depravity that were downright offensive.

SOUL OF THE FIRE - a political thriller, which referred to Bill Clinton as a rapist and Hillary Clinton as a murderer. Al Gore had the distinction of dying of a sexually transmitted disease. Don't believe me? Read the description of the characters and (with the exception of Al Gore) their initials.

There ended the series. There began the politics.

Faith of the Fallen was a rewrite of the Fountainhead, and all subsequent novels tried to resurrect the poorly articulated and weakly jointed themes from Faith of the Fallen.

The theme of the book, initially, was the power of the individual. The rights of one MAN (or WOMAN) to stand up and say "I am!"

As the series progressed it became less about the broad pronouncement of individuality, but more about the acceptance of moral absolutism and the abdication of personal responsibility. Darken Rahl was the villain of the first book because he converted masses of people to his cause through guile, caused them to do evil, caused them to murder their own, and steal people's liberties.

Then, later, Richard did the same. The Wizard's First Rule comes to mind - people are stupid. I cannot shake the notion that Mr. Goodkind is writing his books with this in mind. He has played a massive game and fooled his readers into believing that he actually believes his protagonist is moral....

Objectivism, according to Ayn Rand, rests on the following --

Metaphysics - Reality exists (but it does not in Goodkind's world)

Epistemology - Reason allows us to comprehend reality (but not in Goodkind's world, because of the all this "instinct based / deus ex machina" magic

Ethics - Individual Freedom (until a benevolent dictator orders the wholesale murder of entire cultures and the ethnic cleansing of the vast majority of the world)

Aesthetics - Art creates freedom (there are at least 5 examples of art being used as a symbol to enslave in Goodkind's world)

and finally...

Politics - free market capitalism.

There it is, fine readers. Post Wizard's First Rule, Goodkind's work was a philosophical misinterpretation or willful misrepresentation of objectivism to present a POLITICAL ideology.

Finally, I want to speak on style.

Kahlan Amnell... the last Confessor, the most powerful creature of magic in the world. In book 1.

Kahlan Amnell... the last Confessor, the most powerful creature of magic in the world until she is captured. In book 2.

Kahlan Amnell... the last Confessor, easily defeated by thugs. In book 3.

Kahlan Amnell... who is forced to sup on her own blood and sacrifice her soul for nothing. In book 4.

Kahlan Amnell... a nonentity in book 5.

Kahlan Amnell... forgotten in the terminus of the series.


ONE LAST POINT! DEUS EX MACHINA is the bane of fantasy... Magic is rare in an objectivist world, ay? It is stated thus in books 1, 2, and 3... and yet thee is an endless supply of sorceresses and wizards whenever the plot requires.

I have counted them. Goodkind establishes 113 magically characters (sorceress) and killed over 200.

Goodkind is no great philosopher. He is a militiaman. He told a good story but he has contempt for his readers. I disavow his "philosophy" but read because I am compelled for love of his characters and his world.

The goal of art is to captivate the observer for however long the art allows. Mr. Goodkind, until you can captivate me with your philosophy, you are no novelist. You are a storyteller. So tell a story.
 

mr715

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No I cannot stop.

Book 1 - Kahlan is molested three times and is threatened with rape twice. One time rape is attempted.

Book 2 - Kahlan is molested once and is threatened with rape four times. Rape is attempted.

Book 3 - Kahlan is molested once and is threatened with rape.

Book 4 - Kahlan is sexually abused and forced to accept being raped by God/The Powers that Be.

Book 5 - Kahlan is beaten the point of abortion.

And I can go on.

I deeply resent the notion that Mr. Goodkind believes that this represents women positively. I also cannot get over how in book 1 people are being lied to about cannibalism and it is a plot point for the good guys to harp on, only for Goodkind himself to use the pathos of cannibalism on his READERS in book 10!

I swear, Goodkind is brilliant. He has developed a devoted fan base that worship the man in spite of his books allegedly stating that we ought not worship any one man.

He is laughing, laughing at people that hang on his every word.

To quote Mr. Goodkind, "Your life is your own, rise up and live it." or "Reason can be your only guide".

Does Richard ordering the execution of thousands of innocent women and children strike you as a moral action in a world of moral absolutes?

Does Richard need to wear a black hat to be a bad guy?

Or does the simple fact that Richard being stated as a good guy cause he readers to REFUSE reality, REJECT reason, and embrace a tortuous ethical mess?

Either moral absolutes exist and the protagonist is evil, or they do not exist and Goodkind wove a lie.

AHH!!!
 

CBellenis

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Wow! that's quite a statement! You have said so many different things that it's hard to know where to direct a reply! but I wonder if I might distil some thoughts as it seems you've gone into a lot of detail to elucidate my (and other's) gut feelings about the book. It seems that what started out as a good yarn, with enjoyable characters, turned into a vehicle for Goodkind's rather unpleasant philosophy's and sexual predilections. I'm fascinated with your take on his anti-Democrat (in all senses of the word!!) stance, killing of Bill and Hilary Clinton - I can't remember the bit of the tales that is in (and don't plan to re-read it!) but it seems not unlikely.

At least the writers of 'legend of the seeker' have managed to take the better characterisations and vaguest plot lines from his story to make a decent TV's entertainment.
I'm always left with a perennial question...if he brought out another book in the series, would I read it?? I fear the answer may be yes - but I'm not at all sure why as I have lost any optimism that he's capable of just writing yarns any more.
 

Boneman

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Interesting analysis, mister. I'm absolutely convinced that Terry Goodkind fans will never in a million years contemplate that level of understanding of his books, as it might actually make them see through the writing. And I guess they'll fall on the argument "It's Fiction" and part of me has to agree with that, even though the themes in the books are disturbing.

Let's hope Goodkind (What's his really name?) finally comes clean (preferably before his deathbed) and admits: "I did it for the money"...
 

mr715

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Regarding Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Book 5, Soul of the Fire. The main antagonists are Bertram Chambor and Hildamara Chambor (B.C. and H.C.), who have a child "neither of them care much for" named Marsea or Marseah (a clear attempt at Chelsea Clinton).

Bertram (B.C.) is described as sex addled, a repeat rapist, with no core values yet immense political skills. Hildamara (H.C.) is described as a blond woman with thick ankles and ruthless political instincts. She authorizes murder and rape, overlooks her husband's infidelity only insofar as it does not damage her public persona.

They are clear constructions of Bill and Hillary Clinton, who are eventually killed by their deputy who has sex with a prostitute and gives both of 'em an STI.


The series ended after Wizard's First Rule. I enjoyed Stone of Tears and Blood of the Fold insofar as they added richness to the mythos and the story was the primary element.

After that point, it became obvious that Mr. Goodkind was running out of ideas.

I do not believe his earlier writing is very bad, but he is clearly taking lessons from Ayn Rand LATER in the series because his writing mirrors hers later (Ayn Rand was a notoriously bad writer). Faith of the Fallen is considered by his followers his finest book because, I believe, he says it is his best work. It came with a bookmark noting it as a "book of ideas". But it was not.

His tone changes from book to book, and it forms a very clear demarcation between his early (good) work and his later (bad) work.

Wizards First Rule - contrived but fun, edgy fantasy

Stone of Tears - contrived but fun, epic fantasy

Blood of the Fold - dark and brooding, thriller elements

Temple of the Winds - shock value, 3-cent serial killer novel

Soul of the Fire - attempted horror / political thriller

Faith of the Fallen - dour epic fantasy written over the Fountainhead. No attempt at telling a story independent of ideology. Deus ex machina used for all conflict.

Pillars of Creation - introduces Goodkind's gun rights belief. Introduces unnecessary characters and makes no reference to previous books. Gratuitous scenes of torture and abuse of animals.

Naked Empire - three pages of story, 900 pages of speeches. A failed attempt to emulate Atlas Shrugged.

Chainfire, Phantom, Confessor - these three books were a DESPERATE attempt to reconcile his earlier work with his later work. He retconed the statements in Wizard's First Rule to allow his philosophy to be correct and his own bedrock writing be changed.

He is not intellectually nor creatively consistent and I would love to hear some comments on this.
 

Uraeus

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I have read the first one and I am wondering if there is any point bothering with the rest.
 

Toby Frost

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I have read the first one and I am wondering if there is any point bothering with the rest.

Half of the above applies to me. Given that I thought Wizard's First Rule was poorly-written, tasteless rubbish riddled with self-insertion and feebly masquerading as philosophy, I doubt I'd get much out of the others.
 

Toby Frost

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Ok, maybe that was a bit strong. But it's more annoying to read a bad book that takes itself very seriously and contains a load of self-insertion than a bad one that's just silly. The feeling I had at the end was that I'd listened to a lot of slightly cranky political lecturing mixed with the author's own odd sexual stuff. This, understandably I think, made me wonder whether all the excessive violence* was added for dubious reasons rather to further the plot. Overall it all seemed a bit grubby.

* Given that I saw nothing wrong with anything in the First Law trilogy, I don't think I'm being squeamish here.
 

mr715

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Hey, i thought Wizard's First Rule was good.

It was an escapist fantasy story. It has a solid plot, formulaic, but a good read.

Character meetings another character. There is mystery. They meet a third character and a mystery is revealed revealing yet more mysteries.

The characters must undergo a series of trials to get to their goal, which seems impossible.


I mean, it followed classical Aristotle.

There is a conflict caused by special characteristics of the protagonist. The issues become increasing intensified until the main character is broken down by his own principles, but is redeemed in the end by virtuous forces around him.

Not a bad book. However the series........
 

Heather Myst

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Well everyone has their own opinion. I loved the series and the characters especially the Mord-Sith. To me it is one of my all time favorite series. I sure can understand the fact that Goodkind himself is not real likeable though. The interviews that I have read about him are beyond arrogant but I thought his books were very entertaining. I also liked the love story of people who would go to any lengths to end up together. The love it or hate it aspect of these books kind of remind me of the Malazan books.
 

Toby Frost

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I've got to say, mr715, no matter what people may think about your arguments, those were very well argued posts.

And yes, at the end of the day each to their own. I don't think Goodkind is a dreadful murderous loony who must be destroyed or whatever, as some do: however a number of factors make WFR for me lastingly annoying rather than just something I'd say "Well, there are better" about. It's one of those books that for me creates an uncomfortable feeling that the author probably didn't intend.
 
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CBellenis

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It's one of those books that creates an uncomfortable feeling that the author probably didn't intend.

Not intended perhaps, but not unlikely if you don't share his world-view and read it carefully enough to get a glimpse of his. I probably read too quickly and superficially, so had to wait till the later books to be hit over the head with that uncomfortable feeling - but I do like Mr's analysis!
 

Vladd67

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And welcome to the forum heather24 just passing through were you? Amazing how this man can stir up such strong emotions a real Marmite author.
heather24 said:
Just admit it, the reason you all don't like his stuff if because like he said, it's a fantasy for adults.
I thought the one thing he said it wasn't was fantasy. Besides which G R R Martin seems very popular on this forum and that could be called fantasy for adults.
 
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heather24

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Thank you :) Actually yes, I was just passing through. I had to put my two cents in when I saw these comments. Being a writer myself, and having seen a lot of criticism, never before this forum have I seen such straightforward, uneducated bashing of a fiction author. No, he never said his work wasn't in the fantasy genre, I'm sure he has no delusions of what kind of genre his work falls into, but only that he doesn't want his works to be looked at only as the typical fantasy genre **which he also makes clear has zero qualms with**But in regards to the claims made that he bases Soul of Fire off of the Clinton's, well personally I disagree, however, if you all saw that similarity, then you all obviously see the same distinctions in the Clinton's themselves--or more likely, Terry wrote about those characters without the Clintons in mind and it was the readers view of the Clintons that lumped them together.

Oh, and I apologize, I made a mistake in my first post. It wasn't Terry who said his literature--and yes it is literature by every definition wether or not some may hate it--was fantasy for adults, it was a review that said that.
 

j d worthington

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Before this goes any further: Flamewars are NOT allowed here. Anyone engaging in or inciting such will be summarily banned. Discussion and diverse views are welcome. Insults and personalities are not.
 

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