Legend of the Seeker is a television show based on the Sword of Truth book series. For those of you that aren't nerds, Sword of Truth is an epic fantasy series written by Terry Goodkind. It spans eleven books, and the first book of the series, Wizard's First Rule, is one of the best fantasy books ever. Filled with plot twists, magic, sword fights, likeable characters, and a world that is uniquely it's own, it wasn't a stretch to think that a good TV show could've been made out of this book.
The "quick" plot summary is this. Richard Cypher (Craig Horner) is a woods guide from the Westland, a place with no magic, that has been separated from the Midlands (a place with magic), by a barrier called the boundary. Richard meets a woman from the Midlands, Kahlan Amnell (Bridget Regan), as she is being chased by a group of assassins and helps her to defeat them. Kahlan is a Confessor, a woman who can use magic to control the minds of people she touches. She has crossed the boundary in search for the First Wizard, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander (Bruce Spence), so that he can name a Seeker to defeat the evil Darken Rahl (Craig Parker). Rahl has taken over the Midlands, and the Seeker has been prophecized to stop him. Zedd names Richard the Seeker and gives him the magical Sword of Truth, after which the three of them go off to find and destroy Darken Rahl.
And while this is a good plot to work from, my excitement died when I learned the show was going to be on the CW. I'm trying to be less pessimistic, so I decided to give the show a chance. After watching the first two episodes, I discovered three things.
- This was not actually going to have anything to do with the Sword of Truth series
- Kahlan is pronounced Kay Lin (I can finally use her name in conversation!)
- I really miss Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
At the time, the first point struck me as most relevant to my future watching. Knowing that the beauty and intricacy of Wizard's First Rule was being violated, the nerd in me wanted to give up the show on the spot. It turns out, the third point was stronger. I really missed Hercules, and so I continued watching.
It is important to note that while Legend of the Seeker is not Sword of Truth, it is not entirely unrelated. The characters are mostly the same, though some of the relations have been changed. For example, Richard Cypher does not know that he is the grandson of Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander. Kahlan Amnell is not the only living Confessor. The Book of Counted Shadows was brought to Richard by Kahlan, rather than Richard having memorized it in his youth. These are huge plot points, and only the beginning of the changes that were made to the story.
While these are glaring errors to anyone who has read the books (and I know people who have stopped watching the show just because of these things), it doesn't really impact the feel. The characters still act in ways that are consistent with how they should be acting. Zedd is still highly amusing, a teacher, and a great wizard. Richard is still completely righteous, willing to help out anyone even if it means putting himself in mortal peril. Kahlan is still an imposing figure, wise, beautiful, and a superb guard to Richard. So, though the events that occur in the show do not mirror the events of the book, they certainly could have happened if those characters were put into those situations.
All right, enough comparisons of the book to the show. If you can tolerate the changes to the plot (or if you're new to the series), what you'll find can best be described as Hercules without Kevin Sorbo. This should be completely unsurprising considering the producers, Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert, are the same. I'll be the first to admit, Hercules wasn't the most thought provoking show, but it was still fun. Legend of the Seeker is certainly just as enjoyable to watch. There isn't an episode where you don't see a good sword fight, magic, and people getting Confessed.
But, that's not all! Since the show is filmed in New Zealand, there is never a lack of beautiful scenery. The costumes are very well done, especially the white dress of the Confessor. The characters themselves are equally beautiful. It's not uncommon to see Craig Horner shirtless (which my sister seems to enjoy), and seeing Bridget Regan in a Mord-Sith outfit (tight, red leather) was just spectacular. Is it wrong to enjoy that? Maybe, but that doesn't stop me. Perhaps the best thing, in a world where people praise boring, drawn out shows with no ending in sight (Lost, Battlestar Galactica), is that the episodes are stand alone. While, there is a background plot (find and kill the bad guy), each show is a story on it's own and can be watched without four seasons of catch up.
The actors themselves seem well placed. While Craig Horner may not be as manly as Kevin Sorbo, he plays the role of a woods guide turned most powerful swordsman in the world pretty well. Bridget Regan moves with the grace you'd expect from a Confessor, and she's apparently half-ninja. Plus, she's a much hotter sidekick than Iolaus was. Bruce Spence is perhaps the best cast of them all. Having to deal with the many moods of Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, who continuously varies between extreme seriousness and childish playfulness can't be easy. But, when you see his facial expressions, you can't help but think that this was the character Terry Goodkind envisioned.
In the end, I highly recommend this show to anyone who liked Hercules or Xena. And to those who would hate this show because of it's lack of adherence to the book, watch the Denna episode. Why? Because, Mord-Sith are yummy.