I’m on book three of the Sword of Truth series. As a diehard fantasy fan, I always thought I would enjoy just about any fantasy novel. I certainly enjoyed some of the Dragonlance series and to a lesser extent the famous Wheel of Time series. But I have been extremely disappointed lately. Most fantasy novelists seem to feel the need to include reams and reams of description or character and place names that are utterly unpronounceable (but look exotic in print).
In the Sword of Truth, author Terry Goodkind takes a different approach. His hero is named Richard Cypher. The places have names like Westland, the Midlands, the Old World, and the New World. Descriptive passages are intensely illustrative and often provide pathetic irony without boring the reader.
Interestingly enough, Goodkind does not think of himself as a fantasy novelist. He believes his stories happen to use a traditional fantasy backdrop, but are actually morality plays, with universal themes. As a result, his plotlines do sometimes explore mature themes and deeper philosophical questions that might be unsuitable for younger readers. Perhaps because he consciously sets himself apart from the typical fantasy genre, his novels appeal to me more. So maybe I am not such a fan of fantasy after all.