WMG: Sword of Truth
The Keeper of the Underworld is Nyarlathotep
- The Keeper is never fully described, much like most Lovecraftian entities. He also, like Nyarlathotep, wants to spread chaos throughout the universe.
The Sword of Truth RetCons history, and does nothing elseThis one seemed so obvious to me it almost didn't seem worth listing. The Sword does not imbue its holder with righteous rage. It has no power to avoid hurting an undeserving target. Its explicit power is to make its wielder's perceptions of the world be correct, and become correct in the past. This first became obvious to me when Richard's brother revealed himself to be a villain. He ''wasn't'' a villain, and he ''wasn't'' the serial killer - until Richard, in a fit of jealousy, wanted him to deserve to die. And so the character who'd been revealed to be said serial killer disappeared from the story (and possibly, existence), and Richard's brother was transformed into the kind of person who would and did commit all of the killer's crimes. By the time he was holding the Sword, it was too late; he was already rewritten by its influence. In subsequent cases it's equally obvious that whether somebody is a good person is entirely defined by how much Richard happens to like that person. Likewise, every thing Richard's done during the story is perfectly justified by the fact that he did it, making it the right thing to have done at the time. As the books are written mostly using the original timeline rather than the eventual one, they simply appear to be dubious. We have Protagonist-Centered Morality as the only option. Note that this perfectly combines the average reader's perceptions of the description of the Sword with the philosophical doctrine the author eventually preaches through Richard. At its simplest, morality is defined in this doctrine by the effectiveness of the actions a consciousness takes to preserve itself. Suicide is innately amoral (outside any conception of morality), and actions which impede personal survival are immoral to the (very) arguable degree that they do so (thus the issues the books have with pacifism, mercy and charity). So an artifact which causes your decision in a situation to become your ideal option in that situation is by definition the essence of Goodness and Truth, the capitalized virtues. By allowing Richard to begin the series with concepts of the virtues more in line with those of the average reader, readers simply don't notice the discrepancy at first.
- This premise could make an awesome Hate Fic where Richard is a Psychopathic Manchild who never moved past the childish mental state of believing that everyone he likes is completely good and everyone he hates is completely evil. The Sword of Truth is an Artifact of Doom that's danger-level is proportional to how deluded the wielder is. Because Humans Are Flawed, the perceptions of all humans are flawed and because of that, the Sword is dangerous in the hands of anyone because it will warp reality to fit those perceptions no matter how much Character Derailment is required for it. Many of the villains go from being utterly heinous to Jerkass Woobies since they used to be people with genuinely good intentions (as the books used to claim) and even had a few Pet the Dog moments until the sword warped them into disdainful caricatures of themselves. For example, the Imperial Order used to be Social Darwinist in Blood of the Fold and Temple of the Wind but because Richard couldn't handle the cognitive dissonance of someone he perceives as evil having the same ideology as him he made up that they have the opposite ideology. Emperor Jagang used to be someone who would believe that the strong should rule the weak but after being beaten he would give up control of the Order to whoever beat him. The Bankarans are pacifists but they're willing to fight back if threatened but will consider the act to be Dirty Business. Richard's allies used to be good people up until his perceptions warped them into being just as brutal, bloodthirsty and destructive as he is. The story would follow a Hero with Bad Publicity who is immune to the swords RetCons but because of Richard making up a bunch of atrocities the hero is considered to be a horrible person because everyone has been warped into believing that the character crossed the Moral Event Horizon multiple times. Some of the "victims" even remember the hero doing the acts since everyone except the hero is controlled by the Retcons. The hero is forced to oppose Richard alone since he/she knows that any allies he/she gains are not immune to being warped into total villains. The story follows the hero stripping away Richard's Plot Armour up until he has a Villainous Breakdown since he believes that Evil Will Fail, not realizing that he's the villain.
- Make the protagonist "Samuel", the previous Sword of Truth wielder who appears to have gone crazy (because he wasn't a True Seeker properly appointed by a wizard).
- Another element could be that the Samuel doesn't actually destroy Richard, he destroys himself due to not having any impulse control or long-term planning. Richard repeatedly shows himself The Sociopath throughout the series and the reason he acted like a better person in the early books was because he knew how to hide what a horrible person he is but forgot how to do that as the series progressed. Samuel destroys the sword which causes Richard to destroy everything he's created due to several decisions that are stupid, heinous or both.
- Objection: in the first book, Zedd wants to make a point about the way the sword's magic works. He temporarily names Kahlan Seeker, tells Kahlan that a tree in his garden is part of an evil spell cast by Darken Rahl and tells her to cut it down with the Sword of Truth. She does so, and suffers a magical backlash because Zedd was lying: the tree was an ordinary tree. Any power the Sword has to make a person's decisions retroactively correct didn't work that time.
- Perhaps it didn't work because in the back of her mind she realized the Fridge Logic of why Zedd didn't cut it down in the first place since it's so near to him. Or that's due to how inconsistent the series is with how it treats magic.
The Sword of Truth series is a cautionary tale/deconstrution of the hero's journeyThe book series starts as a typical fantasy book, with the 'ordinary' man rising to a threat/starting a quest. over the course of the series (at least as far as this troper got - sorry, could'nt get past the repeated author tracts in the book with the gosh-darn-evil-pasifists), Richard slowly evolves into what he was cautioned against in the first book - someone so convinced of his own rightousness that anything he does is right because he does it and anyone who disagrees with him is naive, deluded, and/or evil. Richard was starting to rmind me of Darken Rahl just a bit...