Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind

This review will contain spoilers and will probably be less of a review so much as a rant…

Faith of the Fallen (Sword of Truth, #6)

Faith of the Fallen is the sixth book in the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. It would probably be considered part of the High Fantasy genre, which was my favourite genre until about high school. I enjoyed the first book of this series very much, largely because it contained an entire story, which I wasn’t used to in High Fantasy. The second book was slightly disappointing in comparison and by book three I was struggling to continue on. There were two things keeping me going: 1. I don’t like not finishing series, and 2. it had been recommended to me by someone who I cared about and who had passed away, so I felt if I gave up on the series I would somehow be dishonouring him.

I’m telling you all this because I want you to understand that I’ve generally had good experiences with the High Fantasy genre and that I really did want to enjoy this series, but after Faith of the Fallen, I will not be continuing the series.

It’s not just because the plot is repetitive and there are character inconsistencies and filler chapters up the wazoo, though none of those helped. My main issue is with the treatment of women in this series.

There are tons of “strong” women in this series: the Sisters of the Light, the Mord Sith, the Confessors, but all of them are weak and stupid when compared to Richard Rahl. Because, you know, he’s a man. The Mord Sith are turned into a mixture of broken little girls searching for a father figure and dominatrixes in red leather. The Sisters of the Light are blind to how they should really treat men. The Confessors are all wiped out. And the Mother Confessor and wife of Richard, Kahlan,…well she gets to be raped and she enjoys it.

Yupp.

And that’s the point I decided I could not take any more of this shit.

Thinking about it I get so filled with rage that I can’t come up with a coherent argument. This book was published in 2000 and it contained a pseudo rape scene where the woman is described as enjoying it even though she feels disgusted with herself for enjoying it. This is not right. This will never be right. I am so, so, SO tired of people thinking this is all right.

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About megtao

Student. Writer. Nerdfighter. Fights for love, justice, and awesome.
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11 Responses to Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind

  1. jojodacrow says:

    I understand not wanting to finish a series and I’ve found quite a bit of duds out there in the genre. One of the very lauded series I tried to like and ended up hating was the “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever” Trilogy. Don’t feel bad when you have to give up!

    I am not sure how they treated the rape or if you just stopped as soon as that happened. One thing you must remember is that many women experience pleasure while they are raped. Many of them don’t talk about it because it is a point of shame for them. It is part of why they feel so violated. It is a part of having something forced on you that you didn’t want. They twist it in their mind to think they did something wrong because they felt pleasure and that must have meant something? But no… it is a physical reaction that our bodies have and has nothing to do with someone enjoying an act like that. For some women this is the part they feel the greatest guilt over and takes them quite a bit of time to get over it.

    I am pretty sure this is not what happened in this book but it is something to remember when you make a review about the subject. 🙂

    • megtao says:

      I did finish the book, and while I don’t think this is what Goodkind was going for, you definitely gave me something to think about. And if Goodkind had dealt with that aspect of it I think I would have applauded his choice rather than throwing the book across the room, but he never dealt with it afterwards. Kahlan basically ignored it after except to have the guy tortured to death when she found out who did it.

      I’m really glad you told me about the other side to it because it’s not something I would have thought of.

  2. Yikes! I’ve only read the first book in this series – which I enjoyed – but I’ve never really had the motivation to continue on. Now I’m not so sure I want to. I experienced a similar feeling when reading Dragonflight by Anne McCaffery. There are a couple of instances of rape which are just treated way too casually for me.

  3. Candice says:

    I’m not really 100% sure what “High Fantasy” is…
    I can see your complaints about this series. Sometimes I feel in fantasy books women aren’t portrayed in a good light – not all fantasy, mind you; I’m sure you remember Graceling. 🙂 I think that’s one of the reasons I tend to be a little pickier about fantasy. To me, it sometimes feels like men are the conquering heroes and women are either the damsel in distress or the evil sorceress/witch/whatever. Which is honestly dull to me. I want more female conquering heroes in fantasy!
    Growing up I read a lot of my mom’s romance novels and several of them were set during medieval periods, like Normans/Saxons period, and there were scenes that weren’t really “rape” but more the husband claiming his wife. Which I guess these days would be rape. It didn’t really bother me then because I guess I didn’t “get it” but looking back on these I can’t help but wonder how these were romance novels? I think I’m digressing from my point… but I’m in total agreement with you about the rape scene in this book; it would probably have made me quit reading them too.

    • megtao says:

      High Fantasy is basically those epically long fantasy novels with super amounts of world building to the point where it’s like there was a whole other world created. Think Lord of the Rings.

      I think in a lot of adult fantasy women are rarely portrayed well or realistically. I think YA is a little better. And yeah, the whole claiming thing is rape if the woman doesn’t want to be “claimed.” It can be frustrating sometimes reading those kinds of things because you know it’s so embedded in the culture too.

  4. I don’t blame you in the least for calling it quits on this series, Meghan. I built up a high tolerance to demeaning etc. portrayals of women in epic (high) fantasy but Goodkind really pushed me. It was more his politics that made me lose respect for him, and the fact that, after this book, the books get pretty boring. The next one is definitely filler material, and I think there’s only one more that has a half-decent plot. Plus, the things that annoyed us early on in the series just get magnified.

    And at the end of the day, this series always did feel like fanfiction to me. I started reading it after reading the Wheel of Times series, which is older, and there’s a lot they have in common. To be honest, I find most epic fantasy – especially that written by men, I have to say – to be fanfiction, rehashing older tropes and fantasy stereotypes, all the way back to Tolkien and earlier. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t care for A Game of Thrones. Once you’ve read one epic fantasy series, you feel like you’ve read them all. That’s why I love Kate Elliott’s Crown of Stars series – it’s epic fantasy and contains some familiar tropes, but is full of originality and complex characters. I really recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

    As for the rape… Goodkind’s really into multi-layered sex isn’t he. His characters are always using it as a form of manipulation or torture or coercion etc. I can’t actually remember the rape in this book (I can’t remember where Kahlan even was! And I’ve read it I think three times), but rape, real rape, is never pleasurable for the woman, there’s no element of shame for having enjoyed it – I have to completely disagree with the first commenter on that. I don’t think Goodkind ever really got the female perspective, in many ways.

    Oh but doesn’t he get us going!! Rant away I say! 😉

  5. gavinpandion says:

    Thanks for the warning, I have just started reading the Sword of Truth series and found the almost-rape scene at the end of Wizard’s First Rule really badly written in terms of lack of insight into a female perspective on sexual assault and how a smart, independent and mature woman like Kahlan who has full knowledge of what could happen if she was captured by D’Haran soldiers would react in a situation like this. I was blindsided by the awfulness of that scene. I need to learn to skip that sort of nonsense if I want to enjoy the other things this series has to offer, it has many qualities that I find very special. But why is it so hard for men to write women well in sexual situations? It’s depressing.

    • megtao says:

      It honestly doesn’t get better. Personally, I don’t find the series worth the crap treatment of female characters. There are so many other awesome fantasy novels out there.

      As for why it can be difficult for some male authors to write women well, it’s because they generally don’t have practice getting into a female mind set. Society teaches men that women are lesser and you are not to be feminine in anyway, so why would they have any practice thinking like a woman?

  6. You know you have stumbled into something wrong when you read a female character saying: “I told you, this is an important woman! How dare you grope her like that! I won’t have it, do you understand?” about this: “She could see his fingers under the tight leather as he worked them into her sex.” Notice how the importance of the woman is what prevents the act from being acceptable.

    Moving on, you see how a woman sees women lining up to be raped and can only think that these were the women who humiliated her because she’s still not married. She apologizes to the Creator that she had prayed they would get harmed, and wonders if it’s the Creator’s way of answering her prayers. Seriously. She then is made captive, and gets a silver ring. Reaction: “These men, these men who were experienced at judging the worth of flesh, had just valued her more highly than her own people. Even if it was as a slave, they had given her value.” […] “Not gold, she told herself, of course not gold, but not copper, either. They thought her worth a silver ring. Some part of her was disgusted at her vain glory. What else did she have, now?”

    Cliffs: read carefully, you don’t have to wait until book 6 to know that Goodkind is fine with rape.

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