Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 13

wizard's first rule header

Chapter 13

Richard sits against a rock and gazes out at the darkness, since he’s on watch first for the night.

Kahlan had protested when she wasn’t given a watch, but in the end went along with Chase’s wishes.

Kahlan continues to get sidelines, I see.

Speaking of which, Kahlan sidles over for some night-time spooning and tells Richard she’s sorry about what she said earlier, vis a vis Richard not coming to rescue her if she was in danger.

I did not want you to think I don’t appreciate your friendship; I do. It’s just that what we are doing is more important than any one person.

Also, apparently all wizards sleep with their eyes open. For some reason.

Richard realizes that Kahlan is his True Love Forever and reluctantly asks her if she’s in love with someone else, but she just says it’s not that simple and she has “obligations”.

She looked so beautiful in the moonlight, but it wasn’t only the way she looked, it was what was inside her, everything from her intelligence and courage to her wit, and the special smile she gave only to him.

He appreciates her for her intelligence and personality and wit… but don’t worry guys she’s also totally hot you may now continue masturbating in peace.

The night was so still that Richard felt as if he were the only one awake in- the whole world. Stars flickered, looking like Zedd’s magic dust frozen in place as the moon stared silently down at him. Not even the wolves sang tonight. Loneliness threatened to crush him.

Goodkind has a bad habit of veering off into these confusing non-sequiters, usually in the form of [description, description, description, and then Richard felt feelings], that I find really jarring. I’m written before on This Very Blog about how I think the “show, don’t tell” rule sometimes gets taken too seriously, but this is surely a situation where it applies.

The thought of her hunters, the quads, and Darken Rahl made his anger heat. He wanted them to come now so he could put an end to the threat. He hungered for them. His heart pounded. His jaws clenched.

Calm the fuck down Richard, all these sudden spurts of anger can’t be good for your blood pressure.

Zedd ambles over with some cheese (lolwacky) and talks to Richard for a bit about his girl woes.

She said she didn’t want me coming after her, but she meant more than
that. She meant she didn’t want me coming after her, period.”

“Good girl,” Zedd said under his breath.

“Good girl” is a really creepy phrase and people should stop using it. I remember in secondary school teachers would say this to the girls in my class even into sixth year, whereas I never heard anyone say “good boy” to the boys at any age. It’s a weird double standard.

But anyway fantasy novels

Zedd says Kahlan has responsibilities but won’t tell Richard what they are, since they’re her business, and to give up on her since she can’t be the one for him. You mean just ditch the romance sub-plot now? I am all for this plan. Listen to Zedd, Richard.

Richard asks Zedd what he would have done if someone had come to him and told him this before he married his wife (not sure if I mentioned her, she’s dead) and he grudgingly admits Richard has a point but still insists it’s hopeless.

I wish it were not so, for your sake, but there is no way for it to work. Kahlan
knows it, and if you try, you will only hurt her. I know you don’t want that.”

Richard’s voice was calm, quiet. “You said it yourself. I am the Seeker. There is a way, and I will find it.”

God, Richard is such a douchewaffle.

Zedd gets to the point he came to make, which is that as Seeker Richard might have to let innocent people die in order to beat Darken Rahl, such as when they convinced him to leave Chase earlier.

In order to succeed in stopping Rahl you may have to turn away from those who might
be saved with your help. A soldier knows that on the battlefield, if he bends to help a downed comrade, he might take a sword in the back, and so, if he is to win, he must fight on despite the cries for help from his fellows. You must be able to do this to win; it may be the only way. You must steel yourself to it. This is a struggle for survival, and in this battle the ones crying for help probably won’t be soldiers, but innocents. Darken Rahl will kill anyone to win. Those who fight on his side will do the same. You may have to do the same. Like it or not, the aggressor makes the rules. You must play by them, or you will surely die by them.”

This is actually a fairly reasonable point, at least in terms of someone who’s been forced into a war against their will (if Richard and co were the aggressors here it would be a different story), but Zedd also seems to imply that Richard has to be willing to actively cause the deaths of innocents as well, which I don’t accept as being valid. I don’t think there’s ever any justification for targeting innocent bystanders if there’s any way possible to avoid doing so.

“Because, Richard, many people must be ruled to thrive. In their selfishness and
greed, they see free people as their oppressors. They wish to have a leader who will cut the taller plants so the sun will reach them. They think no plant should be allowed to grow taller than the shortest, and inthat way give light to all. They would rather be provided a guiding light, regardless of the fuel, than light a candle themselves.

2179690-andrew_ryan_by_pirate_cashoo

This really feels like an objectivist thing.

I am quite sure that Rahl’s followers think we are bloodthirsty monsters, capable of anything. They will have been told endless tales of their enemy’s ruthless brutality.

If you replace “their enemy” with “Richard” this becomes entirely accurate.

I actually like the point Goodkind is making here, but for it to hold water we would also have to discover that Kahlan and Zedd’s depiction of Darken Rahl is missing a lot of nuance and there are good people on both sides. Anyone want to bet whether that will happen?

There’s some more waffling about being steely and thrust-jawed and prepared to take decisive action and Richard tells Zedd about him offering Kahlan an apple and her almost killing him.

Why are all red fruits in the Midlands deadly poison? It isn’t natural.”

The wizard gave a sorrowful shake of his head. “Because, Richard, children like red fruit.”

This is going to be something dumb isn’t it

Back during the war against Panis Rahl (god I keep reading that as penis now), Panis found a magical whats-it that could cast a single spell poisoning all fruit of a certain colour, for some reason. So he picked read because “children like red fruit” apparently and he wanted to be an asshole and murder a whole bunch of kids. Of course this is exactly what Zedd was just talking about, about people believing their enemies are all ruthless cold-hearted bastards, but since it’s the bad guys he’s talking about it’s probably 100% accurate.

The point Zedd makes out of all this is also extremely odd:

“I had a student, a young man I was training. One day I chanced upon him tinkering with something he shouldn’t have been. I had an odd doubt about him. I knew something was wrong, but I was very fond of him and so I didn’t act upon my suspicion. Instead, I decided to think on it for the night. The next morning, he was gone, and so was the constructed magic I had found. He had been a spy for Panis Rahl. If I had acted when I should have, and killed him, all those people, all those children, wouldn’t have died.

The point he seems to be making here, and which he also stated earlier, is that if your allies act in the slightest bit suspicious you should murder them instantly in case they’re a traitor. He even says that Richard should immediately cut him or Kahlan down if he has doubts about them, and that they’d do the same to him.

Such loyal allies, our heroes.

Next, in this very long chapter full of talking, Zedd decides to do something about the evil cloud that’s been hovering overhead. This involves his wizard rock and magic dust and more finger-spinning (I’m really curious to see how they portrayed this in the TV series) and goes on for far too long so I’m not going to summarize it except to point out that it’s extraordinarily trippy and reads like Richard just stepped into a psychadelic album cover from the 60s. Also Zedd says he should try it naked because it “feels better”. So. There’s that.

Zedd help up his hand. Out of the darkness, the piece of cheese he had thrown away floated back to him

Please tell me Zedd gets killed soon.

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13 thoughts on “Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 13

  1. Christie Greenwood

    This red fruit thing is so stupid. Like, there’s fruit that turns red over time. Does it only become poisonous then? What about fruits with red parts? Will only the red bits be posionous? What about tomatoes? What about vegetables? Peppers go from green to red to yellow as they mature. Are they no longer poisonous after they turn yellow? Also, define red. It’s a huge spectrum of colour that goes from brownish to almost blue. If my brain interprets a colour as brown, which is a thing that happens, is the fruit no longer poisonous? MWAHAHAHA TAH EBOLZ is always stupid, but here, Goodkind’s unwillingness to edit his masterpieces really shows.

    Reply
  2. braak

    The point he seems to be making here, and which he also stated earlier, is that if your allies act in the slightest bit suspicious you should murder them instantly in case they’re a traitor.

    The point I think he’s really making, which twenty bucks says is going to get emphasized again and again, is that Doubt is Weakness. Zedd got all those millions of children killed because he hesitated when confronted with his doubts, instead of acting with absolutely certainty at all times.

    The power of Not Thinking Twice About It is the Seeker’s defining quality.

    Reply
    1. rmric0

      Shouldn’t the lesson have really been to not build weapons of mass destruction? That even if they’re created with the most noble and pure intentions, their power can be subverted and used for bad ends.

      Reply
  3. Johns

    “I don’t think there’s ever any justification for targeting innocent bystanders if there’s any way possible to avoid doing so.”

    I’m curious – are there situations in which targeting bystanders is justified, or is the key point before the if here?

    Reply
    1. ronanwills Post author

      Well, I’m thinking mostly of wacky hypotheticals here like if there was a device that was about to blow up the planet and the only way to stop it would kill people in the surrounding areas. Which would obviously never happen in real life but might come up in a fantasy story.

      Reply
      1. Johns

        It’s really too bad that this kind of hypothetical is actually used in real life quite often, even when it’s on a vastly smaller scale….replace “device” with terrorist and there’s your justification for a drone strike on a village, with collateral damage gladly accepted.

        Reply
  4. Signatus

    I think Goodkind is, aside from obviously slapping us with his very own ideals, using the EVIL, EVIL, INCURABLE ENEMY MONSTER SOCIETY trope. He is simplifying a whole society by stating the are practically wrong just because they do not share his ideals, and thus should be exterminated on that account. I think we have already mentioned this in previous chapters but I believe that idea is quiet persistent in his book, which is frankly a very scary thing. Funny thing is he is condemning a totalitarism, yet proposing the very same model. Lets exterminate everyone who defies us until we create a uni-ideological society, because we are right, and we know that.
    It’s curious how most people believe they are right, and that the monster to exterminate is the other one.
    Yet, while Zedd understands people might have been fed propaganda (seems we, from the glorious democracies, are never fed propaganda, at all), he still condemns them because of some “they see free people as evil, they need a leader” bullshit.

    Since social politics and XX Century societal movements has been my area of interest, it hurts me deep inside how complex events are simplified to the point of absurdity. I wish fantasy writers would keep to their area of expertise, whichever it is, and leave politics and history alone, because they show such an ignorance in the area, it is shameful.

    Anyways, I think he managed to do the pseudo-romance a bit, and only a bit better this time. Didn’t get that previous feeling of; “this is so artificial it could have been in a mexican soap opera”. But I really, really wish he would drop it. They keep not acting natural, and really, it’s just not working.
    The fact that Richard keeps insisting on a friendship that is not remotely possible is very annoying, and keeps increasing the feeling that Goodkind is trying way too hard into making that relation work, and that’s what is ruining it. He is not letting it flow naturally.
    Also, that ;I love her wits, intelligence, whatever…” was a laughable attempt to balance the thing, probably after his editor told him he focused way too much on her looks.
    Not to mention, I don’t recall having seen any moment of witty brilliance, intelligence, etc in Kahlan. Most of what I’ve seen is; “I have a mission, must do mission at all costs”, which is more stubborness and determination than anything else. And as the story progresses, she is falling more and more into the area of quota woman, who only exists because Good kind was not going to make his hero gay (if someone writes a story about a gay barbarian, I’m sooo reading it!) and Richard needs a girl for reasons I yet don’t understand.

    I wonder why people see sparkly things and they hear tiny bells. How many sparkly things make sound in real life?

    Reply
  5. Toastehh

    There’s just something odd about Richard’s ~anger~, and I think I’ve figured out what it is. It boils out of nowhere, it’s aimed at wherever problem is to hand, then disappears as if nothing happened. Because it’s not the anger of losing his family or whatever. It’s the kind of anger Goodkind feels when he watches the news and bad stuff happens.

    Richard is literally powered by getting mad at the headlines.

    Reply
  6. Fibinachi

    . I don’t think there’s ever any justification for targeting innocent bystanders if there’s any way possible to avoid doing so.

    … heh. Oh, that’s going to be way funny about eight thousand pages from now.
    —-

    That’s one of the jarring things about Goodkind’s writing – some of the monologues are imminently sensible, and offer good advice / reasonable causes of action / good grounding for considering ones activities, but the… specific lessons that the characters often then go on to depart veer wildly into overly vindictive.

    Like; Rahls followers reasonably having been told a lot of propaganda, and Richard might have to face the fact that they won’t listen to cries of him being innocent, so he might be forced to act decisively and kill those who are, strictly speaking, just doing their job.

    … Which then means he should at all times murder everyone single enemy soldier on the offchance that they might try to stop him. Wait, what?

    Reply
    1. Austin H. Williams

      It seems a thing for people who have bought into various loopy, extremist positions to wield non-sequiturs as explanations for said positions. Objectivists are masters of this kind of approach, made all the more disheartening with its effectiveness.

      I’m sure there were and are plenty of frustrated, white, teenage nerds reading this thinking, “It all makes sense now…”

      Reply

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