As with all people, sometimes I do things that I find embarrassing, and wouldn’t really want other people to know about. I collect Misty Mundae DVDs. I have Scooby Doo boxers. I watch Joey on NBC. Worse by far than all of these (although not my blackest secret, either), I read Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series.
This I could have carried to my grave, I think, except that now I review things I read. It’s a problem, but not one that I could get around and be fair to you, my faithful reader. So, yeah. Now I have to talk about it, and feel even worse about myself. Because reading it analytically, it’s worse than when I would just read it because a new one was out, and that was already aggravating.
Sure, the first book has the ‘Let’s ban fire!’ thing, which bothers me far more now than it did when I first read it. And then the next three or so seemed like cheap Wheel of Time knockoffs. But now that the Wheel of Time is no longer particularly copyable, he’s led the reader along toward an even worse fate, the objectivist screed.
It’s not that I dismiss Ayn Rand out of hand, or even disagree with a lot of what she had to say. It’s more that Goodkind presents the arguments as though it is not possible to have a reasonable disagreement about some of the points, some of the time. And of course, since he’s writing both sides of the argument, it’s easy for him to get away with. But I could forgive him that, I think, if it wasn’t for the screed part. Because, and I sincerely believe this to be true, fully half of the 725 page story revolved around Richard Rahl – our intrepid hero who carries the Sword of Truth (and therefore is named the Seeker of Truth, which makes him the best argument from authority fallacy on two legs ever) and wields both halves of a magical gift that nobody else has been born with for three thousand years, and is the sole line of defense for the people of the world according to prophecy, and to the people of his empire literally (but only as long as they make the proper devotions to him (and yes, yes I am feeling worse about myself the further into this I go)) – going off on pages-long diatribes explaining to people why it’s wrong to oppose the war in Iraq, and why it is not only right but morally necessary to kill anyone who actively stands in the way of having it accomplished.
Sure, he talked about fictional enemies that fit into the world of his story, but he didn’t really use different words, and even if the author will claim the subtext isn’t there, this is one of those times where what the author thinks doesn’t really have much bearing on the reality.
I got sidetracked. Anyway, my point is, half the book: swords and sorcery and the incremental advancement of the main plot of the series, plus the fully realized sub-plot that is the main plot of the novel. So he has that going for him, the stand-alone accomplishment. Which Mr. Jordan is welcome to plagiarize at any time now, really. The other half of the book: lectures on objectivism and how it relates to real-world morality.
It was every bit as fun as it sounds. The worst part is, I still want to find out how the main sequence story ends. I have no self-control when it comes to following a story from start to finish. (Like I said, I watch Joey.)