Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 10

wizard's first rule header

Chapter 10

Last chapter: Richard tells the wizard to show him how the magic works.

This chapter: The wizard shows Richard how the magic works.

Also I am now coming to the dismaying realisation that Zedd is probably going to be sticking around for a while.

Zedd led them to the edge of-the grass, amid long shadows stretching from the nearby trees, to where two small rock maples grew, one as thick as Richard’s wrist, the other as thin as Kahlan’s.

Are men and women’s wrists really that different in size? Are we forgetting that Kahlan is an adult again?

Zedd gives Kahlan the sword and then tells her that Darken Rahl had one of the trees planted and gets her all riled up by reminding her that he killed her sister. Even though this is obviously bullshit she gets pissed and cuts through the tree like butter, something that not even Richard with all of his thewsomeness could manage, to say nothing of Kahlan and her delicate, wispy girl-arms.

Next Richard tries to cut down the smaller tree but the blade won’t even touch the wood.

Richard’s irritation melted. This was the way Zedd often taught lessons, by making him come up with the answer on his own. “I would say it has something to do with intent. She thought the tree was evil, I didn’t.”

I thought what was going to happen here is that the sword is powered by anger, which would be dumb enough, but actually it will only work against things or people that Richard thinks are evil.

Not, keep in mind, which actually are evil. Just which he thinks are evil. I don’t think I need to point out why this is a terrible idea, but apparently Zedd doesn’t agree. I strongly get the feeling this is another objectivism thing, but someone in the comments tell me if I’m wrong.

Reality isn’t relevant. Perception is everything.

Nope no way this could go wrong

It didn’t really matter, [Richard] decided. He knew who he was after, and there was no doubt at all in his mind about him being the enemy. None Whatsoever.

I tend to associate this kind of certainty with dangerous people. A rational human being will always at least be prepared to doubt their own views. This is particularly true when that person has massive amounts of power at their disposal- imagine if the leaders of the US or the Soviet Union had thought like this during the cold war.

After this Zedd does an abrupt 180 and says that killing is hard and always takes a toll, and Richard will pay a mental price for every life he takes. Richard laments the guilt he feels over drop-kicking that dude off the cliff earlier even though as far as I can tell he hasn’t thought about it once since then.

Zedd wheels out some old chestnuts about there being good and evil within everyone and Darken Rahl believes he’s doing the right thing even though it involves murdering and torturing people and so is therefore more dangerous.

Zedd held a thin finger to Richard’s chest. “The payment is that you suffer the pain of seeing in yourself all your own evil, all your own shortcomings, all the things we don’t like to see in ourselves, or admit are there. And you see the good in the one you have killed, suffer the guilt for having done so.”

Rage, according to Zedd, is the only protection from this guilt.

So if you strip away the fantasy trappings what he’s really saying here is that when you commit righteous murder  you might feel guilty about it, so you should get good and pissed first so you can murder people better.

Our heroes.

Also Richard can’t actually use the Sword of Truth against Darken Rahl, because the magic of Orden protects him and Richard will die if he tries. This comes off like a blatant contrivance to stop Richard from winning too easily.

Already he was looking to the east, to the massive wall of mountains, trying to think of solutions. Cross the boundary, he thought, cross the boundary without going through it. How?

y o u  s a w  s o m e t h i n g  f l y i n g   o v e r  i t

j u s t  s a y i n g

But apparently that’s not Richard’s solution. Instead he realizes that the Book of Counted Shadows must have come from Midland, since it’s magic (apparently), therefore his dad must have gone through the boundary and brought it back. I kind of assumed he just brought it with him before the boundaries went up, but maybe I missed something earlier.

So off our heroes go to find a pass through the boundary!

Apologies for the shortness of this post, but my back pain came back with a vengeance and this chapter was another marathon length one. I normally try to be very comprehensive but I’m skipping massive chunks here, mostly Richard’s drawn-out thought processes and Zedd saying “bags” and talking about toasted toads.


10 thoughts on “Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 10

  1. Fibinachi

    The Sword of Truth granting power to defeat armies subjectively is the one thing I am reminded of from these books that had and have the greatest potential. Okay, so the sex-monks were bad and the hilarious racism of the later books were quirky and the amazing, insular and utterly mad (not ableist, mad as in lovecraftian madness in nature an design) of the logistics of the later books were all pretty bad, but, sure…

    Think about it. A magic sword that makes you unbeatable, so long as you don’t doubt your cause. Tons of cool plot development potential there, great gateway into interesting debates on the subjectivity of truth, it adds a neat bit of flavor to some styles of writing (The villain can’t beat the hero in a fight, but so long as anyone can trick the Protagonist, his powers are useless), adds a neat stylistic element of the hero only “Really” being able to use his full power once he has found out the entire truth of whatever is going on, for fear of making a bad judgement call, so on…

    I like it! I like it a lot.

    But Richard is never wrong.. Even when Zeddicus Zulander has told him “It’s not about reality”, there is never one instance of Richard using the amazing powers of this bad ass sword on a wrong impulse.

    He can only use the sword when he is right. He is always right. Any action he takes is inherently right, justified by that sword, and grants him powers to beat anyone.

    And all this DESPITE the fact that the big bad enemies do the exact same thing! But they’re wrong about it all, because… erh… author fiat.


    1. Fibinachi

      Double post, but I just thought of something:

      The thing that bugs me the most is that, initially, it seems like an admission of the possibility of subjective truth, of differences in opinion and of a world view that allows chaos, chance and consequentialism, where sometimes, mistakes happen and you can’t always know the logical truth of any matter, because different people will want different things.

      But it isn’t, because in practice, Richard is never wrong, and his path is the right path, always and ever, and his authorial mandate just means he gets to exert a crushingly oppressive regime of autocratic despotism without the slightest opposition.

      It’s the Atlas Shrugged problem taken to 11 (Where the protagonists are always right, and reality supports this)

      IF your protagonist is always right, then everyone else is always wrong by default.

      IF your protagonist has a sword that ONLY works when he is right, but he is always right, then his cause is not only righteous, wrathful and subjective, it becomes the objectively mandated by reality proper path, and any opposition to any part of his agenda reduces the person making that opposition to nothing but a lifeless, dumb rock to be crushed as you move forward under the unstoppable righteousness of your cause.

      … which explains why Richard can kill pacifists and blow up 2000 soldiers without a twitch. They weren’t people with a different opinion, they were Wrongthinkers, worthy only of contempt and death.

      Which Richard can then flawlessly execute with his magic sword.

      1. Signatus

        I’ve just read your second post and, am I the only one who is looking horrified at the implications here? I mean, is Goodking actually saying all people who are “wrong” to his eyes, or actually have a different opinion, should be executed and / or silenced?

      2. braak

        Yeah, it’s a sort of par-for-the-course Objectivist notion of class essentialism: Richard is, by his nature, the Seeker of Truth, and therefore right. The Sword of Truth is a power inconsiderate of rightness or wrongness, and therefore it’s essential that it be delivered only into the hands of the correct sort of person — power can’t be distributed in an egalitarian way, because wrong-thinking people will use it wrongly. Power must be reserved only for people who are by their nature right-thinking people.

        It seems like a pretty monstrous crypto-fascism to me, but that’s how I feel about most Objectivist philosophy.

    2. Signatus

      The concept you propose is actually very, VERY interesting, and primarily focuses on our own biological limitation as pack animals; the bias, and how we dehumanize our enemies to make it easier for our conscience to cope with it. It is a boundary that can be explored brilliantly, and fantasy gives so much potential to use metaphors!
      It is a wonder fantasy man authors keep writting the same old shit over and over again!

  2. rmric0

    “I kind of assumed he just brought it with him before the boundaries went up, but maybe I missed something earlier.”

    I think it’s just an inconsistency about the age of the boundary. It usually sounds like it’s some ancient barrier but we’re told it’s only 20 years old. Kind of like how in Star Wars how we assume in the original trilogy that the Jedi are an order that has been near-extinct for a long time (hokey religions and ancient weapons) rather than a large and powerful order that was wiped out only two decades before (in a literate future society).

  3. Sean

    I strongly get the feeling this is another objectivism thing, but someone in the comments tell me if I’m wrong.

    What I know of objectivist metaphysics would imply otherwise, but it’s been a long time since I looked into it.


    1. braak

      Strictly-speaking it is the opposite of Objectivist metaphysics — it is Rand’s position that there is a knowable and unalterable independent and objective reality, that exists regardless of a person’s perception of it.

      In my opinion, though, this is belied by the actual practical Objectivism of Objectivists, who pretty persistently mistake their personal perspectives for reality.

      1. Signatus

        So objectivist believe that what they know is the absolute truth, and those with a different approach on a subject are a bunch of idiots. I know a few people like that. Gives for some amusing debates, but that’s about it.

  4. Signatus

    If I remember correctly, it is said earlier that the boundary couldn’t have been lifted if there was a speck of magic in that side of the land (which I find as stupid as everything in this book).

    I did “like” Zedd’s explanation about good and evil, except the part where; “Yeah, Darken Rhal thinks he’s doing the right thing, but he’s totally evil!”. However, the way Goodkind tries to limit Richard’s power by applying the whole feel guilt thing, added to the rage to power the sword, and the fact that it will act upon belief and subjective perspective, seems like the best way to drive someone crazy. I know this won’t happen, because he is the main character, but it is still very stupid (and reinforces my idea that he’s making shit up as he writes).
    Goodkind seems to be trying hard to be deep and sensible by talking about the concepts of good and evil, and yet he fails on the most basic level.

    And why do these people keep tossing information in different chapters? Can’t they just explain everything and be done with it? Do they really need to go; “oh, I forgot to tell you, you’ll suffer terrible pain and guilt when you use the sword!”
    Really? Maybe the character would have acted differently had he known this information (which Richard doesn’t give a royal crap about, just like about everything else). I know he won’t because the author is that simple, but it would have been a nice insight to see the main character actually angry and feeling cheated because all this vital information had been omited when he was offered that choice.


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