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Wizard's First Rule is a 820-page fantasy novel by Terry Goodkind, first in the expanding Sword of Truth series. This book tells the story of Richard Cypher and Kahlan Amnell fighting against the evil would-be overlord Darken Rahl.

The universe that Goodkind creates is complex and relatively realistic. In this book, the world as we know it is partitioned into three areas by magical "boundaries". These boundaries, put up by wizards, are actually small slices of the underworld. They are not visible from a distance, but the closer you get to the threshold of the boundary, the more you see. Eventually you are able to see the 'faces' of the spirits, often mimicking faces of dead family members in an effort to draw you into the underworld.

The partition of the world that we first see is Westland. This part has no magic in it, purposely designed that way by the wizards. It is basically a rather medieval version of what we are used to. The other partitions are the Midlands and D'Hara. Darken Rahl's family line was isolated in D'Hara because Darken's daddy was generally being dictator-like and trying to take over the world, as all good tyrants do. As D'Hara was his ancestral land and kingdom, it only made sense to put him there.

The book opens with Richard in Westland near the boundary, investigating a detail of his father's recent death. Soon, he sees a beautiful woman dressed in white -- revealed as Kahlan later. He notices four men pursuing her, and his decision to help Kahlan sparks the rest of the novel. Kahlan tells Richard that the boundary between the Midlands and D'Hara had fallen and Darken Rahl was out making things difficult again. He had a giantly large army -- The People's Peace Army, the most oxymoronic name ever -- and was again trying to take over the world. He was doing so by using a set of three magic boxes. You can put these three boxes "into play" if you have one, I think by unwrapping it. (Each has a pretty jeweled cover.) When you put them into play, it basically declares that, on the first day of winter, you'll do some sort of magical ceremony to open the boxes. Each box does a different thing. One will destroy the universe, one will kill the person who opens it, and the third will conveniently give you control of everything in the universe. Since Darken Rahl wants this, it's understandable why he put the boxes into play. However, two things stand in his way. First, he only has two of the boxes. Second, the ritual to remove the covers and arrange the boxes so that one can open them is ludicrously complex. There is a Book that tells you how to do that ritual, but no one knows where it is but Richard, and no one knows that Richard knows.

The readers' knowledge is kept on a very short leash in this book. The readers are generally revealed new information when Richard learns it, making this book frustrating, yet drawing the reader in. Some of these 'secrets' can take painfully long to be unraveled. For example, Kahlan's proper title in the Midlands is "Mother Confessor". Richard, and the reader, does not learn what this actually is until page 507. Of course, we see her using her magical power before we learn what it is, so you may be able to infer a lot before you're actually told the specifics of it. (The node on Kahlan Amnell is a spoiler for this; don't read it if you plan to read the book.

The book is titled "Wizard's First Rule" because, well, Richard's friend Zedd reveals the wizard's first rule to him. The rule is used many times through the novel (even if it doesn't come out and tell you that the rule is used), and it's essential to the ending of the novel. In fact, each book in this series is based on a wizard's rule. The wizard's rules often also apply to real life, giving a sort of pseudo-moral to the story.

Goodkind whips up all kinds of cool new character templates, some of which are extremely rare in fantasy novels. The 'bone woman' Adie derives her power from the bones of unnatural creatures. The Mud People posess a culture that uses a slap as a greeting and condones casual compliments of a woman's breasts. The Confessors as a whole are an interesting bunch. The Mord-Sith are basically magical dominatrices. Goodkind somehow ties in all of these intriguing new ideas with a basic good vs. evil plotline. It's a whole new twist on an old concept, and an enjoyable one at that.

Basically what I'm trying to say here: GO OUT AND READ THIS BOOK. It's a good one, I swear.

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