Are the "Sword of Truth" books by Terry Goodkind safe to read?

For some reason I can’t post in the CA book club forum, so I hope it’s okay that i ask this question here instead.

So, are they? I have read the first book, and I really liked the story. The second book is about good and evil, about how a demonic being, or even the books equivalent to the devil, called “the keeper”, tries to break out of “hell” and how the heroes are going to prevent it. However, I am worried I might offend the Lord by reading them because both the first and the second book, which I am currently reading, have some material which may not be suitable for Catholics. these are:

1). It’s elements of pre-martial sex and stronger love for another person than the books equivalent to “God”, called “the creator”. The books even portray detailed and sometimes explicit descriptions of persons “making love” with each other which often is the opposite of the Churches teachings. (In one of the chapters, there were even a shocking description of a beast raping a woman in an occult ritual).

2). The main protagonist does not want/do believe in “the creator”.

3). It contains occult magic and rituals, and worshiping of higher beings.

The third point bothers me the least, because I have played games and watched movies with occult magic before like Warcraft and Lord of the Rings and so forth. As far as I know, it hasn’t affected me in a negative way.
I should also say that the author of the books, Terry Goodkind, has some philosophical views which may, or may not be of approval to the Churches teachings. I will quote from Wikipedia:

While he acknowledges writing in the fantasy genre, he perceives his novels to be more than just traditional fantasy because of their focus on philosophical and human themes. Goodkind believes that using the fantasy genre allows him to better tell his stories and better convey the human themes and emotions that he desires to share with the reader.

Goodkind has been strongly influenced by the books of Ayn Rand and is a strong supporter of her works and her philosophical approach known as Objectivism. Writing about the series in The Atlas Society newsletter, Willam Perry states that Goodkind’s “characters, plots, and themes…are clearly and directly influenced by Rand’s work, and the book’s heroes occasionally invoke Objectivist principles” with Goodkind using the novels illustrate these themes. Perry notes the Objectivist themes become most obvious in Faith of the Fallen, which made the novel controversial among Goodkind’s fan base; morever, the novel contains several scenes which echo plots of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Still, I don’t think its worth risking the Lords friendship because of a book. What do you think? Have anyone read these books before?

Don’t worry, it’s safe to read.

They sort of start to stink after the first few though… :wink:

From Amazon review:

If you like lengthy discussions of pedophilia and descriptions of sexual torture, then you’ll probably enjoy “Wizard’s First Rule”. If, on the other hand, you believe that those topics are best excluded from fantasy writing, then you should probably avoid this book like the plague. It would be no exaggeration to say that “Wizard’s First Rule” is, by a considerable margin, the worst book I’ve ever read. It trundles along without any hint of originality or inspiration, and the bizarre and unpleasant sexual content is added frequently in a failed attempt to break the monotony of the paint-by-numbers plot.

We say “garbage in-garbage out” about computers and I really don’t know why people don’t apply this to their own soul.

I hadn’t read them in a very long time and only came to the faith a short time ago. To be honest, I have forgotten much about them but now that you mention it, there is a good deal of that sort of thing in there.

I haven’t read the books and probably won’t, however, to post in the book club, you need simply to become a member thereof. It’s a closed forum.

You become a member of the book club by sending a request to the admins and waiting for “Book Club Member” to appear in your header (see mine).

By all means, do so. We need more activity in the book club.

God Bless and ICXC NIKA. Weclome to CAF.

While that is true, it was the evil characters in the book that did those things. The good characters were all inclined to defeat those enemies. Yes, that is still disgusting matters to write down in a book, but the protagonist also forgives the one who tortured him even after he have suffered very much.

Still, I think you might be right, I maybe should find something that is better for my soul to read. When i started with the books, I just found it nice that they weren’t like traditional fantasy books. More suggestions are more than welcome, I need to really find out for sure about this book.

To answer the OP’s question:


The Sword of Truth is rather mediocre and while starting out somewhat promising (despite ripping-off a lot of the Wheel of Time series), it degenerates into a self-masturbatory, advertisement for Objectivism philosophy. I usually don’t mind authors bringing in their own beliefs into the story, but…these ideas and beliefs go on for pages and pages. Plus, there’s no compromise; if you don’t agree with what he’s saying, then you get shafted into some straw-man bad guy that is a conglomeration of religion, socialism, feminism and environmentalism. Some of the stuff he writes though is so ridiculous its priceless comedy. Examples…

(1) Kicking in the jaw of an 11 yr old girl because she’s ‘evil’
(2) Sex scenes that involve food and menstrual cycles.
(3) And best of all…an all powerful evil chicken - I kid you not, this is supposed to be a serious villain.

I could only recommend these books for a laugh, not serious fiction. There are a ton of Terry Goodkind and Sword of Truth disseminations on the web, with some of the best and funniest stuff on the forums (I believe they’re at thread No. 50 now and counting). It’s also worth looking up his interviews; the guy is a complete tool…just like Nicholas Sparks.

I should add, if you want to read good fantasy, go to these authors:

Robert Jordan
George R. R. Martin
R. Scott Bakker
Steven Erikson
Joe Abercrombie
Patrick Rothfuss
Scott Lynch
Glen Cook
Robin Hobb
Diana Gabaldon
Anne McCaffery

Honestly…any other fantasy author out there, but the above ones write good, original stories.

**Disclaimer: Tolkein, Rowling and Lewis have been left off the list, because you should have already read their work.

Yeah… I have to agree with the others on this threat. I think I got through the first three books in the series starting with Wizard’s First Rule and called it quits there. It’s saying something that I wasn’t even able to finish Goodkind’s series when I have resorted to reading other fantasy series (Lord of the Rings, the Wheel of Time, the first three DragonLance books) half a dozen times or more.

PrayerShark has a good list. If you’d have time to burn I’d suggest you check out the Wheel of Time books. They start of strong, become unbelievably dull, and end strong (or will end strong this coming March).

I really liked the story in Sword of Truth, and the characters as well. But, I have to agree with PrayerShark about the over-the-top objectivism in the books. The first several books didn’t have the overt stuff in them, but the later ones have ridiculously long speeches where the dialogue goes on for pages. In fact, in one of the later books, they have a 50 page rant against faith. No joke–50 pages. This coming from characters in a world where they KNOW there is a deity. They have physically seen spirits of the dead come back to life and fought against the spirit that is the equivalent of the devil. And yet these same characters go on a rant about how faith is pointless and all the people who have faith are weak.

Anyway, the story was good, I thought, and I actually have a copy of each book in the series, but I hated the objectivism speeches. As a writer myself, I know that you never preach to your readers. You don’t put speeches into the mouths of your characters that sound like you are reading out of some textbook written by Ayn Rand. As a bestselling author told me (he taught a fiction class I took in college), you show your readers what you want to teach them, you don’t tell them.

For my money, George R.R. Martin writes the best fantasy series ever published. I would HIGHLY recommend reading A Song of Ice and Fire.

In Christ,

You know, the only one I thought was dull was Crossroads of Twilight. Some of the other later ones had some dull parts but that one was a slow read for me. The last two books I thought were awesome.

The Crossroads of Twilight was definitely the low point of the series. I would rate books 1-6 great, 7-10 mediocre to horribly boring and 10-13 were great again. It’s a shame that Jordan passed away for so many reasons, the least of which being he never got to finish the series which consumed upwards of 20 years of his life. Sanderson is a good replacement, and I’m certainly enjoying the the pacing of his books, but it just isn’t the same.

Despite how good Martin’s ASoIaF books are, The Wheel of Time books are and always will be my favourite fantasy series. I agree the books 1-6 are the best, 7-10 become more self-indulgent and it begins to drag, but with 11-onwards it has got back into the groove I enjoyed at the beginning of the series. I think Brandon Sanderson has almost pulled off the impossible with finishing these last three books. I actually find the action sequences more enjoyable to read and the story is being wrapped-up nicely. Can’t wait for the final book next year, it’s been 20-odd years in the making. I just know they will release some expensive leather-bound special edition of the entire series once it’s completed…and I’m just going to have to buy it for my bookshelf. :smiley:

[quote=Rand Al’Thor]The first several books didn’t have the overt stuff in them, but the later ones have ridiculously long speeches where the dialogue goes on for pages. In fact, in one of the later books, they have a 50 page rant against faith. No joke–50 pages. This coming from characters in a world where they KNOW there is a deity. They have physically seen spirits of the dead come back to life and fought against the spirit that is the equivalent of the devil. And yet these same characters go on a rant about how faith is pointless and all the people who have faith are weak.

I remember reading this and thinking “I get it…NO, I REALLY REALLY GET IT!” I think this was the same book where Nicci (I think that was her name) distracts an entire army with her boobs.

They are spiritual junk food, they might make you feel good, but they are really bad for you.

I read to book six

I started the first one and thought it was OK but not that compelling. Bear in mind that I’m Episcopalian, so I’m going to have a somewhat more liberal view than you’ll get from some of the other folks on this forum (I’m conservative for an Episcopalian but relatively liberal by Catholic standards).

From my point of view, the only way you “risk the Lord’s friendship” by reading a book is if the book makes you into the kind of person who is not the Lord’s friend. I also think that we aren’t passive “blank slates” on whom books work their magic–we are active participants in the act of reading, and we may read things that are bad but consciously reject them. That being said, unless there’s some special reason to do so, it’s not a good idea to read books (or watch movies) whose overall tendency is degrading and corrupting. I don’t know if the SoT books fall into that category or not.

For comparison, I do not think that the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R. R. Martin are degrading and corrupting in their overall tendency, but I do think they have sensationalistic elements of sex and violence which are of dubious value for the health of my soul. I’m somewhat of two minds as to whether I want to get back into the series now that a new book is out.

Another comparison: I’m a fan of the recent “Battlestar Galactica” series, even though some folks on this forum will tell you that it’s degrading and corrupting. It certainly has elements that pander to people’s baser instincts, but overall I find it to be a morally serious show that grapples with the darkness of the world and of human nature. Of course, I can give a better judgment on BSG than on the Martin books because the Martin series isn’t finished yet.

Back to the Sword of Truth. As you pointed out, Goodkind is a disciple of Ayn Rand. I had a student who wrote a theology essay for me that discussed his personal struggle with some Christian doctrines (particularly original sin) in light of his interest in Rand and Goodkind. That’s my main source for knowledge of Goodkind’s ideology. Based on that essay, I’d say that the Goodkind books caricature and misrepresent traditional theism/Christianity and could easily be confusing for young people who aren’t well grounded in the Christian tradition. My student was a very smart person, and I think that he was unduly impressed by what seemed like a rather shallow and frivolous ideology (based on his own account as I interpreted it). I don’t think that means “don’t read them,” but I think it does mean that you should be sure you are furthering your study of the Christian faith as you read them, and should make sure that they don’t dominate your reading diet!

God bless,


Points 2 and 3 are ok as long as you’re an adult and not in danger of letting it influence your world view. Based on Point 1 alone I would put them aside now. Description of sex in books (especially these days) is almost just as bad as watching pornography. The chance of falling into sin and impure thoughts and arousal of the genetive faculties (I know, how awkwardly technical of me) is reason enough to not read it, and the fact that the author enjoys putting it in there is reason enough to reject the fruits of his tree as bad. This goes for if you’re single or married, but if you’re married it is a thousand times more important. Keep in mind, Catholic teaching is that it is wrong to even put yourself in a near occasion of sin.

Now depending on how long and frequent these sexual bits are, you might be able to skip them as soon as you notice them beginning. Whether thats possible with this book is up to your judgement.

I had an author, a Catholic author, who’s writing I loved and included some good, vaguely judeo-christian messages (not to mention action packed, bloody battle scenes which I love), but there was just too much sexual junk in it and I had to let him go in the interest of my soul and of, as a matter of principle, rejecting bad fruits.

Also, the inclusion of premarital sex is only a non-issue if it is presented as morally wrong or at the very least neutral. If at all the narrative seems to imply that its ok or good or even glorifies it, then you should throw it away as a matter of principle.

Sometimes you need to tell the world to take a walk (as well as his buddies, the flesh and the devil) even if it means sacrificing some pleasure for yourself.

Some people will call me a fanatic. They can call me what they please. What I’ve just stated above is a standard part of the Catholic world view… and Catholics used to know it.

I’ve read all the books in the series…I thought a few of them dragged way too long in places…but all in all it was a great read…I read them all about two years ago…bought “Wizard’s First Rule” and was hooked…didn’t like the TV program too well though after a while…seemed to drag at times as well…

I’ve read the first few of the Goodkind Sword of Truth series and I thought they were very good. Unfortunately I fell away from the series while waiting for the 3rd installment. I just read another series of Goodkind’s which started with the book Shadowmarch, which was about a Prince and Princess whose Father, the King was being held in captivity, an evil Fairy Army was on the march towards their kingdom, as well as a terrible southern king who seemed the most evil of all the evil characters (at least until you met the evil god at the end of the series…)

Fiction is fiction. A person of faith should remain unaffected by fiction, other than a temporary involvement in the characters and their struggle to overcome the circumstances which are threatening them. We can be uplifted by the ideas and the characters, the world which the author has created, and the eventual victory of Good over Evil.

Fiction is a temporary escape from our lives, an entertainment which can sometimes uplift and edify, but should never cause us to question our faith.

LOTR, Narnia, and Harry Potter are all good solid fantasies in which Good and Evil are clearly defined, there’s no attempt by the author to “convert” his readers to his or her beliefs.

The only series that I found offensive was the one which began with The Golden Compass which is a blatant attack on the Catholic Church. I’ve read many, many books (fantasy, horror, etc), and I read the Bible daily (in the morning and at night), and I find books to be a wonderful vehicle to forget one’s cares for the moment.

There’s nothing better than a good story, right?

The best story of all is our Salvation through Jesus Christ.



I’ve read to The Omen Machine (the 11th book I believe), despite that I knew Terry was bashing faith. I HATE not finishing a story. Should I stop here and not read the new book he’s coming out with? Is The Wheel of Time series better? I’ve wanted to read that for a while. Could anyone please suggest other fantasy series that are good? I’m reading A Song of Ice and Fire as of now, need to start The Wheel of Time and am going to try the Dragonlance series because someone on this thread recommended it. I’m also thinking about the Riyaria Revelations Trilogy, but that’s all I have. Any suggestions? Thank you for any feedback.

*Are The Witcher games okay to play? I’ve wanted to play them for a long time, as I’ve heard they have a great story and the The Witcher 3 is coming out and looks like a great world to have fun exploring and hunting. Sorry for so many questions :blush:

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