Saturday, November 1, 2008

Legend of the Seeker

I knew this was coming. I was looking forward to it with equal portions of trepidation and worry, mostly because Terry Goodkind is the sort of author that you either love or hate. Wizard's First Rule, the first book in this series, was the first book I ever threw across a room in disgust. And, yes, it was due to the S&M digressions between a certain Mord-Sith and her captive. But I got over it and finished the novel. And, really, that an author can move you to feel anything is worthy of kudos. No one will ever criticize Terry Goodkind for being bland and boring. But it takes nerves of steel to put up with some of his digressions. Yet. . .

In the first minute Legend of the Seeker was on I was shaking my head and asking myself what the BLEEP was going on as the departures from the novel were already grotesquely obvious. But, wanting to give the writers, directors, and producers the benefit of the doubt I kept watching. After all sometimes you have to make minor alterations and slight adaptations for the big and/or small screen. At least that was what I hoped was going on here.

Alas what I saw over the next half an hour so disgusted and appalled me I almost stopped watching. Only almost because I actually started to get angry. Angry not merely for the appalling travesty of this "series" but angry for the mangling of the author's, Terry Goodkind's, work. And considering that I gave up on this particular novel series because Mr. Goodkind's penchant for traipsing through meandering philosophical monologues got so annoying I actually packed the books up, ostensibly to unload them at some future garage sale- yet here I am writing about an TV series based on his books- that should tell you just how much this "adaptation" got under my skin.

Yes, I gave up on the book series, but I stuck with it up through Chainfire. Phantom left me cold and I never finished it. Even so I liked the early novels and continue to remember them fondly. Alas this, this. . .

This "Legend of the Seeker" is NOT based on Terry Goodkind's novel series in any way, shape, fashion, or form. I refuse to admit any connection between this abortion and Wizard's First Rule. Worse, this is a gross bit of blatant plagiarism. The two key works being ripped off are STAR WARS and, shockingly, the BIBLE; specifically the story of Herod and the slaying of the first born (Mt 2:16). This occurs when Zedd is revealing the truth to Richard of who he is and where he came from, and I quote:

Kahlen: "Tell him who he is."

Zedd: " First you need to know about a man named Darken Rahl- if he is a man and not some twisted wraith of evil brought forth from the underworld to shatter the dreams of human kind. Thirty-three years ago a great prophet spoke on his death bed of the birth of a true Seeker. A child whose destiny would be to seek out and destroy the greatest evil of all; Darken Rahl. With his last breath the prophet named the town in which the child had been born. Rahl sent his assasins and, in one night, they murdered every first born son in Brenaden (?); save one."

As if that isn't disturbing enough there's so many plot points blatantly stolen from Star Wars that it makes my brain hurt just thinking about them. But first some background. .

In the novel Wizard's First Rule we meet Richard Cipher, a woods guide living in Hartland, right after the mysterious murder of his father. Richard is tracking near the barrier boundary where, among other things, he spots a woman walking apace through Ven Forest. As if that isn't unusual enough this mystery woman is being followed by four cloaked men. For those who know those men are a quad (assassins) and the woman is Kahlan (the last Mother Confessor) and the barrier, well, we'll get to that later.

So far this is a simple and straightforward setup, right? No need to "adapt" or "re-envision" what's already been written, right? Yeah that's what I thought too until Legend of the Seeker came on my television screen.

Legend of the Seeker's first scene opened with heavily armored soldiers on horseback chasing two women, also on horseback. One is wearing white so those of us in the know will rightly assume this is the Mother Confessor. But who is this other woman? Before we really get to formulate that question or ponder what's going on she is shot in the back with an arrow and pushing a book into Kahlan's hands urging her to find the seeker.

So what's wrong with that? Nothing, aside from the fact it bears no resemblance to the actual story as written by Terry Goodkind. This, and what follows, is not an adaptation of Wizard's First Rule. Rather this is a reworking of episode four of Star Wars. Viz. --

Star Wars: Luke is living with an aunt and uncle that raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Obi Wan Kinobi; a Jedi in-hiding living as a hermit.

Legend of the Seeker: Richard is living with an father (his wife is dead) who raised him since he was taken to them, as a babe, by Zedd; a wizard in-hiding living as a hermit.

SW: Luke is ignorant of the truth about "old ben", a truth that is revealed after a princess comes looking for him.

LOS: Richard is ignorant of the truth about "old Zedd", a truth that is revealed after a Mother Confessor comes looking for him.

SW: Ben gives Luke a mystical light saber he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Luke will become a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Zedd gives Richard a magical sword he's been waiting to give him until the right moment in the hope Richard will to become The Seeker.

SW: Luke rushes home to find his adoptive parents killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming a Jedi Knight.

LOS: Richard rushes home to find his adoptive parent killed, whereupon he gets really angry and decides to fight the evil power by becoming The Seeker.

Those are just some of the more glaring points of similarity. There are a few departures, such as Richard's background, which as previously mentioned is shamelessly lifted from the New Testament. And that I just can't let go of. I mean how pathetic a writer do you have to be to not only rip-off basic plot points from an iconic science fiction movie but to also decide, what the hell, let's steal from the bible too! Yeah, sure, it's technically a public domain work but. . . UGH!
Maybe it's just me but I really don't understand what the difficulty is in taking a book and using it as an guide to write a screenplay. I'm pretty sure Mr. Goodkind probably has the full text of his novels available in a easy to access text file, if you ask kindly. Alas the writer apparently was more interested in writing a lowbrow fan fiction reworking of Star Wars with bits and pieces of the Bible thrown in for no real logical reason other than, apparently, they could do it because no one involved with this production read Terry Goodkind's books. Or maybe they did and they hate the author and decided to buy the rights to his novel series, kill it, then rape it's mutilated corpse. I feel soiled for having watched any part of this wretchedly blasphemous garbage.

That's it I can write no more. It's still on as I type this and it's a mess. My sympathies to Terry Goodkind. I knew these novels would be difficult to adapt due to their themes but this is just insulting.
© C. Demetrius Morgan

1 comment:

Scotttenorman said...

Wow. I am a HUGE fan of the books, and have been looking forward to this TV series (much less so after hearing it would air on ABC) but this is just too much. I will watch the first episode, but in all likelihood will not watch anything past that. Thanks for a good review.