Wizard's First Rule
|Cover artist||Doug Beekman|
|Series||The Sword of Truth|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|LC Class||PS3557.O5826 W59 1994|
|Preceded by||Debt of Bones|
|Followed by||Stone of Tears|
Wizard's First Rule, written by Terry Goodkind, is the first book in the epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth. Published by Tor Books, it was released on August 15, 1994 in hardcover, and in paperback on July 15, 1997. The book was also re-released with new cover artwork by Keith Parkinson in paperback on June 23, 2001. The novel was adapted to television in the 2008 television series Legend of the Seeker.
Goodkind had no trouble selling his first book to a publisher. "I'm sort of the exception that proves the rule," he says. "I wanted to be represented by the best agent in the country and I wrote him a letter. He asked to see the book and he liked it. He showed it to a number of publishers. Three of them had an auction. Ten weeks after I'd written 'The End' it sold for a record price ($275,000),"  the most money ever paid for a fantasy novel by a first time author.
The primary protagonist in Wizard's First Rule is Richard Cypher, a young woods guide. Richard lives in an area of the world known as Westland, which is one of three parts of the known world, divided by magical underworld boundaries. Of the three, Westland is united under one government and contains no magic, the Midlands are a coalition of sovereign nations with magic, and past another magical boundary lies the empire of D'Hara - a single kingdom ruled by Wizards. Richard works as a woods guide leading important political figures through dangerous forests, while his brother, Michael, is a newly elected minister of the Westland.
After the unexplained murder of his father, Richard feels compelled to investigate. He discovers a small piece of vine in his father's house, and searches the mountains for a live part of the plant, thinking it might lead him to the murderers. He finds the plant, but it attacks him, implanting a poisonous thorn. Trying to return to town to find healing help, he happens upon a woman named Kahlan Amnell, who is being hunted by a group of four men sent to assassinate her.
Richard helps to save Kahlan's life from the men, and learns that Kahlan crossed the boundary with the aid of five wizards searching for the First Wizard, who is rumored to have crossed into Westland after the creation of the boundaries. Richard takes Kahlan to his best friend and mentor, Zedd. Soon after arriving at Zedd's, Richard collapses from the illness caused by the vine after showing Zedd his vine piece. Zedd identifies the plant as snakevine, and treats Richard.
When Richard recovers from the snakevine bites, he identifies Zedd as the First Wizard whom Kahlan seeks. Kahlan pleads for the help of Zedd, asking for him to name a Seeker of Truth who can confront Darken Rahl, the ruler of D'Hara who has activated the powerful magic "Boxes of Orden", which, depending how they are opened, could make Rahl ruler of the world, destroy all life in the world, or himself. Kahlan believes that the "Seeker" empowered by the Sword of Truth—an ancient magical weapon forged by the powerful wizards of old—can find a way to stop Rahl from gaining power or destroying life before the magic expires on the winter solstice. Zedd then tests Richard to see if he is worthy of wielding the Sword of Truth correctly. Richard passes the test, becoming the next ”Seeker.”
Richard deduces a way to cross the boundary as a group, and with the help of a friend, the boundary warden Chase, Richard, Kahlan and Zedd travel south towards a pass in the boundary. They encounter underworldly creatures, hearthounds which are escaping the weakening boundary, and Chase explains that their escape signals the fall of the boundary—similar to a fall in the boundary between the Midlands and D'Hara. During one of the encounters, both Chase and Zedd are seriously injured, but Kahlan and Richard manage to find the pass. In the pass, they meet the mysterious bone woman Adie, who gives shelter to their injured companions and teaches them how to go through the pass.
Kahlan and Richard journey through the pass, nearly getting killed by the dangerous creatures that live in between the underworld of the boundary and the world of the living. Once through, Richard asks Kahlan to lead them to the village of the Mud People, a tribe that has the ability to contact spirit ancestors for guidance on how to prevent Rahl from seizing the third box of Orden.
To summon the ancestors, after the tribe requires them to be members of the tribe. During this time, Richard and Kahlan find they love each other more and more, but a secret power held by Kahlan prevents a full and honest relationship. After convincing the Mud People that Richard and Kahlan are honorable, and seek to help all humans, including the Mud People, they become members of tribe. Once members, the elders summon mud people's ancestors, and they learn that the witch woman Shota, one of the most feared people in all the Midlands, can reveal the location of the last box of Orden. While in the gathering Darken Rahl slaughters several Mud People and kidnaps Siddin, the son of an elder and friend of Richard.
Richard and Kahlan travel to Shota's territory, Agaden Reach where they learn that Queen Milena has the last box. Kahlan finally tells Richard, her secret, that she is a Confessor, an enchanted person whose power of love destroy the minds of others by making them absolute slaves to her will. Shota also warns Richard that both Kahlan and Zedd will use their powers against him. From Agaden Reach, they travel to Tamarang, seat of Queen Milena, meeting back up with Zedd along the way. Upon reaching Tamarang, they discover that the last box is gone and eventually realize it was given by a former pupil of Zedd's, Giller, to a small girl named Rachel for safekeeping.
Soon an artist who can control enchantments, separates Richard from the group and he falls into the hands of a Mord-Sith named Denna who brutally tortures him for a month. The Mord Sith report to Darken Rahl, and Rahl hopes to force Richard to recite the Book of Counted Shadows, a magical book which Richard had memorized under the bequest of his father. However, Richard's innate gentleness alters their relationship, and Richard eventually breaks free of Denna's control by turning the Sword of Truth white, with the power of love for her, rather than the sword's typical harness of anger. Rahl allows Richard to wander free, but sets a wizard web on him which makes all of his friends think Richard is an enemy,
After helping a dragon named Scarlet find her egg which had been kidnapped by Rahl, Richard discovers how to both beat Rahl, and be with Kahlan. Kahlan, falsely thinking Richard dead by Rahl, enters the Con-Dar, or a powerful Blood Rage. Thinking Richard is in fact Rahl, she uses her powers on him. Rahl, thinking Richard is now at his mercy, uses him to recite the Book of Counted Shadows. In the end, Rahl opens the wrong Box of Orden, under Richard's false guidance, thus killing Rahl. Kahlan, alone by a pool, orders Richard to leave, thinking he is still under her power, and Richard reveals he was protected, by his already complete and unconditional love for her.
The reader learns at the end of the novel that Richard is the progeny of Rahl's rape of Zedd's daughter. Thus, Zedd is Richard's grandfather, and Richard is the new Lord Rahl. Relieved at their victory, Kahlan and Richard set off for the Mud People's village to return Siddin to his parents.
The Wizard's First Rule
Each of the novels in the Sword of Truth series reveals a "Wizard's Rule"—a magical principle that allows Wizards to be savvy manipulators of the world around them. The novel reveals the Wizard's First Rule:
"Wizard's First Rule: people are stupid." Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. "People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool."
"Because of Wizards First Rule, the old wizards created Confessors, and Seekers, as a means of helping find the truth, when the truth is important enough. Darken Rahl knows the Wizard's Rules. He is using the first one. People need an enemy to feel a sense of purpose. It's easy to lead people when they have a sense of purpose. Sense of purpose is more important by far than the truth. In fact, truth has no bearing in this. Darken Rahl is providing them with an enemy, other than himself, a sense of purpose. People are stupid; they want to believe, so they do."— Chapter 36, p.560, U.S. paperback edition
Terri Windling identified Wizard's First Rule as one of the best fantasy debuts of 1994, saying that although the novel was "derivative," it "does have a certain charm and earnestness about it". Kirkus Reviews called the novel "a wonderfully creative, seamless, and stirring epic fantasy debut." Booklist favorably described the novel as the "first volume of a saga" and within the "same breath as Robert Jordan" but "hardly an aspirant to Tolkien's mantel". The review concludes that "the characters and their world come to life, and Goodkind's ambitious juxtaposition of modern ambiguities and the classical fantasy setting works more often than not." Library Journal called the novel "an intriguing variant on the standard fantasy quest" recommending the novel for "mature fantasy aficionados" noting the sado-eroticism of the Mord Sith might "deter purchase by some libraries".
Other critics were less kind to the novel, pointing out its derivative plot and dated gender roles. Publishers Weekly wrote that Goodkind's "prose is flat, his ideas hackneyed (...), his characters tediously moralistic and his plot without originality." Pornokitsch described the novel as "sexist and dull, filled with pedestrian masturbatory fantasies and shameless plagiarism", concluding that "this may be the worst fantasy book ever written."
The first season of the TV series Legend of the Seeker was based on Wizard's First Rule. Starring Craig Horner as Richard and Bridget Regan as Kahlan, the series was produced by Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, and expanded upon some of the themes of the book's storyline, but bore only a passing resemblance to the book on a grander scale. It premiered on November 1, 2008 and ended in May 2010.
- Terry Goodkind: The Official Website. Retrieved November 1, 2010.
- White, Ken. Author relies on memory to create fantasy tales, Review-Journal, August 17, 2000. Accessed May 15, 2010.
- Flewelling, Lynn. Terry Goodkind Interview. Bangor Daily News, November 1995. Accessed May 15, 2010.
- "WIZARD'S FIRST RULE by Terry Goodkind | Kirkus Reviews". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 2016-05-31.
- "Summation 1994: Fantasy," The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Eighth Annual Collection, p.xviii
- "Summary/Reviews: Wizard's first rule". www.buffalolib.org. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
- "Fiction Book Review: Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind, Author Tor Books $29.95 (576p) ISBN 978-0-312-85705-9". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
- Shurin, Jared (July 23, 2010). "Underground Reading: Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind". Pornokitsch. Retrieved 16 June 2018.