Tuesday, 10 August 2010

‘The Challenge...’ Failed!

I gave it my best shot but ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ has gone in the ‘charity box’, possibly never to be seen in this house again. I really wanted that ‘Raging Rothfuss’ award as well... But you know what? Sometimes life really is too short to be plugging away on something that just isn’t going to work for you. The reading pile gave me a metaphorical tap on the shoulder and said, “Dude, it’s killing you doing this. Check out some of the stuff I’ve got here, you’ll love it...” I didn’t need telling more than once :o)

So... Two hundred and five pages into a seven hundred-page book was enough for me, what happened? Richard and Kahlan were about to be attacked and I realised I just didn’t care. I wasn’t so far gone as to hope that they would die, and the book would end there, but it was a close thing. On what I managed to read (and two hundred and five pages wasn’t bad going), Goodkind managed to fill ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ with characters who advanced the plot but didn’t seem to have anything going as people in their own right. Once I found out Richard’s purpose in the plot (he’s the ‘RELUCTANT HERO WITH LOTS OF QUESTIONS’... that was it. There was nothing else to engage with him on. And the same went for the other characters, why read the rest of the book when you’ve found out all there is to know?

I actually liked some of Goodkind’s descriptive prose, I love reading about forests and I got a good sense of where things were happening in the book. However, I did wonder at times if the lack of characterisation was being padded out with loads of descriptive stuff. Not a lot actually happens, in what I managed to read, but you wouldn’t have thought so with the number of pages that Goodkind uses to make his points. Descriptive prose is only going to carry a book so far. Other authors overindulge in a world that they’ve enjoyed creating but I seriously got the impression that Goodkind wasn’t sure what to write next ...

In the same vein, I very quickly got sick of Goodkind deciding that he needed to tell his readers everything instead of letting us gradually find out for ourselves. I’m looking at the Wizard Zedd here who, despite the looming threat of the Dark Lord, figured he had plenty of time to tell Richard, well... everything really. It was a good job that Zedd was on hand to fill Richard in otherwise he would have had to find all this stuff out himself! Just think what that might have done to the story...
I was also left thinking that if you’re going to lay down a whole set of rules then don’t contradict one of the biggest ones a few pages after you’ve told everyone what the rules are. Stick to what you’ve laid down, please...

One of the conditions of the challenge was that I approached this in as fair a manner as possible. Now, I haven’t finished the book so an argument could be made that I don’t have to be fair at all but there are a couple of things to be said in his defence.

As I said earlier, Goodkind does give you a sense of where you are in the story with some nice background scenery. It’s a world that has potential to be a lot more but is practically smothered by unnecessary padding though... He can tell a story as well and events flow into one another in such a way that the plot does move in the right direction.
The other thing I would say in defence of ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ is that it helped me rediscover a love of reading that I thought I was losing (I have been feeling a little burnt out what with one thing and another). Two hundred pages of this had me eager to get stuck into the ‘Reading Pile’ again and that’s just what I am going to do! I may have failed the challenge but I won in the end :o)

7 comments:

Val said...

You haven't even reached one of his famous rants against socialism yet. How disappointing ;)

lee-tyke said...

Im so happy you tried but even more happy you gave in. Lifes too short for Goodkind when there's such a richness of good stuff out there. Lord knows he stole some precious time from me and money.By the way the 'wizards first rule' actually is 'not to read this book'.

Sarah said...

I tried this book once as well. I bought the thing to read on the airplane. I can manage to read ANYTHING on an airplane. I mean, it's an airplane for god's sake. What else are you going to do on it?

I couldn't do it. I got about 200 pages in as well and just about flushed the stupid book down the toilet. The first thing I did when I landed was chuck the book and then go buy one that was worth the paper....

Good on you for giving it the good college try. I was anxiously awaiting your verdict. Now, on to something worth reading, eh?

Elfy said...

You gave it a shot, Graeme. I got about as far, but then decided life was too short to read this rubbish any further.

Stephen said...

Well at least you tried. I've not read it either and now I'm really not sure I want to start, especially with the promise of rants.

J. E. Badelaire said...

Good that you tried, and no wonder you failed. I actually met Goodkind once and he didn't come across as a prat, but to be truthful he's the guy who saw Eddings and Jordan make bank on their books and figured he could scam in on the deal. I rank him up there with the Terry Brooks and Lin Carters of the world - benevolent coat-tail riders who try, but don't have the chops to pull off something original and successful..

Graeme Flory said...

I would agree with Goodkind's stance that his books are not fantasy. I didn't get very far with 'WFR' but came away with the feeling that he'd killed off any sense of the fantastic that the book had started out with...