Hey Everybody, Marcus here.
It is an interesting experience to go back to works one had immensely enjoyed in their blue pill days and experience them for a second time as a red pill man. For me, one of these works is the Terry Goodkind fantasy series entitled The Sword Of Truth. This video will be a review of the first book in that series entitled “Wizard’s First Rule.” This review will necessarily need to contain spoilers in order for me to adequately describe what my red pill knowledge exposes to me. As such, I will begin with a general, spoiler free description of the overarching plot, my conclusion and rating, followed by my analysis. In this way, anyone who wishes to read the book based on my recommendation, can turn off the video, read the book, and return to this video later.
Wizard’s First Rule along with the other 18 books in the series are grim dark fantasy set in an original world thought up by the author. The books contain magic, various original fantastical creatures, as well as original takes on fantasy themes. Though a fantasy series, the book does not contain your Tolkien standard fare of orks, elves, or dwarves. Most of the beings we encounter are fundamentally human but distinguished by tradition as well as command of magic. The plot is one typified as the hero’s journey.
We are introduced to the main protagonist who starts out as a joe everyman at the beginning of the series and watch this character evolve into a hero. Star Wars did it with Luke, The Odyssey by Homer did it with Odysseus to a large degree, and countless other works follow this model as well. The literary device used is commonly referred to as the hero’s journey. Now, there are 19 books in the series but each contains a self-enclosed plot which has the typical Aristotelian setup of 3 acts. So, from a literary point of view the book is completely unremarkable boiler plate writing. This book is not literature. The book is around 500 pages and would take you are 4 days of committed reading to finish.
The tone and feel of the book is a mixture of high fantasy and extremely graphic brutality. One chapter may read like your typical rated G family friendly Disney movie while the next chapter will be a horrific snuff film that will surely disturb you. The author does not typically pull any punches or leave subject matter out that would be considered taboo. Children are commonly murdered, raped, and gutted in a level of descriptive detail that can really make you pause. However, the shock value is mostly contained to a banal purpose. The antagonists are depicted as evil and as such that message is communicated through the brutality I describe. In contrast, the protagonists are depicted as good and their action are somewhat expected.
This is not really one of those grey area books. At least not, in my opinion, through the explicit intention of the author. The characters are meant to be mostly black and white. However, grey is introduced in an interesting way. It seems to me that both the antagonists and the protagonists share a common utilitarian moral system. The ends justify the means is a commonly recurring theme on both sides. This makes for an interesting read if you, however, subscribe to virtue ethics. Under virtue ethics, all the characters are pretty screwed up and none at all can be said to be aspiring to be good.
The plot is briefly as follows. The continent on which the plot takes place is divided into 3 regions. Each of the regions are separated from one another by a Trump like wall. However, this is not a physical wall but a magical wall. The wall is one of the underworld; the land of the dead. This means that if you try to walk through the wall, you will merely walk into the underworld to never be able to return. In essence you kill yourself. The walls were put in place by a wizard for ideological reasons. The reasons related to the role of magic in the life of man.
Some believed magic ought to be stamped out, while others believed it was culturally enriching etc. Anyways, one of the walls has been brought down and an army from the eastern most territory has begun a campaign to conquer the middle land, conveniently named the Midlands. This in turn causes an emissary named Kahlan, a woman from the Midlands with a certain magical power, to travel to the west most territory called Westland to search for the wizard who had originally put up the walls.
The main protagonist is a Westlander called Richard Cypher, a woods guide who has never experienced magic due to Westland’s ideological purity of considering magic as bad. So, the hero’s journey is centered around Richard and Kahlan. A romance inevitably ensues as they work towards defeating the invading armies of the east most territory called D’Hara. I don’t know why the author would give names to the territories like Westland, Midland, and D’Hara as opposed to Westland, Midland, and Eastland other than to give a certain middle eastern feel to the bad guys. In fact, the symbolism between D’Hara and the Arab world is pretty striking. The book was written in 1994 but it has some amusing coincidental contemporary politics mixed in.
So like I mentioned, the book is fairly boiler plate in many ways. However, I find the execution to be brilliant. As my review carries on, we will come to discover some of the brilliance in the setup of this world and its creatures as it pertains to the male female dynamic. I very much would recommend this book. The first 6 books are fantastic with the 6th being the best. Everything after that begins to turn into more of a cash grab than anything else as the author clearly begins to run out of ideas. The 6th book is particularly interesting as it is mostly a commentary on socialism. The main villain from book 3 onwards is for the most part trying to bring about the socialist utopia we have heard so much about.
Wizard’s First Rule’s brilliance rest in the setup between Richard and Kahlan. Socrates said that in virtually all cases, poets of great works are just as ignorant of the meaning of their works as the common man. He argues that they are inspired by a muse who speaks through them, making the poet a tool of the gods as oppose to the author of the work. I believe something like this may be happening in Wizard’s First Rule. It is either the case that Goodkind happened to coincidentally author a story meant to capitalize on red pill truth, or he is the most red pill author ever.
This book, if orchestrated intentionally would demand the author to understand male female relations to the level of the most insightful MGTOW. Now, this is not a red pill book or for that matter speaks a red pill message. Not at all. This is a book authored by a seemingly hard core red pillar to capitalize on a blue pill audience by giving the blue puller exactly what he wants. As such, either the author is hardcore red pill or he was inspired by a muse and is himself grossly ignorant of why what he did works.
This book is designed to appeal to both men and women. In one sense it can be seen as a romance novel masquerading as a fantasy adventure. In another sense it can be argued it is little more than a fantasy adventure with a romance sub plot. My conclusion is that it is both. It is a romance novel to women and a fantasy adventure to men. The themes, characters, and world setup are so brilliantly woven together around the male female dynamic that it really would take a MGTOW to see the ploy.
Okay. This is the part where the spoilers begin. I will contain the spoilers to the first book even though I have read all 19 and know what happens later. So, if what I have said so far appeals to you and grim Dark fantasy is of interest then I recommend the book.
Now on to the analysis. First, we need to understand the characters. Richard Cypher is the main protagonist. The book opens with a scene in the woods where Richard is described according to his in depth knowledge of the woods, plants, and path finding. He is immediately painted as someone of worth, which will appeal to the female reader. However, this is slightly tempered for the male mind by justifying his knowledge based on a life of having lived in the woods and being tutored by a wise old man named Zed. This is the first theme we need to keep in mind. The theme is the mixture of some inherent worth of the character being flaunted while giving lip service in little space as to its reasonable justification. What I mean by this theme is as follows. Much more space on the page is devoted to describing Richard’s worth and status than is given to describing the process in which he acquired it. The female mind likes to hear about the status irrespective of how it came about while the male mind looks for justification. By allotting more page space to the description of worth as oppose to the process of acquiring it, the female mind is satiated better while the male mind still gets its fix of justification in a couple brief sentences later on.
Immediately following this description of Richard, Richard sees a woman in the far distance traveling in the woods. The woman is wearing a white dress and is followed by 4 men. This trigger’s Richards white knighting instinct. Following a short inner monologue evaluating whether or not those men are out to hurt the woman, Richard decides to run to intercept her and then guide her down some side forest path in anticipation of throwing off the potential trackers. Richard is unarmed. A point is made to describe him having forgotten his knife at home. The inner monologue that took place reveals the second theme; morally rationalized white knighting. Richard does not conduct a prudent evaluation of the situation. He merely rationalizes his white knighting instinct by assigning moral obligation upon himself to follow it. This theme is later expanded into a twofold inner morality for Richard. Richard will eventually come to have one method of justifying his actions as it pertains to everything except Kahlan and a second set of justifications as it pertains to his actions in relation to Kahlan.
Richard intercepts Kahlan and leads her down a trail which leads towards a town. It appears the two have gotten away but are dramatically intercepted and surrounded by the 4 men. These men are all described as bigger than Richard and armed to the teeth. The 4 men provide Richard the option to just walk away as their business was with Kahlan. Now, Richard is unarmed and he is outnumbered. He tried his plan to lead Kahlan down a different path to outrun the men, and he failed. His inner monologue indicated his awareness of certain death. His moral duty which he, even in his own mind, ought to have been fulfilled at this point, however, forces him into what he perceived as certain death. So, he stays to fight. A choice so irrational it defies belief. It is important to know that Richard was not demonstrating courage in choosing to fight. Richard was demonstrating reckless abandon which is itself a vice and moral failing in Aristotelian virtue ethics.
However, this seeming self-sacrifice on his part is what would appeal to the female mind while the blue pill male reader, safely sitting in his easy chair, would cheer Richard on and imagine himself also capable of making such a sacrifice to appeal to his own white knight instinct. Clearly Richard and Kahlan win the fight with a mixture of her magic and luck. The flirting and subtle indicators of interest start to show up immediately after the fight.
You see, what I have described so far are the first 2 chapters or so. This could easily be either the beginning of a romance novel or an adventure story.
Richard, in a brief 20 pages is already painted as possessing skills, the white knight instinct, the will to sacrifice himself for a woman who is a complete stranger, and some level of fighting prowess even when completely outclassed. Kahlan, on the other hand has already been describe to possess very feminine traits. Firstly, she has very long hair, whose relevance become important later. She is wearing a very elegant white dress while walking through the woods which is explicitly described as having not become dirty from either the trek through the woods or even the fight. Kahlan has green eyes, another rare and exotic trait in general. She is described as quite young, early 20s, and beautiful. Finally, she is clearly painted as someone of worth if 4 men were sent to kill her and again her worth is insinuated by Richards choice to enter a fight on her behalf even though he sees fighting as certain death. This is doubly compounded when you consider that Richard knows nothing of Kahlan at this stage other than she is a woman and therefore worth helping.
Now, how did the two win the fight? Kahlan is what is referred to in the story as a confessor. A confessor is a woman with a specific function and magical power. Only women can be confessors. When a confessor touches a person, and releases her power, the person she touches immediately falls madly in love with the confessor. This power is on a 1 to 2 hour cool down. The person touched with this power, due to their intense love, will completely subjugate their will to the confessor even into death. The person touched will never do anything to disappoint the confessor that touched them. Kahlan, however, later in the story is described as possessing the title of Mother Confessor. That title is similar to being like the confessor pope. The role of the confessor is usually to touch people who have been condemned to death by trial to see if the person actually committed the crime. So, basically, if the verdict turned out to be unjust, the person would be spared but would exist in this state of obsessive love for the confessor.
So, the 4 men that were sent to kill Kahlan are referred to in the story as a quad. They are trained to kill confessors. It is anticipated that the confessor will touch one man in the quad which leaves the other 3 men to kill both the touched man and the confessor. Kahlan touched one of the men in the fight, Richard kicked one off a cliff and the touched man killed one and then threw himself at the second where both men fell off the cliff.
Now, this is where this whole confessor thing really thickens the plot. We learn later in the book that when a confessor has sex, she cannot control her power and therefore the man she has sex with falls madly in love with her. So, confessors cannot just go riding the cock carousel based on the laws of the land. They only ever choose 1 mate because it is also the law that the confessor line must continue. She gets to pick whoever she wants as a mate and people fear being chosen. Kahlan has not yet chosen a mate. This means she is a virgin. Finally, the status of a woman is externally displayed by the length of her hair and confessors are the highest authority in the Midlands and therefore above even kings and queens. This status is visually displayed by the length of her hair. The longer the hair a woman has, the higher her station. Kahlan has the longest hair in the Midlands. Guys like long hair on women.
Do you now see what I meant about the interweaving of the structure of the world with the male female dynamic? Let us look at Kahlan again. She was born a confessor, therefore she has immense worth by virtue of what she is and not what she has accomplished. This appeals to the woman reader. She has long hair, and is a virgin. This appeals to the male reader. However, she is obligated by custom and law to be both which grants an excuse for having these traits.
This means that a woman reader need not feel bad about herself for not possessing those traits that Kahlan has because they were imposed on her while simultaneously rewarding the male desire for those traits by putting them into Kahlan. A similar story is true of Kahlan only being able to have one mate. This panders to the insecurities of the beta male in assurance that Kahlan won’t cheat while the one mate rule can be understood as a necessary restriction out of Kahlan’s control by the female reader. Finally, Kahlan’s power allows her to force anyone to fall madly in love with her and that person will do anything whatsoever for her.
Now, confessors, when they touch a man, basically turn him into the archetypical pussy begging white knight. He will literally do anything and everything for her while making sure he never does anything to displease her. This means that a touched man will always be asking for permission, be greatly insecure that his actions are displeasing to his mistress and so on. Confessors do not like the men they touch. They do not like these men because it is rationalized as depriving these men of loving the confessor of their own volition. However, we can clearly see this is plausible deniability for the stark truth that women hate pussy begger and prefer the bad boys. A touch man would not longer have the ability to say no to the confessor and so could never be sexually exciting to a woman.
All of this also reinforces the theme of the woman playing hard to get. Though Kahlan and Richard fall in love with each other the old fashion way, Kahlan’s powers setup a sort of artificial chase that Richard must go through to get Kahlan. This is brilliant writing as it allows the author to have Kahlan put Richard through a never-ending stream of shit tests all masquerading as Kahlan’s desire not to hurt Richard with her power. The shit tests are unrelenting and are masterfully woven into forwarding the plot.
One shit test in particular stands out. At one-point Richard and Kahlan need to figure out where to find a magical box. They conclude that their best bet is to approach this savage tribe referred to as the mud people and request that this tribe call for a gathering in which they can ask the spirits of the underworld to tell them where the box is. Goodkind orchestrates the plot in such a manner as the mud people demand that both Kahlan and Richard must first become mud people before the request is granted.
After jumping through various hoops, the mud people decide to give Richard and Kahlan mud people citizenship. However, part of the ceremony of becoming a mud person demands that Richard choose a wife. Kahlan in turn conceals this requirement from Richard and Richard is ambushed in the ceremony by a bunch of women all vying to be selected by him as his wife. Naturally Kahlan hides behind the justification that this is for the greater good and that Richard’s feelings for her are not as important as the quest at hand. Now, this would be all well and good if Kahlan was not a pouting little bitch about the whole thing. Clearly the reader is meant to see Kahlan’s resentment for Richard, not the mud people, in relation to potentially having sex with another woman.
Richard orchestrates a clever trick in which he asserts that his semen may turn out to be poison to a woman from the Midlands for reasons which are not important and as a consequence the mud people remove this requirement from the ceremony. Richard passed his shit test, Kahlan is all happy, and the plot carries on. There are many other similar shit tests woven into the plot. The female reader will clearly be able to relate to these tests while feeling justified that Kahlan simply had no choice in issuing them due to her being a confessor. In essence, Kahlan’s love for Richard necessitated the shit tests for his own protection.
Now, let me talk about Richard. Richard starts off as a woods guide in the story. This is a humble position clearly beneath the station of a mate a mother confessor would ever choose. However, Richard’s station and status rise exponentially as the story progresses. Now, the rise of Richard’s status is paralleled by Kahlan’s love for him. When he was a woods guide, he was just a nice guy who Kahlan did not have any real interest in him. This can be plausibly explained also by the fact that Kahlan had only met Richard and did not have time to fall in love with him. However, Richard is named Seeker of Truth by Zed, the old man who served as Richard’s mentor throughout his life. Zed turns out to be that great wizard who Kahlan travelled to Westland to find. Now, here is the interesting thing about the title of Seeker of Truth. Earlier I mentioned that Kahlan, as the mother confessor, held the highest title in the Midlands. Well, there is only one station higher than mother confessor. That station is Seeker of Truth.
Hypergamy is satisfied in our little Richard and Kahlan romance. When Richard is named Seeker, the romance really starts to speed up. Yet, this is not the end of Richard’s assent. In the middle of the book we come to learn that the great wizard Kahlan was sent to find, Zed, is really Richard’s grandfather. This in turn gives Richard even more importance. At the end of the book we find out that Richard’s father is actually the main antagonist of the story; Darken Rahl, lord of D’Hara. This in turn makes Richard royalty. In fact, after Richard kills Darken Rahl, Richard becomes the new Lord Rahl of D’Hara.
With every elevation of Richard’s status in the story, so too does Kahlan’s love for Richard rise. The plausible deniability rests in the flow of time. Of course, Kahlan will only fall more in love with Richard as time goes on. At least that is what we are led to accept as the rationalization as oppose to the coincidental assent of Richard’s status. This set of revelations about Richard allow the female reader to live out her hypergamous instinct within a single man; namely, Richard. Kahlan nor the female reader ever need to trade Richard up for a better deal because Richard becomes himself a better deal as the plot unfolds.
Now, when Richard was named the Seeker of Truth he was given the Sword of Truth as the weapon he is to wield. The Sword of Truth is also a fascinating plot device. You see, the Sword of Truth, when touched, fills the holder of it with rage. The rage is meant to help the Seeker be a more effective warrior. However, Richard is described as having had an upbringing in which he always controlled his anger. In fact, part of Richard’s growth in becoming a more effective wielder of the Sword of Truth is his journey on getting more in touch with his feelings. As in, Richard is rewarded by the Sword Of Truth when he gives into his feelings as oppose to reason or stoic resolve. We are all aware of women’s insistence that men need to stop repressing their emotions and get in touch with their feelings. Well, the author put that female desire of men into the mechanic of the Sword of Truth.
The characters in the book continually reinforce the idea that everyone needs to follows the instincts of the Seeker. This instinct is little more than a mask for feelings. Every time Richard goes with his feelings he seems to make the correct decision. In turn, he is rewarded with better fighting prowess, and he achieves his goals. Richard, in turn, becomes more like a woman as the story goes on. However, in reality, the outcomes would be virtually opposite. For example, fighters who lose themselves in anger make mistakes. Richard, in turn, is said to become a better fighter.
On the other side of the coin, when reason is applied in the story, reason clean of emotion, nothing good happens.
This adoption of feminine traits by Richard clearly appeals to the female reader but since it is balanced out by an increase in prowess in masculine traits, the male reader is satiated as well. Since the author rewards Richard each time he goes with his feelings, the male reader can be bamboozed into buying into this approach.
Now, this review is already pretty long so let me bring it to a close. Earlier I mentioned that Kahlan, as a confessor, would lose control over her power if she ever had sex with Richard and therefore destroy him. This tension to the romance however, was resolved in an interesting manner. At the end of the book, Kahlan was forced to confess Richard. Richard in turn behaved as if he was confessed even though he was not. Since a confessed person cannot lie to the confessor who confessed him, everything Richard said was considered the truth. In this way, Richard was able to trick Darken Rahl into doing something which ultimately killed him.
Now, the justification that the author gives to the reader on why Kahlan’s power did not work on Richard was as one would expect it. Apparently, Richard was so in love with Kahlan that the magic could not create any more love in him for her blah blah blah blah. Basically, Richard’s love for Kahlan protected Richard from love. It is fantasy. It does not need to make sense. We are meant to go with our feelings. And by the time we are done reading 500 pages of this romance, our feelings want us to believe the justification given by the author because we are meant to feel Kahlan and Richard deserve to be together.
This in turn brings us to the Wizard’s First Rule itself. In this fantasy setting wizards have certain rules that they follow. The first rule states:
Wizard’s First Rule: people are stupid.” Richard and Kahlan frowned even more. “People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid , they will believe a lie because they want to believe it’s true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
Thanks for listening,