Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 15

wizard's first rule header

CHAPTER 15

Kahlan and Richard run from the Heart Hounds.

THE HORSES NEEDED No encouragement to run.

A few people in the comments have pointed out that Goodkind commits the well-known fantasy mistake of forgetting that horses aren’t cars and require a great deal of care and maintenance to remain fit and not dead.

Richard and Kahlan try to ride away from the boundary and into the swamp to escape the Heart Hounds. They come to a moat surrounding an island and run into it in the hope that the hounds can’t swim. Unfortunately the water is full of snakes. But fortunately! The Sword of Truth has some sort of snake-repelling magic I guess. Also the Heart Hounds are indeed afraid of water.

So Richard and Kahlan are safe but Zedd and Chase are still unconscious (and if they’re unconscious due to head injury they’ve probably got severe brain damage by now).

Kahlan jumped. to her feet, quickly scanning around, her head pushing against the tarp. “Snakes, what snakes? I don’t like snakes,” she said in a rush.

Kahlan continues to get less and less cool.

She nodded, then smiled. “And I am sore in places I cannot mention.”

And less and less.

We get another long conversation about being steely and thrust-jawed and prepared to act decisively when the time comes- namely, Kahlan suggests they might just need to leave Zedd and Chase if they aren’t going to recover. You know what would be more interesting than rambling conversations where the characters talk about all the difficult, morally questionable things they might have to do? Them actually doing difficult, morally questionable things. But no, so far it’s all been finger magic and smiles of sharing.

He understood her need to stop Rahl. He felt the same hunger

Does anyone else get the feeling Richard’s determination to stop Rahl doesn’t stem from entirely altruistic motivations?

Just in case there was any cool factor left in Kahlan she has a nightmare about the creature that tried to pull her into the boundary and wakes up in tears so Richard can comfort her.

“Nightmares?” he asked, stroking her hair reassuringly with the backs of his fingers.

Kahlan nodded against him. “I was dreaming about the thing from the boundary that was around my
legs. I dreamt it was a big snake.”

Bleh.

(Is it just me or is Kahlan now indistinguishable from Denna?)

Richard quickly went and checked. Zedd seemed hardly alive.

YES

They set off again and reach the town of Southaven, which is a hive of scum and whatever.

“Stay close to me,” Richard said as they dismounted. “The men here are dangerous.”
Kahlan smiled oddly with one side of her mouth. “I’m used to their kind.”
Richard wondered what that meant, but didn’t ask.

NO

DO NOT GO THERE GOODKIND I SWEAR TO GOD

DO NOT

The men were a rough collection of trappers and travelers and trouble. Many had unkempt beards. Most were big. The place smelled of ale and smoke and sweat.

We’ve suddenly entered a western, I see.

Kahlan stood tall and proud next to him; she was a person not easily intimidated

Could have fooled me.

When she pushed back the hood of her cloak, grins broke out all around

Okay, writers? The reason you shouldn’t use the word “grin” is because when I read that word I immediately picture something like this:

tumblr_n0e2vylUce1r6crbao1_400

That’s probably not what you’re going for.

“Something I can do for you?” the man asked in a dry voice. His tongue rolled a toothpick across his mouth as he waited.

A toothpick? Seriously? I was only joking about the western thing.

The guys in this saloon inn are basically video game enemies, which means they immediately want to pick a fight for no real reason as soon as they clap eyes on Kahlan so Richard can prove what a badass he is by defending his property friend.

Lukcily Kahlan manages to deflect them with some piece of stupidity about Richard being a gigolo she hired (they were assuming it was the other way around) and smiling “lusciously” and making suggestive comments which, I don’t know, kind of seems like the exact opposite of what would defuse that sort of situation.

Actually this is interesting to go into: so the guys in the saloon inn think Kahlan is Richard’s “whore” and they more or less say they’re going to break into Richard and Kahlan’s room and rape Kahlan later (because fantasy). What averts this from happening isn’t actually Kahlan’s coy “yeah, if this guy here doesn’t cut it I’ll totally have sex with one of you studs” because why the fuck would you say that in that situation. On one level I get why making it clear you’re not actually a prostitute would be a smart idea (it’s unfortunately true that a lot of scumbags assume they have a right to a sex worker’s body) but the interesting/ disturbing thing here is that Kahlan also heavily emasculates Richard and it seems to be this, more than anything else, that ultimately defuses the situation.

That’s because the scene was never about Kahlan at all. It wasn’t even about sex. It was a dick-swinging contest between Richard and the guys in the saloon inn, with Kahlan as the ball. Once they realized their opponent wasn’t actually playing they lost interest.

In the hands of a skilled author who was actually aware of what he was doing this could have been interesting, but of course Richard participates in the Game of Patriarchy with nary a shred of self-realization.

What the fuck happened to that magic Kahlan used on the assassins at the start? Was it single-use or something? In fact I don’t think she’s actually done anything remotely similar between then and now, it’s like that scene was from a first draft that Goodkind forgot to delete

The owner of the saloon inn is named Bill and is a decent sort, so he offers to help carry Chase and Zedd up to a room.

Frustrated, he tried to think how to put into words how angry he was without making it sound as if he was angry with her. He had been at the brink of lethal commitment. A brink only one wrong word away. Pulling back was agonizingly difficult

Okay seriously, what is the deal with Richard hulking out constantly? Is it the sword doing it?

The proprietor and his son carried Chase in and laid him carefully on the floor. When the son, a lanky young man, saw Kahlan, he fell instantly and hopelessly in love

PFFFT HA HA HAHA OMG are you serious

How the fuck did Goodkind’s editor not spot this, that has to be one of the worst written sentences I’ve ever read.

“You wouldn’t consider staying here and marrying the boy, would you? It would do him good to have a mate.”
An odd look of pain and panic flashed across Kahlan’s eyes. She sat on the bed, looking down at the
floor.

I don’t even want to know.

Kahlan makes some comment about how Richard should sleep since if someone comes after them it would be better if he was alert and for whatever reason he gets annoyed at the implication that she wants him to be ready to kill people (well, duh). Whatever, Richard’s characterization is so all over the place I don’t even care any more.

Richard and Kahlan have to go to a woman out in the swamp who might be able to do something for Zedd and Chase. It will be an eight hour round trip and they’re teetering on the brink of death. Rather than jump on their indestructible machine-horses and dash off right away, they decide to sleep a bit first, grab some food, wash up, maybe kick back with a few episodes of Mad Men on the DVR…. you know, ease into the day.

The poor kid is hopelessly in love with you. Sinceyou were the one who asked, he will guard the horses better than we could ourselves

I don’t know why the characters frequently don’t use contractions in this this book. Is it supposed to make the dialogue sound more grand and high-faluting or something?

“Richard?” a muffled voice called. “It’s Bill. Unbolt the door. There’s trouble.”

Well, thanks God for that. The pacing in this book continues to be good for a fantasy novel, although I can’t shake the feeling that this whole diversion with Chase and Zedd being injured is going to end up being a huge waste of time.

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2 thoughts on “Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 15

  1. Signatus

    Ok, this thing reads fine, it’s quick paced, and things happen (although it looks like an amateur’s work), but UGH! The cliches!

    The innkeeper is wearing a dirty apron, but is actually a fine dude.
    The inn’s clients are a bunch of brutal barbarians (I’m pretty sure men are actually decent folk, not primitive beasts who only think with their dongs).
    There is some mystic lady at some swam. I couldn’t help but imagine the Voodoo Lady from the Monkey Island videogame saga.

    And Kahlan is afraid os snakes. Really? She was a strong woman, who managed to fend off 4 highly trained assassins, and the greatest feat of magic we’ve seen her do as of late is… heat up a cup of water with a candle? I’m assuming she used magic because I’m pretty sure that would either be impossible, or take so many hours you’d go faster looking at the cup very intensely.
    How old is the “boy”? I keep picturing him as somewhere around 12. Can’t imagine why Richard would feel threatened by a 12 year old. My dog, when his bitch is around, does not bother with pups or small, elderly dogs, he only reacts to strong, adult males that show a visible interest on the female (poor guy doesn’t know she’s off limits for him too). Richard is showing less sensibility than a dog.

    Reply

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