"People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts, and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool." - The Wizard’s First Rule
So many books have left their inky traces on who I am, yet the next book I want to highlight stands out as a seminal turning point in my reading life. In Middle School I began to dabble in those longer fantasy tomes housed in the other side of the bookstore. I began with works like Terry Brooks’s Shannara series and the Dragonlance trilogy.
But the book that hooked me into the fantasy universe for good was Terry Goodkind’s Wizard’s First Rule, the first in the Sword of Truth series. Its protagonist, Richard Cypher, was a typical but compelling unlikely hero, a woodsman more at home around a camp fire than striding into battle. He was aided by Gandalf, cough, I mean Zedd, a powerful wizard who took on the older mentor role with gusto. They explored a universe that was enchanting and expansive, populated by magical beasts, individuated kingdoms with vying political aims, and myriad dangers that lurked in every thicket or seemingly empty sky. The book propelled me into the action and immersed me into its world from the first page.
And I’m still living, breathing that same world. The names have changed over the years, from the D’Hara to Middle Earth to Two Rivers, and more recently to the Kerch haven of Ketterdam and the Blackcliff Academy at the heart of the Martials Empire, but the song I hear when I turn these pages is an echo of the one I first heard years before.
It was here that I fell in love with world building, in this ground that the seeds were planted for me to write fantasy works of my own. I only hope that someday my own worlds will spawn the worlds of others.
What books caused you to stray into different worlds?