From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Legend of the Seeker: Prophecy/Destiny

I’ve read Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, which had its high points and its low points. The high points included an interesting world and a tendency to be more dark than bright. The low points are numerous, but amount to political and philosophical grandstanding. (I don’t mind a fiction author subtly incorporating their beliefs into their works, but when the line is crossed from subtle to overt, I lose interest.) Despite my misgivings, I did like the series overall, and I decided I’d give The Legend of the Seeker a chance as well. I knew going into it that Terry Goodkind had little to do with the finished product, and part of me was hopeful that this would be a good thing.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the series “The Legend of the Seeker” and you would like to, don’t read anything below this point. God help you if you actually want to watch it for story value.

ADDITIONAL ALERT: I haven’t read Wizard’s First Rule in about a year. I recall most of it, but it’s been a while. If I’ve grossly misrepresented the book in any way, let me know.

Terry Goodkind’s Portrayal in the Sword of Truth Series: Kahlan Amnell has long hair that reaches nearly to the ground because she is the Mother Confessor. (Confessors have the longest hair in the New World.) As a Confessor, she has an ability to touch people and wipe out any free will they have, forcing them to love her unconditionally—and be willing to do anything she wishes them to do.
ABC Studios’ answer in “Legend of the Seeker”: Kahlan Amnell has short hair because wigs are expensive. When she touches people, they start killing other people and she falls on the ground, helpless.

TG: Some artist made Richard out to be a burly guy on the cover, and wouldn’t you know, the books sort of portray him that way, too.
ABC: Burly? I don’t think we can find any people like that who also know how to act. Let’s go with an Australian that speaks with an annoying American accent on-set.

TG: Wizard Zedd is quirky, silly, funny, yet somehow wise under all of that.
ABC: First scene of Zedd in the series is of him stark naked, staring up at the sky on a rock. While the acting could have been better, they certainly know how Zedd should act: naked and holding a chicken. (There’s more to this scene, I’m sure of it!)

TG: Darken Rahl is a sick bastard.
ABC: Darken Rahl is a sick bastard, but more like a boring sick bastard. Using fresh blood for ink is kind of par for the course for a devious overlord like him, isn’t it?

TG: Richard Cypher memorizes the Book of Counted Shadows and burns it. This happens in the somewhat recent past. The Book of Counted Shadows is needed to harness the power of the boxes of Orden, therefore Richard is the key to unlocking the power of those boxes.
ABC: Richard Cypher has never seen the Book of Counted Shadows, nor can he read it unless he concentrates while in front of Zedd, who gives him a 15 second primer on how to read magic script. He burns this magic book at the end of the pilot, forever depriving Darken Rahl of it, and completely destroying the plot!

ABC: When the time is right and Richard Cypher is in the center of a circle of fire, he can lift the Sword of Truth and lightning will strike it.

TG: The Sword of Truth in the hands of a Seeker will only work if the Seeker believes that he is just in killing whatever the target may be. He can’t kill someone that he truly believes is innocent.
ABC: The Sword of Truth is a shiny magic sword and Richard is going to kill Darken Rahl. No one really cares about that exposition and subtle foreshadowing bullshit.

I could go on, but these were the most glaring problems I had with the TV adaptation of this series. You get the idea: I didn’t like it, and I didn’t think it was worthy of television.

TV producers and writers frequently tout that novels are different than TV programs. This isn’t lost on me. In my ideal world, those that wish to move from the pages of a novel to the structure of a syndicated show should at least follow one guideline: dissect what makes the novel good, enjoyable, and worthy of millions of copies sold. Now, make sure whatever that quality is remains present in your finished product. While the pacing will have to be different, there’s no need to sacrifice the story itself.

I went ahead and downloaded the next episode. While it was downloading, I read the description of the plot for the next episode, “Bounty.” The description actually gave me the synopsis of the entire episode, plot twists and all.

At least I won’t have to pay attention through this one, right?

Seth Golden is a musician, reader of books, player of games, and occasional writer. (He is not nearly as cynical as his written opinions are.)


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