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Terry Goodkind

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I know many Objectivists are fan of Goodkind's best-selling fantasy series (some have said they actually discovered Objectivism through Goodkind), and I wholly understand why, although I do not share their enthusiasm.

Terry Goodkind has acknowledged his intellectual debt to Ayn Rand on many occasions, although I don't know whether or not he considers himself an Objectivist. Whether or not he is an Objectivist is beside the point, though. I have read the first six books in his series, and it appears to me as though he discovered Ayn Rand halfway through them and decided to alter the direction his novels were taking to incorporate Objectivism into them. I have no real issue with this, although the shift was a little awkward.

At times, it's borderline plagiarism! There have been occasions, particularly in Faith of the Fallen (the last book of his that I read), where he uses Miss Rand's words almost verbatim. In The Romantic Manifesto, Miss Rand pointed out that most good literature presents old ideas in a new form. One could argue that since Gookind's character, plots, and genre are so radically different from Rand's that this is a new form; I may even agree. But the fact remains that Goodkind explicitly uses many Objectivist "slogans," for lack of a better word, throughout this book, and I would have like to see him put them a little differently. Some specific ones, just off the top of my head, are:

- Existence exists, and only existence exists. What is is.

- A is A (Yes, I am aware that this is Aristotle's formulation, not Ayn Rand's)

- Reason is man's means of survival.

- When you use faith as your means of knowledge, you are acting on the standard of death.

The last is not an exact quote, as I don't have the book handy. When I am at home, I will locate page numbers to reference if needed. There were also many, many others.

Of course, I don't have any problem with any of these statements. They are all true! And I am overjoyed to see a best-selling writer putting forth the right ideas in his novels. My gripe here is purely esthetic. What ever happened to originality?

In addition to all of this, in attempting to write "Objectivist novels," Goodkind's already average writing ability seems to have deteriorated. As they progress, his writing style has gotten more juvenile and less flowing (or perhaps I've just become a harsher critic; definitely possible). I don't mean to say that his content is juvenile, but his style. It's a little ironic to see Objectivist ideas presented with such consistent mediocrity!

Which of you have read Goodkind's books and what are your thoughts?

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I know many Objectivists are fan of Goodkind's best-selling fantasy series (some At times, it's borderline plagiarism! There have been occasions, particularly in Faith of the Fallen (the last book of his that I read), where he uses Miss Rand's words almost verbatim.

They are currently running radio ads for that book that explicitly mention and pitch their appeal to admirers of Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead.

I like it when people are enlightened and inspired by Ayn Rand, but I don't like it when people try to exploit her.

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I like it when people are enlightened and inspired by Ayn Rand, but I don't like it when people try to exploit her.

Goodkind was sufficiently inspired by Ayn Rand to be a member of the Atlantis Legacy. That makes me think his admiration of Rand's ideas is sincere.

That said, I quit reading his books after Faith of the Fallen. If I want to read Ayn Rand, I'll read Ayn Rand. (Although I did enjoy the novel's extended sequence concretizing the principle of the harmony of interests under freedom. It was the most original part of the story and had the best flow in terms of the writing.)

It is true that Goodkind is the most commercially successful Objectivist writer since Rand herself. If he is exploiting Rand, I'd say he's gone well beyond trying and into succeeding.

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"- Existence exists, and only existence exists. What is is.

- A is A (Yes, I am aware that this is Aristotle's formulation, not Ayn Rand's)

- Reason is man's means of survival.

- When you use faith as your means of knowledge, you are acting on the standard of death."

Most of these statements are as clear, simple and powerful as they get, so there is not much altering you can do to them without muddling them up a bit; therefore, I don't want to accuse someone of exploiting another's words (Ayn Rand's words) when they use these, simply because there is no better way to put it.

When I'm arguing with a friend and I say "existence exists: what is, is" I don't need to say "to quote Ayn Rand, 'existence exists: what is, is'".

I have read Pillars of Creation and I thought it was a good novel, with some parts that dazzled me, and a few that I thought were awkward.

A friend of mine that is also into Oism, and is a dedicated Linguist, loves the Goodkind series and thinks Goodkind has a god-like writing ability. I can't really judge because I've only read one of his works.

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They are currently running radio ads for that book that explicitly mention and pitch their appeal to admirers of Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead.

I like it when people are enlightened and inspired by Ayn Rand, but I don't like it when people try to exploit her.

I have read a few interviews Mr. Goodkind has given and I don't doubt the sincerity of his admiration for Ayn Rand or his interest in Objectivism. I don't get the impression from his writing that he is trying to exploit her, but that he recognizes the truth of her writings and is (unskillfully) attempting to present the same ideas in his novels. His publisher's PR department, however, very well may be exploiting the Ayn-Rand-angle; I haven't heard the ads, so I don't have much to offer here.

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I enjoyed his first book a lot and I also enjoyed book 6.

SPOILERS, DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE SERIES TO BE SPOILT.

But from what I gathered, it isn't just how he mentioned the Oist stuff that lacked originality, it is his overall writing style.

Generally the plot in each book is based around "Richard is captured or has to go somewhere. He is seperated from Kahlan, will they ever see each other ever again?"

That plot line was regurgitated in a different form in virtually every book so it started to wear down on me very fast.

The thing that is interested about book 6 however is that he described the results of collectivism quite well. He also explained with events that a revolution to obtain freedom must begin because freedom is valued, not because they are following a single man. That is a point that I often see missed among junior Objectivists who think that freedom can be imposed by force(which is a contradiction).

It was also interesting that his collectivist state didn't rely so much on properganda like so many collectivist states in fiction and reality do to maintain control, but instead relied on really destructive artwork placed everywhere of the worst of human pain and misery to destroy mans soul.

The resulting plot about the statue inspiring people as to what life could be like, was a very beautiful moment.

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I enjoyed his first book a lot and I also enjoyed book 6.

SPOILERS, DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE SERIES TO BE SPOILT.

But from what I gathered, it isn't just how he mentioned the Oist stuff that lacked originality, it is his overall writing style.

Generally the plot in each book is based around "Richard is captured or has to go somewhere. He is seperated from Kahlan, will they ever see each other ever again?" 

I agree completely with this. The storylines do begin to blend into each other and stop being interesting. I've read all of the books up to Faith of the Fallen, which I couldn't even finish. While I like how he embraces Objectivism, his writing suffered greatly when he tried to demonstrate the philosophy in the books. He would have Richard Rahl make long speeches about morality and such, when it isn't in Richard's character to do anything like that. I also think the way he contrived the switch was artificial and did not seem to fit into the book.

With all of that being said, I still recommend the series, at least the first three novels in it.

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Most of these statements are as clear, simple and powerful as they get, so there is not much altering you can do to them without muddling them up a bit; therefore, I don't want to accuse someone of exploiting another's words (Ayn Rand's words) when they use these, simply because there is no better way to put it.

The reason statements like these work in an Ayn Rand novel is that she wrote characters, who, if they existed in real life would say them. Her characterization was consistent and complete. It takes a certain kind of character to utter those words and not look ridiculous; it takes a certain kind of writer you make you believe in such a character. If it had been

When Ayn Rand put such sweeping, metaphysical & epistemological statements in her book it was true romanticism. Nobody in real life would talk like that! BUT, man as he might be and ought to be would.

He has yet to write a character (consistently) grand enough to utter those word, along with the many, many other lines of rhetoric. Richard Cypher is cool, I guess. Honestly, I thought these book were ok for pop reading until FoF. Richard's character just doesn't add up anymore. He definitely has his virtues, but he isn't no John Galt of Howard Roark - not even close. Being on a level with them is what it would take.

When I'm arguing with a friend and I say "existence exists: what is, is" I don't need to say "to quote Ayn Rand, 'existence exists: what is, is'".

You aren't a character in a novel.

I have read Pillars of Creation and I thought it was a good novel, with some parts that dazzled me, and a few that I thought were awkward.

Overall, I'd give the book a six. A lot of the time it worked perfectly fine; but almost every time he dons his Ayn Rand, Jr. hat, everything fell to pieces.

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ew... bad grammar central on one of my posts. :D

I should've proofread.

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Can you explain why you don't think Richard is on par with Howard or John Galt? I can't disagree with you more. I've even had people tell me that Richard is too perfect, that he can do no wrong. Part of what I like about the series is that his character is continually growing; he gets wiser and more confident as he falls into his role as the Seeker and other responsibilities.

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I've heard that he also uses the line "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," in one of his novels.

That is pretty brazen plagiarism. I find it repulsive that a writer could steal a line like that one verbatim from another author, and peddle it as his own formulation, when he would never be capable of coming up with such a line on his own. If he uses the line about acting on the standard of death, from Atlas Shrugged, that is infuriating as well.

Imagine if Ayn Rand were to have inserted random lines from Hugo and Dostoyevsky into her books! [Not to imply that she couldn't write at their caliber...] And Ayn Rand does acknowledge Aristotle for originating the phrase, "A is A," in AS, if I remember correctly.

I'm reading Wizard's First Rule right now. It's the first I've attempted to read by Goodkind. I am rather underwhelmed with it so far, but I might give Faith of the Fallen a chance before I give up on him altogether.

- Existence exists, and only existence exists. What is is.

- A is A  (Yes, I am aware that this is Aristotle's formulation, not Ayn Rand's)

- Reason is man's means of survival.

- When you use faith as your means of knowledge, you are acting on the standard of death.

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Your points aren't valid because Ayn Rand herself used many common sayings from writers in the past and also general common sayings. For instance, "Man qua man". I'm sure you didn't mean to say that Ayn Rand herself was also a plagiarist.

I find the level of hostility towards a great Objectivist fiction writer very discouraging and unwarranted. So far the arguments against Terry are that he's a plagiarist, even though I see more awkward attempts to emulate Ayn Rands writing style here then in any of Goodkinds books. You said you've just started reading the books, and yet you've already declared him as guilty of a very serious moral and legal crime? My advice: read the books--but before that--take any preconceived notions that you may have picked up from dogdigitalia and others and read it for yourself.

I've heard that he also uses the line "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," in one of his novels.

That is pretty brazen plagiarism.  I find it repulsive that a writer could steal a line like that one verbatim from another author, and peddle it as his own formulation, when he would never be capable of coming up with such a line on his own.  If he uses the line about acting on the standard of death, from Atlas Shrugged, that is infuriating as well.

Imagine if Ayn Rand were to have inserted random lines from Hugo and Dostoyevsky into her books!  [Not to imply that she couldn't write at their caliber...]  And Ayn Rand does acknowledge Aristotle for originating the phrase, "A is A," in AS, if I remember correctly.

I'm reading Wizard's First Rule right now.  It's the first I've attempted to read by Goodkind.  I am rather underwhelmed with it so far, but I might give Faith of the Fallen a chance before I give up on him altogether.

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Your points aren't valid because Ayn Rand herself used many common sayings from writers in the past and also general common sayings.  For instance, "Man qua man".  I'm sure you didn't mean to say that Ayn Rand herself was also a plagiarist.

I have not before participated in this thread for several reasons, not the least of which is that I have never read anything by Goodkind. However, I find your argument here rather disconcerting. "Man qua man," as used, for instance, by Aristotle in Metaphysics, is a common three-word philosophical expression qualifying a simple relationship, and I find if difficult to understand how such an expression can be equated to Ayn Rand's unique and more complex identification that "pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent." Whatever the merit, or dismerit, of Goodkind using those exact words (if indeed he has done so), cannot be justified on such an argument as the one presented above.

I find the level of hostility towards a great Objectivist fiction writer very discouraging and unwarranted.

As I said before, I have never read Goodkind, and I have no axe to grind in this discussion. However, what you label as "hostility" on the part of your opposition I see more as stern criticism on their part, backed up by facts. So, please, let's just stick to the facts and not discuss emotions that may or may not be actually expressed. Argue against your opponents' ideas, not their supposed feelings.

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Can you explain why you don't think Richard is on par with Howard or John Galt?  I can't  disagree with you more.  I've even had people tell me that Richard is too perfect, that he can do no wrong.  Part of what I like about the series is that his character is continually growing; he gets wiser and more confident as he falls into his role as the Seeker and other responsibilities.

Who has attempted to fault the character of Richard Rahl? I certainly didn't. I do fault Goodkind's unskilled presentation of such a character. Ayn Rand grasped the nature of such a man down to the root; indeed, she grasped the nature of man in general better than anyone I've ever read. Because of this understanding, she was able to present her characters believeably. You hit the nail on the head. Richard isn't believable as the ideal man (even though none of his actions make him non-ideal). Howard Roark is so believable in his role that everyone I know who has read The Fountainhead fell in love with him.

I'm no writer, just an experienced reader. I don't know what Goodkind could have done differently to make his characters and stories live up to the ideas he is attempting to present. What I do know is that there is a tremendous difference between his literature and all of the "great" literature I've read. I know that there's a difference between Howard Roark and Richard Rahl, not in their characters, but in the way their creators presented them. One was a literary master, and as for the other... well, he just isn't.

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I find the level of hostility towards a great Objectivist fiction writer very discouraging and unwarranted.

Who has been hostile? Actually, I think what I've really expressed is disappointment. I first read Goodkind long before I ever heard of Ayn Rand, and even then I found his writing style to be inferior to other sci-fi/fantasy greats such as Frank Herbert and Heinlein. I continued reading him as "filler books" anyway, because his stories can be somewhat entertaining at times. The decline in quality in the 5th and 6th books has really gotten overwhelming, though. I doubt I'll continue the series.

BTW, you may find the levels of "hostility" here dicsouraging and unwarranted, but I find the idea that anyone would use the word "great" to describe Goodkind's literature discouraging and unwarranted.

My advice: read the books--but before that--take any preconceived notions that you may have picked up from dogdigitalia and others and read it for yourself.

Is calling me dogdigitalia supposed to be some kind of jab? I don't care for dogs... :)

I'll second the suggestion not to take anything I've said on faith. If anyone is interested enough in what I've said, feel free to read the books. My purpose wasn't to turn people off of his books, but to see how my appraisal stacked up against others.

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I've heard that he also uses the line "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," in one of his novels.

Yes, in Faith of the Fallen. If I remember correctly, it is Richard's wife Kahlan who says it, when talking about her merciless devotion to destroying the Imperial Order, a communist theocracy against whom she is leading a war.

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It was actually a specific officer of the Imperial Order that Kahlan was talking about.

pp. 700-701, paperback

Kahlan handed Cara some of her load. "Gadi?"

"He died as Verna would have wished it. She showed him know pity."

"Good. Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent."

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Earlier, I made a reference that I said was not an exact quote. Here is the exact quote:

page 460, paperback

"The most important rule there is, the Wizard's Sixth Rule: the only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason." . . . "Reason is the very substance of truth. The glory that is life is wholly embraced through reason, through this rule. In rejecting it, in rejecting reason, one embraces death."

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My advice: read the books--but before that--take any preconceived notions that you may have picked up from dogdigitalia and others and read it for yourself.

Is calling me dogdigitalia supposed to be some kind of jab? I don't care for dogs... :)

Please, let's be a little more charitable and write this off to a typo instead of questioning motives.

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You'll know Objectivism is winning when: "Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," is mistaken for a "common saying." :)

It's much too early for me to have adopted an attitude of hostility towards Goodkind. I'm a little disappointed with WFR so far, and I feel indignant at the thought that a writer might plagiarise Ayn Rand as Goodkind has been accused of doing.

But one thing I definitely didn't do or intend was to criticize Goodkind for copying Ayn Rand's style of writing. If anything, that's what I was hoping for! Cutting and pasting entire sentences from a novel written by another author into a work which is not like, in style or content, the novel from which they were taken is a different, easier-to-accomplish scenario altogether.

It's like the issue of Roark struggling to master the style of Henry Cameron vs. Peter Keating mixing up some of Roark's designs with some ancient Greek architects' designs, and some gothic one's, etc. (to give an analogy.)

But on Goodkind's behalf, I will say that, so far, he's proven to be rather good, if not exceptional, at describing "natural" scenes in the forest. In the leaflet of the book I have, it mentions that he is also a noted painter of landscapes and wildlife, and that really shines through in the book. He can really "put you in" the forest, and he describes it in sensual terms, which is good. That's my favorite thing about him so far.

Your points aren't valid because Ayn Rand herself used many common sayings from writers in the past and also general common sayings.

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Is calling me dogdigitalia supposed to be some kind of jab? I don't care for dogs...  :)

My apologies to Michaelangelo for snapping at him like this. All I can really say is, you caught me on a bad day, and I misdirected some frustration.

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Who has attempted to fault the character of Richard Rahl? I certainly didn't. I do fault Goodkind's unskilled presentation of such a character. Ayn Rand grasped the nature of such a man down to the root; indeed, she grasped the nature of man in general better than anyone I've ever read. Because of this understanding, she was able to present her characters believeably. You hit the nail on the head. Richard isn't believable as the ideal man (even though none of his actions make him non-ideal). Howard Roark is so believable in his role that everyone I know who has read The Fountainhead fell in love with him.

I'm no writer, just an experienced reader. I don't know what Goodkind could have done differently to make his characters and stories live up to the ideas he is attempting to present. What I do know is that there is a tremendous difference between his literature and all of the "great" literature I've read. I know that there's a difference between Howard Roark and Richard Rahl, not in their characters, but in the way their creators presented them. One was a literary master, and as for the other... well, he just isn't.

Do I imply that Richard was unbelievable? No. I was commenting on how heroic his character is and how some people have commented on it. You can say Ayn Rand grasped the nature of man better but you've yet to tie that in with how that makes her characters more believable then Goodkind's. I guess this is one of those things where you 'feel' that the characters are believable and the others aren't so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

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Do I imply that Richard was unbelievable?  No.  I was commenting on how heroic his character is and how some people have commented on it.

I'll concede on that point. It would have been correct to say that those other people hit the nail on the head. That doesn't have any bearing on the point I was making, but it was a misrepresentation of your position.

You can say Ayn Rand grasped the nature of man better but you've yet to tie that in with how that makes her characters more believable then Goodkind's.

How could it not affect the believability of their characters? Man is everything that man is, including his philosophical roots. In fact, his philosophical roots are the reason why man is what he is. In order to present man believably, one must present him accurately; in order to present him accurately, one must present him on the basis of his fundamental (metaphysical and philosophical) nature; in order to present him on the basis of his nature, one must first have a complete grasp of what that nature is, down to the root, including its causes and consequences. The degree to which a character is believable as a concrete example of the ideal man is the degree to which the author: 1) understands man's fundamental nature, and 2) is able to communicate that nature to the reader.

As Ayn Rand observed in TRM, art is concerned with the presentation essentials. Epistemologically, an essential characteristic(s) is the characteristic(s) which explains the greatest number of others. Metaphysically, it is the characteristic(s) on which the greatest number of others depend. To paraphrase the above paragraph, in order present a concretization of the ideal man artistically, one must present him on the basis of his essential characteristics; to present him on this basis, one must first be able to identify and isolate those characteristics, and omit all irrelevancies; in order to make such an identification, on must first have a complete grasp of what man's nature is, down to the root, including the causal relationships between his characteristics.

That is how her understanding ties in to the believability of her characters vs. Goodkind's. I never saw any example of such an understanding in Goodkind's books.

I don't fault Goodkind for basing his books on Ayn Rand's ideas; almost all literature presents old ideas. I do fault him for stealing some of her most eloquent, most brilliant formulations and passing them off as his own. But that is an ethical judgment, not an aesthetic one. It is second-handedness a la Peter Keating if I ever saw it, except Keating had Roark's permission to mooch off of his mind. Goodkind didn't have Ayn Rand's, and I'd fall over in shock if he had Dr. Peikoff's.

I guess this is one of those things where you 'feel' that the characters are believable and the others aren't so we'll just have to agree to disagree.

I don't mind a disagreement. Art is a very personal thing, and evaluations can vary greatly from person to person. I don't think the things I've said in this thread are in any way based on how I 'feel' towards Goodkind's art. In fact, my objective evaluation of the quality of Goodkind's writing is not the same as my emotional evaluation, and it need not be, since the two evaluations answer different questions. One is an answer the question, "Is this good art?" The other: "Do I like it?" To the first, I answer an emphatic no. To the second, I say, "Better than most books these days."

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A few months ago, a friend recommended Terry Goodkind to me, and since then I've read all of the Sword of Truth series except the prequel Debt of Bones.

I've never really enjoyed a fantasy book before this series. Even Lord of the Rings didn't hold my interest enough to finish the series. With Goodkind, though, it was completely the opposite. I really enjoyed the story. Since I read all of the books in a very short period of time, I'm having trouble remembering exactly where I started getting transfixed. I do remember, however, that when I was about a hundred pages away from finishing it and the local bookstore was about to close, I had to go get the second book in the series...and I got very little sleep until the series was finished (up to the current book, Chainfire).

I should mention that I didn't know Goodkind had ever expressed interest in Ayn Rand and I didn't pick up on that quickly. The main characters don't really represent philosophical archetypes like The Fountainhead's, and I wouldn't recommend reading the books primarily for philosophical content--even in later books.

There are a couple things I really like about the series: the characters and the storylines. Goodkind has created a fantasy world that's very interesting. Those who can use magic don't just differ by their ability or what their strengths are. They can have additive or subtractive magic, or both. There are Seekers and Confessors, which have magic suited to very specific tasks but don't have the ability of wizards. The characters range from the old and wise to the young and growing. This metaphysical and experiential variety is integrated very well into the plots, and the result is a group of main characters that are both unique and interesting. (For those who have read the series: I found Cara to be an awesome character who I like more than most of the important ones.)

The plots are also excellent, at least in the beginning. There is always a major good vs. evil element, and the threat of lovers becoming separated or killed is well exploited. The latter may seem formulaic later in the series, but for me it was more of an eye-rolling than story-killing repetition--it was still suspenseful, and the only problem was its predictability.

When I got to book six--Faith of the Fallen--it became obvious right away that Goodkind had been influenced by Miss Rand. I was annoyed for perhaps the first third of the novel, which had a lot of dialog that agreed with Objectivism but mostly unrelated to actions. I learned quickly to skim these passages and focus on the story, which became quite an interesting one. After the first third or so of the book, I thought the dialog started to go a lot more with the actions, and toward the end even became meaningful.

The next book, Pillars of Creation, left the main characters and was not nearly as good as the rest. The next one, Naked Empire, had all the bad traits of Faith of the Fallen but not as many of the good ones. In the previous two books, there were very similar quotes to things Miss Rand wrote--but also to Aristotle's writings. It seemed like Goodkind had become interested in Objectivism and was trying to sell it to readers. I often found that there was much more dialog than the dramatization warranted, but I didn't really question his motives; my annoyance was more at Objectivism being portrayed poorly than at Goodkind.

I still got the impression of good motives in Naked Empire, but for the first time I got annoyed at Goodkind and thought he really should have given some credit to Miss Rand. He introduced a group of essentially Kantians into the story, and described them with a quote most people here will probably recognize without reading the quote by Miss Rand below it:

Richard folded his arms over his chest.  "I have eyes, so I can't see.  I have ears, so I can't hear.  I have a mind, so I can't know anything."
...man is blind, because he has eyes – deaf, because he has ears – deluded, because he has a mind – and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.

The last part of the quote varies somewhat, but I don't know how that formulation could come from anywhere else.

After Naked Empire the final 3-book trilogy in the series starts with Chainfire, which I thought was a major improvement over the previous three books. It seemed like a step back toward his earlier books, and it wasn't filled with passages that looked a lot like ones I'd read in Miss Rand's books. I'm now excited for the last two books, which are not yet released. Overall the series was great, and besides the three questionable books I loved reading them. I hope the last two books are of the same quality as the most recent one.

For anyone who has read this thread but not the books--I recommend reading them, but primarily for the story and not just the philosophical similarities to Miss Rand. There are a lot of sense of life qualities and virtues the characters have that it should make it worthwhile.

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That was an excellent post jedymastyr. I mostly agree with you. I definitely suggest that anyone on these forums that is interested in fantasy writing check out Goodkind. As to the plagiarism, although he doesnt directly cite Ms. Rand in his books (which would be silly in a fiction novel,) anyone that does any research on what the ideas represented are will see Goodkind giving all the credit to Ayn Rand.

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