View Full Version : Sword of Truth book 8: Naked Empire ~ Terry Goodkind

10-07-2004, 23:00:24
Continuing the seemingly endless saga of Richard Rahl and his increasingly inplausible attempts to evade death and save the world, Goodkind follows his traditional formula of buggering around for the first 500 pages, recapping on the previous books and reiterating Rahl's sledgehammer philosophy of life.

In this installment, the Very Bad Things that happen are:
1. Richard's life is threatened (of course), this time by 'a poison' and 'his gift'. Again.
2. The War is going badly. Again.
3. An important place and two important characters are captured using a new 'weapon'. Again.

To overcome this, Richard Rahl, the only man who can save the world (tm) must bugger around for 500 pages, and then pull the solution out of his arse as only a true Rahl can. I would explain how, but that would lend too much credibility to the plot.

As ever in the SoT series, Goodkind has an alterior motive in his presentation of this new Naked Empire. Having finished demolishing his own characatures of Communism, Socialism, and Isolationism, Goodkind turns to more eastern philosophies, and proceeds to spend a lot of space posing moral arguments against his horrific mishmash characature of Taoism, Buddhism and more general Pacifism. The poor deluded pacifists are eventually persuaded by the Darkstar-esque persistance of Rahl's arguments, and go on to join him in the slaughter of Order troops so that Rahl can get his antidote and go back to Saving the World.

One can only hope that Goodkind is actually playing an incredibly clever game, and that in the final book of the saga, someone will point out to Richard Rahl that far from being the wholesome democratic capitalist he seems to represent, he is in fact a despot at the top of an archaic feudal system. Some kind of reversal which will turn it into a parody of all it seems to be. Or something. Anything.

In terms of the rest of the saga: 7/10

12-07-2004, 06:04:27
I'm curious... why is it you're reading this? You don't sound terribly interested in it...

I read the first Wizard blah blah book and didn't like it. Then Terry Goodkind did this lovely interview in which he explained carefully that he was not writing fantasy and fantasy was crap. Therefore I won't be buying any more of his books.

Sounds like I am missing precisely nothing.

-- Kory (Usually gives most authors two books before giving up on them.)

12-07-2004, 08:23:43
He also seems to have a (un)healthy fascination for S&M from the couple I read.

12-07-2004, 20:12:38
Well, that would explain why fantasy is crap, mighten it? ;)

12-07-2004, 20:13:47
Darkstar-esque. Darkstar-esque. Humm... :gotit: He goes on for 100 pages in the book for just one conversation?

12-07-2004, 21:31:29
Without any discernable point or logic? ;)

12-07-2004, 23:21:36
I read book one, and quite enjoyed it. I read book two and found it tolerable, and I hoped that later books would get better. Book 6 was pretty good. Now I just want to see how it ends.

He's not writing fantasy? I'd love to see how he worked that one out.

Greg W
13-07-2004, 00:05:17
Well, it's certainly not high-fantasy. There's no Elves or Dwarves and the like.

I like his books in the same way that I like Robert Jordan's books. They're very similar in that an entire book can advance the overall plot but a little. But I still find the style of writing (of both), and the character interaction enjoyable. I tend to find that if I don't focus on how far the plot has advanced, then I still enjoy the books a lot.

13-07-2004, 09:55:28
I stopped reading partway through book 3

and consider the first two books a waste


13-07-2004, 09:55:54
Robert Jordan's first books are a lot better


13-07-2004, 11:12:08
Right. He's not writing high fantasy. He's writing epic fantasy.

Except according to him.

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.

(From this transcript) (http://www.usatoday.com/community/chat_03/2003-08-05-goodkind.htm)

-- Kory (Although high fantasy, strictly speaking, doesn't have to have elves and dwarves, but genre labels are pretty fluid...)

13-07-2004, 11:24:02
I think he's going for a "oh, I don't write genre fiction I am a serious author" type denial. Which is clearly bollocks, he's a fantasy author. He should just get on and deal with it.

And there's shit loads of magic (in detail) in his books. :hmm:

I think I read most of them when I was sick at my parents once. Easy to read and quite thick so they keep you busy for a relatively long time without having to think.

13-07-2004, 11:42:44
What bothered me was less his assertion he was not writing fantasy -- I don't really care what he calls his books -- as his lie that he doesn't use magic and his extremely dismissive and wrong definition of fantasy. Well, that and his ginormous ego that makes him think his books are some sort of paragon of originality, when really, they're pretty much just recycled pap.

-- Kory (Genre author and proud.)

13-07-2004, 12:25:59
Yeah. That not using magic comment is a gigantic lie, practically every character is a wizard or magic user of some kind and most of the plots revolve around some huge magical problem that needs solving/defeating.

13-07-2004, 16:31:27
He sounds like an ass.

I haven't read any "fantasy" since the first couple of books of the Shannara (sp) series--and the Tolkein series recently.
It seems so hit and miss that I've never bothered to delve into the genre too much, whereas my experience with sci fi has been good quality across the board.
Or perhaps I'm wrong?

13-07-2004, 16:53:58
"Fantasy" is too wide a genre to dismiss entirely. I did the same thing for a while. Eventually I realized what I was sick of was epic and high fantasy. What I like are certain types of sword and sorcery, some historicals, dark fantasies, and urban/contemporary. Of course, there are always exceptions -- both ways -- but that's where I tend to concentrate.

I'm a big fan of Steve Brust, Neil Gaiman, and Charles deLint. Holly Lisle's pretty good, though I like some of her stuff better than others. I liked the original Valdemaar books by Misty Lackey, and I like some of the new character studies, but I think her Tregarde books are better by far. And I write contemporary fantasies, so, I'm prejudiced. :)

My personal opinion is all genres are pretty much hit or miss. Which is why it's a good thing I enjoy rereading books, too.

-- Kory (Stamp out Elves Now.)

13-07-2004, 19:57:33
Valdemar is retired, at least for the time being. I would guess she'd be sick of writing it by now.

Greg W
14-07-2004, 03:55:16
BGH: read Magician by Raymond E Feist. Great book, one of the most fun books I have ever read. Even if it is full of cliche's (like there are many books these days that aren't).

Must admit though that I am pretty much an Epic or High Fantasy nut. My reading list would be almost a who's who of "popular" writers from those two genres, with a few oddities thrown in. Reading down my bookcase:
Raymond E Feist
David Gemmell
JRR Tolkien
Robert Jordan
Terry Goodkind
David Eddings (gone off him recently)
Weiss and Hickman (not much recent)
Robin Hobb
Micheal Moorcock
Katherine Kerr (Deverry series)
George R R Martin
Gary Gygax
Robert E Howard (Conan)
Warhammer (esp Gotrek and Felix)

And then a heap of other books by Authors that I don't collect as avidly as those above. And my other Authors that aren't Fantasy:
Colleen Mcullough (First Man in Rome series)
Asimov (Foundation mostly)
Star Wars (about 13 of the "new" series)
Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game series)
Battletech (about a 1/2 dozen of em)
Robert Heinlein
Greg Bear
Sharon Penman (writes some great medieval novels)

And various other books. Even in my non-fantasy stuff, I'm still pretty mainstream though. :o

14-07-2004, 05:59:22
I have noticed though that Goodkind tends to kill off his wizards with remarkable alacrity, explain nada about most 'items of magic' and avoid using spells in the manner that Harry Potter for example uses them. The magic he deals with is primarily much larger scale and far more of a metaphysical reality as he says. Alas, his use of a primary character who knows bugger all about this metaphysical reality means he pretty much avoid the nitty gritty of how it works, and reduces it back to the mystical element which he claims it isn't.

I find most high fantasy is just a recycling. Object of power, quest, blah, etc. I have avoided Jordan, Weiss, Hobb, etc. based largely on prejudice. I really enjoyed a modern fantasy I read that was based on Chinese mythology in the American Midwest, featuring Triads controlled by demons and marshal arts experts at Charles Manson's hideout. I forget what it was though. Fantasy is best when it's adaptable.

14-07-2004, 16:17:36
Sweeper, that story sounds neat; if you remember author or title, please let me know.

It sounds like you'd like contemporary fantasies better on average, which I'm all for. That means that when I'm published, I can try to get you to buy my books. :)

Anyhow, as far as TG goes, 'metaphysical' is just a way of saying "I don't want to call it magic". So his magic obeys laws, so what? That's not original, either. Qabalistic magic does, too, and is part of the larger metaphysical reality. But it's still magic.

MDA: I would have thought she'd be sick of writing it around the time she released the farts books, actually, but she kept going. Er. That's Winds. Winds books. Can you tell when I got sick of it?

-- Kory (Robert Jordan books seem to me to be primarily useful for crushing bugs.)

14-07-2004, 23:06:55
I read the first one, loathed it so much I threw it away and will never read Goodking again... Same with Jordan, but of course I had to read 3 of those Wheel of Time books before I realized how much I hated them.

15-07-2004, 18:55:56

High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy are just two flavors of chocolate...

Speaking archtypically, the main difference is that in "High" Fantasy, it's a romping good time for the family, suitable for easy translation for Hollywood. Very clear cut good guys and bad guys, and the hero ALWAYS wins in the end.

Epic Fantasy is "grittier". In true epic fantasy, you should feel the travel dust trying to sink into you, and wake up with the taste of troll dung in your mouth. It is generally a classic travelogue pitting classic good versus evil, but very often along the way, the author preaches that there is no real difference between the two, other then who is telling the story. In the majority of epics, the hero wins, after great sacrifices by itself and its team-mates, but not ALWAYS. (Sometimes, these are referred to as "Dark Epics", but as "Dark" is also used as a tag for very fantasy 'Adult' fetishes, its best to do a bit of research on any book featuring "Dark" in its genre label. ;))

The real difference between "fantasy" and "science fiction" is purely the amount of "science-techno-mumble" you toss in. So, rule of thumb: If you don't explain how it all works ("world building"), it's fantasy. If you have detailed formula of how the color of your warp engines determines how fast you travel the star lanes, and give it some dressing up in the fringes of actual science theory, you are SF.

Maybe Goodking means he's an over-bloviating romance novelist. ;)

15-07-2004, 19:03:57
I liked Jordon... until it was obvious to me that he was just filling in the word count to stretch his plot over his contract 10 or 18 or whatever number of books he had written. Also, the fact that his characterization of his own mega-main characters fell apart for no real reason also put me off the books.

I really liked David Eddings "The Will and the Word" first series, but after that, all his stuff seemed identical. Which really put me off him after that.

It really doesn't matter if it's fantasy or hard science fiction... as long as the *story* is good.

15-07-2004, 19:14:06
I could argue all fantasy is just different flavors of chocolate, but instead I'm just going to argue with your definition.

Actually, let's start with this disclaimer: genre definitions are fluid, and you'll find a lot of people disagree. Some people think high and epic fantasy are the same thing; some people think that there are key differences.

The key difference is not happy endings or clear-cut villains and good guys -- the type of high fantasy you are talking about, Darkstar, is its own subgenre but not its own genre, btw. It's that High fantasy generally has fantastic races, whereas Epic does not have to. JRR Tolkein: High Fantasy. Donaldson's Mordant books: Epic fantasy.

(OTOH, some people would say that the Mordant books are Sword and Sorcery, whereas I tend to class S&S as "adventures with magic", a la Grey Mouser.)

I'm also going to quibble with your 'difference between sf and fantasy'. It's not 'technomumble' that makes the difference. It's a combination of feasibility and outlook. If the characters think what they're doing is magic, it's going to generally be considered fantasy (or possibly horror, slipstream, or magic realism, the last of which is not always considered a fantasy subgenre); that's the 'outlook' part, and is close to what you were talking about. The 'feasibility' part is: can we possibly imagine some sort of technological advance that would make this possible. In other words, while sf may include pseudoscience, it tends to include believable pseudoscience.

Anyhow. Goodkin means "I think I'm above writing fantasy, becase everyone knows genre authors suck." He also means, "I'm going to piss off my main fans, and slowly sink into obscurity".

-- Kory (One can hope, at least.)

15-07-2004, 19:30:54
All fantasy is different flavors of chocolate. No quibbles on that from me.

Are you talking from an author's point of view (or other writing/profession related POV), or from a fan/consumer's point of view, Kory?

As a lifetime consumer, this is how it seems to me...

Tolkein fantasy is often described as "High Fantasy", but it isn't proper High Fantasy. Disney does High Fantasy.

Sword and Sorcery are indeed staples. But if they follow in the footsteps of Conan or the Grey Mouser, then they tend to be a bit on the "dark" side. Conan killed a lot of evil wizards and monsters, but he pillaged as many shapely maidens and slit as many throats for profit as the next villian. And Grey Mouser was just classic Bond in a fantasy world. Good basic Fantasy, but certainly not Disney friendly. ;)

SF is pure fantasy. Please explain the hard, believable science in some of the classics of SF. Have a shot at it. It's not believable. Why? We've moved on. At any time you write a SF novel, its fantasy. At any time it's read, it's fantasy. The fact that a Western consumer is more likely to believe it's a slim possibility into the future doesn't change the fact that it is fantasy. Hey, 45% of all real hard scientists believe the Apollo moon landings were faked, to this day! Why? Because they believe that it is impossible, and operating from that bias, they will give you plenty of scientific facts as to why it is impossible. That's straight up. Moon landings? Fantasy by them. Space Flight? Past Near Earth Orbit, pure Nympho Elf performing unlikely sexual acts on Gim'me'lots'more the ugly, greedy Dwarf king fantasy.

Contemporary Hard Science Fiction is pure fantasy world building. It's just trying to drown you into agreeing with it by volume, rather then letting the story gently carry you along into its world. Go read any hard SF from 20 or 30 years ago, and the majority of those are fantasy now, as that "fringe" science it draws on has been discredited, or the "near future" it projects cannot manifest now.

Just how it all looks from this side of the wacked out worlds. ;)

15-07-2004, 19:38:32
No, Disney does not do High Fantasy. Disney does DISNEY fantasy, which is also a genre all its own. Really. High fantasy is about elves and dwaves. That is what it was when the term originated, and the term originated to describe Tolkein. Trust me on this.

You are also confounding small-f fantasy with capital-F fantasy. All novels are 'fantasy' by the definition you are using. That's why 'speculative fiction' (which covers fantasy, sf, and horror) is such a nice term.

If you're really going to quibble, stick "believable at the time the book was written" in place of "believable", though.

I am speaking as "how genres are labeled by publishers IME and based on online sites attempting to differentiate the genres, as well as how most readers I know understand the terms." There's quibbling over sub-genres even there, which I said, but you are dead wrong about High fantasy.

-- Kory (Hard SF Doesn't Turn Into Fantasy Even If the Science is Disproved, HTH.)

15-07-2004, 19:47:41
Aw. Well, I'm just one of the thousands that buy the stuff. What would I know? ;)

There must be an extreme amount of eye gouging over terms then. Especially if "Disney" fantasy is it's own genre. I'm glad I decided to become a programmer instead of having to wrestle with "High, Wild West Cowboy meets Disney and S&S Fantasy" descriptions/hunts. Bleah!

You know, if I go into a book store with a lot of stuff on the shelves, most of the people that *work* those stores use descriptions closer to mine then that. "Disney Fantasy" will get you to the Disney DVD section, not the Children's or High Fantasy book sections.

Gee... how can you even figure out what label the publishers (and whoever else) would put on your works? Do you have to pay a publishing scholar or something just to find out?

15-07-2004, 19:49:00
And it's never believable, was my point, Kory. Except to a small audience. :-P ~~~ ~~~ ~~ Heck, it's easier to get people to buy into classic magic then real science.