I just devoured the first two novels in Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. I adored the (recently canceled) syndicated TV show, Legend of the Seeker, based on this series. Since I’ve already sort of committed myself to the Seeker universe (and I want to know what happens to the characters I’ve become overly invested in), I decided to tackle the books.
I am a sucker for the sci-fi/fantasy genre. My all time favorite author is Robin McKinley, who has written some of the most beautiful and lyrical novels I’ve ever read. I consider Deerskin to be my favorite book of all time, and have re-read it once or twice yearly for the last ten or fifteen years (another of her best works, in a more contemporary style, is Sunshine.) I loved Harry Potter (well, the 3rd through 7th books), enjoyed David & Leigh Eddings’ Belgariad and Mallorean series, read all of Alexander Lloyd’s Taran Wanderer books, and more recently have devoured Nalini Singh, Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, and my nemesis, Simon Green.
When I finally read the Lord of the Rings series (after the movies came out, and I overcame the terror instilled by that terrifying cartoon version of The Hobbit), I was shocked to find that Tolkien’s writing was an awful lot like Eddings and other epic fantasy writers… until I realized that Tolkien came first, and everyone else is trying to live up to his masterpiece. (Whether LotR is in fact a ‘masterpiece’ is a subject I believe to be up for debate, but his work on the back-story alone is greater than any author I’ve encountered yet – except, perhaps, J. K. Rowling.) See also, Joseph Campbell.
Diving into a new series is always a bit of a challenge because you (or at least, I) have to commit fully to the universe where the action takes place. When I read, I immerse myself to the point of sensory deprivation, like Sebastian in the Neverending Story: a thunderstorm could be raging around me, and I’m obliviously riding my luck dragon into the horizon. Every fantasy universe is different, with its own mythology and rules, and even though the same historical/mythical characters appear in different universes, they can behave in completely contradictory ways (I’m looking at you and your shiny, sparkly vampires, Stephanie Meyer). If I’m going to commit myself to a ten-book series* of 800 page books devoted to gallivanting across a mythical landscape, with its attendant political and geographical quirks, well, it had damn well better be worth my while.
I don’t think there’s a point in here anywhere, just that I’m very happily ensconced in my fantasy land right now, and I’ll come up for air – and real literature – once I’ve gorged myself.
(* While Googling links for this post, I discovered the Sword of Truth series is actually comprised of ELEVEN books.)