Single-minded Terry Goodkind

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
I don't know whether Terry Goodkind simply lacks charisma, is overly arrogant, or simply has admirably single-mindedness.

Everytime I see one of his interviews, he seems to attempt to insult his fan-base, and those outside of it, without seemingly trying.

Anyway, here's some interesting links, and I'll add some classic quotes after:

Orem Utah: What do you think distinguishes your books from all of the other fantasy books out there, and why should readers choose to read your series?

Terry Goodkind: There are several things. First of all, I don't write fantasy. I write stories that have important human themes. They have elements of romance, history, adventure, mystery and philosophy. Most fantasy is one-dimensional. It's either about magic or a world-building. I don't do either.

And in most fantasy magic is a mystical element. In my books fantasy is a metaphysical reality that behaves according to its own laws of identity.

Because most fantasy is about world-building and magic, a lot of it is plotless and has no story. My primary interest is in telling stories that are fun to read and make people think. That puts my books in a genre all their own.

So I guess readers who are interested in story rather than world-building and details of magic would have a good time reading my books.
Haddonfield, NJ: Second Question - I've noticed similarities between your Sword of Truth series and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series...(Black Sisterhood vs. Black Ajah; The Order vs. The Seanchan; Richard vs. Rand both discovering their powers, both have Nameless evil Gods...etc.) I've often voiced my suspicion that these two series might be occurring on the same crazy am I?

Terry Goodkind: If you notice a similarity, then you probably aren't old enough to read my books.
Taken from a chat transcript on the goodkind site:

Question: Lately I've found myself in many arguments defending your books against 'fans' who say they used to like your books but no longer do to the extent that they used to. Would you mind settling some debates by answering the Question: What, if anything do you have to say to the people that voice the opinion that you're latest four books haven't been as good as the previous four and call them "too preachy"?

Answer: Don't be fooled. The assertion made by these detractors is a note wrapped around a brick thrown through the window. These people are not fans. There are hundreds if not thousands of fantasy books that fulfill their professed taste in books. Why would they continue to read books they claim are bad? Because they hate that my novels exists. Values arouse hatred in these people. Their goal is not to enjoy life, but to destroy that which is good -much like a school child who does not wish to study for a test and instead beats up a classmate who does well. These people hate what is good because it is good. Their lives are limited to loathing and indifference. It isn't that they want to read a good book, what they want is to make sure that you do not. Ignore them.
Perhaps quoting out of context isn't fair - he seems to hold himself up better for argument's sake in this interview:

Anyway - anyone wish to give comment on the man and his work? I've never actually read anything by him - but he certainly seems to be an interesting character. Or is he just a narrow-minded and arrogant?
I've never read any of Goodkind's books, either. Based on these excerpts and the full interview you linked, I think he has sort of an inflated sense of his own importance. He sounds, in one of the excerpts, like he is embarassed to be considered a "genre" writer, as if that is a bad thing to be. I do think his affection for Ayn Rand explains a lot of his attitude. I haven't read much of her work but that which I am familiar with, along with the people I know who admire her, make me tend to think that she promotes a philosophy of arrogant self-interest - sort of an idea that Goodkind seemed to express in the full interview, that he is smarter than everyone else, that other people are "stupid" (as he said) while he has most if not all of the answers to what it right and what is wrong. Must be nice to be so certain of everything.
It is just my luck that I have read the whole serie of The Sword of Truth before reading the various answers and interviews of Terry Goodkind. He just seems to think that people who don't love him the way he is are beneath him (how awfully pretentious). Anyway, his books are good, but now that I got a glimpse of how he thinks of himself and the rest of the world I will think twice before reading another of his books. How can a writer write good books when he/she him/herself is a narcissic person, just like Goodkind? Don't be scared by his real personality and it shouldn't be an obstacle to read his books.
Actually, to be honest, if we knew the personalities of a great many "succesful" people - whether writers, musicans, actors, etc - then we'd never care a jot for our favourites in the first place!
I said:
Actually, to be honest, if we knew the personalities of a great many "succesful" people - whether writers, musicans, actors, etc - then we'd never care a jot for our favourites in the first place!
Exactly why I don't care to meet people whose work I admire. Although, I have to admit that most of those I have met have been quite pleasant to me and came off as being genuine as opposed to "putting on a public face". Orson Scott Card, for example, was quite nice and took the time to speak to me for more than just a second even though there were a lot of people in line behind me at the book signing at LosCon a couple of years ago. The same with Robert Bakker (the dinosaur expert), who was very sweet when I met him at a speaking engagement at our local museum a few years ago. And David Crosby (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), despite having quite a reputation for being abrupt, was wonderful when I met him before a concert a while back.
I've never heard of this person but you folk have already put me off him. The thought of purchasing anything by this pompous windbag and therefore contributing to his earnings fills me with horror!
Foxbat said:
I've never heard of this person but you folk have already put me off him. The thought of purchasing anything by this pompous windbag and therefore contributing to his earnings fills me with horror!
Yes, I'm forced to agree that Goodkind sounds like he has a screw loose, if you judge from the extract of an interview above. But, as Brian said I think it's better to read the entire interview before making any harsh statements.

Anyway, in my opinion an extract of an author interview shouldn't keep you from reading terific books, which I really enjoyed and still will enjoy, even if the author is a woolhead...
As repugnant as he sounds in those interviews, I still want to read his novels. Many people have told me they are very good - for certain reasons: being dark, pessemistic, and descriptive.

I think he is dyslexic too - gotta give him some credit. :rolleyes:
I"ve been thinking about it. I think I might be more inclined to pick up one of Goodkind's novels having read the interview with him, just to see what kind of book an indivudal that comes across the way he does might write. In fact, I've been kind of looking at the library for something of his. Haven't come across anything yet, though.
The first book of the Sword of Truth series is called Wizard's First Rule
The first two books of the series are fairly good fantasy adventure fare. After that the quality goes down, IMHO. The writing itself is clearly beginner's stuff in the first volume. It does become more assured later on.
I've read the whole series (all that is out so far, of course) and I've enjoyed it. One of the most interesting things is the power of the Mother Confessor - something so awesome that the wielder is afraid/horrified to use it. I wouldn't say it was dark and depressing though. There are quite a few points where this may be evident but I don't think it is all-pervasive. Quite a few sub-stories detail how corrupting power can become, even for ordinary people who's perceptions of power change when it becomes theirs. I found these to be an interesting view of how people can do things that they would ordinarily find absolutely horrible. Kind of another way to look at how things like the Holocaust can happen.
I picked up WFR at the library a couple of days ago. I don't have time to read it now, but I just wanted to look through it. I found it interesting that he uses regular English names like Richard, George, etc. and that the dialogue is also in plain English.
Wizard's First Rule is an awesome book. I'm almost done with the second book in the series now, the Stone of Tears, which is also very very good. It doesn't matter what your opinion of Goodkind is, because when you're reading his books, you'll be deep into the world he has created. (even though he says he doesn't create worlds) Wizard's First Rule is one of my favorite books I've read so far. I still have a ton of reading to do, but I will always love that book.
I've read the first two Sword of Truth books, and enjoyed them greatly. I didn't really like the look of Goodkind on his site though, and he does seem to be a little pretentious and over-assuming. However, I am prepared to ignore this to be able to enjoy his books properly :p
I enjoyed the first two or three books, but by the fourth I already knew what would happen by the end...unfortunately, oodkind's detractors are partly right...He' rehashing the same story the whole time and just slightly changing the action...

And I thought 'The Pillars of Creation' were just weird...Not to mention that I read some of the above interviews in the meantime and it sort of lost its charm for me...

I've had a chance to meet George R R Martin, who is one of my favourite writers, and he was seriously the nicest sort of could see in the way he took the time to answer every question that he really enojs writing his books and thinking about them...I get the feeling Goodkind's resting on his laurels and spitting in the face of those who read his books by his high and mighty attitude...
I've read ALL Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series... And I must admit that the first book was VERY refreshing in its approach to magic and the like... But as the series has gone on, it is getting to the point of DEJA VU... Gone over stuff before, and not really learning anything new... I've finished reading Naked Empire, and not sure if I'll get the next - should one be written...

I don't really care what happens in interviews, I'm not interested in the person who writes a book - just THE BOOK(S)!!!

I have to say that I've never gotten bored or felt short-changed by any of Raymond E Feists books... Whenever I get a new one, everything else is pushed aside!!! :D
I quit reading Terry Goodkind because of his books. I've never read an interview with the man. From his main character's behavior, I didn't really need to. The brief snippets quoted by I, Brian simply confirmed my feelings about him.

For those who haven't read Goodkind, he writes like a 3rd grader with a god complex. While I will give him credit for some wild plot twists and interesting ideas, the sheer arrogance overthrows whatever good might have come of his work. I'd say that the first through third books are all right, but things go steadily downhill from there.

Here is Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth novels in a nutshell:

1. Kahlan does something crappy.

2. Richard is forced to leave Kahlan, usually captured by attractive women. This guarantees that Kahlan will spend the next 500-odd pages having angst about Richard cheating on her, forgetting about her, never coming back, etc.

3. Attractive women try to seduce Richard.

4. Richard fends them off because he only loves Kahlan (even if this causes Kahlan to suffer in some way.)

5. Richard has angst.

6. Richard makes threats.

7. Richard pontificates for pages and pages and pages, generally about the wonder of capitalism and the evil of communism.

8. Something moderately interesting happens.

9. Kahlan almost dies, but Richard saves her.

10. Richard saves civilization . . . again.

Richard is also good at everything. I'm not joking about his speeches either - he goes on endlessly about things like the power of friendship and other things that should require a sentence or two at most. There's also a lot of needless information thrown around, ususally of a sexual manner. It also pissed me off that in order to make one of his baddies seem really, really bad, Goodkind made the character into a homosexual pedophile who also rapes Kahlan. Cringe worthy. Goodkind also lacks the ability to write a female character who is secure, independant, and strong.

The bottom line is that we've seen it all before, written by someone who might actually respect his readers.
I think that's a most apt summation of Goodkind's plots. I've read his first three books - and, yes, that was the way it went down. Now I realise that much goodis fiction is didactic, and often the better for it, but Goodkind makes it too transparent. Much like his avowed inspiration, Ayn Rand.

The pity of it is, he actually has the ability to tell a good yarn somewhere in there.

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