The Wizards First Rule is that “people will believe anything is true, so long as they want to believe it’s true, or they are afraid it is true,” or, as one Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander phrases it more succinctly, “people are stupid.”
It is also the title of the first book in the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind, a series recommended to me by a close friend, who loves the fantasy genre as much as I do.
Now, you might think that the book might open with this title as the first line or something, maybe it dives right into the narrative told from the point of view of one of the characters, and the first words are ” people will believe anything…” but they’re not. In fact, this “First Rule doesn’t come until about five or six hundred pages into the book, closer to the end than the beginning. Personally, I got to these words at about two in the morning, and I was hysterical. I had waited 600 pages to learn that the title of this book, elaborately, means “people are stupid”. It really just solidified my love for this book.
The Sword of Truth Series is a high fantasy story taking place in a world that is not really named overall. But it is a world of magic. The continent that the main Character Richard Cypher lives on, has been divided into three lands; There is the Eastern D’Hara Empire, who is threatening to conquer the world, lead by Darken Rahl; there is Westland, cleverly named, where ages ago people migrated to, with the promise that no magic would exist here, as these people were mistrustful of magic, and wanted nothing to do with it; there was the Midlands, between these two coasts, the mostly untamed wilds of the continent where natural magic is allowed to blossom. These three lands are separated by a magical barrier which kills anything that tries to cross it, yet somehow, Darken Rahl has begun seeping into the Midlands to kill those in power and take control for himself. The story begins in earnest when Kahlan, the Mother Confessor of the Midlands, the most highly ranked person in the Midlands, uses magic to cross through the Underworld, the land of the dead, to get to Westland where rumors of the Great Wizard who put up the barrier lives. She comes bearing the Sword of Truth, seeking the Seeker, and aid from the Great Wizard, and who finds her and immediately hits it off with her but Richard Cypher, a woods guide.
So this begins a wonderful story of bravery and honesty and honor and reason above all things, with a great romantic subplot (which is not something I’d usually praise,) and a good sense of humor, about a man doing what he has to to save the world from being torn to shreds by the Keeper of the Underworld, who hates all life and all living things.
I won’t lie, there’s some questionable, very very not PG-13 things that happen towards the end of the book that seem wholly out of sync with the rest of the book, or even, with the rest of the series. It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but it’s the only instance of such writing I’ve seen in the 5 books of the series I’ve read since.
Overall I’d give the book a 7.5 out of 10. If this is your first high fantasy novel, maybe start with something else, but if Fantasy is your bread and butter, do yourself a favor and look up this series.