Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 26

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Chapter 26

Richard and Kahlan sprint back toward the Mud bro’s main square and fine Siddin, holding the pouch with the night stone in it. They run for him but of course he takes the stone out, and “shadow things” instantly appear. Richard starts hacking them up while Kahlan runs (very slowly) toward Siddin to try and get him to put the stone back in its pouch.

Let’s take a moment and remember why exactly this is happening.

Adie gave Richard the stone so he could use its light to get through the boundary. She knew full well that the thing is extremely dangerous and decided that the best course of action would be to not tell him this, reasoning that that might make him afraid to use it and he could end up dying as a result (it appears not to have occurred to her that not knowing the night stone is dangerous could just as easily get him killed). Don’t worry though, she gave him an extremely vague riddle, reasoning that he would figure out its meaning precisely as soon as taking the night stone out would be dangerous but not before.

At first glance this looks like a giant clusterfuck of contrived plot points designed to lead the story in a certain direction, but it’s actually just an extension of the I AM THE SEEKER VICTORY AT ANY COST RRAAARRRRR thing that’s been going on for a while now. Richard had to get through the pass, you see, and so it doesn’t matter whether the means by which he did that are potentially dangerous to innocent bystanders. If Siddin ends up kicking the bucket Richard and Kahlan could easily absolve themselves of all responsibility just like they did with leaving the Mud Mros to die- they have to stop Darken Rahl and absolutely anything, up to and including murdering children, is totally fine if it serves that goal. Getting an innocent person killed by accident really should be no big deal to them.

(Also all that angsting from Kahlan about killing Siddin is sure coming back to haunt her now, huh?)

During all of this the Mud Bros have been enthusiastically firing poison arrows at the shadows, almost killing Kahlan and Richard in the process since they sail right through them. Kahlan tells the Bird Man to order them to stop, which he does, but then one of the elders gets it in mind that the shadows are actually sacred spirits or something.

“Stop them! They are destroying our ancestors’ spirits! Shoot them with your arrows! Shoot theoutsiders!”

Hesitantly, looking at one another, the archers nocked arrows to their bows once again. They could not disobey one of the elders.

Okay seriously, we were told just two chapters ago that the elders are only figureheads and the Bird Man is actually the head honcho, why are they suddenly calling the shots?

The good news about all of this is that Kahlan finally gets to actually do something when the elder who was getting cranky runs at her with a knife. She hesitates before confessoring him, getting an arm wound for her trouble, which motivates her to go Full Confessor at last.

Her left hand came up and caught Toffalar by the throat. She felt her grip shut off his air for an instant. She needed only to touch him; grabbing him by the throat was a reflex of her rage, not her power.

GUYS KAHLAN IS ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING

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Toffalar’s eyes went wide. The muscles of his face went slack. His mouth fell open.
“Mistress!” he called out in a reverent whisper.

So Kahlan has mind control powers. I’m not…. entirely sure why this is so shocking, surely Richard or Zedd are far more potentially destructive.

Instead of using this for anything interesting Kahlan just flings him into the shadows, opening enough of a gap to let her squeeze through and throw herself over Siddin.

Kahlan now needs to get the stone back in the bag, so naturally everything goes wrong in the most cartoonish way possible- Siddin just sits there clutching at it stiffly, apparently unable to hear her yelling at him to drop the stone (as opposed to dropping it and cowering on the ground) and then it shoots out of Kahlan’s hand in a way that’s just begging for a Yakety Sax accompaniment.

But she manages to get it back in the bag in the end, and the shadows go bye-bye.

“Kahlan, ” Siddin whimpered, “they were calling my name. “

So? If that happened to me my first reaction would be AAAAGGGGH HOLY FUCK THERE ARE EVIL GHOSTS CALLING ME NAME and not wooooooaaahhhh I’m just going to, like, stare at them for a while.

Okay, yes, he was probably being mesmerized like Richard was back at the pass, but this all feels so contrived I don’t care.

They had almost lost their lives, to save a single one.

Ayn Rand is spinning in her grave.

Kahlan admits to herself that this pretty much refutes their earlier determination to be hard-hearted objectivist badasses. In an ordinary book this would be the moment where they realize how stupid they were being, but given what I know about Terry Goodkind I’m betting it’s played up as a moment of weakness.

Kahlan lays a comforting hand on Richard’s dudely thews and he very nearly cuts her head off, supposedly because he thought she was a shadow but probably actually because he saw her confessoring. I’m surprised he wasn’t too busy swinging his sword around to notice.

She put her face against her knees and, losing control, started crying

Of course.

It was the Bird Man. She bit her quivering lip, forcing herself to stop crying. She could not let these people see her showing weakness.

What about the hugfest with the Birdman earlier, that happened in public in full view of the whole village?

Anyway since what’s-his-face the elder was killed by Kahlan Savidlin gets to be an elder now, which sure would be a good thing if we weren’t directly told the elders don’t actually have any power why does the book seem to have forgotten that?

Savidlin is all “Richard and Kahlan are awesome because they protected us” and for some reason don’t think to to ask where the shadows actually came from or how Kahlan knew how to get rid of them. I have t imagine he might not feel so positive about them, considering their careless handlinf of the night stone almost got his son killed.

They could have left us to fend for ourselves when we foolishly turned our backs on them

That’s what they were in the middle of doing.

Instead, they have shown us what manner of people they be

Assholes?

The Bird Man says that the vote from the elders has to be unanimous (for some reason) and asks them to step forward and vote.

So then Savidlin holds the elders at arrow-point and orders them to vote in agreement with him. NO ONE PROTESTS THIS.

What the fuck.

One of the elders convinces him to lower the bow and supposedly they all whole-heartedly agree that Richard and Kahlan are way awesome and better Mud Bros than they’ll ever be. Hey kids, you know what a rigged election looks like? This.

Kahlan could see the muscle in his jaw tighten and flex. She went cold. She recognized the look in his eyes. The anger. These men had crossed a line against him. And against her. She remembered how he had slid the sword away when he had last stood with them, this very day. It had been final, and Richard meant it. He was not thinking. He was thinking of killing.

Just….. god damn.

Apparently under Mud Bro law it’s actually legal for Richard to kill them because blah blah blah I don’t give a fuck.

Even so, their law was irrelevant; the Seeker was a law unto himself, answering ultimately to no one but himself. There was no one present who could stop this.

Yeah, that’s not a bullshit power fantasy or anything.

Richard was not deciding if he should kill them, but if he dared let them live.

Could he trust these men with his chance of stopping Rahl, trust that they were sincere? Could Richardtrust them with his life? Or should he have a new council of elders, ones who might be more intent on his success?

If he couldn’t trust these men to send him in the right direction against Rahl, he would have to kill them and have ones he thought would be on his side. Stopping Rahl was all that mattered. The lives of these men must be forfeited if there was a chance they would jeopardize success. Kahlan knew that what Richard was doing was right. It was no less than she herself would do, no less than what the Seeker must do.

Well then, the Seeker is evil.

No, seriously. I get that he’s trying to save the world and shit, but the way him and Kahlan are going they’re liable to leave behind a trail of murdered and orphaned children in their wake. The absolute only way this makes any kind of sense is if we’re meant to interpret Richard as a monster achieving a Pyrrhic victory that ultimately leaves him no worse than Darken Rahl.

seriously doubt the story is going to go in anything like that direction.

Needless to say Kahlan’s focus is all on how hard this is on poor Richard-chan and oh what a poor baby because he has to think about hacking old men apart as they kneel in the mud.

This was no game; he meant this. He was lost within himself, within the magic.

Right, Kahlan. It’s “the magic” that’s making him act like a murderous psychopath. That’s why he never questions his actions.

Richard slices open his own arm and starts talking to his sword (“Blade, be true this day”) then starts to bring the sword down on one of the Elder’s heads, but it stops inches from his face.

The sword stopped dead in the air, a scant inch from Caldus’s face, just as it had stopped the first time Richard had used it, when Zedd had him try to cut down the tree.

Oh that’s right, I forgot he can’t kill something unless he thinks it’s evil.

Or in other words he can’t kill something unless he decides he wants to kill it. Good to know there’s a safety mechanism in place.

“Richard,” she said in a low voice, “did you expect the sword to stop?”

He looked ahead as he walked, letting out a deep breath. “No.”

Welp

She had thought as much. She tried to imagine what this was doing to him. Even if he hadn’t executed the elders, he had committed to it, expected it. Though he didn’t have to live with the deed, he still had to live with the intent.

Oh the poor baby

She wondered if he had done the right thing, not killing them. She knew what she would have done in his place; she would not have allowed the option of clemency. Too much was at stake.

Keep in mind the elder’s “crime” was just to not give Richard what he wanted. Behind all the bullshit justifications this is just Richard sidling up to some people minding their own business and saying “help me or I’ll kill you.”

Richard says that Kahlan “gave him a fright” when she almost died and she’s immediately completely and utterly heartbroken and filled with shame about hesitating to confessor the elder earlier, which frankly makes it sounds like she’s got some fairly major self-esteem issues.

The Bird Man says that Richard and Kahlan have to respect the Mud Bro’s ways if they’re going to become honorary Mud bros.  Since all interactions in this book that aren’t twee smiling the smile of sharing involve near-murder, Kahlan and the Bird Man stare grimly at each other and Kahlan declares that she does not eat meat.

Though you are a warrior, you are also a woman, therefore it may be excused. That much is within my power. Being a Confessor excludes you from the other.

That’s great dude. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

“Not the Seeker. He must do these things. ”

“But. . .

“You have .said you will not choose him as your mate. If he will call a gathering, it must be as one of us.”

God fucking damn, as soon as he started talking about initiations and shit I knew it was going to go this direction.

Anyway this chapter is another marathon one, so I’m going to skip the waffle.

He [Bird man] left her in the care of a stooped woman named Nissel, instructing her to care for Kahlan as if she were his daughter.

But of course. Nissel by the way calls Kahlan “child” and acts as if she’s about twelve at the most, because fantasy.

BLAH BLAH BLAH RELAXING HERBS 4 YE OLDE SURGERY BLAH BLAH GETTING STONED MIGHT MAKE KAHLAN’S POWERS GO OUT OF CONTROL BLAH BLAH CONFESSORS DON’T HAVE SEX

Shall I give him a potion, ” Nissel asked, turning to her, “to give him stamina?”

“No, ” Kahlan said bristling. “I am sure he will do just fine.”

I had a sneak peak at the next chapter and yes, it’s just as stupid as you’re probably imagining.

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12 thoughts on “Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 26

  1. Pingback: Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 27-28 | Doing In The Wizard

  2. Signatus

    Finished this chapter, read the next out of sheer curiosity. It was not as bad as I thought. IT WAS WORSE! WORSE!
    I’ll leave my opinions for when said chapter gets posted, but I’ve been thinking something else.

    Isn’t it funny how similar Eragon and Richard actually are? They begin voiced as neutral, rather innocent and gentle tempered men/boys, but as the book progresses, they quickly mutate into huge jerkwards.
    Both are self entitled, arrogant, narcissistic sociopaths with homicidal instincts they don’t bother hiding at all, they even justify them because “needs”. Both are fighting against an impending doom, even though we have barely glimpsed such doom (this is more evident in Eragon, where Galbatoryx, aka, the evil dude, is presented as someone who took down an order of over powerful warriors and instaurated a PEACEFUL hundred year old empire, and is actually fighting actively against the empire’s enemies who are a bunch of barbaric brutes that impale little children and destroy entire villages). So, both “heroes” are using a bunch of cohercitive measures and a dramatic level of violence to throw down dudes who have done nothing (granted, Rahl has done some evil things).
    In both cases, the writer seems to realize his evil wizard is not at all that evil and throws in a bunch of terrible features. Rahl is a pedofile psycopath, and Galbatoryx… well, he gathers taxes and makes his army swear an oath in the old tonge (which seems like a very sensible thing to do, if you’ve got the power, make sure the army is loyal to you).

    Eragon, in the third book, murders in cold blood a boy from the army whose only crime was being in SUCH army. The boy, no older than twenty, was on the floor, pleading MERCY.
    Richard enters a foreign land, lies to its inhabitants, tries to destroy their customs and threatens to kill the elders simply because they saw past his facade and saw no reason to make him one of his people, nor summon a gathering.

    They are supposed to be the HEROES, and so far, Paolini is a terrorist and Richard is a tyrannical psychopath.

    On another note, I’m so fucking TIRED of all the Confessor bullshit. I’m expecting the super revelation to be so stupid only thing I pity is that my copy is digital and I can’t burn it. I swear not even Twilight stirred such negative emotions.
    Just.. say already what all the fuss is about. Kahlan’s secret does not contribute to the plot, it is nothing but a contrived plot element meant to keep Richard and Kahlan apart and generate tension. Considering Kahlan could have been eliminated completely from the book without any effect (and that she’s nothing but the hero’s trophy), it does not work. Her character could have been substituted with Zedd and he would have even been more useful.

    I really hate this book.

    Reply
    1. Signatus

      Oh, yeah! There is a particular part in this chapter where Richard asks about Kahlan’s shoulder and she says Bird Man has told her to get it stitched. When did that happen???
      The whole chapter is from her POV, and we are not shown this in any point in the chapter!!!!

      Reply
  3. Toastehh

    It just becomes clearer and clearer that, for all his political views, Goodkind has no idea how politics work. Kill the councillors and replace them with loyal yes-men? Richard has been there a few days, there’s no way he even knows who to pick. And I always got the impression this was a small village, not the city of Rome. Where’s he going to find the pro-Richard faction when the elders are probably just the heads of local families? Just offing them and their close supporters would probably halve the population of the village. And why even bother pulling off a coup in a backwater that can’t even thatch roofs properly?

    Everything Richard does is the wishful thinking of a guy who wishes he could just hit people until bad things don’t happen any more. If you’re angry and violent enough, the world will bend the knee, right?

    Reply
  4. Fibinachi

    But the beautiful thing about

    “The absolute only way this makes any kind of sense is if we’re meant to interpret Richard as a monster achieving a Pyrrhic victory that ultimately leaves him no worse than Darken Rahl.

    is that the moment you realize that, and start reading the entire series through that lens, it just becomes so much better. Almost enjoyable awesome, in fact. It’s all innocent people caught between two monsters, and both bring nothing but corruption, death and pain with them to near anyone they meet, with the world wailing in the background.

    … But then again, I play roguelikes for fun, so maybe that’s just me who enjoys that.

    It’s an interesting twist with the Sword not killing the elders, though, and I remember I found that remarkable in my first read through. Because Intention is so important to Richard ( Because anything he intends to do, he does, being an Objectivist Supermensch ) it’s fun to consider the fact that he is an actual murderer. Kahlan is right in that “He had to live with that knowledge”, but the thing is, so do we, the readers. This isn’t some accidental killing with angst and guilt or a mistaken murder as might be the case in other books, or even really emotionally charged moment of homicide that the protagonist can then use as a crutch instead of a personality, this is literally and actually the protagonist of the book being willing to and attempting to murder anyone in his way if he thinks it’ll make things easier for him.

    Full stop. Our protagonist is a homicidal psycopath with no qualms about committing moral atrocities to further his goals. No waffling about it can cover that up.

    The cool thing is, you actually left out the best part! Right before Richard murders the elders (No attempts there, in his mind, they were dead) Caldus actually has an entire spiel about how wrong he was:

    “”Please, Savidlin, allow us to speak from our hearts, not from the point of an arrow. ”

    “Speak then. ” Caldus walked to Richard, stopping in front of him, looking him in the eye.

    “The hardest thing for a man to do, especially an old man, ” he said in a soft voice, waiting for Kahlan to translate, “is to admit he has acted foolishly, and selfishly. You have acted neither foolishly nor selfishly. The two of you are better examples of Mud People for our children than L 1 demand of the Bird Man that you be named Mud People. Please, Richard With The Temper, and Mother Confessor, our people reed you. ” He held his palms out in an open gesture. “If you deem me unworthy of making this demand upon your behalf, please strike me down that one better than I might make the demand.”

    You’re right, Richard, that does sound like a man who deserves to be violently executed for his grand crimes of realizing he made a judgmental error earlier. Off with his head! OFF WITH HIS HEA… sorry, Alice in Wonderland flashback there.

    And of course Richard, upon realizing he can’t just kill the people, have Kahlan translate them some grand statement of “I return you your lives”. At least he lies well under pressure, that’s for sure. Yeah, being glib while manipulating others is almost a surefire trait of… something with psy… something-something, I forget.

    Good luck with the next chapter! It too, is terrible!

    Reply
    1. Signatus

      If it was morally correct to murder everyone who has been wrong at one point, the world would be a very empty place. The funny thing is that the elders were not actually wrong. Richard fixed the roof because he wanted to be accepted as one of the tribe to further his goals, not because any of this people matters anything to him, and he was just as willing to leave simply because they didn’t bend to his desires (in a very childish-rage manner). Not to mention they saw no redeemeable quality in Richard, which is dead on.

      The elders had their tribe’s best interest at mind, and saw this was nothing but that, a homicidal psycopath who has as willing to trample them as Rahl was. All they wished is to live in peace in their grasslands, which is pretty much what most people desire. When in the middle of two giant’s political affairs that are causing death and destruction wherever they go, people will tend to generate a resistance simply to get them to get the fuck off and leave them alone, which is pretty much what happened with the Non Alienated Nations during the Cold War (lets remember the two huge blocks were using third countries to fight their battles, which is no different than what we’re seeing here, I suppose Richard is the capitalist block).

      In the end, Richard was going to execute five men for BEING RIGHT!

      Reply
  5. braak

    It does seem telling, I guess, that if you’ve got two guys who are both willing to murder whoever they have to in order to achieve their goals, you’ve got to also make one of them a pedophile so we know which one is the villain.

    Reply
  6. Signatus

    This… book makes no fucking sense. I have not finished this chapter because it was huge and I’ve got a load of training with one of my dogs for saturday, but I stopped right where Richard doesn’t kill the elders and I was facepalming the whole way through.

    I’m going to insist that Goodkind doesn’t have a fucking clue of how children behave, and I don’t have, nor like children myself. I am going to accept Siddin my be so frightened he would go into paralization mode and not react while the shadows loom over him, but the moment he’s free of them, he would rush to his mother in search of protection. That’s how frightened kids react, looking for the person they most trust. That’s natural.

    As for Svidlin taking a bow and threatening the elders… wait, what? You can’t just go murdering people who oppose your views. That’s how corrupt societies work, and we are supposed to root for this guys!
    So far, I don’t care who wins, the world’s doomed one way or the other. Richard is a self entitled psycopath whose only difference with Rahl is he’s not into little children, but both are willing to leave a trail of destruction and suffering on their way to achieve their goals.

    Also, that took way too long. We all knew Richard would spare the elders, why spend so many pages of inner thoughts? Stop justifying Richard’s actions, there is no way to justify this. He said he would leave their people in peace because he’s nor Rahl, and he has failed to deliver that simple promise, becoming just like him.

    It would be really awesome if the book was aimed at the deconstruction of the hero, but we know that’s not going to happen.

    Reply
  7. charliedgutierrez

    If he couldn’t trust these men to send him in the right direction against Rahl, he would have to kill them and have ones he thought would be on his side.

    This is really some Stalin/Pol Pot level mentality on display here.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: Let’s Read Wizard’s First Rule ch. 24-25 | Doing In The Wizard

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