18 September 2020

Putting on my Confessor Face: on Terry Goodkind and Inspiration

Read this one, I mean it.
Yesterday I learned of the death of an author that had a profound effect on me as a wanna-be fantasy author, Terry Goodkind. While I did not read everything he wrote, I did read the entirety of the Sword of Truth series. A review of this series never made it to my book blog, Well Read, but I wanted to do an overview here, and tell you why I believe this to be an important series to read.

I am one of a few, I'm learning, who write fantasy but aren't really fans of the "classics" in the genre, such as - steady yourself - Tolkein. I loved the Hobbit when I read it in 4th grade (age 8/9) but I moved on immediately to try to read The Fellowship of the Ring. While I'm sure both of my parents thought me to be a reading prodigy and sort of a genius, that book fell flat with young Nancy and I will admit that I never picked it up to try again. To this day I have read bits here and there and seen the movies, but I just couldn't.

If you look at my list of life changing books, the genres are all over the place: Wuthering Heights (with a modern understanding of the problematic parts), The Historian, The Percy Jackson novels. It was probably not until I discovered The Sword of Truth series, at the recommendation of a good friend and fellow gamer, that I had the idea that I might like to write novels. I had written other books in niche genres, but you know that feeling when you are reading something and you think that either you wish you could live in that universe or "I wish I had written this?" Both of those applied to Wizard's First Rule.

As I said in my Facebook post about Goodkind's passing, "the Mother Confessor, the Seeker, the Mord Sith, even Darken Rahl were such well rounded characters, dancing right up to the edge of being a Mary Sue (Richard) but not faling into that trope." We all want to write the character that saves the world. Goodkind reminded me that you can do that as well as show all the trials and tribulations leading to that win, and still have the story of the everyman at the end of the novel - or series. 

In addition to my life as a writer, Goodkind has also influenced how I think about my life as an interpreter. I have blogged before about how much I identified with the character of the Mother Confessor, Kahlan, in respect to my DayJob™ and interpreter decorum here:

Terry Goodkind has quickly become one of my favorite authors, and he describes in his Sword of Truth series a character who serves as a judge of sorts...she is called a Confessor, and he talks about her wearing her Confessor's face. I do that. I wear my Interpreter's Face. Impartial. Objective. A mask. The line "sometimes I wish someone out there would find me" rang out to me, causing me to recall those times that I stood outside the huddle of support, wishing for someone to hand me a tissue or take my hand in comfort...but remaining quietly in the background, Interpreter's Face on.

and here:

I've compared this before to the 'Confessor's face' that author Terry Goodkind created for his character, Kahlan Amnell, in the Sword of Truth fantasy series. Confessors are women that are born into a magical sisterhood and have the ability to discern truth from lies (by basically taking over the mind of the person and leaving them a slave to the Confessor, but that's beside the point here). From Temple of the Winds:

Kahlan was wearing her Confessor's face: the blank expression that showed none of her feelings.

We are taught as interpreters to do this - to an extent. We are conveying communication and by necessity that involves emotion, so I am never that 'blank,' but it is not MY emotion you are seeing. It should never be my emotion.

So I am properly mourning a life that never, ever, intersected with my own save through a recommendation heeded, a book series read/consumed, and inspiration sought and given. Thank you, Mr. Goodkind, for sharing your work with us and inspiring us to go forward, better understanding ourselves and our world.

In your light we thrive. In your mercy we are sheltered. In your wisdom we are humbled. We live only to serve. -part of the D'Haran devotion to Lord Rahl, Sword of Truth series.

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