Terry Goodkind: Run Away… Far, Far Away

Only one time have I been actually mystified as to why a friend would ever recommend a book to me. This book was Wizard’s First Rule, by Terry Goodkind. The friend was a girl I was working with at the time; we’d both discovered we had a mutual love for fantasy novels. I lent her George R.R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones, and she said I had to read Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, which were her favorite books. So I grabbed it at a bookstore, hoping for a new set of bookstop fantasy tomes to gobble up.

I’m still mildly scarred from the experience of reading this book, so much that I couldn’t be induced to read it again to refresh my memory of it. So I apologize for any blurring of plot information. I think Goodkind’s writing is illustrative of why many people roll their eyes and steer clear of the fantasy genre. The characters are very stock, and the plot is a Star Wars rip-off.

But what really shocked me about this author (more so because a female friend recommended him to me) was his prevalent, even casual, use of rape. To be fair, we don’t actually see a lot of rape in the first book, the one I read, though from what I’ve heard, it gets worse. There is, however, a gratuitously lengthy and descriptive segment involving sadomasochistic sex and torture. It takes up about 80 pages of the book. I honestly couldn’t get past that, and ended up skimming the rest of the book.

It surprises me how many people, even women, don’t think critically about what makes a good female character. I’ve seen Kahlan, the main female character in the Sword of Truth series, described as a strong female character. I gather this is because she’s important and special and has strong magical powers that cause men to fear her. Kahlan is a Confessor, which basically boils down to her having a magical power that forces people to spill their souls to her and confess the truth. Confessors can’t cut their hair, because… well, this isn’t really made clear other than the vague explanation that their magic won’t let them, but of course, we all know it’s so they will all be hot. And Kahlan can’t have sex with Richard, the male lead, because when she has an orgasm she will lose control of her power and destroy his soul. Yes, this is her main personal conflict throughout the course of the book. She loves Richard but having sex with him will kill him. OH NO! Shock! What will possibly happen? Do you think they’ll ever find a way to get around that one?< /sarcasm> When not being able to have sex with the male main character is your major personal conflict, well, there are problems. It seems like fantasy authors sometimes think, “Well, I gave her really super special magic, so why are you saying she isn’t strong?”

As I’ve said, I stopped after the first book, but from what I’ve read in reviews, Kahlan experiences nine near-rapes in the series to date. And her sister is brutally gang-raped as a plot device. The bad guys engage in pedophilia. You get the idea. I do not have a problem with authors depicting sex, and even violent sexual situations, if these situations and their implications are treated thoughtfully. But this isn’t the case with Goodkind. As I said before, the word that describes it best is gratuitous. The “good” characters” are in love, and so their use of sex is “good.” The “bad” characters are evil, so they rape and sexually torture, or are raped and sexually tortured.

The world of Goodkind is a twisted place.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    *vomits*

    Rape belongs in stories about rape. And even then it’s tricky. But it never, ever works when it’s just thrown in to show how much situations or people suck. Or as a motivator.

    And pedophilia?

    I know I’ve read Goodkind before, and the fact that I recall absolutely nothing is pretty much a guarantee that he pissed me off on gender points. That’s the only thing I seem to blank out on entirely – male authors who make rape all about men.

    • Tria says

      Personally, I have a difficult time with the violence and rape that is in Terry Goodkind’s books also. He always over explains everything in his books. He seems to sit around at night and think of ways to be more and more disgusting and to make his “evil” characters more and more debauched and disgusting. Ok, we get it. I don’t need it shoved down my throat again and again and again. In some of the books where there is very little of the debauchery, I actually thought, what a good book. I think a lot of the authors today are pushing the lines with the pedophilia and rape thing. I would totally understand if he said that Kahlan was almost raped by the “quad” without a graphic “blow by blow” detailing of this. Terry Goodkind likes to over explain things maybe because he believes most of his audience is severely below average IQ? Maybe because he has some learning disabilities himself? Maybe because as we age, we can overstate things sometimes (I do that too though I am not an author and don’t talk ever give descriptions of rape, etc). To me, just saying someone is a “pedophile” is sufficiently repugnant enough for me to understand what an extremely perverted character he is explaining, don’t you think?

      About the use of rape and violence against only women, Richard (The main male character of the series) is raped and abused much worse than Khalan when he is captured by Denna, a Mord-Sith who makes him her sexual slave totally against his will. There are also other male characters that are castrated and then their testes fried and eaten by the “Imperial Order” troops.

      Have you read the G.R.R. Martin “Ice and Fire” series? Do you remember what happens at the hands of Ramsay Snow to the character named Theon Gray Joy in those books? Do you remember that Danerys was 13 when she was forced into marriage with Khal, a man twice her age or more?

      Even in real life, Almonzo Wilder (the real life man) was 25 when he began dating Laura Ingalls Wilder according to her books and they married when she was 18 and he 28. They lived together until he died and were very much in love. Supposedly, if you are into religion (which I won’t debate if that is fiction or history, ok? That depends on the personal belief system of the reader, and also the religion lol). Mary, Mother of Jesus was supposedly 13 (according to scholars) and her husband, Joseph was over twice her age. In Islam, one of Mohammed’s wives was only 9 and he was much much older. Things have changed A LOT historically and even in my 50 years of living in regards to what is considered pedophilia. I definitely know of girls who were in their mid teens who went after men who were 30’s -40’s and loved older men (and apparently vice versa). Things were historically different in the time period which is fictionally represented in these books. We see things through our eyes based on belief systems that are current and not based on what was done during periods possibly a thousand or more years ago.

      While I don’t believe that Terry Goodkind writing styles is anywhere near as stupendous or sophistocated as many of my favorite classic authors (G.R.R.M., Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, The Bronte sisters, even Georgette Heyer, etc). And it took a while for me to get over the fact that part of my love of reading isn’t just character development ( love this tho) but reading something infinitely better structured and well written than any of his books. I did enjoy a lot of the elements in the book. Yes, his stories could have been edited down to about half their size! Yes, I wish he would stop explaining and explaining and preaching! Yes, there are parts of the books that bored me, repulsed me, etc. But, that being said, I fell in love with Kahlan and Richard, their love story and how they tried to remain true to one another regardless of the circumstances. I think that Kahlan is a VERY strong character. She has to truly be backed into a corner and see the risk of someone else being tortured before she will stop fighting. She is intelligent and her word is sought by Richard. I do admit that many times (due to him being the almost infallible “Seeker”, that I wish Terry had allowed Kahlan to be correct more often with Richard due to her having more experience with magic, etc.

      There are also plenty of rapes in the G.R.R. Martin “Ice and Fire” books too. Unfortunately, it is a historical consequence of war. People don’t always have good morals especially during war (even during times of peace…). Great books like “The Princess Bride” by William Goldman just aren’t marketable these days, unfortunately.

  2. Mecha says

    This is quite long. And a bit rambly. But since Duru couldn’t remember some details, and I’d read the early books fairly closely back when I was a teen, I figured I’d try to offer some thoughts n’stuff.

    I did read the early books a while ago but I just stopped, for various reasons (rape and objectivism being the two biggest.) It is very stock fantasy stuff, with a high degree of ‘fantasy world realism’ (read: war involves rape.) The vast majority of rape situations in the book revolve around war and prisonership. And yes, it gets worse. Disturbingly so. Just think about the possible ways one could illustrate that ‘war involves rape’, at least once a book from #2, maybe 3 on, getting progressively more vivid. ‘Evil people just rape’ is a very good way to put it, and he makes extra sure you know they’re evil.

    My mental picture of the first book isn’t ‘bad’ (the male rape that was done being the major exception, and there’s a lot of content you can analyze there), but I can see the criticism nowadays. The first book mainly stayed away from onscreen rape and stayed generally within standard fantasy conventions, and so it didn’t hit me, especially not at the time I read it. (Heck, it barely touched on onscreen sex.) Unless I’m misremembering, anyway. Which is possible.

    On Kahlan, she’s a tough character to judge, in large part because she exhibits the ‘true love’ factor and conflict. Her _active_ conflict in the book is the same one that the main character is in: Not Actually Sauron wants her dead. The love thing becomes the situational secondary conflict, and overcoming that impossibility is part of the climax of the main book (and it’s still all very dramatic in later books. Hell, in the first book. Lust/’being a normal woman, not a Confessor’ overrides her senses, which is its own characterization argument.) She also comes off as a secondary character, to the very Gary Stu, very ‘central to all the prophecies of the world, ever’ main character.

    But in contrast, she also leads armies in (very bloody) battle. She’s a leader, commander, and has that mindset very clearly. I think one of the biggest reasons people see her as strong is because, for all her being portrayed as in love (and lusting) for the main character (and the (near) sex scenes between them I can call to mind are written from her perspective, with the main character being almost impassive/flat seeming), she is willing and capable of performing the tasks of leading and killing and all of the ‘male power structure’ things, with swords or her mind-destroying force-to-obey magic powers. She ‘has it all’, as it were. Assertive and romantically passionate. She doesn’t even give over her judgement capabilities to the main character, despite that being common. I can see why people see her as powerful.

    (Aside: The pedophilia situation (in the first book) is part of a dark magic ritual, and less pedophilia than a guy who gets off on dark magic and power. I don’t remember any later. I have a theory about Goodkind’s perception of love, and how he portrays it, but it requires much more analysis of the book.)

    (Aside #2: Yeah, the hair thing is a weird tie in to ‘hair as status.’ Part of the old magic of the Confessors, to make them obvious and, no doubt, keep them from running (unless they find someone to help them.) I am distinctly reminded of Buffy in the idea of old magic giving the Confessors (women exclusively) a great power with a great cost, with no real consideration of what that would do to them. In contrast to the fact that while women can do normal magic, men are the only ones who get to do the most powerful magic. Which is ANOTHER discussion in and of itself. Oy. I’m just going to stop now.)

    -Mecha

  3. says

    She also comes off as a secondary character, to the very Gary Stu, very ‘central to all the prophecies of the world, ever’ main character… [F]or all her being portrayed as in love (and lusting) for the main character (and the (near) sex scenes between them I can call to mind are written from her perspective, with the main character being almost impassive/flat seeming), she is willing and capable of performing the tasks of leading and killing and all of the ‘male power structure’ things

    I think this hits on why she bothered me in the first book, actually, which was, “Why him?” You’re right about him being a Gary Stu. I couldn’t figure out why she wanted to love him. It didn’t seem like there was a good reason for it, except that he was the main character, and he saved her in the first chapter of the book.

    There isn’t a lot of onscreen sex in the first book, but the “Richard and the dominatrix” subplot got old pretty fast for me. I scanned reviews for the rest of the series and, once I was aware that it wasn’t an isolated incident, and that there was more rape in later books, decided not to continue the series. Also, Goodkind has made several controversial statements to the media that make me not want to read him (his objectivist views among other things). I don’t know what his exact views are on love and sexuality, but since he’s an author whose personal views come across fairly strongly in his writing, I’m not sure I want to know. I feel this way about Robert Jordan too, the other ‘major’ fantasy author of the 90’s, but to a lesser degree. If I’d been in my teens I might have ripped through Goodkind’s books. In a way, it stinks to get older (and get a liberal arts education) and realize that authors I loved, such as Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan, have these shades to their writing that disturb me.

  4. Patrick says

    Regarding Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, I really fail to understand why people keep recommending that one to me. Whenever I mention that I love epic, heroic fantasy, people say: “Oh, you have to read this! It’s completely unlike all those other epic fantasies because it isn’t about heroes!”

    Umm… then why would someone who loves epic heroic fantasy want to read it? I understand why it would appeal to someone who is turned off by noble heroes saving the world, but why does everyone keep recommending it after I expressly tell them that noble heroes saving the world is what I love in fantasy?

    It’s as if other comic book readers were saying “Oh, you like Superman? You have to read All Star Batman and Robin! It’s great! It’s all about how Batman is a psychotic kidnapper who murders cops and makes orphans eat rats! And it has a running plot about what a moron Superman is, too!”

  5. says

    I think when your friends know you like a genre, they just start throwing out recommendations for anything they’ve read in that genre. But the genre of F/SF is large and diverse. I think many people who don’t read it widely do not appreciate how diverse. I enjoy A Song of Ice and Fire, because A Game of Thrones was the first fantasy novel that had actually managed to shock me. But it is not for everyone. I liken it to a TV show like The Shield, where the heroes are sort of bad guys, which is also not necessarily the cop show for everyone who’s ever loved cop shows.

  6. says

    -The “villains all rape” convention reminds me of Mercedes Lackey, sadly. I grew up on her, she was really what got me into fantasy, but…yeesh. Must every villain be a twisted sex freak rapist? ‘Cause not only did it get old, it was a really disturbing pattern.

    -I more or less enjoyed the Song of Ice and Fire books, but haven’t read the most recent, because they’re *so* huge and overwhelming and full of a million characters, and I just don’t have the energy that’s required to try and remember who everyone is and what they’re doing. I think its appeal, though, is that people who otherwise aren’t into fantasy seem to really enjoy them because they avoid so many genre conventions, but hee, I hadn’t realized how silly that makes it to recommend them to someone who already enjoys the genre…

  7. Ifritah says

    I have an awful confession to make…

    I’ve read every book in the Sword of Truth series.

    And yes, the rape stuff gets much MUCH worse. In fact, the last book to come out, Phantom, was pretty much 80% vivid rape descriptions and 20% plot. (And yes, he was trying to depict how awful war can be, particularly for women, but there’s a point where it just needed to stop… and that was a few books ago.)

    To be honest, I thought the first few books in this series were awesome. Yes, I had some issues with Goodkind’s views on rape and a “woman’s responsibility”. (I can’t recall if it’s in the first book or not, but there’s a woman who gets pregnant from a rape and the main character, Richard, talks her out of an abortion. The entire scene and the later ones concerning it made me want to throw up in my mouth.)

    But there were some really good things about these books that made me unable to stop reading them, even after they jumped the shark. As Mecha pointed out, Kahlan was given a lot of strong roles to play. (I particularly loved the scenes of her leading her small army against the much much bigger and hurting them pretty badly by using cunning and showing no mercy.)

    At the moment, I have a love/hate feeling towards Goodkind. He does so well with certain characters and situations (he has a lot of really awesome strong supporting characters)… and absolutely TERRIBLE with other parts.

    I’m actually quite relieved there’s only one book left.

  8. Steve Ostrowski says

    Rape is not mentioned nearly as often as this thread would suggest. I have read all of the SOT books, more than once. Pedophiles are mentioned as pedophiles(and hated and killed for it) but nowhere in any of the books is there any description of acts of pedophelia, re-read. Quote a book and page number.

    I wouldn’t expect women to be satisfied with a man’s portrayal of a female hero, but I think Goodkind did a great job with many of his female characters, Kahlan especially.

    FYI, long hair is hot, when it’s well kept. Should ‘ugly betty’ be the heroine?

    As far as male/female magic, that I truly don’t get, the disparity is not in keeping with reason.

    In Goodkind’s defense, he’s a man. We men aren’t mind readers and we aren’t women. He writes what he knows, as a woman would in his place.

    I liken Goodkind’s ‘Kahlan’ to Melanie Rawn’s ‘Siobhan’, and frankly thought the way Rawn wrote men was as bad as you think Goodkind writes women.

  9. Jennifer Kesler says

    Rape is not mentioned nearly as often as this thread would suggest… Pedophiles are mentioned as pedophiles(and hated and killed for it)…

    Pedophilia is rape. And who said anything about how often rape is mentioned? I believe the discussion is about how often it occurs in the events of the books. And, just as importantly, the fact that it’s used as a plot device, nothing more.

    Try replacing the rapes and acts of pedophilia with castrations and/or men being brutally kicked in the balls, and it might give you some sense of the point at which a reader tires of seeing one of his worst personal fears being used gratuitously, and starts to wonder if the writer is aroused by depictions of cruelty toward the reader’s gender.

    I wouldn’t expect women to be satisfied with a man’s portrayal of a female hero, but I think Goodkind did a great job with many of his female characters, Kahlan especially.

    You’re saying he wrote women the way men want to see them written? Then it sounds like you agree with us, ironically, but dismiss our right to be vocally dissatisfied. Interesting. Especially in light of:

    I liken Goodkind’s ‘Kahlan’ to Melanie Rawn’s ‘Siobhan’, and frankly thought the way Rawn wrote men was as bad as you think Goodkind writes women.

    And I’m guessing there are probably thousands of sites where you can complain about Rawn with impunity, and any woman who ventures into that space comparing Goodkind to her would be accused of male-bashing or being too stupid to read properly.

    This is one of a handful of sites where we can express our views and treat them as important regardless of what anyone else may think.

    In Goodkind’s defense, he’s a man. We men aren’t mind readers and we aren’t women. He writes what he knows, as a woman would in his place.

    No male author I know of is a serial killers or a time traveler either, and yet a number of them manage to write those characters credibly. Plenty of male and female writers do a credible job with the opposite gender. The only things that makes someone unable to write the other gender credibly is laziness, a preference to write them incredibly, or lack of skill.

    FYI, long hair is hot, when it’s well kept. Should ‘ugly betty’ be the heroine?

    Why not? I’m capable of enjoying a male character who’s not described as eye candy. Surely you aren’t arguing that men are so shallow and trite that they can’t engage with female characters unless they meet a certain visual criteria. ;)

  10. Mecha says

    Steve: As I commented, in the first book there is not an explicit act of sex with a child, but there _is_ fairly obviously described sexual arousal with respect to a child’s death and evisceration for the purposes of black magic, after going through a lengthy sequence where he attempts to get the child to love him. Yes, the guy who does it is evil. It’s still a murder with pedophile tinges, and that’s not a good thing. And didn’t need to be as graphic as he made it. (Personally, not all that interested in the details of divining from entrails.)

    And you really can’t be dismissive of the rape thing as ‘not a big deal.’ Rape is a large part of the landscape in this series. At least one attempted/completed rape (and associated murder) per book, usually onscreen. And as the books go on, you’re usually talking mass/gang rape.

    -Mecha

  11. steve o says

    BetaCandy,

    Why so defensive?

    The castration of other men doesn’t worry, scare, or upset me. Kick them in the nuts first, go ahead.
    The idea that Goodkind is aroused by rape is kind of disturbing, I’ll try to get an appropriate question through his website or a podcast about that.
    How does one politely ask a person if they are aroused by rape?

    You’re saying he wrote women the way men want to see them written? Then it sounds like you agree with us, ironically, but dismiss our right to be vocally dissatisfied. Interesting. Especially in light of:

    I liken Goodkind’s ‘Kahlan’ to Melanie Rawn’s ‘Siobhan’, and frankly thought the way Rawn wrote men was as bad as you think Goodkind writes women.

    And I’m guessing there are probably thousands of sites where you can complain about Rawn with impunity, and any woman who ventures into that space comparing Goodkind to her would be accused of male-bashing or being too stupid to read properly.

    This is one of a handful of sites where we can express our views and treat them as important regardless of what anyone else may think.

    I don’t expect that most men understand women enough to write them to the satisfaction of women, nor do women understand men enough to write them for men. Rather like I wouldn’t expect anyone to tell you who I am as well as I could.

    Who said you can’t complain about Goodkind? Why do you need a special place to express youself?
    Because you want to be agreed with, not disagreed with. This is a discussion board if I’m not mistaken.

    If I thought your views were worthless I wouldn’t have taken the time to register and comment.

    Mecha

    Yes, the black magic ritual is very graphic. I suspect that Terry Goodkind might be fan of gory b-movies. Thats one, any more?

    I didn’t dismiss the rape thing. I certainly never referred to it as ‘not a big deal’.
    I said, and stand by my observation, that it is not as prevalent as you say.

    I think rape is there as much as it is because maybe Terry Goodkind sees this as the lowest of the low in all of human behavior. The enemy are animals, not figuratively, but literally.

    Do you really think men are not offended by rape?

    I would like to point out that Melanie Rawn’s character Siobhan is gang raped repeatedly while held by the enemy in the Sunrunner books. This is not described graphically but is used as a plot point for most of the rest of the series.

    I think Goodkind was very graphically creating a ‘bad guy’ in Darken Rahl so that even Mother Theresa would have gladly burned him alive with a smile. The behavior of the imperial order army with regard to women is a large part of what makes them ‘need’ killing. They are past redemption.
    Goodkind is creating a justification for their deaths. His hero wouldn’t be a hero if he killed an enemy that didn’t deserve it.
    -Steve

  12. Jennifer Kesler says

    You’re not disagreeing, you’re being dismissive. You’re implying we’re being oversensitive about rape; that it’s pointless for us to expect men can write women well.

    Thanks, but we’ve all heard the status quo party line more times than we can count.

    This site tolerates more than enough disagreement to render your accusation of us requiring agreement not only unfair, but trollish.

  13. Bart says

    In Goodkind’s defense, he’s a man. We men aren’t mind readers and we aren’t women. He writes what he knows, as a woman would in his place.

    To accept your statement, one has to first accept that there is some sort of unbridgeable gulf between the sexes/genders, and personally, I just don’t think there is. I think the “I can’t understand you, you have different bits!” arguement is cheap and lazy, at best.

    People have written charachters of completely different cultures, and done it well. I think thats at least as hard–though probably harder–than writing someone of the opposite gender.

    FYI, long hair is hot, when it’s well kept. Should ‘ugly betty’ be the heroine?

    Y’know . . . theres a world of possibilities lying between the two extremes of “Ugly Betty” and “beefcake” (and probably beyond them). Wanting a charachter to make sense for the role he/she is supposed to fill doesn’t automatically write out the possibility of her being attractive. (or ugly, or unremarkable)

    And anyway, the post is about a text story. If it must be a trade-off, I’d much rather a charachter be interesting (and make sense to the story and his/her role in it) than hot if I’m going to be reading about them.

  14. steve o says

    You’re not disagreeing, you’re being dismissive. You’re implying we’re being oversensitive about rape; that it’s pointless for us to expect men can write women well.

    Thanks, but we’ve all heard the status quo party line more times than we can count.

    This site tolerates more than enough disagreement to render your accusation of us requiring agreement not only unfair, but trollish.

    I see. Now I’m dismissive. And you seem to know better than I do what I am trying to communicate.
    Who required your agreement?
    Who told you what to expect?
    Are you the only person with a valid opinion?
    Whose being dismissive?
    The ‘status quo party line’ was supplied by you, not me.
    So your saying, ‘It’s a man, of course it disagrees’.

    Bart

    Ever heard of gender roles? Men are typically raised to be men, women to be women. Studies have demonstrated that even as babies we are treated differently due solely to gender.

    Can a woman know what it is to be raised as a man? Can a man know what it is to be raised as a woman?
    It has nothing to do with your ‘bits’. It has everything to do with the mind.
    Do you honestly define of yourself as a sentient being? In those terms? Mentioning your gender only if asked? Or are you a man or woman by your own definition?

    Other cultures have had long fights to be included, let alone respected in American culture(including their portrayal in film and literature).

    Bart, as far as the long hair thing goes, I was responding to the first comment on the page. Check it out, and thanks for letting me know that text characters aren’t visible.

    Steve

  15. Purtek says

    Plenty of male authors can write a good female character, or several, and vice versa. Here’s a post Betacandy wrote about Douglas Adams doing exactly that. I’ve always appreciated a Canadian fantasy author named Charles DeLint for his ability to do so (in fact, when I was in high school, I thought he might be a woman writing under a pseudonym, because at the time I couldn’t fathom such relatability from a male author). Authors write from internal experience as well as observation, or every main character would be an authorial doppelganger of the Woody Allen variety.

    Now, on the issue of rape/pedophilia scenes, at this point I confess I have never read Goodkind, because friends know I don’t like seeing or reading such scenes. From what I’m reading above (a character who has experienced nine near rapes and whose sister was “brutally gang raped”), that was the correct choice. I take the depiction of sexual violence very seriously because it informs the expectations people have in the real world about what rape looks like and how survivors are “supposed” to react. I may be wrong, but I can’t imagine Goodkind addresses the question of what Kahlen’s response to this repeated victimization and trauma is.

    What bothers me more, though, is that the comments all appear to indicate that these rapists are just pure evil, and we can tell, because why else would they be rapists? This perpetuates a dangerous myth–rape happens because certain individuals are abhorrent. A rapist couldn’t be the boy next door/your best friend’s boyfriend/your boyfriend. A pedophile couldn’t be your friend’s dad, your hockey coach. If it comes out, people say “but he seemed so nice and normal!” as they express shock; worse and more often, they don’t believe the victim, because so-and-so wouldn’t do something like that–he’s not “evil”. Rape and sexual abuse are vile acts, and I don’t want to get off on a tangent about my personal views on the nature of evil, but plenty of rapists don’t look evil, even after you know they’re rapists.

  16. Mecha says

    Steve, you really are being dismissive. Some of my responses are geared towards pointing out _why_ you are dismissive, because I try to be helpful even when perceived as annoying, but if you don’t understand, you should take some time to read about how arguments work, and what basic dismissal tactics are, so that you can recognize them. It is something one can easily learn without having a name for it.

    Yes, the black magic ritual is very graphic. I suspect that Terry Goodkind might be fan of gory b-movies. Thats one, any more?

    You’re moving the goalposts. You said nowhere. I responded. I do not have the books at hand to look through and see if I can find any other specific pedophilia cases. Demanding answers from me, when you have not justified _your_ argument, is putting the cart before the horse, as it were. This is a dismissive tactic.

    I didn’t dismiss the rape thing. I certainly never referred to it as ‘not a big deal’. I said, and stand by my observation, that it is not as prevalent as you say.

    I think rape is there as much as it is because maybe Terry Goodkind sees this as the lowest of the low in all of human behavior. The enemy are animals, not figuratively, but literally.

    It is, in fact, as prevalent as I say (at least once per book, if not more, and often involves at least a chapter of direct surrounding supporting text/actual rape process, if not more.) This point is fairly impossible to argue back and forth about, however, so I’m not going to push on it more except to point out that once a book can be considered pretty excessive. I remember a scene where a young woman was introduced as a first person POV character almost exclusively to show, from an outside perspective, an entire town of women being raped by long lines of men. That is incredibly unnecessary from a storycraft point of view. And it is not the only rapist angle in that book.

    That excuse (‘they gotta be evil!’) for writing _graphic_ rape is not generally necessary. Making them evil rapists is the easy way out, as it were, in terms of justification. You’re not killing them because they’re trying to take your home, or kill you, but because they’re rapists and animals? _Millions_ of rapists and animals? Is war only justified against rapists and animals, not people who try to kill you? That kind of reasoning, that you must make absolute blackhearted graphically described evil to have a hero is… really not the case. One wonders how TV has any heroes in their dramas, if graphic rape is required to make people into enemies. (Or how there are ever female villains, since women raping men is so rare.)

    Do you really think men are not offended by rape?

    That is not actually a valid response to anything I said, but rather, an attempt to put me on the defensive and dismiss the entire argument train (note that you didn’t say _you_ were offended by rape.) Unfortunately for that particular dismissal attempt, I’m a man, and as such your question has already been answered.

    I would like to point out that Melanie Rawn’s character Siobhan is gang raped repeatedly while held by the enemy in the Sunrunner books. This is not described graphically but is used as a plot point for most of the rest of the series.

    This is _also_ not relevant to the point of your argument (that it’s not as prevalent as we say in those books), unless you are explicitly trying to say that rape is non-offensive/okay/standard. It’s not (and not typically done well), it’s not (but you’re likely not trying to say that), and just because it’s standard for the genre doesn’t necessarily justify it being done. The fact that it is nongraphic again points out a strong difference here. (In short: Nobody’s talking about those books but you.)

    Goodkind is creating a justification for their deaths. His hero wouldn’t be a hero if he killed an enemy that didn’t deserve it.

    Hundreds of stories disagree with you, frankly. There are numerous heroes that kill enemies that haven’t set up the rape of hundreds/thousands/millions. Murder, or the obliteration of known countries/civilization, is often more than enough, and the enemies in SoT have it in spades. You only need to prove it once (the fairly standard ‘burned village’ scene, as an example.) And you don’t need to do it graphically. I _might_ buy Rahl’s ritual being somewhat graphic, as he is a main character, and you _might_ want to show minor inflections/details of his thought pattern. Similarly, I _might_ buy the attempted rape of Kahlan in Book 2, if you really wanted to show inflections/details of her thought patterns.

    But when you introduce entire groups and towns of characters (named characters!) _solely_ to be raped and put into slavery to be raped (and then for the POV char to be saved by your secondary suave, super-intelligent character), when you take the female ‘big bads’ of one book into the next… to be raped… and I’m sure Ifritah can go farther here than I have, as she has read more of the books, then you have gone beyond what is necessary to show the enemy is evil. Burned towns, slavery, a lust for conquering that goes beyond necessity, even _implied_ rape… that’s plenty of evil for anyone. So the question becomes, ‘Why all the rape?’ And the base answer ends up coming out that is that he’s got some serious flaws as a writer, or he enjoys writing rape at some level, or some combination of the two.

    There are other instances in the books of people are pointing out that hint at sexist attitudes in Goodkind’s writing. In this space, that is part of what we talk about.

    -Mecha

  17. Jennifer Kesler says

    So your saying, ‘It’s a man, of course it disagrees’.

    There are two men in this thread telling you you’re wrong. We have male authors who post on the site. Clearly, you’re the one making assumptions here.

    Any further comments from you will be deleted so the productive discussion and disagreement can continue without interruption.

  18. Jennifer Kesler says

    What bothers me more, though, is that the comments all appear to indicate that these rapists are just pure evil, and we can tell, because why else would they be rapists? This perpetuates a dangerous myth–rape happens because certain individuals are abhorrent. A rapist couldn’t be the boy next door/your best friend’s boyfriend/your boyfriend. A pedophile couldn’t be your friend’s dad, your hockey coach. If it comes out, people say “but he seemed so nice and normal!” as they express shock; worse and more often, they don’t believe the victim, because so-and-so wouldn’t do something like that–he’s not “evil”.

    This is a very good point – I’m glad you brought it up. I’m always amazed not only that people assume they don’t know any rape victims, but that they don’t know any rapists. Statistically, we must all know a few. I certainly have over the years, and when I think about it, every single one of them was employed, well-groomed, educated, usually married and often a father to boot, and quite nice to people they weren’t raping.

    Yes, folks: when they’re not raping somebody, rapists often look and act just like you and me.

    Mecha, all good points there. Hopefully other readers will get something out of them.

  19. Bart says

    Ever heard of gender roles? Men are typically raised to be men, women to be women. Studies have demonstrated that even as babies we are treated differently due solely to gender.

    Studies have also shown that gender is a spectrum. And even if it wasn’t, I’d hope a writer would have the ingenuity and imagination to put themselves in another shoes. Seems to me its part of the job, and one of the reasons people read books in the first place.

    It has nothing to do with your ‘bits’. It has everything to do with the mind.

    I actually agree with this part of your response, but I still don’t believe that gender–even at the more extreme ends of the spectrum–is something so great that its differences overpower the things we, as people, have in common.

    Bart, as far as the long hair thing goes, I was responding to the first comment on the page. Check it out,

    I did ‘check it out’. You said, “long hair is hot, should the heroine be ugly betty?”. How that pertains to the upthread discussion in a way that invalidates my response, please explain because I’m missing it.

    thanks for letting me know that text characters aren’t visible.

    You’re welcome.

    Seriously, though, I didn’t mean that in a sarcastic way, though I realize it may have come across that way. I just think that ‘hotness’ is kind of a weird defense for incongrouity in a book. (On TV I kind of get it more, though I find it still kind of annoys me if the visuals clash too much with the narrative.) I just find sacrificing logic for attractiveness is a disservice to the story. Especially when you don’t even get to see it.

  20. Jennifer Kesler says

    Sorry for cutting short your discussion with him, Bart, but I just don’t sense much hope of genuine discourse when someone accuses us of not tolerating disagreement and of assuming men don’t get it when there’s ample evidence to the contrary right on this page. ;)

    If I may respond to an interesting point you made:

    And even if it wasn’t, I’d hope a writer would have the ingenuity and imagination to put themselves in another shoes. Seems to me its part of the job, and one of the reasons people read books in the first place.

    It’s certainly why I both write and read fiction – the challenge to feel someone else’s life for a while. I had hoped Steve would address how you can write a serial killer but not a woman, given that there are serious developmental (and possibly physiological) differences between a male serial killer’s mind and that of a male not predisposed to preying on his fellow humans.

    Broken down and reassembled, one of the arguments being presented here is that Goodkind is expected to write convincing rapists, torturers and pedophiles, but not women. That would seem to imply that Goodkind is expected to be able to understand a rapist more easily than he can be expected to understand a woman. Which is so warped on so many levels.

  21. Gategrrl says

    I really really hope this Steve Ostrowski person isn’t the same person I knew in High School – his sister went to MIT, and his mother agreed to marry and be subservient to her husband, who insisted he be the only “smart” person in the family.

    There can’t be that many Steve Ostrowski’s in this world, so if it is…Steve, sorry life turned out so bad for you.

  22. Gategrrl says

    Not only that, but the Steve O. *I* knew would go to Star Trek conventions with a girl named Tovah, who liked to dress in as little as she could get away with.

    He was as geeky as anyone you could meet.

  23. Jason says

    Having read this review I would disagree with several of the main points the author makes. The main personal conflict between Richard and Kahlan has very little to do with them having sex, but with Kahlan for the first time in her life having someone willing and able to trust her and care for without being afraid of what she is. While there is little to no reason for sex to be mentioned here, and I’ll agree its gratuitous, it tends to oversimplify the story to an extreme.

    With regards to the inability of a Confessor to cut her own hair, its more of a statement of a person’s inability to run from who or what they are. This is a recurring theme throughout the books, and is characterized in both male and female characters repeatedly. The hair as a marker of social status is just a nifty little gimmick thrown in to add flair and bring to life more the world of the Midlands for the reader.

    In general, I have found his characterizations of females to be very strong. There are far more strong female leads and supporting characters than there are males as the series develops, and if you’ve read this series I’d refer to Nicci, Ann, Verda, Cara, Rikki, and Jennsen as just a few. While some females, especially the “extras”, are somewhat stereotypical, it tends to fit in with the patriarichal society Goodkind has set his story in, and the contrast allows open minded readers to better appreciate the strengths and convictions of the female characters developed.

    I have noticed several people have discussed how Goodkind seems to differentiate power levels between males and females, but if you’ve actually read the books the most powerful person of magic alive is Shota, the witch woman. There is absolutely no diffence against Kahlan’s power. Verda singlehandedly outwits or outpowers almost all of Jagang’s gifted, including several male wizards. Nicci and the Sisters of the Dark are catastrophically powerful, and Nicci herself kills 3 wizards in battle. If anything, it generally appears the female characters in this series are more powerful than the males.

    Having read books 1-9 in the past two weeks, I would say that the occurence of rape is being slightly exaggerated throughout the series. While Kahlan is brutalized several times, generally in the course of battle, I can only actually recall 2 near rape scenarios. I also notice, especially in later books, that Goodkind uses his characters to speak quite a bit about his own personal philosophies. Amongst these, there is no higher value than life, reason, and individualism. He abhors those who capitulate to “evil” in any form, and is disgusted by the idea of moral equivalency with anyone who would violate another’s right to life. If his descriptions of what happen to people who surrender to the Order are graphic, it could be because of Goodkind’s personal distaste for people who would rather choose to be a slave or a victim rather than to fight for their own rights.

    One thing that has bothered me quite a bit has been the outrage that rape is used quite often in the series as a plot device, but no one seems perturbed at all by the brutality and murder of thousands of people in the same manner. If we, as a culture, are afraid that using rape as a plot device somehow makes it more culturally acceptable and can lull people into believing only “evil people” commit rape, then shouldn’t those same fears be just as apparent over murder and violence?

    While I’m not 100% sold on Goodkind’s work, it seems the conversation here has been hung up on the rape aspect and female characterization of the series. If looking only at book 1 I suppose I can understand that, but there are so many other areas to critique in this series, and some of the critiques posted are later invalidated by the introduction of new characters and information later introduced to the reader. Problems such as redundant plot devices, characters violating codes they supposedly live by such as “not allowing oneself to be a slave to any other’s needs”, and entire chapters spent prosetylizing rather than developing plot aren’t really addressed here.

    Goodkind’s works can actually appeal to many feminists if they can ignore the periphereals and focus on his intent and message. The ideal book to see this would be “Faith of the Fallen”, which deals specifically with what the value of life is and what rights each individual should have.

  24. Jason says

    by the way, i apologize for how disjointed that was up there. I’ve just gotten off work and have around 8500 pages of info to shift through to locate what information to use in my argument above :-D

  25. Jennifer Kesler says

    One thing that has bothered me quite a bit has been the outrage that rape is used quite often in the series as a plot device, but no one seems perturbed at all by the brutality and murder of thousands of people in the same manner. If we, as a culture, are afraid that using rape as a plot device somehow makes it more culturally acceptable and can lull people into believing only “evil people” commit rape, then shouldn’t those same fears be just as apparent over murder and violence?

    I wrote about distinctions between the two here:

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/inherent-problems-in-writing-rape-storylines/

    It has much to do with people in real life not having as many warped ideas about murder as they have about rape, and more victims of murder receiving sympathy and justice than victims of rape, but I encourage you to read the whole article (not long) to get the full idea. It’s about TV rather than books, but I think most of the same ideas apply.

    While I’m not 100% sold on Goodkind’s work, it seems the conversation here has been hung up on the rape aspect and female characterization of the series.

    This is a feminist analysis site. :D For a more thorough review, you’d definitely want to try a different type of site.

  26. Jason says

    I didn’t mean to sound dismissive, and I apologize for that. I was just saying, after dealing with the rape aspect, that I was surprised the discussion never moved on to other aspects of the story.

  27. Jennifer Kesler says

    I didn’t think you were being dismissive – I was just acknowledging that yeah, we often focus on one element of a work because that’s the nature of an analysis site: tunneling in and teasing out.

    The other “aspects of the story” you mention – are they specific to portrayals of women or gender issues? Because if not, then (again, nature of the site) we’re not likely to discuss them.

    Probably another reason the discussion didn’t progress into other areas is that only some of us have read the books in question. Again, most of the time you’ll see a book like this discussed on a fandom or review site where most of the people engaging in discussion have read it. That just doesn’t happen here because we’re more focused on raising certain points for discussion than on reviewing or debating the complete merits of a given work.

    Hopefully your post will spark some conversation that next time someone who did read it drops by the thread.

  28. Purtek says

    I don’t think you sounded dismissive either, and hopefully, even if this thread keeps right on growing, we can have an example of respectful disagreement right alongside the…other kind.

    Goodkind’s works can actually appeal to many feminists if they can ignore the periphereals and focus on his intent and message.

    For me, I have certain limits on ignoring peripherals, even for very high-quality work. For me, portrayals of sexual violence and spousal abuse can’t ever be considered peripheral to whether I enjoy the work from a feminist perspective (though I may appreciate it in other ways). Volunteering at sexual assault crisis centres and going to hospitals, police stations and court dates with victims has shown me just how pervasive and destructive misunderstandings and misconceptions are. If you get a chance to click over to the other post Betacandy referenced, look at the comments to where she and I were talking about the difference between using rape as a plot “device” and having it happen in the story. If we’re not talking about murder from this pop-critique perspective, it’s because we can think of a lot fewer examples where murder is tossed in to a storyline to mark something like “damaged character with baggage” or “make sure you know this guy is evil” and nothing deeper, in addition to the real-world impact many of us have actually seen with regard to the treatment of rape victims.

    I’m glad Goodkind’s work is more complicated, though I’m still not going to read it and I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying in some of your points defending him.

  29. Mecha says

    This is gonna be rambly, but I’m exploring ideas, so I hope people bear with me. ^^;

    Jason said:

    I would say that the occurence of rape is being slightly exaggerated throughout the series

    I can, off the top of my head, think of two-three rapes in the first book (non-graphic) and at least one close call, one offscreen and one onscreen (graphic) near-rape in the second, and then… yeah. Graphic onscreen mass rapes. I really don’t know how you missed them. I really, really don’t. Heck, the idea behind the Confessor killing squads, flat out, is ‘4 men, one woman, if the men win, the woman is raped to death.’ Rape to show that the enemy is evil within the first bit of the book!

    Something that hasn’t come up yet is dealing with the problem buried in the defense that ‘there are some strong women in the series.’ The problem with ‘well, there are some strong women!’ is that, for example, Shota is an exception, not the rule (she also displays a strong streak of jealousy of a sort in the first book, reinforcing the concept briefly that powerful women keep other women down.)

    The rule is that women magicians are weaker than men. Although some are very intelligent/wise, or strong, the magical hierarchy is explicitly light side women If his descriptions of what happen to people who surrender to the Order are graphic, it could be because of Goodkind’s personal distaste for people who would rather choose to be a slave or a victim rather than to fight for their own rights.

    Consider that most of the people, especially women, described in these scenarios, _have no power_. And when they do fight, they get smacked around, and THEN raped. He _introduced an entire village of people_ and a first person PoV character, only to have her watch that village be killed and the women raped (a middleish book, I can’t remember which one.) (In fact, the more pretty a woman was, the more times she was raped, explicitly, tying slightly into the belief that ‘rape is about women being sexy’. Bronze/Silver/Gold rings?) That, right there, is a key example of exactly what makes me go, ‘… wait, what? What? How many times do you need to have the rapists rape from a female PoV before you think we get it? I feel ill.’ Having anyone who doesn’t immediately fight the Order be raped, _AND_ having people who DO immediately fight the Order be raped… well, uh, where’s the moral message there, except that ‘Evil people rape, let’s watch.’

    Ultimately, I think others have dealt with a lot of the issues and concepts in the abstract, but as a reader, I can come a bit more in on the details of how the books read, and how they _reinforce_ a negative perception. Also, they really do develop into having a significant amount of rape, to the point where they bothered a _18 year old me_ who had no real frame to put such things in, due to my situation and privilege. That’s pretty damn significant.

    I won’t deny I enjoyed the books when I originally read them, and still think of a number of the characters positively (I do like Kahlan and Cara, and a few of the situations do appeal to me for psychological reasons I won’t get into). Like Ifritah, I have a love/hate relationship with the books, as my previous teenage enjoyment is twisted with the knowledge I’ve earned over the years, due to technical and other flaws in his writing, including these.

    I still have Pillars of Creation sitting in my house, unread, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to it. I’m sort of scared of what would be in it.

    -Mecha

  30. Mecha says

    (Ack, sorry, angle brackets completely blew the first post. Beta, please delete?)

    This is gonna be rambly, but I’m exploring ideas, so I hope people bear with me. ^^;

    Jason said:

    I would say that the occurence of rape is being slightly exaggerated throughout the series

    I can, off the top of my head, think of two-three rapes in the first book (non-graphic) and at least one close call, one offscreen and one onscreen (graphic) near-rape in the second, and then… yeah. Graphic onscreen mass rapes. I really don’t know how you missed them. I really, really don’t. Heck, the idea behind the Confessor killing squads, flat out, is ‘4 men, one woman, if the men win, the woman is raped to death.’ Rape to show that the enemy is evil within the first bit of the book!

    Something that hasn’t come up yet is dealing with the problem buried in the defense that ‘there are some strong women in the series.’ The problem with ‘well, there are some strong women!’ is that, for example, Shota is an exception, not the rule (she also displays a strong streak of jealousy of a sort in the first book, reinforcing the concept briefly that powerful women keep other women down.)

    The rule is that women magicians are weaker than men. Although some are very intelligent/wise, or strong, the magical hierarchy is explicitly light side women weaker than light side men weaker than dark side women weaker than dark side men (weaker than the Main Character, who is dark side without having to do evil unlike everyone else), to the point where the strongest society of ‘good’ women mages capture, enslave with collars, and then train the men to be good wizards. There is a strong parallel there to society, and essentialism, and how women are perceived to ‘train’ men, and so on. (It is not treated as a ‘good thing’ by the main characters, of course, but by not being a ‘good thing’ what the arguments actually are is that ‘Men should train men, and you women should screw the hell off.’) Some of the powerful women (Sisters of the Dark) you describe are also raped in later books by the new Big Bad, to show how awesome and invincible he is, and then sent off to do things for him. (They also have to have sex with demons in an incredibly painful and graphic way to get their powers, and have to drain/kill men to do it IIRC. The only independent female power in the world is Shota, and she is not a good person/model.)

    The Mord Sith are strong (and I like a lot of them at times), but they are all massively emotionally damaged by, oddly enough, rape. The first two we meet are a cold sadistic man-hating killer, and a efficient but ultimately soft-hearted (heart of gold) type (wherein rape eventually turns into love.) And they both exist as plot devices to essentially teach Richard a lesson, and die within the first book. Later Mord Sith break that, to a point, but they all continue to link female power to sex and emotional trauma. They were also created by a rapist and serve a man (his son) (even if the main character Richard does not agree with that wholesale.) This can go a lot of ways, depending on the person. I really can’t say. But there’s a lot of ugly bits there.

    And along those lines, while I do love Kahlan, who is strong, and a leader, the Confessors’ power is once again explicitly tied to sex, and comes from the powerful old men who created them (again, Slayer parellels). If the Confessor enjoys any act of sex too much then they destroy their lover (unless it’s Tru Wuv.) The power’s release is orgasmic (but it tires them out, unless they’re in a love-based revenge rage, at which point, rapid fire org–er, power usage.) There’s a pretty strong message in the construction of that power. Negative/positive? Not so sure. But there’s a lot of ugly bits there. (And the fact that there’s no defense against Confessors’ semi-orgasmic mind-controlling powers, in that metaphor, sorta points at the annoying idea that women completely control people, especially men, through sex. And don’t let me get started on the messages that the Confessor having to use her power on one of the men who comes to rape her might send, because this idle analysis is long enough as is.)

    The ultimate construction of women in the book, then, with regards to sexuality, seems to come out ‘Only if you really love them, otherwise you’ll be raped, or destroy them, or you’re evil, or…’ anyway, you get the point. (Consider the sequence at the end of Temple of the Winds: Consequences of having sex for fun.)

    As to his ethical message, it’s generally Objectivism (especially in Faith of the Fallen) and Objectivism and Feminism have a somewhat conflicting past and ethic. There are strong tones of essentialism in Objectivism, even while saying that people are equal. But such an analysis is a bit beyond this, maybe. On another ‘ethical’ note…

    If his descriptions of what happen to people who surrender to the Order are graphic, it could be because of Goodkind’s personal distaste for people who would rather choose to be a slave or a victim rather than to fight for their own rights.

    Consider that most of the people, especially women, described in these scenarios, _have no power_. And when they do fight, they get smacked around, and THEN raped. He _introduced an entire village of people_ and a first person PoV character, only to have her watch that village be killed and the women raped (a middleish book, I can’t remember which one.) (In fact, the more pretty a woman was, the more times she was raped, explicitly, tying slightly into the belief that ‘rape is about women being sexy’. Bronze/Silver/Gold rings?) That, right there, is a key example of exactly what makes me go, ‘… wait, what? What? How many times do you need to have the rapists rape from a female PoV before you think we get it? I feel ill.’ Having anyone who doesn’t immediately fight the Order be raped, _AND_ having people who DO immediately fight the Order be raped… well, uh, where’s the moral message there, except that ‘Evil people rape, let’s watch.’

    Ultimately, I think others have dealt with a lot of the issues and concepts in the abstract, but as a reader, I can come a bit more in on the details of how the books read, and how they _reinforce_ a negative perception. Also, they really do develop into having a significant amount of rape, to the point where they bothered a _18 year old me_ who had no real frame to put such things in, due to my situation and privilege. That’s pretty damn significant.

    I won’t deny I enjoyed the books when I originally read them, and still think of a number of the characters positively (I do like Kahlan and Cara, and a few of the situations do appeal to me for psychological reasons I won’t get into). Like Ifritah, I have a love/hate relationship with the books, as my previous teenage enjoyment is twisted with the knowledge I’ve earned over the years, due to technical and other flaws in his writing, including these.

    I still have Pillars of Creation sitting in my house, unread, and I don’t think I’ll ever get to it. I’m sort of scared of what would be in it.

    -Mecha

  31. Spalli says

    Wow. I had to stop reading these posts at one point, so if I’m just repeating someone else I do apologize.
    I am a female, and I have loved all the books for the Sword of Truth series. To be honest, the first book was about the most difficult for me to get through. Started off a bit slowly for me, and yes when the Dominatrix chick came into play, it moved a bit slower. But in every other book they come back to that, and what the experience taught to the main character Richard.

    As far as the pedophilia goes, there is never any open writing describing this. You learn that the 2nd hand man to Darken Rahl, is a sick bastard and has been rumored to take part in such things. When the young boy mentioned in the book is used in the Dark Magic Ritual, it was highly important that he not be violated in such a way, he was to be pure and innocent. I’m not justifying the fact that the boy was used in sacrifice, just pointing out that such acts were only mentioned as rumor or in past tense.

    There was other mention yes of what happened to little girls after dharan soldiers came through, or in later books when the Order comes through the town. And yes there is a lot of rape mentioned through out all the stories. I had come to believe after a while that Terry Goodkind must really hate men. Every other male character in the stories seemed all about it. But, there are so so many of the situations that lead to the woman (or should I just say Kahlan) escaping it.

    I took absolutely no offense to these scenes being in the story. Like all women it is a frightening thought for me, but when I try to get irritated with his constant mention of it, I remember there’s a reason why women fear it so much, cause it’s real and it does happen too much as is.

    The stories continue on with it, because he is telling you of men who live under a belief that is dangerous to everyone. That there is no point in being good and decent in this life, so why bother. Not too far off from teaching people they came from monkeys then wondering why they behave like animals. The main characters of these stories, the “heroes” so to speak are the ones setting out to stop such men.

    Sometimes the stories drag, sometimes they get quite brutal and bloody. To the guy who hasn’t read Pillars of Creation. It’s a good book, taken from completely different perspectives than any of the other stories go. Lots of deaths, some mentions of rapes and brutalities. But in the end I enjoyed it.

    Bottom line, some people will enjoy these books, some people won’t. If you want to go and play a feminist and take offense because women have to sell themselves to the keeper to attain a wizards’ powers, than you might want to just not bother with these stories. If you think the Confessor must wear their hair long cause it keeps them hot, then you missed all the points to womens’ hair lengths are a showing of stature and even kings and queens must bow before the Mother Confessor.

    So many points I’d love to address honestly, like Kahlan doesn’t just fall for Richard cause he’s the main character. That would confirm Goodkind being a bad writer. No, the whole point of it, is that he is the first person she’s ever met that didn’t know who or what she was. That didn’t pick up on the white dress and the length of the hair. Because he wasn’t afraid of her like every other character introduced from the Midlands is. Because it was her first oppurtunity to ever behave as if she was something normal. And because when he found out the truth, he still accepted her.

    I really need to stop because I could go on for a very long time over what I’ve read in all these posts. But really though, if you’re open minded and can take graphic scenes in your reading, definately give these books a try.

  32. Jennifer Kesler says

    Here I was thinking “Finally, someone who can express a different opinion without resorting to name-calling” until:

    If you want to go and play a feminist

    That’s rude, don’t you think? I mean, first of all no one here is “playing a feminist” – we are feminists. And your tone implies that there’s something wrong with being a feminist. You think you’re entitled to imply that on a feminist site? Get a clue.

  33. Spalli says

    I do apologize. I just went back through my own posting and saw that, and now realize I should have worded that very much so differently. I did not mean to offend, and if I have than I am sorry.

    Personally, I view it as, the “place” of the woman in these stories, isn’t far off from most stories of wizards and magic. They always make reference at one point or another that a womans’ magic is 2nd to a mans’. But in these stories, it has an explanation to back it. As different as a man and a woman are, so is there magic. To go any further on that subject would cause me to start referencing the Bible, so I’ll stop.

  34. Jennifer Kesler says

    Apology accepted. As for the rest of your points:

    I think there are two different points of view happening in this thread. One is to question whether the rapes/near-rapes work well in the stories – many people feel they do. But the other is to question why the author chose rape at all. Whatever rape does in a story can always be accomplished by some other depraved, traumatic or wrongful act. (Except when it’s actually a story about rape.)

    So it’s possible to say the books are good and the rapes/near-rapes work well in context, and still be concerned about the question of why the author chose rape instead of something else.

  35. Spalli says

    I believe there are a few reasons for why it’s rape in these stories, not some other traumatic issue.

    Fear, Dominance and Control. In the stories you learn that all the Confessors, are hunted down by Darken Rahl. That he sends out his Quads of 4 men. The Confessor only has the ability to use her magic against 1 person and hope that it’s enough. If the other 3 men are able to overpower the one man whose been touched by the magic, the Confessor is in for some horrible things. This creates the fear within remaining Confessors.

    The land of Dhara, where Darken Rahl resides and where the men of his Quads are raised. Is a land that has long been under the control of the Rahl family. Over generations, a mentality developed within the Rahl men (one that is explained in books like Pillars of Creation and Naked Empire) where those men do not take wives, but simply use women, best way I can put it is as breeders.

    Lots of ancient magic discussion later, you learn that each generation of magic wielding Rahls can only produce 1 magic wielding Rahl. So, they kind of go through and try to get just about every woman they can pregnant, and kill off all the babies that don’t have the magic.

    Generations of that later, and you get Darken Rahl who views women of little importance. So rape would be nothing to him but a laugh. There you have dominance and control.

    Another part in Wizards’ First Rule, when Kahlan and Richard find themselves in a town that has been ransacked, terrorized and burnt. They find a few people still alive, mostly children, and learn that all the girls were raped. This was done by Dharan soldiers disguised as men from Westfall. It was done as an attempt to start war between the Midlands and Westfall, and pull the Midlands into accepting Dharan control, to push out the evil people of Westfall. So yet again with fear and control.

    When the Order and Jangang get introduced to the stories. Jangang uses rape as a means of once again showing dominance and control. He takes some of the most powerful wizards, sisters of the dark and the light. Makes the wizards to clean his tents and serve his food, and the incredibly powerful sisters to be nothing more than the entertainment for his soldiers.

    When they go through the towns, they make 1 town an example leaving 1 or 2 people alive to run to the next town and warn them all of the horrible things that happened to their home. The rape becomes a huge fear to both the women and the men, and they become likely to surrender to the will of the Order thinking it might keep their women and children safe.

    Now as far as wether or not, some other means could’ve been used to demonstrate the seriousness of the bad guys. I really don’t think so. It’s all rape and torture. If you were told someone was gonna shoot you in the head and that’s that, would it scare you as much as if they said they were gonna play with your entrails first.

  36. Gategrrl says

    Rape=fear, dominance, control.

    There’s no denying that’s what rapists get off on, and it’s easy and oh-so-simple to do (whip out your dick and your victim’s done).

    However, from a writerly perspective, is it always best to choose the easy road for intimidation and control amongst your characters? Does it not become repetitive and boring, not to mention offensive, if, after a while, the Raped portion of your readership (ie, the gender most often raped in your books) starts to twig that there’s something hinky and strange with this kink constantly being used and referenced for all sorts of intimidation within your plot?

    The description of all the sexual domination used in The Wheel of Time books in the previous post by Spalli reminds of me badly written, repetitive fanfiction, where the writer only writes characters to be tortured, and readers only read it to be titillated by sexual kinks.

    I admit I’ve never read any books from this series, mostly because I’d heard it went on forever and rarely went anywhere, like a wheel spinning in the air.

    My main point is, rape seems overused as a plot device in the series, even from what Spalli iterates.

  37. Spalli says

    The description of all the sexual domination used in The Wheel of Time books in the previous post by Spalli reminds of me badly written, repetitive fanfiction, where the writer only writes characters to be tortured, and readers only read it to be titillated by sexual kinks.

    It has nothing to do with becoming titilated. More so, that I like many other readers, do not judge the books only by these portions.

    I understand that for a lot of people these books are no good. And more so than not, they seem to only want to focus on the content of the books being discussed right now. That at first mention of said acts, turns most readers away. Lots of people become very negative about the stories like that, and misinterpret and/or just misread from there on. I am only trying to appeal from the perspective of someone that read passed all of that and still enjoyed the series.

    I really am only trying to get it out there, for the people who will read this forum, that many readers have enjoyed this series, and it doesn’t mean they’re sick or depraved because they did. I can come up with much more disturbing in content stories than these ones, that I wish I had never been recommended to read.

    However, from a writerly perspective, is it always best to choose the easy road for intimidation and control amongst your characters? Does it not become repetitive and boring, not to mention offensive, if, after a while, the Raped portion of your readership (ie, the gender most often raped in your books) starts to twig that there’s something hinky and strange with this kink constantly being used and referenced for all sorts of intimidation within your plot?

    To start off, I think along the lines of, if every writer used the same methods as every other writer, why bother? It’s all only going to be the same.
    Also, I’m not trying to say that there wasn’t a lot of rape in the stories. Just the same as I have not come out saying, oh those are my favorite parts. To be honest, the 80 pages of dominatrix was enough that I wanted to just put the book down. But when I continued on with it, and finished, I still was curious to read the next in series. I enjoy the characters, the difference in the world portrayed to you by Terry Goodkind in comparison with so many other fantasy writers.

    But, it’s not like Terry Goodkind is the first writer ever to incorporate a rape into his stories. I’ve read plenty of other stories, fantasy and just plain out weird that touched on the subject wether with description or not. Maybe I’ve become desensitized to it, or maybe these books just aren’t meant for some people to finish.

  38. Gategrrl says

    The main reason I never started on the Wheel of Time books wasn’t the inclusion of all the rape (in one form or another), it was something else entirely: I simply couldn’t get past the first few pages, and the situations/characters/plot sounded, when I first looked at the blurbs, an awful lot like every other Big Quest Fantasy series out there.

    This is the first place I’ve ever seen point out how much rape figures into the plotting of this series.

    I was turned off from the Thomas Covenent series because of the initial rape that happens in the first chapter.

    I’m sure there are other fantasy novels that use rape and torture and mental anguish to get the mileage out of the characters and plot: but I don’t think NOT including rape means cookie cutter fantasies, as you seem to imply.

    Rape just seems…so damned *uncreative*. And lame. In a novel context.

  39. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t think NOT including rape means cookie cutter fantasies, as you seem to imply.

    I agree. If you eliminate rape, you actually have to get more creative to come up with the same sense of fear and domination and control. Rape’s such a shortcut standby, it requires no creativity.

  40. David says

    I just picked up this book and have to say that I am enjoying it. I have not finished it, however. Your objection may come from a real problem that I have noted in some science fantasy. In Robert Jordan, who passed away recently, I found the women characters were a type. They were cranky and ruled by their emotions. By the way, I don’t there is a shred of “Star Wars in this book. I don’t know where you got that. If you make such a comment like that back it up with portions of the text. The problem you have may come from erroticism is centered in the male and not the female. Early in the book Kahlan approaches Richard and tries to seduce him. Its a higly charged scene which is oral in its fetish. Science fantasy like science fiction often excludes sex from its matrix. It wishes to establish a utopia where the world we live in may be dissolved away in fantasy. I must admit the level of sexual sadism in scenes with the Darken Rahl with Carl are difficult to read. They made me sick. But good writing should disturb now and then

  41. KitsuneSoup says

    Rape=fear, dominance, control.

    There’s no denying that’s what rapists get off on, and it’s easy and oh-so-simple to do (whip out your dick and your victim’s done).

    Wow. I can already see two errors with this statement. The first, is that you can deny, and should, that all rape is about fear, dominance, and control. Having had a lot of discussions with the inmates where I work, the majority of their rapes were because they just wanted to get off.

    Second, is that stupid ‘whip your dick out’ part. Would you please, please, please, get over the idiotic concept that all rapists are male? Since so many people want to fling the word around, “statistically” most rapists are female, especially from the viewpoint of this and other sites definition of rape? I’ve known many men that I’ve “pressured” into sex by wearing revealing outfits and asking repeatedly… if I put on my leathers and head to a bar for a good time, I’m getting some, period, and I -will- find someone that I can get to have sex with me… so I’m a rapist, too.

    “Mental rape” is much, much worse than “physical rape”. As far as the book is concerned, the lead female character is the greatest monster in the book. Especially since they have a habit of doing it to men they purport to love, and do it anyway, knowing what they’re doing / going to do. The dominatrix girls (the Mord Sith) murdered, brutalized, raped, and tortured thousands of men, and this torture is much worse than a female character being raped a second before she’s killed.

    My biggest concern as these stories go on is that Goodkind takes a deliberate bend toward anti-Communism statements (Faith of the Fallen), social commentary (Stone of Tears), and just flat out preaching. Khalan and Richard are terrible characters, completely one-sided and exist only to be a socially-acceptable source for outpouring Goodkind’s viewpoints. I think, more than anything else, that’s why there’s so much rape and mass murder: anyone that fights a force so evil, so destructive, and so social unacceptable, must have correct viewpoints and needs to listened to. That’s the real problem with his writing, in my opinion.

    KS

  42. Purtek says

    Trigger Warning from BetaCandy: I’m letting this comment stand because Purtek had a nice response, but it more or less dismisses the idea that women who have been raped know what real suffering – male suffering – is. *yawn-hearditallbefore*

    KitsuneSoup, you misunderstand the definition of rape rather radically in your comment. Putting on a sexy outfit and deciding that you are going to find *someone* who will have sex with you, even if it takes some effort, is NOT the same thing as deciding that a specific individual is going to have sex with you, whether s/he likes it or not. Wearing a revealing outfit is not the same as “pressuring” a man into sex. There’s a vast, qualititative difference between getting someone interested in sex and cajoling, pressuring or coercing them to the point that they don’t have the energy to say “no” anymore, so even though they’re NOT interested, they have sex anyway. One is seduction, one is rape.

    It is decidedly not an idiotic notition to suggest that most rapists are men. Please also understand that your comment is very, very inflammatory to women (like myself) who have spent any time at all working with survivors of sexual violence. I have no idea where one would find any statistics that make anything close to the argument you are making here, which is actually awfully close to victim blaming in a lot of ways.

    I am also not clear on why one would take a (potentially unrepetant?) rapist’s word on exactly why he rapes someone. In my experience, people who think actions like that are justified are not exactly the most aware of the complexities of what they’re thinking, and digging a little deeper, you might find they “get off” on…power and control.

  43. Jennifer Kesler says

    Nope. I was trying to take your comment as non-trolling, but you totally cross a line when you describe someone’s weak will in the face of sexual pressure as rape. Either you are beyond not getting it, or you’re just posting here to cause a fuss.

  44. Purtek says

    Sorry Betacandy–I appreciate the addition of trigger warnings. I thought there was a chance there was room for discussion here, but I knew it was a risk.

  45. Jennifer Kesler says

    No problem. I felt pretty homicidal reading the bit about mental rape (get the feeling our poster thinks only women engage in that?), so I figured there was no telling how it might affect others.

  46. DuruAntilles says

    By the way, I don’t there is a shred of “Star Wars in this book. I don’t know where you got that. If you make such a comment like that back it up with portions of the text.

    “Luke, I am your father.”

    ?

  47. David says

    That is not from “Wizards First.” And what kind of critic quits the book and then writes one of the most hyper sensitive reviews I have ever read. Everyone is talking about rape and how bad the character are. I think you guys are writing about a different book.

  48. says

    I thought, overall, the writing was cliched. Having felt this way throughout most of the book, my opinion was reaffirmed upon arriving at the end and discovering, in yet another cliche used to famous effect in the Star Wars trilogy, that Rahl was Richard’s father. I thought the connection was rather obvious, but maybe that’s because I’m a huge Star Wars fan. But I can use direct quotes, that’s cool.

    Rahl: I am his father?
    Zedd: When you raped my daughter, I knew I couldn’t harm you, and my first thought was to comfort her, protect her, so I took her to Westland.

    And just as an added bonus… more of that rape everyone’s talking about! This thread is 50 comments long. I’m not sure this is the appropriate time to jump into the conversation and be dismissive of what others have been discussing for what amounts to several pages.

  49. Jennifer Kesler says

    David, don’t try to play the over-sensitive card. It just forces me to point out that you’re the one spending time responding to this review instead of just dismissing us as silly idiots and moving along.

    Why is that, I wonder? Got a niggling feeling we’re right? ;)

  50. David says

    David, don’t try to play the over-sensitive card. It just forces me to point out that you’re the one spending time responding to this review instead of just dismissing us as silly idiots and moving along.

    Why is that, I wonder? Got a niggling feeling we’re right?

    I consider myself to be a good person that enjoys an open dialog. This page is very one sided. You have no legs to stand on this when you confess that you have not read this book from cover to cover.

    I am not “playing a card”. Unlike you, I am taking the time to read the whole book before I pass the final word. You do not understand these characters.

    Do pass your feminism off as something good for women and men when you clearly are adding to the acrimony that has been started by stupid men who are afraid of loving women.

    Also do make assumptions about men simply because they have a penis.

    There are some folks posting here that treat men almost as badly as men have treated women. Not all men are corrupt and treat woman. Not all men have rape fantasy in their heads.

    Its sad that pages like these want to represent the interest of women by building more fences.

    As one man to woman I offer my love and friendship in the hopes we can talk about the book “The Wizards First Rule” and not “The Wizards First Rule: all men are rapists and cannot be trusted.”

    I wish you all peace.

  51. Jennifer Kesler says

    This is far from a one-sided thread. There are male and female posters agreeing in part or whole with Duru. There are male and female posters disagreeing. There are people whom… I can’t tell if they agree or disagree, because they almost talk about a totally separate aspect of the book, but that’s cool, too.

    I’m not objecting to your points – I leave that to those who’ve read the book and see it differently – I’m objecting to you calling the review(er) hypersensitive. That is most frequently a term of dismissal from people who don’t have to worry about a certain thing to people who do. Even if you don’t mean it that way, it’s just not a good place to go.

    So make your points about the book: just don’t try to classify the posters against whom you’re arguing, and we’ll in turn refrain from speculating about your motives for commenting. (That, in case it was missed, was the point of my tongue in cheek joke about why you were here.)

  52. David says

    This is far from a one-sided thread. There are male and female posters agreeing in part or whole with Duru. There are male and female posters disagreeing. There are people whom… I can’t tell if they agree or disagree, because they almost talk about a totally separate aspect of the book, but that’s cool, too.

    I’m not objecting to your points – I leave that to those who’ve read the book and see it differently – I’m objecting to you calling the review(er) hypersensitive. That is most frequently a term of dismissal from people who don’t have to worry about a certain thing to people who do. Even if you don’t mean it that way, it’s just not a good place to go.

    So make your points about the book: just don’t try to classify the posters against whom you’re arguing, and we’ll in turn refrain from speculating about your motives for commenting. (That, in case it was missed, was the point of my tongue in cheek joke about why you were here.)

    The reviewer claims its a rip off of Star Wars. In truth, Luke is a love child, Richard the offspring of a brutal crime against the daughter of Zed in the story. If Goodkind is ripping off anyone it is more like the King Arthur legend. If you read in Morte D’Arthur by Mallory, Arthur is the seed of Uther Pendragon, who rapes Igraine, wife of the Duke of Cornwall. Uther strikes a deal with Merlin the wizard to transform him into the likeness of the Duke so he may have one night with Igraine.

    In the Greek myth Persehpone is abuducted into the neather world and rapid.

    There are lots of classic stories that fit Goodkinds plot. But NOT STARWARS!

    In Star Wars Anakin Skywalker fathers Twins after marrying Padme. As you can see this is not the same plot line at all. In the Star Wars there is no rape.

    I have been offended by how poorly this reviewer did on describing a book that was never fully read before posting this. It means nothing to me that men post here. I am a feminist because I love and respect women for who they are as individuals.

    This was a novel. And it was well written. Its true that I was sick when Kahlan was assaulted. It offended my sensibilities. But if you go back to that chapter you will find she deals with that nicely.

    Good luck to you all.

    Peace.

  53. Purtek says

    Um, seriously, David? You said above that this was “one of the most hyper-sensitive reviews you’ve ever read” because “everyone is talking about rape”–this is something that all of the authors on this site agree is a topic that needs to be handled sensitively in media and that we have good reason to be pretty damn pissed off about in general. You say Kahlen dealt with the assault “nicely”, but you don’t argue as to what that means to you, you just imply it’s not worth talking about.

    But then this last comment seems to get very sensitive about the lack of relationship between this plot and Star Wars…which strikes me as not really a very sensitive issue. Duru said in her first post that she read the first book, but not the remainder of the series, not that she didn’t finish the novel. If someone writing a negative critique of a book you liked seriously “offends” you, but you want to use terms like “hypersensitive” when we’re talking about rape…well, just don’t be surprised if we find that frustrating.

  54. David says

    Um, seriously, David? You said above that this was “one of the most hyper-sensitive reviews you’ve ever read” because “everyone is talking about rape”–this is something that all of the authors on this site agree is a topic that needs to be handled sensitively in media and that we have good reason to be pretty damn pissed off about in general. You say Kahlen dealt with the assault “nicely”, but you don’t argue as to what that means to you, you just imply it’s not worth talking about.

    But then this last comment seems to get very sensitive about the lack of relationship between this plot and Star Wars…which strikes me as not really a very sensitive issue. Duru said in her first post that she read the first book, but not the remainder of the series, not that she didn’t finish the novel. If someone writing a negative critique of a book you liked seriously “offends” you, but you want to use terms like “hypersensitive” when we’re talking about rape…well, just don’t be surprised if we find that frustrating.

    Kahaln is not raped in the first book. She is assaulted by a group of thugs. She then murders two of the men that attacked her and forces the head of that group to eat his balls.

    To suggest that Goodkind is not sensible to the horror of rape is to completely misrepresent his writings. He has complete respect for his female characters. They represent woman who are strong and independent. They are empowered with a sense of there own talents and do not sit down and play the victim willingly.

    I am put off by the pseudo representation of complete and realistic feminism on this page. Feminism is not just about hating men that are thugs.

    By the way I completed the book last night and intend to continue with the next in the series. Please do not twist my words around to suggest that I am a typical male who “is not sensitive enough” on the issue of rape.

    Two years ago my cousin Debbera was raped and I wanted to kill the guy who did it to her. You guys are lame. You miss represent the words of anyone who argues against the reviewer and pull the classic move of “I know you are, but what am I?” NICE. Grow up guys.

    Forget it. You have lost the argument. Go away before you embarrass yourself more.

    Peace

  55. David says

    If it pleases the other posters I apologize for calling the reviewer “Hyper-sensitive”. That was a bit tacky on my part, and NOT the best karma. Please forgive me. I truely meant no offense. I just found the article misrepresents the books.

    By the way. Her friend who got the George Martin novel got the better end of the deal. I am a huge fan of Martins books. They seem even more like historical fiction than science fantasy.

    I just want folks here to know I am not trolling for a fight.

    Peace

  56. Jennifer Kesler says

    You guys are lame. You miss represent the words of anyone who argues against the reviewer and pull the classic move of “I know you are, but what am I?” NICE. Grow up guys.

    and

    I just want folks here to know I am not trolling for a fight.

    Calling people “lame”? Telling us to grow up when you switch tones every two sentences, much like a group of jackasses bored at work, standing around going, “Oh, dude, type this!” as you construct a post meant to wind us up?

    Since I can’t moderate just one of your multiple personalities, I’m afraid I’ll have to put them all on moderation, David.

    Oh, yeah. Peace.

  57. nadie says

    What do people think of the fact that only women can become confessors and mord-sith? In my opinion, it says something about Goodkind’s view of men and women.

    Anything ugly becomes much more so with the knowledge that it was once something beautiful. In Tolkein’s work it is orcs. In Goodkind’s it is mord-sith: once the most caring girls in D’hara, tortured out of spirit and compassion. The knowledge of this destruction brings great pain to Richard and ideally the reader. The fact that only girls can be made into mord-sith implies that they are more capable of caring than their male counterparts, more beautiful. I’d say that’s a good thing; whether or not its essentialist I don’t know.
    Then there is the fact that males could not be confessors. When given complete control over sex, these men took full advantage of it. They used their gift on women and instructed them to have sex with them, later disposing of the victims. It is for this reason that only women can become confessors; men cannot be trusted with it. This implies nothing good about the male gender.
    These things do show a stereotypical view of women (sweet, innocent) and a dangerous view of men (see: burqua) but these views are also countered in the books with the strong female characters and the many male characters who are capable of controlling themselves around women. And yes, in my opinion the female characters are strong. Just because women cannot achieve quite as much power in the Gift as men does not mean that women are inferior to men. After all, the fastest female olympic runner is slower than the fastest male olympic runner.

  58. Jennifer Kesler says

    The fact that only girls can be made into mord-sith implies that they are more capable of caring than their male counterparts, more beautiful. I’d say that’s a good thing; whether or not its essentialist I don’t know.

    It IS essentialist, very much so. As is the implication “men cannot be trusted with it.” Furthermore, I think it’s a dangerous stereotype because it conditions our society – including law enforcement personnel, judges and lawyers – not to believe a woman could abuse the hell out of someone, or torture her son so he becomes an abuser, when in fact women do these things and perpetuate the overall cycle of abuse, brutality and general ugliness.

    And the stereotype that men just can’t control themselves around women… well, that one’s well-loved by a lot of real life rapists and their defense attorneys – and unfortunately, judges and jurors, too. And it’s a discredit to all the men who don’t go around raping or otherwise harming people because they know it’s wrong and have self-discipline.

  59. Nick J. says

    Rape just seems…so damned *uncreative*. And lame. In a novel context.

    I don’t see why you guy’s keep saying rape is “uncreative” and “overused”. I think rape is a great way to show someone is evil. It is almost as evil as you can get. Magic, swords, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and other magical things are used in many more stories then rape. Thats like saying “Oh, well, someone has mudered someone in another book, so i guess I have to think of another way to show my readers that this character is evil.”

    I wouldn’t be interested in a book about a charcater who goes against the one guy who called me a bad name as much as a book about a hero deafeating a evil tyrant. It just makes you feel all the more warm and fuzzier inside when that evil… person gets what they deserved.

    And I know, somehow or another, something I said was either really stupid or offensive to someone or another, so I cringe in fear and wait for your response.

  60. Jennifer Kesler says

    I don’t see why you guy’s keep saying rape is “uncreative” and “overused”. I think rape is a great way to show someone is evil.

    Well, yes, on the surface. Unfortunately, the questions you’re asking require a fair amount of explanation, so I’m going to point you to a couple of links which go into depth and then try to summarize.

    Using rape to show someone is evil means you’re using rape as a plot device. The rape victim is not a character whose pain will be addressed. This might be acceptable if it happened once in a while, and meanwhile there were lots of roles in which women were the stars, heroes, villains and other fully fleshed out, fascinating characters. Unfortunately, not only is the rape-victim-plot-device woman an extremely common character… there are not enough juicy roles for women to balance this out.

    As for “uncreative”, there are plenty of other ways to show how evil someone is. You could show someone telling a lie that gets someone killed or betrayed. You could pick any of a hundred moments from Hitler’s period of power and mimic them in a story to show how vile someone is. You could show someone terrorizing an innocent person, or a cohort who’s failed at an impossible task, or coercing someone into betraying a loved one. Or mutilating someone. Those are just off the top of my head. But rape is easier to write – it’s sensational, and you don’t have to explain or convince the audience of why they should be appalled. And therein lies its weakness: when writers choose rape to convey that someone’s bad, they tend to rely on the sensationalism to get their point across and miss a lot of opportunities to get us reacting emotionally to the villain. Because the mere mention of rape doesn’t evoke much emotion in someone who’s never been raped, doesn’t know anyone who’s never been raped, and prefers not to think about it too deeply. And that’s a sizeable portion of the populace.

  61. Nick J. says

    Using rape to show someone is evil means you’re using rape as a plot device. The rape
    victim is not a character whose pain will be addressed. This might be acceptable if it happened once in a while, and meanwhile there were lots of roles in which women were the stars, heroes, villains and other fully fleshed out, fascinating characters. Unfortunately, not only is the rape-victim-plot-device woman an extremely common character… there are not enough juicy roles for women to balance this out.

    Most of the time in this book (If i remember correctly) the character who was raped was adressed, and it showed how that character progressed and changed because of that action. (For anyone who has read the SOT series, im mostly talking about Beta). For the one’s who weren’t adressed, (which usually was adressed in some way or another of how horrifying it was), it’s, again, to show how evil it was. I mean, Terry Goodkind went into great detail, pages and pages, on what the Order does. Most of that wasn’t about rape. He gave us many many more reasons why these people were evil. Raping is just another thing on the list on all the evil the Order has done. Raping was just to emphasize it because, rape has more of the “shock factor” and we can emphasize with someone who is raped, and just in case the murder, lieing, cheating, stealing, and betraying wasn’t enough.

    He got the point across quite well that the Order was evil and got my emotion’s involved in the book and made me want to finish the Order myself, and when Richard finally did solve the problem, it was the greatest feeling in the world that people like that (fantasy world or not) finally got what was coming to them.

    I don’t know how more creative you want him to get. And, like someone said before, there are plenty of “juicy roles for women” in the books. Most of the main characters are women. Ann, Cara, Nicci, Denna, Kalahn, Jensen, and Beta, just to name a few. And again, be gentle on me. Most likely put something stupid on here, just havn’t noticed it yet.

  62. Tam Lin says

    You think that’s bad, check out the fifth book, where Goodkind teaches us that democracy is bad and we would all have been better off surrendering to the Nazis (seriously!).

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