Thursday, February 11, 2010

Terry Goodkind, Part Two: The Law of Nines

"Trouble will find you," multiple characters in the novel say. Of course, that's absolutely wrong. If I'm reading this book, trouble has already found me.

If you've ever read anything at all by Terry Badkind, you'll know that the name Rahl means trouble. In his Sword of Truth series, it meant repetitive "non-fantasy" violence and lengthy monologues. Here, in his totally original thriller The Law of Nines, it means repetitive "non-fantasy" violence and lengthy monologues. It turns out you can take the Terry out of the fantasy, but you can't take the fantasy out of Terry.

There are spoilers ahead, but since I sincerely hope you won't purchase this book, there's no reason to stop reading the review.

Alex Rahl (yes, I know) is a struggling artist living in Nebraska. Seeing as Goodkind was an artist before he became, in his opinion, one of the greatest writers of today, I'm sure this character will be as totally original as the rest of the book. Full sarcasm implied. Well, as Alex-- or is his name Mary Sue?-- walks down the road, he saves a woman from being run over by a truck with a pirate flag. This is the best part of the book. Yeah.

The woman's name is Jax Amnell (yes, I know), and she comes from a parallel dimension (but, as Goodkind assures us, this is not fantasy) where a great man with the name Rahl did some vaguely hinted-at things. I think that even considering how bad The Law of Nines is, Goodkind is still trying to sell us the Sword of Truth series. Jax is immediately (I mean by page 3) established as a love interest for Alex. Despite initially being quite cold, and even contemplating killing him at the beginning, Jax falls madly in love with Alex in about a week. Yeah.

So, there's some prophecy about Alex being able to unite the two worlds with some kind of gateway, and it ties into the land Alex just inherited on his twenty-seventh birthday. But it's not fantasy. Apparently, when a member of the Rahl family (but not by blood, since it applies to both his father and mother...weak) turns 27, they go insane. His dad's dead; his mom's institutionalized.

Well, after an attempt to seduce Alex, his girlfriend, who happens to be a queen from the other world, decides to call in the heavies to beat Alex to submission in what is an absolutely bizarre, pointless, and stupid tazer sex scene. But that's over quick when Jax the deus ex machina fairy saves the day at the last moment. That's a paragraph I'll never type again.

Then they're captured the next day by the doctors at his mom's asylum. They turn out to all be evil and from another world, as well. How many people in this book are actually regular Earthlings like me? To be perfectly honest, not that many. But it's not fantasy. There's a drawn out scene where the characters are drugged, and I feel like I slept through it. It's quite boring, and it lasts fifty pages. After a naked torture scene (I think Goodkind has a weird fetish) they escape in a massively dull sequence of violence. It's intriguing to see how good Alex the artist becomes with a gun and a knife in a matter of days.

As the story plods along clumsily and readers beg for escape, it reveals a slew of contrived character moments and not-fantasy cliches. The dialogue is so cheesy it could be served with Ritz crackers, and the prose feels like it was written by me, age thirteen. Except I was more original. Characters magically figure out things at perfect moments, Jax becomes a total wimp in a matter of pages and the climax is extremely disappointing. The last few chapters seem like Goodkind is trying to lay ground down for a sequel. Don't read it; don't read this.

I was never expecting great things from Terry Goodkind, but I wasn't expecting this. Word gets out quickly, though. When the book came out, it debuted at #10 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Within six months, the first edition hardcover I got was languishing in the bargain section of the bookstore for $5. And that's paying too much. Seriously, avoid this book like the plague.
My rating: 2/10.

When I finished, I needed some good writing to get that taste out of my mouth. So I turned to the fail-safe King of fiction once again. Tune in next time.

Coming Soon: The Green Mile.


logankstewart said...

This post cracked me up. I've never read Goodkind and I (hopefully) never will. Thanks for the bitingly bitter review.

The Writer said...

Don't worry, I'm only bitter because I actually read it. You know, in a Brandon Sanderson book, I'd say 502 pages was too short. Not so much with Terry Goodriddance.

But I'll be my nice bibliophile self when the Green Mile review comes up.

David Wagner said...

lol, nice review. I'm surprised you had the patience and professionalism to stick with a bad book to the end. I do not possess such patience. I usually assign unfinished books to my Shelf of Bad Books... though now that I have a Swaptree account, I'll see if I can get some poor, unsuspecting fool to trade me something good for them!

Okie said...

lol...great post. Thanks for a wonderful review and a fun synopsis.

mega said...


The Writer said...

Please, mega, there's no need to shout. I'll have to tell my mother you said that. Quite rude. And it doesn't help your case that you've actually misspelled this "great writer's" name. I can only attest to his writing from this one book I've read. The writing in this book was quite bad. Sorry. Maybe you should try Brandon Sanderson or Joe Abercrombie.

cheezeballvern said...

I rather like Terry Goodkind. I feel your view is rather unnecessary. If someone pays you to do that, it's pretty sad because that was a real waste of my time to read. The Law of Nines was a good book in my opinion, and I feel that others should probably take to reading the book for themselves before listening to the likes of you.

P.S. - I doubt this "writing" would ever even slightly interest someone like Terry Goodkind. It's far too juvenile. Idiot.

The Writer said...


I'm sorry you didn't find this review as engrossing as a published novel. I am, however, entitled to my opinion, and I dislike it whenever multiple people come up to me and tell me that my opinion on a subjective matter is invalid. It's quite rude, you see.

Don't worry. I'm not trying to get my reviews published. I'm definitely not trying to get my writing published by Terry Goodkind. From my exposure to his writing, I can only assume his first book was pretty good, and he used that to carry his career.

I apologize if it sounds a bit juvenile, but reading bad books makes me angry. You see, I don't like to have my time wasted, and it makes me angry when a writer like this has managed to publish as many books as he has and still somehow maintain a fanbase.

P.S. - If you're trying to take a superior tone, don't take the juvenile approach and call me "Idiot".

Kaida said...

I loved the book personally. I've read the entire sword of truth series though and loved them all, I do count this as another in that series. An opinion is an opinion and the only part of your review I really take issue with is the comment about parallel universes coupled with the (But it's not fantasy)dig. Parallel universes are studied scientifically and many great and earthly minds are completely convinced of their existence. A mention of one or characters coming from one is more of a scientific theory than a fantastic idea. And though the idea behind calling Terry Goodkind Terry Goodriddance is amazingly witty... He hasn't actually gone anywhere so it falls a bit flat.

Anonymous said...

More like Badmean amirite?

Unknown said...

I actually like his books. mostly because I agree with him on a political level- and I started reading them when I was 12. So it's a bit nostalgic for me. That said... I thought your review was frigging hilarious! And I completely get what you mean. Especially about Terry's repetitive tendencies and over enthusiastic descriptions. I see the first word about a tree or something and I know to skip the next 5 pages because he'll be describing what bark looks like under the microscope.