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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Richard is canonically the hero, but to many readers, he is a brutal Knight Templar at best and a Tautological Templar at worst in the later books.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Of a sort. The last three books seem to be a deliberate effort on Goodkind's part to recapture the first few books' feel, while toning down the heavy handed Author Tracts.
  • Anvilicious: Goodkind does not believe in ambiguity. The heroes are (written as) Right, almost every villain is completely evil, and, in later books the series' Objectivist themes become far more prominent.
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  • Badass Decay: Jennsen becomes much less formidable after joining up with Richard, almost to the point of being The Load.
  • Cliché Storm: Everything from a common man of mysterious lineage, to a wise old wizard with robes and white hair, to a character that was turned into a small, fanatical creature when deprived of the artifact that was precious to him.
  • Complete Monster: Darken Rahl is an Evil Overlord and Evil Sorcerer who has made a bargain for power with the demonic being The Keeper of the Underworld. Darken keeps the people enslaved, banning fire and launching brutal extermination campaigns on those who have resisted him. Rahl also continues the order of Mord-Sith: girls raised to be vicious torturers who have their mothers murdered in front of them and are forced to torture their fathers to death. He also sexually abuses the Mord-Sith and especially enjoys tormenting a lesbian couple among them. A Serial Rapist as well, Rahl forces himself upon many women, and if ones with him consensually are repulsed at the scars under his clothing, he tortures them to death. Viewing children without the gift of magic as worthless, he has any of his ungifted offspring disposed of, while also sacrificing other children to the Keeper for power. Rahl's ultimate goal is to plunge the world into the Keeper's domain, where all that lives will suffer eternally.
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  • Crazy Awesome: Nathan Rahl. Because he is a thousand-year-old wizard who had been imprisoned for most of his life in the Palace of the Prophets, he comes across as a wise and knowledgeable Badass Bookworm crossed with a reckless hormone-crazed teenager, colored with just the tiniest hint of insanity for flavor. Whenever he is on scene, something incredibly awesome and/or entertaining is about to happen.
  • Designated Hero: Richard can certainly come across this way, given his eagerness to slaughter all those who "choose death" rather than "life" in the later books. The only thing keeping him from being an Unscrupulous Hero or even an outright Sociopathic Hero is the narrative and the other characters referring to him as an incorruptibly pure hero. Kahlan is, if anything, even more bloodthirsty and willing to Shoot the Dog, and that's saying something. Zedd also drifts in this direction in the later books by a mixture of lectures and an extremely high kill count. That said, Zedd's backstory involves being personally responsible for a genocide (when creating the barriers prior to the first book), so he's never had clean hands. His shift is more one of attitude, and how it's approached. In early books he's... not precisely The Atoner, but it's heavily implied that his relatively minor role in things is a conscious choice, because he doesn't like what he becomes when in power. In the later books... well, he is in power, and becomes that person again, but it's treated as morally justified, and even laudable.
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  • Don't Shoot the Message: Fans, and often Goodkind himself, have suggested that people who don't like these books are only hating on them because they "take a clear moral stance." Goodkind has said a few times that the main reason he is attacked is for "my beliefs" as opposed to what many feel is bad writing and a tendency to say insulting things about other authors in his genre.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Gratch is awesome, which is sad because he's absent from the later books. Or maybe fortunate that he doesn't get caught up in the Author Tract.
    • Darken Rahl is such an over the top Complete Monster Card-Carrying Villain that some readers find him to be the most entertaining/likable character.
  • Everyone Is Satan in Hell: The Imperial Order claims this about wizards and sorceresses in particular, but also in general about anyone who is better than anyone else at anything. They are not nice people. It also doesn't stop them from employing these wizards and sorceresses, either. A mob tries this on Zedd. He stokes their fears of him until they all run away screaming. How? By asking them to explain why they're afraid of him.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • Mary Suetopia: Inverted when Richard is basically kidnapped by the dark sister Nicci, who delivers speech after speech about the "enlightened" administration of the Imperial Order, all of which are caricatures of Communist and/or Socialist practices. When we see it, it's of course a crumbling basket case, with everyone having to gain approval by their various committees before doing the smallest thing in the economy. In no way does the book explain how such a system can work for even one city, let alone an entire massive empire. The economy is not even centrally run-that would at least make it slightly better. Rather, this is borrowed wholesale from Atlas Shrugged, but there it falling apart is the point. In the books though, the Imperial Order was supposed to be waging wars at the same time. How they manage this is a mystery.
  • Memetic Mutation: "This looked like a chicken, like the rest of the Mud People's chickens. But this was no chicken. This was evil manifest."
    • To a lesser extent, Goodkind's insistence that he writes "stories with important human themes" seen by detractors as the apex of his contempt for fantasy.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • At least three or four acts in Demmin's resume, any one of which could be taken as the final crossing for any other character.
    • Sebastian arranging the death of Jennsen's mother, along with four of his own soldiers, in order to ingratiate himself to Jennsen and fool her into trusting him.
    • Creation of Mord-Sith. It involves choosing the nicest girls, and breaking them. How? It's done THREE times. First, she has to get used to pain. Second, she must watch them do the same to your mother until she dies. Third, the girl has to make her father her slave and torture him to death.
  • Name's the Same:
  • Narm:
    • Richard comparing a Mord-Sith's lesbianism to steamed peas: "I might not like what you like, but that doesn't mean I don't like you anymore for liking it."
    • The Sword of Truth is literally a sword with 'truth' written on it.
    • The infamous chicken of doom.
    • Any scene involving Rachel. Especially if written from her point of view.
    • In a case where Goodkind really should have done the research first, anyone who's at all familiar with anime or manga will not be able to stop laughing at every mention of an evil, sinister villain (a female villain no less) called "Shota".
    • Samuel, full stop. Goodkind literally took Gollum, changed his name, changed the object of his desire from the One Ring to the Sword of Truth, and dropped him into his own story otherwise unchanged (aside from being a former hero).
    • An infamous typo from one edition of Faith of the Fallen: "He raised his anus, commanding silence."
    • Richard taking a full novel to realize Kahlan is still in love with him and was just trying to protect him, despite it being plainly obvious, even if readers weren't privy to her thoughts.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • The chicken thing is pretty much all people remember about the Chimes of Death. A lot of people overlook them killing women and children via drowning, burning, and falling off cliffs.
    • Michael's usually remembered for his speech against fire — even though Kahlan accuses him of advocating banning fire, what he actually says amounts to "A lot of people are killed in fires, we should do something about it." I mean, yes, he ultimately does turn out to be a traitor working with Rahl, and that speech was in fact meant to foreshadow this, but if Goodkind actually wanted us to believe Michael was ready to ban fire, he didn't sell this well outside of Kahlan's declaration that "your brother seems close to banning fire."
    • Listening to some critics you'd get the impression that killing peace protesters is all Richard does in the later books.
    • The abundant amount of S&M and near-rape scenes.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
    • The Chimes, demonic entities that exist to choke the world of magic, eventually almost causing the end of the world, are first introduced to the main characters... in the form of a chicken.
    • When Naked Empire's Big Bad is introduced, all attempts by Goodkind to make him seem terrifying are undermined by his name: Nicholas the Slide. Just try not to imagine him as a brightly-coloured, anthropomorphic piece of playground equipment.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: Jagang, Darken Rahl and Nicholas the Slide would have had no problems achieving their goals if it wasn't for Deus ex Machina. This is most blatant in the case of Nicholas and the vial of antidote.
  • Padding: The series increasingly suffers from this as it progresses. In particular, you could condense the last three or four books of the series into one, simply by removing all of the extraneous dialogue, chapter-long philosophical rants and, yes, yet more chapters of extraneous monologuing.
  • Quality by Popular Vote: In any online discussion of these books, its supporters will cling to this trope like it's the last lifeline on the Titanic. It's true that the books sell well, and thus, in the eyes of its most die-hard fans, that alone means that critics of its flaws are automatically wrong, failed to understand it or are just jealous.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Jennsen and the other major characters of The Pillars of Creation got a rather poor reception from many fans due to effectively reducing Richard and Kahlan to a cameo appearance in their own series.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Terry Goodkind tries to avert this by making villains as repulsively evil as possible so that the designated heroes' tendency to Pay Evil unto Evil doesn't make the audience turn on him. On the one hand, it means that the villains have all the odious habits that the heroes do, including the self-righteousness, and with extra rape (the only crime the heroes are not at some point guilty of) piled on top, but on the other hand, the heroes are the ones whose Kick the Dog moments we always get to see up close, while the villains' are usually just reported from afar.
  • Sci Fi Ghetto: Mr. Goodkind would very much like you to know that he does not write fantasy novels, he writes stories that have important human themes, thank you very much.
  • Seasonal Rot: The books see a general decrease in quality as the series goes on, although there remain a few good books later in the series.
  • Squick: The Sisters of the Dark get their powers of Subtractive magic by having sex with "nambles"- monsters with barbed penises.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Several.
    • The most obvious is probably Shota, the witch woman. Towards the end of the series, Richard comes to her demanding her help. She explains to him that, by his own principles, she has no obligation to help him and really just wants to be left alone. How does Richard react to being called out on his hypocrisy? He ends up steamrolling her and accusing her of "posturing". Eventually, he has to trade his sword for the information he wants.
    • Chandalen thinks Richard is dangerous because ever since he came along his people's village has been attacked repeatedly. Which it has. And yes, it's due to Richard's presence. When dragged along on a quest to save the world from the Keeper of the Underworld, Chandalen is frustrated by Kahlan's insistence on helping out a group of young soldiers against an invading army, reminding her constantly that their main quest is to save the freaking world. However, Chandalen is always presented as being wrong, despite the number of times he's proven right. However, after Kahlen's retrieval from Prindin, she acknowledges that she really got immersed in the war and forgot about her mission to find Zedd.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Creation of Mord-Sith and Richard's ordeal at the hands of Denna.
    • Raina's death in Temple of the Winds.
    • Warren's death in Faith of the Fallen-seriously sucky timing there.
    • Also Cara's wedding. The juxtaposition of what they used to be, to what they have now is incredibly moving.
    • And then in The Third Kingdom, her husband, Ben, is killed covering her and Richard's escape. Seeing her so broken afterward is heart-wrenching.
    • And this exchange in Stone of Tears:
    Verna: What about my wrinkles?
    Warren: Someday, when you get wrinkles, I'll love them, too.
  • The Un-Twist:
    • Zedd, the strange old man Richard is friends with, is indeed the great wizard Kahlan was sent looking for at the beginning of the first book.
    • Richard's realization near the end of The Stone of Tears that Kahlan still loves him and only sent him away with Sister Verna to protect him comes across to the reader as a colossal "duh!" moment. Especially since the scene where Kahlan made him go with Verna was told from her perspective, the readers knew immediately her reasons for doing so, and the surprise revelation of such to Richard only came after many chapters following. It could be justified that Richard has only spent a handful of days free of a Mord-Sith where he was forced to wear a collar while being tortured and therefore has a neurosis about having to put another one on and could feel betrayed at Kahlan taking advantage of his love for her to make him do something that terrifies him; but that doesn't come across on paper, where Richard seems to take Kahlan telling him that she hates him for not wanting to wear the collar at face value.
  • The Woobie: Rachel, Jennsen.

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