Terry Goodkind is a polarizing force in the fantasy world, so much so that I feel the need to defend this being so high on the list prior to receiving any criticism. To the people who do not like Goodkind, I will say this: whether or not you love this book is determined largely based on when you read it. I was one of the lucky ones. I read this book when I was still young. For me it served as a foundation for what our genre could be—an incredible adventure that can also delve into some grotesque violence complete with vivid descriptions. While I do not typically love reading that sort of thing, it serves a great purpose in this book, as it shows just how evil some characters can be. If you have not already been jaded by the typical tropes that the genre can deliver, this could be an incredible read for you, as it was for the young me. However, if the more typical clich?s (which one could argue Goodkind had a hand in creating) bother you, then this novel, and more so the ones that follow, will likely trigger you to scorn.
Also note, that the prequel to the series, The First Confessor, is widely regarded as a strong novel in its own right, and may be worth checking out if you haven't already. It should be read after the Sword of Truth series, though, to avoid spoilers.
The protective barrier that separates Westland from its neighbors to the east is about to fall, letting loose a monstrous evil upon the world. Only the combined efforts of a young man dedicated to finding the truth, an enigmatic woman intent on concealing her past, and a crusty old hermit resigned to his inevitable destiny can prevent the opening of the three boxes of Orden-an event with the potential to destroy existence itself. The inclusion of graphic scenes of sado-eroticism, though integral to the story, may deter purchase by some libraries. Nevertheless, this first novel offers an intriguing variant on the standard fantasy quest. The richly detailed world and complex characters will appeal to mature fantasy aficionados. More on Goodreads.