Legend of the Seeker Review: Prophecy

The television adaptation of Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth books hits the screens. I had sinking feelings the moment I saw what the title was going to be. Did they continue missing the point? There’s only one way to find out…

Cast and Crew

Bridget Regan as Kahlan Amnell
Craig Horner as Richard Cypher
Bruce Spence as Zeddicus Zu’l Zorander
Craig Parker as Darken Rahl
Jay Laga’aia as Chase
David de Latour as Michael Cypher

Written by Kenneth Biller and Stephen Tolkin

Directed by Mark Beesley

Based on the Sword of Truth books by Terry Goodkind.

Premise

In order to fulfil a prophecy about the defeat of an evil ruler named Darken Rahl, Kahlan crosses the boundary into Westland, a peaceful land without magic, to find a wizard in hiding and bring the Book of Counted Shadows to the Seeker who will destroy Rahl.

High Points

There are none. At all. This is mediocrity punctuated by cries of ‘what was that?’ and ‘eh?’ and the occasional groan.

Low Points

  • Kahlan seems to alternate between strength like in the books, and classic TV damsel helplessness and stupidity.
  • General, rampant and heedless backstory trampling. Richard isn’t a longstanding friend of Zedd? His father is alive? Richard doesn’t figure out Zedd’s identity? There’s no web to conceal Zedd’s identity? There are too many other things to list.
  • Reciting spells. When was that part of this world’s magic system?
  • Chase isn’t wearing nearly enough weapons. And what happened to him being a boundary warden?
  • A Confessor isn’t supposed to collapse after using her power. Kahlan certainly isn’t, anyway.
  • It’s impossible to convey the brutality in Goodkind’s work in a TV show rated PG. There should be limbs and bits of brain everywhere. I’m not sure it’s going to work at this kind of level.

Scores

Originality: It’s an adaptation of a book, which doesn’t help the originality if you’ve read said book, but unfortunately it’s been modified into a more generic fantasy than the book itself. Three out of six.

Effects: Kahlan’s use of her power misses out the thunder without sound from the books. There’s some cool eye-darkening going on, but it doesn’t have, if you’ll excuse the term, quite the same impact. The boundary looks fantastic, but the snake vine is rather too obviously fake. It’s possible to do better these days, although perhaps not on the budget this series was given. I should also mention Zedd’s wizard’s fire, which is not as described in the books but does look exactly like a jet of fire coming out of his fingertips. Three out of six.

Story: They’ve turned the story inside out, then torn it up and let some of the pieces settle in a random order. It kind of makes sense, but it’s smaller than the admittedly rather long book, which would make quite a lengthy series (not to mention all the other books), plus there are elements from later books in here, like Richard’s access to the skill of the previous Seekers. Which, incidentally, doesn’t seem very evident in his clumsy-looking swordplay. Three out of six.

Emotional Response: It may be my attachment to the books and my subsequent reaction to what seems like pointless, baseless changes, but this doesn’t really do much for me. It’s not complete disengagement, but some of it’s just because I’m interested to see what they get wrong next. Two out of six.

Acting: Variable, and a bit samey. Most of the characters feel the same. Two out of six.

Production: The landscapes are very beautiful, but rather extreme. Is the whole series going to happen on the edge of an extremely tall cliff overlooking an idyllic forest? The music is also a little overdone and some of the cuts seem a little too fast, and there’s a great overuse of slow motion segments in combat scenes. Two out of six.

Overall: Extremely disappointing. I’m quite sure there was no need to change so much of the backstory or the events in order to make it work on television. Two out of six.

Verdict

With a total score of seventeen out of forty-two, it’s not good news. I’d always hoped there’d be a television or film adaptation of the books, but there was always the possibility I’d wish they hadn’t bothered. And now that’s what I’m thinking.

Note that since this is a review by a fan of the books, somebody who’s never read them might find it more entertaining than I did.

7 replies on “Legend of the Seeker Review: Prophecy”

  1. singerofpeace says:

    Very, very, very appropriate review
    I just finished watching the pilot with my friend, and we are both avid fans of the books. We heard only good things about the show, and had such high hopes, which were miserably dashed. We went looking for reviews to see how people could have possibly liked it so much, and were so disheartened to see reviews calling it "awesome" even completely mislabeling characters. Your review completely spoke our minds about the show, and made us (me, at least) grateful that SOMEONE else is frustrated. Hopefully they will stop butchering the storyline in the future episodes.

    We particularly liked what you said about Kahlan falling after using her power… what was that?!

    Ah, and our least favorite part was just that Richard lost the humble, compassionate nobility that made him so special in the books. He turned into a "killing machine," with immature dialog and a tendency towards whining. And where was the horrible pain after killing someone with the sword for the first time?!! Not to mention that they completely neglected to explain the significance of the sword of truth, or to show that he deserved it for any reason besides him being able to read the book… gahhh we’re so frustrated, we just want to vent :P
    Again, thank you for your very apt review!

  2. Mr. Vapor says:

    Free iTunes link…
    if you missed it the first time:
    http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewTVSeason?i=294685720&id=293550570&s=143441

    They also have a free "Making of" for this show too.

    I don’t have high hopes.

  3. vanyel says:

    As someone who never read the books…
    …I don’t think there’s a cliche in the genre they didn’t use. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt in that I’ve heard of these books for quite a while, and thought maybe they defined some of the cliches, but I actually think they probably predate the genre.

    On the one hand, that was the only real problem I had with it; on the other, it may be big enough to be a death blow if they don’t do some serious character development or find some originality somewhere, and it could very well be that it was so big, it just pushed the others into insignificance in comparison.

    We’ll have to see where it goes…

  4. tanis22 says:

    Review
    I was waiting for over a year for this show to finally come out. One day I was searching IMDB.com and saw that a movie was going to be made, then switched to a mini series because Terry Goodkind stated there was just too much for a movie with everything in the first book. Anyway, later I read it got switched to a series, I was then thinking, wow, this should really do the series justice as with 22 episodes per book, you did not have to leave out any detail and capture everything that leads to subsequent books!

    Well was I ever wrong. From the first 5 minutes of the show I realized it was down hill from there on! In the begining Kahlin is being chased by guards with her sister. Okay that is true, the fact that Kahlin is wearing a white and her sister wearing a black dress, the sister dies, and Kahlin holds her in her arms before she dies. Excellent first 3 minutes considering there are somethings they might place a little out of order for the soluton of story flow on TV.

    But wait, her sister hands her the book of counted shadows?????? ALERT! ALARM! WHAT? Anyone who reads the book knows the story of that book and it was NOT that. In fact that is such a ey element to the whole entire story line, that placing that there like that was a HUGE mistake. It undercuts things in later books, how he tricks Darken Rahul, the list is endless. Hows this for more, Zedd was training the seeker and that is why he left the Midlands? Kahlin was able to find the Wizard of the First order using a Night Wisp? Kahlin, pushed Richard away after thier first meeting? She liked how kind he was? I agree with the previous post, where is the "Thunder without sound?" I was actually looking forward to how they would pull that off! Gust of wind, perhaps? Where are the personality of the characters? where are the boundry wardens? where is the character personalities, the fact that Addy is a human lie detector, Zedd insationable appetite that only Richards spiced soup can satify? Shall I go on because I can not seem to stop!

    If you read anything about Terry Goodkind himself you would know that he suffered from deslexa as a child and was told he could never write a book by his teachers. He over came that obsticle and wrote a spectacular series. He also mentions that one thing he is interested in is telling stories about the people themselves. The Fantasy background is just that… BACKGROUND. The characters are the most important things in his story and how they interact with each other. There is absolutely no character development here.

    Lets try this, If I was a writer, how about starting the story off like this? An place in the forest, Richard as a young boy sitting on a log and his father across from him. Richard saying how he would rather play and his father stressing how important it was to memorize a book. Richard digently working to memorize a book and his father telling himself to correct himself using the book.

    Fast forward two years later… Richard being able to write every word in the book perfectly and then them burning it.

    Richard wakes up looking around all you see is the jar with the snake vine in it and him going up to the boundry in the forrest to look for it.

    Que Kahlin and the wizards helping her through the boundry each one paying the price of thier life.

    Back to richard, he gets bit by the snake vine, uses herbs from a near by plant, Kahlin is running, he follows and helps stop the quad. They begin to walk to OLD Zedd because of his snake bite out running another quad. Kahlin and Richard talk and he claims, "I am the seeker of truth".. Kahlin asks who told him that and he says that is what Zedd always calls me….get to know one another, red fruit posionous, Garrs, bloodflies, etc….

    Introduction to Zedd and what the first wizard is and what a seeker is. Kahlin not wanting Richard to be named seeker, and demenstration of the sword…..

    Wow I can go on and on…….

    Anyway, bottom line is that the show is not worth the film it is printed on!

  5. Ogre says:

    Honestly….
    I haven’t seen the television show. But I read Wizard’s First Rule about 5 years ago based on the recommendation of a friend who had similar taste. I told him I felt like I just read my first Harlequin Romance Fantasy novel. But hey, I’m hooked on The Wheel of Time, so who am I to criticize?

  6. rumothy says:

    Seeker??
    You know. I’ve read all of the books. At first I was glad to see this series on TV. But I didn’t quite remember all of the details of Wizards 1st Rule – only enough to know that changes were made.

    And from reading reviews my memory has been refreshed. This is a very bad representation of the books. This is a completely different story. This is not the story that I like, it is something different but with the same character names.

    In this new age of media, something different and creative should have been done to create this story true to the books. Just quick brainstorming: fan fundraiser(i would give my money) to get the best creative talent, scene and script ideas from fans posted on you tube – there are creative people out there with skill and passion for this story, fan created art, Fan donations to pay artists like Brom and musicians the calibur of Basil Poledouris, etc, etc, so many things could have been done.

    Bottom line is, this story is too great to skip events, change events, get stuff 30% right, and so on. Too many compromises where made. Sorry but this series is bad. Ill still watch it though… I can’t beleive Terry Goodkind allowed this. Maybe he got tricked.

  7. Sabian-303 says:

    immense dissapointment
    i agree with u guys….it was shocking.
    im a huge sword of truth fan and i expected a lot to have changed and the dumbing down of the story, however i didnt expect them to change it into this generic fantasy rubbish!
    i used to be an elitist about the stuff i liked but i grew up a bit so now im not saying "i loved how it was, why have u changed the story and ruined it?!" all im saying is pathetic acting, pathetic script, pathetic directing…what was the point in this show? the sword fo truth used to mean something, be a "special" story full of reality and amazing story telling, character development and complex themes. what iss the theme of this show? seems to be a group of people sayin they love the original and wanting to destroy it.
    i seriously doubt tht terry goodkind sold-out on this but i cant understand how he thought any of it was a gud idea.
    biggest dissapointment? richard is just some gimpy mumbling retard with no interesting qualities…at all.

Comments are closed.