A World of Truth With “The First Confessor”

“Standing for truth is everything. Truth is power. Don’t ever forget that.”

—”The First Confessor,” Terry Goodkind

I’ll be honest: I’ve tried to read Terry Goodkind before. I tried to read “Wizard’s First Rule” after watching the “The Legend of the Seeker” TV show, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t that the book was too long (although it was long), or too wild and out there—it was that it was too much. For a story about a chosen one dark, and one light, the dark was just too dark and gruesome, and described in much too much detail. To be fair, this is coming from a girl who won’t go near “The Walking Dead” or most other gory stories, so maybe his books just weren’t for me, but I found a great story and interesting characters in Goodkind’s new series: “The Legend of Magda Searus.”

“The First Confessor” is the first book in the series, and it’s a monster. At 600 pages long, it’s no small endeavor to undertake, but a good story nonetheless. For those who know about the world of “The Sword of Truth” (the series that spawned “The Legend of the Seeker”), the story of Magda Searus won’t be hard to understand. Taking us back to the world of the Midlands, “Confessor” takes place before the Sword of Truth or Confessors were created. As with any prequel story, there were tidbits that spoke to the later works sprinkled throughout the book. I knew they had to name the sword “The Sword of Truth,” but the characters didn’t, and it was an interesting journey to find out the how they get to the conclusions I knew were coming.  

For those who are unfamiliar with Goodkind’s “Truth” series, here’s some background on the magical confessors. Confessors are magical women who, with the a single touch, can turn men into blubbering idiots (a power I know we all wish we could have.) They accomplish this feat by taking away their will (again—want that) and without an identity they will do anything to please their mistress, a.k.a. the woman who took their will away. The reason these women are called Confessors is because the confessed will give up all secrets, and in the “Truth” books they served as the arbiters for justice in the Midlands.

There are many differences between the books and the TV series, but since the new series takes place some hundreds of years prior, I enjoyed it. Similar enough to feel familiar—even though I only watched the show—and new enough that I wasn’t bored to death. The beginning of the book finds Magda (an ungifted) grieving the death of her husband, Baraccus, the former First Wizard of Aydindril, after he committed suicide by throwing himself off the keep. Knowing the only reason he would leave her was to protect the people, Magda begins a journey to find out why. Obviously, a big part of Goodkind’s book deal with truth and “Confessor” is no exception.

It’s not a story without it’s problems. Some of the descriptions of magic and how new spells were created were too intricate and complex. They had me skimming till they were over. After all, I’m not a wizard, so how could I understand verification webs and graces? Over the course of 600 pages, Goodkind took time to refresh us on the plot, which was something I found to be distracting and irritating, but if I’d had to read this book over the course of weeks and not a weekend, those recaps might have been necessary. I also thought some of the information reveals felt reductive. I mean, if someone goes to the trouble to engrave TRUTH on the side of a sword, what else could you name it?

This book, unlike Goodkind’s other 14 novels, was originally self-published and therefore only available for some time as an ebook or audiobook, aside from 300 physical copies that were Limited Collector’s Editions. In July 2015, it was published by Tor Fantasy in hardcover, and is now available in stores.

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