Book Review: Wizard’s First Rule with a Bonus of George R.R. Martin

Book Review:
Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind
secondary: A Song of Fire and Ice Series by George R. R. Martin

This is a book review of one book with a bonus review of another. Enjoy!

Even when a book is very enjoyable, it can often btter appreciated when compared to other books in its genre. For me, that was the case with Wizard’s First Rule. I never wanted to start reading another long fantasy series because I felt a bit burned by the last series I started. The series in question left me feeling bewildered, bored, and depressed, but I had invested so very much time, I kept reading it well past the when I should have abandoned it all together. What series almost kept me from reading a very enjoyable book?

A Song of Fire and Ice Series by George R. R.Martin.

I read the first book in Martin’s series and was captivated. I loved that the reader is able to enjoy the story told by many different characters. Each chapter is written from the point of view of a different main character in the story. Even characters meant to be evil are sympathetic in their own way once you see their motives and methods up close. It is wonderful and reveals parts of the story in ways that the reader never expects. The book is full of tragedy, plotting, heroes, villains, and large fluffy wolves.

Unfortunately, the series seems to go down hill after the first novel. What starts out being intriguing and enjoyable, the many different voices telling the story, becomes irritating. So many people must be visited in so many locals to get even an inkling of the story, that you have to spend time at the beginning of each chapter trying to remember what the heck was going on when you last left such and such in whatever dire situation they happened to be in. And the situation is always dire. By the time I realized that I may not want to finish reading this series, I had already invested a huge amount of time to these books. The first novel, at over 700 pages, is the shortest of the four currently out. The other three are well over 1000 pages each. I read the fourth one for two reasons, I was hoping for an upswing to the story and I had already spent a large portion of my life reading them.

Alas, during the last book, A Feast for Crows, I was beginning to wonder if anything good would ever happen to the characters, if anything would ever be resolved, or if Arya would ever find her damn wolf again already. Mighty God King has a funny spoof on the series (and some other great scifi/fantasy series). Martin’s is the third one down, but I thought the series was more like the Eddings cover (1st one) and Jordan cover (9th on the list). Some people show up and nothing good ever happens. I am not sure I will be able to finish this series, regardless of my investment, unless I know something (anything!) is resolved or turns out in a not incredibly depressing manner. I am not asking for pink bows.

Understand that I was suitably leary of starting yet another long winded fantasy series that wandered endlessly. The Sword of Truth series, of which Wizard’s First Rule is the first book, was recently turned into a Xenaesque TV show. It is campy, cheesy, and very entertaining. It made me curious about the books so, despite my misgivings, I checked out the first one from the library.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Wizard’s First Rule. It is a fun adventure that manages to be funny (sometimes to the point of goofiness), suspenseful, and heartrending. The characters are vivid and make choices that, though not always good ones, reflect their growing development and personality. Nothing is more irritating than a character who makes a poor choice effecting the plot that is out of sync with their personality.

Though the story sometimes follows different characters, I never felt desperate to join another group in the story. I always felt Goodkind moved along at just the right pace. The plot is unique enough to keep you wondering a bit. I never felt bored or irritated.

The very best attribute of this book is something that I found sadly lacking in the Martin series. Wizard’s First Rule is a self contained plot. Though there are some questions that remain unanswered, the main issues are resolved at the end of the first installment of this series. After thousands of pages in the Martin series, almost nothing is resolved except that everyone is more depressed and worse off than in the previous book. In Wizard’s First Rule, there is some hope for the future of the characters. I am wondering, hoping even, that this trend continues throughout the series.I also feel that I could stop reading the series and still feel like I read a good story.

Do not think I only like happy endings. Any Joss Whedon fan will tell you that no good ending is truly happy and people die.

I am now a couple hundred pages into Stone of Tears, the second book in Goodkind’s series. So far, so good. The story is still shaping up and the characters and plot are being built up to fight the battles they face. I have hopes that this book will also leave me feeling content with the story.

Recommended for readers of fantasy and anyone needing something fun and diverting, all of the fun without any of the “Please let something good happen already or I am going to kill myself by beating my head bloody with this book” moments.

–Jane, diverted