I’ve blogged about the Sword of Truth before but never about my history with it, so here you go.
Back in the 90s, I was a Wheel of Time fan. I wasn’t a reader, though I read. I wasn’t a fantasy fan, though I read fantasy. I was a Wheel of Time fan. I spent a lot of time reading fantasy because I hoped it would be as good as the Wheel of Time.
I also hopped onto my first BBS in the nineties. 1994, in fact.
On this BBS, Fool’s Overture, the SysOp, skorch by name, suggested the Sword of Truth. I asked if it was anywhere near as good as the Wheel of Time, and I was greeted with, “Dude, it’s better. It’s just like the Wheel of Time, but it has sex in it.”
I was pretty stupid in the 90s. I wasn’t fully developed in the brain. I read the first couple, and they were pretty good. There were some holes in the writing, I noticed even then, but it wasn’t that bad, and skorch was exactly right. It was just like the Wheel of Time, and there was sex in it. It was strange, just how exactly like the Wheel of Time it was. As the series grew, there were analogies to Rand (Richard), Lan (Chase), Aes Sedai (Sisters of the Light), the Black Ajah (Sisters of the Dark), the White Tower (can’t remember the exact name), a’dam (a collar that controls people who use magic) and at least a few more.
I’ve read some really kick-ass stuff the past seven or eight years. The Wheel of Time is still my favourite, but probably more from a nostalgic standpoint than for any other reason. I finished the Sword of Truth series when Terry Goodkind told us that the story was over. I struggled, especially with Naked Empire and beyond, but I made it through. There were even good action sequences throughout the books.
Now, there is another Sword of Truth novel, and more out of a sense of morbidity than anything else, I have started a re-read of the Sword of Truth.
It isn’t good. Not even remotely. The main character has a prescient sense that lets him feel that something is right or wrong. I like to call it basement sense.
I will go into a little side-trip for you all, now. A trip into Cliff’s basement.
We were all in High School. It was a sleepover (more like play video games over) for Cliff’s birthday. Sometime in the middle of the night, after we’d gotten sick of Mutant League Hockey, Mutant League Football, and Bad Dudes, we were hanging out in Cliff’s room, rifling through his papers. This was with his consent. We read a story that was written by some other guy. A typical teenage story of heroism. The main character (coincidentally possessing the same name as the guy who wrote it, but burdened with a Top Gun nickname, Maverick), burdened by his bumbling sidekick (played admirably by Cliff, with the unfortunate, and incredibly sticky nickname Goose) fought through armies of bad guys to rescue some damsel in distress.
At one point in the story, the main character becomes aware of the fact that the damsel is tied up in the basement, despite no evidence to support this, or even to suggest that she is in this particular house. However, undaunted, he carries her out and saves the day.
I’m happy to admit that Cliff and I parodied the living shit out of this story. If I’m not mistaken, the origins of the silly stories can actually be found in the ashes of this story.
However, since then, any prescience that is not explained in any way by events or even lame exposition by the author have been relegated to the category of basement sense.
In the aforementioned Naked Empire, Richard, our never-failing, always-right-unless-the-plot-is-served-by-his-incorrectness hero cures his own poisoning, brewing herbs, concocting an antidote, using only basement sense and a bumbling sidekick.
I’m not willing to stop this re-read. I know how bad it gets. The first time through this series, it was bad at some points, and as mentioned before, I wasn’t very smart back then. All the words are in English, and the sentences are mostly grammatically correct, but the way the guy tells a story is just clunky as hell. Every nuance of a notion that any character gets is explained in detail, until it isn’t. Every emotion that the main character feels is of the purest and most intense variety. Terms like white-hot need and lethal commitment are used liberally without even a tongue in the cheek. It’s like the author is convinced that he can convince you that this is the most awesome and focused, intense and deadly, heroic and tenacious hero ever, and he will not rest until your socks have been blown clear off your feet. If you’re not wearing socks, you’d better get to a fucking hospital, because you just lost your skin. That’s how awesome this whole story is.
Regardless, I will read all the books in the series, and I will read the new one, The Omen Machine, when I’ve finished the rest of them. Because I care. Because it’s Wheel of Time, with SEX IN IT!