1. With the exception of 2013, I’ve read one of these books a year. I can’t handle more than one in a 365 day period. I think I skipped last year because I ran out of time and also I didn’t care.
2. I spent all of last weekend finally watching season one of Legend of the Seeker, the TV show made by Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess), which is based very loosely on the Sword of Truth book series. The show is actually much better than the book. I did miss a couple of details here and there, but they cast the show very well, and they toned the weird way the hell down. They also made the characters talk like people instead of puppets with Goodkind’s hand up their asses. The biggest advantage of the show versus the book though is that you don’t have to suffer through Goodkind’s simple and repetitive style. Anyway, I’d had the DVDs of the series for years now after I bought them from a bargain bin at Barnes & Noble, but I’d held off watching until I’d reached book three because I didn’t want to spoil myself. I knew the show only lasted through two seasons, and that most of the stuff it would spoil the books for me would be in those two books. I shouldn’t have waited. The show is better. Anything I get spoiled for by watching season two is not a loss.
3. I also watched the special features and there was this cheesy talk with Terry Goodkind on it, where he gives a tour of his home, his office, and his nature paths that he walks every day for inspiration. I had opinions about the guy before (mostly that he was sincere and kind of deluded about the view of his own work and writing), but reading such bad writing for hundreds of pages tends to give one a negative opinion of an author. But after watching that interview . . . I just can’t bring myself to feel negatively about the guy. He’s just so EARNEST in his weirdness and wrongness and perversity. And he’s got all these paintings, and his head is SO BALD. (At one point he literally stated that Richard and Kahlan, his main characters, were two of his best friends. And he was dead serious.)
Speaking of perversity, TO THE REVIEW!
Blood of the Fold is the third installment in the Sword of Truth series, which so far has followed Richard Rahl, the Seeker of Truth, as he overcomes evil and is subjected to all manner of torture and sexual deviance in his quest to defeat first Darken Rahl (his father, natch) and then basically prevent the Devil from coming to the living world and killing everybody. Also, he falls in lurrrrve. Blood of the Fold is actually the shortest book in the series so far by quite a large margin (hundreds of pages), and thank God for that. I don’t know what the heck could have happened if it was Stone of Tears length (1000+), but it wouldn’t have been good.
The main plot here is twofold: First, Richard fights to rally his father’s army behind him and take control of the Midlands in order to unify the area in preparation for a fight that doesn’t actually happen in this book with an evil emperor who walks in people’s dreams, and who used to live behind a magical border, but WHOOPS Richard brought that down last book, and evil emperor is out for conquering. And also there’s this army of idiots called the Blood of the Fold who are determined to kill everyone with magical ability, and the evil emperor is manipulating their leader by sending him visions where he pretends to be God. It’s fucked up. And second, there’s a plot down south with the magical nuns from the last book. The main magical nun has to ferret out the evil magical nuns from the good ones before the evil emperor can get to the magical nun palace, which is a place where you age verrrrrry slowly, so it is a perfect place for an evil emperor’s base of operations. HE CAN RULE FOR CENTURIES!!!!!!
If you like fantasy like I do, some of that might sound appealing, but DON’T BE FOOLED. Any promise in the story is lost or ruined by its execution. As stated previously, the characters don’t talk like people, and Goodkind tends to repeat himself endlessly, as if he doesn’t trust his audience to remember things that he wrote only a sentence earlier. Relationships between characters are also very simplistic and repetitive. Goodkind obviously thinks Richard’s friend Gratch, a dragon thing he raised from a baby, is the most adorable character ever, because he keeps having him show up and hug Richard and then say ‘Ggggrraatch lug Raaacharrg’ over and over again. I will admit it was fairly cute the first time because I do enjoy when animals in memes or babies have bad grammar, but it happened EVERY TIME.
Goodkind’s idea of adding conflict to his story is to bring it in from the outside, which is why Richard and Kahlan’s love story is an an endless parade of plots to keep them tragically separated. It doesn’t help that Goodkind writes Richard like he’s the most perfect human who ever lived. The only way to get drama out of a story like that is to continually subject your hero to lots of dramatic horrible things, and then have them find hitherto unknown magical abilities in order to get out of those scrapes. In this book alone, Richard: almost turns into a monster while at the same time being the only one who is able to detect the type of monster he’s turning into, which leads to lots of battles where he fights until he’s ragged because NO ONE ELSE CAN; spends half the book under what is basically a magical rape spell, but oh-so-heroically resisting the advances that no one ever in the history of ever has ever been able to resist before EVER’; is the only one to be able to get into a very dangerous magical building because he ‘followed his instincts;’ is the first in 3,000 years to awaken a magical transport system; due to his magical genetics, he’s basically got a population of people devoted to him without choice; and it just so happens that the ONLY way to be safe from the evil emperor is to be truly loyal to Richard, and then voila! magical protection.
In terms of structure . . . this book is a mess. It’s called Blood of the Fold, but those guys are barely in it. In fact, I’m hard pressed to identify a main antagonist from Richard’s half of the book. The magical nun half was much more engaging, probably because it did have identifiable antagonists and story arcs.
And then there’s the name thing. Here’s one of my status updates from Goodreads as an illustration:
“Mr. Goodkind . . . Terry, can I call you Terry? I’m doing it anyway. I just feel like I need to tell you, Terry, people in real life and in good fiction do not use each other’s names every other sentence when in conversation. We just don’t, Terry. Okay, Terry? So please, Terry, stop doing it. Terry. I beg you, Terry. I can’t take it anymore.”
And that’s just the lazy story stuff. Haven’t even gotten to the weird yet. I should have kept notes on it, honestly. I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember it all. Here are some highlights:
- The evil Blood of the Fold captain keeps his magical sister captive, which is bad enough, but while he’s busy shaming her and telling her she’s evil just for being magical, he also makes her use those powers to control people. He does this by having her cut off their nipples and then keep them dried out in a special bag. Let me repeat that, HE CARRIES AROUND A BAG OF PEOPLE’S NIPPLES.
- Goodkind takes great care to describe a scene where this happens, including details about how the sister had to cup the poor woman’s breast whose nipple she’d just cut off in order to heal it, and how this guard dude watching got totally turned on watching it. But we’re not done! The Blood of the Fold captain notices, and rewards the dude by letting him rape the nippleless victim!
- Also, later he has his sister bewitch the victim into the rape spell thing I mentioned earlier with Richard. So she spends the last weeks of her life being raped, and being forced to try to rape someone else, and then she dies.
- Also also did I mention about how the Blood of the Fold guy sometimes has sister put a glamour on herself and then he has sex with her? GAG.
- You know people are evil because of SEX YOU GUYS.
- Every time someone is tied up in this book, they are also NAKED. Why, Terry? Why do you write this? Can’t you for once have a character tied up with their clothes still on?
- The evil magical nuns from the last book get captured by the evil emperor, who gives them over to some sailors for rapey fun, and then he keeps them all as his naked sex prisoners.
- Oh, and Richard patronizingly tells his lesbian S&M bodyguards, after they have just confessed their relationship to him, that he may not agree with them but is their friend so he will support them anyway. This, after he forced them to let him touch their breasts to check if they were nipple zombies. (Like, okay, Terry. Is it sexy for you that he had to do that?)
- Also of note: one of the lesbian bodyguards constantly flirts with him and lets him put his hand on her boob as a ‘distraction’ from him finding out she’s gay . . . wha? How is that a thing that happens?
I could probably go on, but this review is already 1800 words long and I’m hungry. And let’s be honest: I would much rather eat a bean and cheese burrito than continue to talk about this book series. I will, however, be reading the rest of the series. Because I am dumb, and also an idiot. And some part of me likes it even though it’s horrible, and I can’t explain it. The human brain, it is a mystery.