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Deep in the upper Ven Forest, close to the Boundry, woodsman Richard Cypher is intent on tracking down his father's killers. Richard has no idea of how far his quest will take him from home, nor that his world, his very beliefs, are about to be shattered...
Kahlan Amnell, tormented by treachery and loss, is being hunted, pursued remorselessly by a bloodthirsty tyrant's assassins. A monstrous evil is about to be unleashed upon the world and she knows her one hope of halting it is to find the last great Wizard...
Together, Richard and Kahlan have a destiny that will not be denied, a destiny that will embroil them in a war three-millennia past... a war that is about to re-ignite with world-devouring violence.
Big, bland and conventional, Goodkind's first novel is an epic fantasy that doesn't conjure up much magic. Its hero, Richard Cypher, is no ordinary woodsman. He is, at first unknown to himself, the ``Seeker,'' wielder of the Sword of Truth and the only possessor of the arcane knowledge contained in the powerful Book of Counted Shadows. After his father is killed for refusing to disclose that book's location, Richard is wandering in his beloved forest when he spies a beautiful woman, Kahlan, being stalked by several assassins who have pursued her from her magic-filled homeland of the Midlands. Stalwart Richard saves Kahlan and, along with a wizard named Zedd, sets out to foil the power-hungry designs of the evil Midlands tyrant Darken Rahl. Many of the best moments here come during encounters with secondary characters: Adie, a crotchety old woman who traffics in Underworld magic by using bones; Rachel, an abused child who longs for her hair to be evenly trimmed; and Mistress Denna, a sadist who tortures Richard. Goodkind's writing improves as the book winds on, giving hope that the promised sequel will outclass this volume, but, for the most part, his prose is flat, his ideas hackneyed (Wizard's First Rule is, ``people are stupid''), his characters tediously moralistic and his plot without originality.