This post has a lot of spoilers for the Sword of Truth series of books by Terry Goodkind, the Wheel of Time series of books by Robert Jordan, and the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. Do not read if you don’t want to know.
I started reading the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind, (Wizard’s First Rule and Stone of Tears) and couldn’t help but to notice all the coincidences between this series and others. Some descriptions, settings, characters, etc. are so similar to the Wheel of Time and, in one place, the Lord of the Rings, that I’m done trying to push it off as coincidence. It’s straight-up copying.
Sword of Truth versus Wheel of Time
(aka, the Chicken or the Egg of Fantasy Series)
Main character’s name is Rand.
Main character’s name is Richard.
Rand is raised by Tam al’Thor, who ends up not being his father.
Richard is raised by George Cypher, who ends up not being his father.
Rand has a dangerous power he doesn’t want and must learn to control.
Richard has a dangerous power he doesn’t want and must learn to control.
There are fanatical Sisters of the Light who believe what they do is good.
There are fanatical Whitecloaks who believe what they do is good.
The Sisters of the Light live in a palace where they train magic and take petitions from the town.
The Aes Sedai Sisters live in a tower where they train magic and take petitions from the town.
The Sisters of the Light have the ranks of Novice up to SIster.
The Aes Sedai have the ranks of Novice up to Sister.
The Sisters of the Light have been infiltrated by Sisters of the Dark, who everyone pretends doesn’t exist.
The Aes Sedai have been infiltrated by Black Ajah, who everyone pretends doesn’t exist.
The Amyriln sends young Novice/Accepted to hunt (and be bait) for the Black Ajah.
The Prelate sends a young Wizard to hunt (and be bait) for the Sisters of the Dark.
Min sees visions and auras around people of what is going to happen in the future.
Jebra sees visions and auras around people of what is going to happen in the future.
Moiraine wears a small blue stone on a chain across her forehead, signifying her rank/birth.
Jebra wears a small blue stone on a chain across her forehead, signifying her power.
The Seanchan collar people with magic and torture/train them to be what they want.
The Sisters of the Light collar people with magic and torture/train them to be what they want.
Rand is locked in a box and beaten and eventually overcomes it and frees himself.
Richard is locked in a room and beaten and eventually overcomes it and frees himself.
Rand becomes one of the Aiel – a “savage” fighting tribe type people.
Richard becomes one of the Mud People – a “savage” fighting tribe type people.
Rand becomes the Car’a'carn, or leader, of the Aiel that was prophesied.
Richard becomes the Caharin, or leader, of the Baka Ban Mana that was prophesied.
Elayne and Rand both look up to the ceiling in the Palace of Camelyn and think that the past rulers are looking down at them, judging them not good enough.
Kahlan looks up to the ceiling in the Palace at Aydindril and thinks that the past rulers are looking down at her, judging her not good enough.
Gollum follows Frodo around with a rope on his neck, wanting the One Ring, claiming it was his because he once used to own it. He is deformed and no longer a Hobbit from the power of the Ring.
Samuel follows Richard around with a rope on his neck, wanting the Sword of Truth, claiming it was his because he once used to own it. He is deformed and no longer Human from the power of the Sword.
Also, it seems like I’m not the only one to think this.
1. The Two Rivers vs. the Westland:
The Two Rivers, home to Rand al’Thor, is an area that has only one viable route in or out, unless you try to go over the mountains, but not too many people have. This is because of natural phenomenon, like the mountains already mentioned, impassable forests, swamps etc. The Two Rivers is essentially shut off from the outside world. The Westland, home to Richard Cypher/Rahl, is an area shut off from the rest of the world by a magical boundary with only one way through that boundary.
While the method is different both homes of the hereos are, in the beginning of the story, sealed off from the outside world.
2. Richard Cypher/Rahl vs. Rand al’Thor:
Both our main characters start off with humble beginnings, Richard the simple woodsguide and Rand the simple farmboy. Richard is the son of Darken Rahl, ruler of D’Hara, not George Cypher, as he believed for most of his life. Richard became the ruler of D’Hara when he killed his father and is now protected by an elite squad of female warriors know as Mord-Sith. Rand is not the son of Tam al’Thor, but is in fact the son of a dead chief of an Aiel tribe. Rand now rules all the Aiel tribes, except one, and is protected by an elite squad of female warriors known as the Maidens of the Spear. Rand’s mother was a former princess of Andor, turned Maiden of the Spear. Richard is a wizard and master of the sword, raising to his level of expertise over night with the help of the Sword of Truth. I read on another site that both sides of the gift (additive and subtractive) are needed to wield the magic of the sword of truth, this is not true.) He is the first wizard born with both sides of the gift in 3000 years and who is prophecised to save the world. Rand is a master of the sword, he took more time than Richard to reach his level of expertise, but did so much quicker than I would have thought was possible. Rand has the use of the gift, he is the reincarnation of Lews Therin Telamon, a man born 3000 years ago, and is prophecised to save the world.
So, both main characters were adopted, both now lead massive empires that their true fathers once led and both are protected by an elite squad of female warriors. Both men are masters of the sword, both men have use of magic, both men are supposed to save the world and there is that thing about 3000 years.
3. Kahlan Amnell vs. Moiraine Damodred
The Sword of Truth begins with the arrival of a strange and beautiful woman. We find out quite quickly that someone is trying to kill her, that she has the command of a magical power and that she is the Mother Confessor, a person of considerable political power in the Midlands. The Wheel of Time begins with the arrival of a beautiful stranger. Not long after her arrival a horde of Trollocs arrives and tries to kill her and everyone else. We discover that she is a woman with the command of powerful magic and later that she holds considerable political power as an Aes Sedai. She is also a Damodred, a member of a family that once ruled the kingdom of Cairhien and still holds considerable sway in the ruling of that kingdom.
Two beautiful and powerful women, both in magic and political sway, arrive in a quaint land and bring with them terror and destruction that will forever alter the people of that land.
4. Aiel vs. D’Hara
The Aiel are a race of people that once threatened the region in which most of the Wheel of Time takes place (does it have a name?). They live in an area that is blocked off by mountains with only one pass through to the outside world. D’Hara once threatened the Midlands with domination, there are mountains between D’Hara and the Midlands and although there are many passes through these mountains D’Hara was onced sealed off from the Midlands by a magical boundary that had only one small pass through. The Aiel, under the command of Rand al’Thor, are trying to conquer all the kngdoms on their continent, except for Shara, in an effort to unite them against an implacable invading foe, the Seanchan. D’Hara, under the command of Richard Rahl conquered the Midlands in an attempt to unite them against an invading, implacable foe, the Imperial Order.
Two kingdoms, sealed away, for the most part, from the outside world. Once seen as evil, war mongering conquerors they did in fact conquer many kingdoms and are now the best hope for stopping a massive invasion that threatens to destroy their way of life.
5. Aes Sedai vs. Sisters of the Light.
Aes Sedai are a group of female magic users, some of whom are devoted to searching out men who have the use of the gift. Some of them also meddle in the affairs of kingdoms in an effort to guide them along paths suitable to the Aes Sedai, and they especially meddle with all things concerning the Dragon Reborn. Aes Sedai live a long time because of the magic they use. There is a secret sect of Aes Sedai devoted to evil and service of the Dark One. Sisters of the light are a group of female magic users who search for men with the gift and train them to be wizards. They sometimes meddle in the affairs of other kingdoms in order to guide mankind along a suitable path, and they definitely meddle with all things concerning Richard Rahl. There is a spell around the Palace of the Prophets, where the Sisters of the Light live, that prolongs their life. Some of the Sisters are secretly devoted to evil and service of the Keeper of the Underworld. Some Aes Sedai follow Rand and fight for him. Some Sisters follow Richard and fight for him. Some Aes Sedai were captured by the Seanchan and are now forced to fight against Rand and other Aes Sedai. Some Sisters were captured by the Imperial Order and are now forced to fight against Richard and other Sisters.
Two societies of female magic users that both have secret evil members, search for men who have the gift, use their power for political influence, live a long time and are now divided between to armies warring against each other.
6. The Gift vs. The Gift
Spawning from the comparison of Aes Sedai vs. Sisters of the Light we have an examination of the power that is the source of their magic. In both series magic is often referred to as the gift, that I can live with, but their are many other things that about this gift that I can’t. In SoT, as a result of a betrayal by a wizard, the gift has been dying out in people for 3000 years. In WoT, we find the same thing, there were only 900 Aes Sedai and fewer than 9 apprentices that had the possibility of being raised to a full Aes Sedai. Robert does differ from Terry in that his reason for the gift dying out in people was because the Aes Sedai were lazy and didn’t find all the people, something that has now been rectified in his books. Wizards were more powerful 3000 years ago in SoT, able to perform grand feats of magic that can only be dreamed of today. Same as WoT, many magical abilities were lost during the breaking, but again Robert doesn’t let it stay like this and has people figure out how to the things that were only dreamed of before. In WoT, there are two sides to the gift, one that can only be summoned by men, and one that can only be summoned by women. Men can use the female side of the gift if he is in control of a link between the two, and vice-versa. Men use the gift differently from women, making it nearly impossible for women to teach men how to use their power, and vice-versa. In SoT, there is reference to a female side and a male side of the gift. Women can use the male side, they have to steal it, but they can still use it and I would assume that a man could use the female side by stealing it as well. Men and women use the gift differently, making it extremely difficult for women to teach men and vice-versa. Magic itself is used by “weaving” and these weaves can be “tied off.”
And now for all you SoT fans that have somehow managed to make it this far in the comparison I give you a chance to strike back at WoT fans. It is an incredibly small chance and you’ll fail miserably trying to use it, but I think it would be funny to see you try. In SoT not only is there a female and male side to the gift, but there is also a power that is provided by the Creator (good god), which is additive magic, and the Keeper (bad god), which is subtractive magic. Anyone who wishes to wield subtractive magic except for Richard must enlist the aid of the Keeper for the low low price of their soul and eternal damnation. In WoT, in the most recent books a new character has appeared, one who uses a power provided by the Dark One, and of course there is a price for it. Terry has always used subtractive/additive magic, Robert only introduced his “dark” magic in his most recent books. Of course, having so much of his stuff copied by Terry, who could blame Robert for turning the tables on Terry?
Men and women wield different powers, and use them differently but can under certain circumstances use the power of the opposite sex. Magic is dying out and tasks of incredible power are lost with the ages.
And who could forget the one lone hope for SoT fans? Both good and bad gods provide a magical power, but using the bad god’s power comes at a price.
7. Seanchan vs. The Imperial Order
The Seanchan, the massive invasion force mentioned above, are bent on the total domination of that area where the story takes place but has no name. They control a vast amount of territory on their home continent of Seanchan and are ruled by an Empress with absolute power. Torture, executions, assassinations and fear are all used to keep the populace in order. Seanchan use magic wielders controlled by a magic collar called the A’dam (similar to the Rada’Han but I’m not going to spend much time on a comparison) to combat their enemies. Seanchan are also extremely untrusting of magic users, another reason for the collar. The Imperial Order, the massive invasion force mentioned above, or was that the Seanchan? Gets hard to tell sometimes. Anyway, the Imperial Order seeks the total domination of the New World and threatens their way of life. Torture, executions, assassinations and fear are all used to keep the populace in order. The Imperial Order is untrusting of magic users and controls them through the Emperor/Dream Walker, Jagang, who uses them to fight his enemies. The Order also controls a vast amount of territory.
Massive invading armies that use enslaved magic users that they don’t trust to fight their enemies and are not about torture and murder to control their massive territories.