I lived and worked in London for the majority of my earlier years and was on the way home from work on the Underground one summer's afternoon and was reading a book (I don't recall which one exactly, but think it was one of the Magician series by Raymond Feist). Anyway, a guy who was sitting a few seats down, got up to leave and said to me in passing: "you should read 'Wizard's First Rule'," and got off the train. Now in and of itself, for a random stranger to speak to some other random stranger on the London tube (other than to say 'excuse me' or 'can I get by please!!' is rare. Needless to say, I did indeed pick the book up at a bookshop shortly after and have never looked back.
Like Magician and Silverthorn, this is the first in another multi-novel epic story (at last count sixteen books following the lives and adventures of it's main characters: Richard, Kahlan, Zedd, Nicci et al — Seventeen, if you count the novella 'Debt of Bones'). Make no mistake, the Sword of Truth series is truly epic in scale and scope and Terry Goodkind's world-building is second to none. The philosophy behind how magic works in his world is excellent, with lots of different perspectives from the various characters who adhere to the dfferent disciplines that all exist within the world contemporaneously. The traditional wizards and witches in this world for instance, have all grown up learning from books and the past experience of other wizards and witches. Richard (the main protagonist) has come to the world of magic almost by mistake — although it is part of his heritage — and contradictorily his take on how it all works, is based on pure instinct and logic (or common sense, as he would term it). That alone, sets up some interesting interactions between the main characters.
This series of books is tough reading in some places, in this first novel, Richard the main protagonist is captured and tortured for what seems like a hundred pages or more (it's probably less than that, but it's pretty grim reading in some places), but stick with it and you will be rewarded. Over the many years of reading this series, I have genuinely grown to love the characters and that's in no small part to Goodkind's skill at storytelling. The predicaments they find themselves in and how they ultimately triumph, all allude to the depth of plotting and world-buiding that is at play here. Everything, however innocuous links to something else.
There are many, many critics of Goodkind and the Sword of Truth series. Most cite the fact that his stories tend to fold into them a lot of 'objectivist' theory. Goodkind has been greatly influenced by the works of Ayn Rand for instance. They also talk about the sado-masochistic elements of his stories (which I've already mentioned). All I can say is, the series has been a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish — so far — and I'll continue to read the adventures of Richard and Kahlan for as long as Goodkind is prepared to write them.
I won't even bother to go into detail about the utterly abysmal 'Legend of the Seeker' TV series that Sam Raimi produced some ten years ago now. I was surprised it lasted even two seasons. Not sure why Terry Goodkind allowed it to be made, but the stories deserved much better. Considering what's now been done with the Game of Thrones series of books, somebody should have another stab (no pun intended!) at adapting this.
I could go on forever about this series and as you'll see, another in the series is also part of my top ten.
Thank you random tube train guy. I'm forever in your debt!