Legend of the Seeker – Book vs. Show

Season 1 of “Legend of the Seeker” has come to a close and summer reruns has commenced. Before the 2nd season starts, I thought this would be a good time to go through the season as a whole and how it relates to the book. Season One is based upon the first book, “Wizard’s First Rule”, of the “Sword of Truth” series by Terry Goodkind. While the show has taken some creative liberties, for the most part…I feel the core of the book is well adapted to the small screen. For those who haven’t read “Wizard’s First Rule”, this post is chock full of spoilers. I am going to try to relate the book to the relevant episodes on the show. Some of the questions that I will answer in this Book vs. Show rundown are: Is Darken Rahl really dead? Are Darken Rahl and Richard Cypher brothers? Finally…my thoughts on what to expect for Season 2 of “Legend of the Seeker”.


There’s no place better to start than from the beginning with the Series Premiere: Prophecy/Destiny. The series premiere for “Legend of the Seeker” is one of the best premieres that I have ever seen! I immediately started reading “Wizard’s First Rule” after watching the series premiere. What happens in this premiere is almost exactly how it is described in the book. From Kahlan running through the forest and Richard spotting her for the first time and the description of the dress – it was really spot on. The vine that bites Richard and how we are introduced to Zedd (watching the clouds naked) is how it is described in the book as we saw on screen. One of the big changes on the show is the role of the Book of Counted Shadows and because of the change, the story lines on the show had to be altered which in turn affects the events in the Season Finale: “Reckoning”. In the book, the Book of Counted Shadows is really burned, but not before Richard memorizes it. As a child, George Cypher was able to cross the boundary and retrieve the Book of Counted Shadows and in the process encounters a beast for which George slays and that tooth that Richard wears on the show is from the beast that George has slain. The tooth has other symbolism too. It is what keeps Richard safe from the shadow people when he crosses the border (it actually takes a long time to cross the border in the book). After retrieving the Book of Counted Shadows, George has Richard memorize it and once Richard was able to recite the book verbatim, they burn the book. As I mentioned before, this changes the course of events that lead up to the Season Finale. According to the Book of Counted Shadows, the way the Boxes of Orden are assembled determines the type of magic it dispels. If the boxes are put together correctly, you essentially can rule the world, if they are arranged incorrectly – you will suffer repercussions. Using what Richard already knows from the Book of Counted Shadows, he tricks Darken Rahl to assemble the Boxes of Orden incorrectly and he (Darken Rahl) dies/perishes because of it.

In the episode “Elixir”, we find out that Zedd is Richard’s grandfather. This is true, as we also learn in the episode “Bloodline”, that it is Zedd’s daughter who is Richard’s mother. In the book, Richard’s mother is already dead so at least bringing her back temporarily on the show and then killing her off is following the book in a way. She actually dies in child birth a house fire. Also within the episode “Bloodline” we meet Jensen, who is Richard’s half sister. I had to look this up, but Jensen does exist but she doesn’t appear in the first book but in a later book in the series.

“Identity” touches upon some occurrences in the book. Within the book, Darken Rahl places a spell on Richard so that when enemies of Richard see him, they will actually see the Seeker, but friends of Richard will see their enemy – Darken Rahl. I will explain how this is relevant later.

The episode “Denna” was great and almost exactly how it occurs in the book. This story line occurs more toward the end of the book so I was surprised they introduced this story line so early then alone episode 8. The only creative liberty on the show (related to this story line) was the introduction of the “breath of life”, a power that a Mord Sith has to bring someone back to life after they have passed (in a certain amount of time). I understand why they did this on the show. The character Denna was well played on the show and I’m sure the people on the show wanted a way to bring her character back. The part when Kahlan and Richard kiss, really happens in the book…so the show did not jump the shark with that moment. In order for Richard to get through his torture sessions with Denna, he thinks about Kahlan and the kiss they shared in order for him to get through the pain. One thing that wasn’t explained in this episode, that we learn in the development of Richard’s character in the book, is that Richard gets through the torture by partitioning his mind which is a characteristic of a wizard. That is why Denna was not able to break Richard while torturing him. Also within the episode, Denna dies, within the book she stays dead but Richard sees her ghost or rather images of her. So in a way that is how Denna lives.

Following the episode “Denna” was “Puppeteer”. The true book storyline that appears in this episode is with Rachel, the Princess, and the Queen. Something that really differs is that Zedd replaces the character of Giller who is the wizard that is under the Queen’s keep. Giller is actually Kahlan’s wizard who leaves her to serve the evil Queen. In the episode of “Conversion”, we meet the actual Giller. Giller is not evil in the book, you think he is for betraying Kahlan (something we don’t know the back story to), but Giller dies nobly by not giving the whereabouts of Rachel, who manages to sneak the 3rd box of Orden out of the castle. Also it is Chase who actually adopts Rachel, not the cook that was introduced in “Puppeteer”.

In the episode “Sacrifice”, we meet up with Dennee (Kahlan’s sister) who we presumed was dead. In the book, Dennee is already dead. She does not have a baby, but I thought it was clever way to introduce why there aren’t male confessors. What they conveyed from the book and into the show is that male confessors are not able to control their powers and the “confessed” men (Confessor’s mates) kill them at birth before they become corrupt. Another roundabout storyline in this episode is Kahlan becoming the Mother Confessor. Kahlan already is the Mother Confessor (which is known fact known throughout the Midlands in the book) so it was interesting that the writers of the show came up with some back story of how she becomes the Mother Confessor.

In the episode “Sanctuary” we meet the character James. James is actually an evil character in the book. James is an artist who can paint magic spells (on people) and he actually works for Rahl. In the book, James paints a box around Richard which almost kills him as James’s signature style is to paint an invisible box around someone that gets smaller and smaller until it crushes them.

Now the analysis of “Reckoning” the Season Finale. Let’s get the biggest question/conspiracy in this episode out of the way. Darken Rahl is not Richard’s brother. He is actually Richard’s father! Ahhhh…definitely more menacing right? It is true that Panis Rahl is Darken Rahl’s father, but Panis was not Richard’s father. Richard’s mother was raped by Darken Rahl, and it is Zedd who brings her through the border and she meets and falls in love with George Cypher who takes care of Richard as if he was his own son. Considering the fact that the actor who plays Darken Rahl (Craig Parker) is not old enough looking to be Richard’s father…I understand the story line change.

This is how the book actually ends, which is definitely different from the season finale. Kahlan actually summons the Con Dar (introduced in the episode “Conversion”) (toward the end) when she hears that Richard has died by the hand of Darken Rahl and Denna (or so she was told). Kahlan is distraught to hear that Richard was at the hands of a Mord Sith, which is a known fact that most people do not live after a Mord Sith is done with them. She summons the Con Dar and when Zedd and Kahlan go into the People’s Castle she sees Darken Rahl carrying the Sword of Truth. As I mentioned before, in the book Darken Rahl puts a spell on Richard so since Richard was a friend, Kahlan thinks she sees Darken Rahl but it is actually Richard. Zedd figures out something is wrong, but it is too late as Kahlan confesses Richard. Richard is officially confessed (or is he?), and since he is confessed – Darken Rahl makes Richard tell him how to assemble the Boxes of Orden (as Darken Rahl discovers that Richard has memorized the Book of Counted Shadows), and since he is confessed; he has to tell the truth. Richard then tells Darken Rahl how to arrange the Boxes of Orden and since he believes that Richard is “confessed”, he believes that Richard speaks the truth. Darken Rahl arranges the Boxes of Orden incorrectly and he dies, just like he does on the show.

If Richard was “confessed”, how was he able to fool Darken Rahl? Richard was only pretending to be confessed. It is Richard’s love for Kahlan and her love for him that prevented her magic from taking over him. After Darken Rahl dies, Kahlan separates herself from everyone and Richard finds her by a fountain pointing a dagger at herself. She looks up at Richard and tells him that she can’t live with herself for “confessing” him and that the only way to release him from her magic was to kill herself. Richard tells her not to do it (of course) and she asks him to kiss her before she kills herself. He says no because she has “war paint” on her face and she is shocked that he refused her and then she realizes that he was still himself and that her magic didn’t work on him. She was baffled and he explained that he knew that he was hers completely and even though he was scared when she went to confess him, he let her confess him because he was willing to give himself over to her and he knew that there was no doubt in his mind that she loved him too. She is elated and they kiss and Zedd catches up to them and Kahlan tells him the good news and Zedd tells them he knew. They both are confused and Zedd explains that if they knew there was a possibility for them to be together without her changing him then the “magic” wouldn’t have worked. He further explained that they had to figure it out between themselves. They ask again how he knew, and Zedd says that he is a wizard of the first order (and he obviously knows things that goes beyond their knowledge), but he does tell them that they can’t go around telling people their secret because if everyone knew then it wouldn’t be special.

What to expect from Season 2 of “Legend of the Seeker”? Well…I envision that next season’s villain will focus on the Keeper. At the end of “Wizard’s First Rule”, Zedd says that the veil has been torn with Darken Rahl’s death and the Keeper is to come. In the episode “Sanctuary”, the Keeper was briefly mentioned which makes me believe that next season – it will be elaborated more. Also, even though Darken Rahl is dead, he is able to cause havoc from the underworld…so this is probably not the last time we will see Darken Rahl. I’m sure that next season we will see Richard and Kahlan’s relationship grow, but what was left open ended at the end of this season is if Richard was confessed or not. For the purpose of television, I do not think they will have Richard and Kahlan get together so quickly and they’ll probably find ways to test their relationship but at the same time keep them apart (for now). I also think we will see the beginnings of Richard’s magic, as we know he has Wizard’s blood flowing through him. In the episode “Revenant”, the show introduces the idea that the Seeker can perform magic, so I think there will be episodes related to the development of Richard’s magical abilities in Season 2. An interesting point someone brought up on a previous post of mine, in regards to the Season Finale, is if the show will elaborate on the fact that Richard becomes Richard Rahl. Part of me thinks this will be omitted from the show taking into the fact of all the creative changes made on the show, but it is something that could be touched upon in the future.

I am definitely looking forward to Season 2. Summer reruns are going to run right up to the end of October, so I figure the season 2 premiere will be in November sometime. For more information on the show, check out the show’s official website including the summer schedule. Full episodes can also be viewed on Hulu.com.

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15 Comments

Filed under Books, Legend of the Seeker, TV

15 responses to “Legend of the Seeker – Book vs. Show

  1. Pingback: brutal battles » Watch Legend of the Seeker season 1 episode 22 Reckoning

  2. Carter

    You said richard’s mother dies at birth, but it is in the fire. just a small correction

  3. RPF

    You also said
    he only creative liberty on the show (related to this story line) was the introduction of the “breath of life”, a power that a Mord Sith has to bring someone back to life after they have passed (in a certain amount of time). I understand why they did this on the show. The character Denna was well played on the show and I’m sure the people on the show wanted a way to bring her character back.

    in the book the mordsith can breath life back to people and is introduced toward the middle of the series but I pictured it more like cpr rather than something magical. denna is dead and gone though

  4. Charity

    I have been watching the Seeker series, and since I read the books first, it is hard for me to enjoy the show. The series premiere drove me nuts with how much it differed from the book. First, Richard found the vine before he ever got near the Confessor. Second, Richard’s father is supposed to be dead before the story even begins. Third, Richard was good friends with Zedd, whereas the show made it come across that Richard thought the old man was just some nut job. Forth, no one is supposed to know who Zedd is, which was changed when Kahlan named him in the very first episode. Changing the Rahl’s to brothers was a smaller upset, but still took away from the story a bit for me. Even later, in season 2, they made major changes. I’m trying to enjoy the show for what it is, but since I’m already on book 6 of the series, that may prove difficult. I also have to agree with RPF that I thought the Breath of Life would be more of a physical than a magical thing, since the Mord Sith are terrified of magic.

  5. Jose

    I read the books before watching the TV series and still find the TV series to be a million times better than the novels, all for one reason, even. The thing I most detested about the books (this took place more in the latter half of the series) was Mr. Goodkind’s attachment towards the Objectivist philosophy (if it can even be labeled as such) and his manifestation of it and other (meaning every other) counterfeit ideology (such as altruism) in his characters. This led to some pretty interesting occurrences in the books dealing with torture, rape and other unnecessary information. Because a major point of Objectivism is the idea that if you aren’t with us, then you’re against us, the main characters (whom I respected and admired in the first few books) became nothing more than holier-than-thou hypocrites who harbored life as their highest ideal yet murdered and tortured (oftentimes innocent) people mercilessly. And don’t even get me started on the final trilogy, where something happens to one of the characters and a specific main character would rather die than live in a world without the first character. This alone conflicts with a principle of Objectivism (and even in his Goodkind’s novels) dealing with ‘your life being yours alone’ and how living for somebody else is wrong and you will be exercising your distaste for proper moral clarity, and blah blah blah…And so the books continue.

    The TV series had very little amount of this grueling riffraff simply because the characters were not built in the eyes of the ‘perfect and noble’ humans Objectivism praises. Instead, Richard and Kahlan seem like two normal people who love each other very deeply and love life just as much. Take for example of the first episodes of season two where Richard and co. had to protect a village of pacifists from an army of mercilessly killing rouges. Watch that episode, then read Naked Empire and tell me the differences between Richard’s actions. I’m sure that book even made Ayn Rand start turning in her grave after being published.

    Take also, another episode from season two where Richard was sent to the Palace of the Prophets to train as a wizard and control his gift in order to cure his headache. In the books, Richard made a big fuss about ‘never wanting to be collared again because I deserve to live my own life’ and then over-dramatized his situation when his beloved sent him with the sisters who would inevitably attempt to control him by placing a collar around his neck. For those of us who read book two of Terry’s riveting series, I’m sure you agree with me when I tell you Richard became extremely emotional, believing that his lover no longer loved him because she sent him away to be a slave to someone else. In the TV series? Nope, nothing like that; he goes to cure his headache willingly because otherwise he would slow everyone down and become a burden to the rest of the party, not to mention die if he wasn’t cured soon.

    The way I see it, the TV series is basically the books without the pompous, hypocritical and insane personalities of the novels. I’m sure Goodkind watches the show with pure hatred at ‘getting it all wrong’, but I watch the show and marvel at how utterly sincere and good-natured Richard and Kahlan seem to be and only wonder how much better the books would have been had they been written with the TV series in mind.

    • F

      The show is watered down drivel. Many of the “creative liberties” they took were needless. I understand removing some of the more controvercial events, but the changing of core elements is going to far. It’s a completely different story.

      In the book, Richard and Kahlan often gave those who opposed them every opportunity to do the right thing. They didn’t slaughter people that didn’t mean them or innocent people immediate harm. The books demonstrated that the only way to fight violence may occasionally be more violence, without it how would innocent people become free? Pray? Wait for all the evil oppressors to die of old age? Right. Mr. Goodkind showed the readers that these characters aren’t perfect and they may act selfishly, rashly and/or in a plainly ignorant manner, even if their core intentions are good.

      Most of all, the written series showcased the power of love. The love of freedom from oppression as well as the love one can have for their mate. True love like that is a rare thing, a powerful thing. For a long time, both Richard and Kahlan struggled with the belief that the other could feel as strongly as they do about one another. It took over half the series for them to gain that level of trust and belief in one another. The love was there, but doubt lingered for a long while.

      The books had a strong emotional backbone, something the televised series lacks, save on occaasion when something vaguely reminds me of something that happened in the books. When that happens I tend to pause for a moment and relish in the thought of how great the show could have been if it would have stuck closer to the real story and taken the viewers on an emotional journey rather than a collection of, essentially, stand alone episodes.

  6. seeker

    Actually, the dress is nowhere near what is in the book. In the book, it was a square-cut dress that elegant and pure white, devoid of any frills, accessories, or laces. In the series, the dress is almost off-the shoulder and far more low-cut than in the book. It also had trimmings and was more cotton-like then teh satiny silkiness in the book.

    Then there are the other glaring differences others said. ^_^

  7. karl

    I’m not sure if you are somehow reading a different Wizard’s First Rule to the one I have, because when you say the series premier follows almost exactly how its written in the book I couldn’t disagree more.

    I was initially quite excited to find someone had made a TV show from one of my favourite series of books, but immediately find it hard to watch due to it’s inaccuracy, maybe it would be a good series if you hadn’t read the books first….

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  10. Me

    Really my biggest problem with the show… Richard is a boy, I always viewed Richard as a man. Not roided out or anything but a tall, well built, strong jaw lined character. And Kahlan looks almost older then she should be, and what is up with her blue eyes… green. If your gona change the story so drastically… small things like that need to be kept so you don’t lose total sight of the story.

  11. WHy

    it feels like a soap opera i am sorry

  12. Willow

    I don’t think you were reading the correct book. I couldn’t get past the first episode of the show because it was so disgustingly different from the book. If you want to truly enjoy the story, never watch the show again and read the entire series.

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