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Terry Goodkind, bestselling fantasy author, dies

Updated September 21, 2020 - 3:12 pm

Terry Goodkind, the Southern Nevada-based author whose “Sword of Truth” fantasy novels became worldwide bestsellers and were the basis of a syndicated television series, has died.

A post on Goodkind’s official Facebook page said Goodkind died Sept. 17.

“It is impossible to put into few words just how amazing of a man, a husband, a writer, a friend, and a human, Terry Goodkind truly was,” the post continues. “He is already desperately missed. We are forever grateful for him having shared his life’s work with all of us, as he was always grateful to be held in our hearts.”

According to the website of Goodkind’s publisher, Tor Books, Goodkind was 72, and his agent confirmed news of the author’s death.

His books — fantasy novels and, later, several adult contemporary thrillers — have sold more than 26 million copies around the world and have been published in more than 20 languages, according to a bio on his webpage.

Goodkind was a woodworker and an artist before writing his first novel, “Wizard’s First Rule,” published in 1994. The novel, about a man who learns that he is a wizard whose destiny it is to save the world, became the first installment in the author’s epic series, “The Sword of Truth, which grew to include 17 novels published over 25 years.

He launched another series, “The Children of D’Hara,” in 2019. Five books in that series, which begins immediately after the “Sword of Truth” series ends, were published, as were four books in “The Nicci Chronicles,” following a character from the “Sword of Truth” series.

In 2009, Goodkind branched out into contemporary thrillers with “The Law of Nines” and again in 2016 with “Nest.” Four more thrillers followed.

In 2008, Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” series became the basis for “Legend of the Seeker,” a syndicated TV series that ran for two seasons.

The writer, whose hobbies included auto racing, told the Review-Journal in 2016 that because he suffered from dyslexia as a kid, he didn’t read much. However, he did enjoy making up stories to entertain himself.

“I’d go to sleep at night dreaming up stories about characters that were in trouble, and I’d imagine what they were afraid of and how they got out of trouble, how they’d solve whatever the problem was,” he said.

“Wizard’s First Rule,” Goodkind’s first bestseller, began when he “just wanted to write a story and entertain myself and have a great time,” he said. But, after finishing part of it, “I thought, ‘This is really good.’ ”

He sent the book to the best agent he could find, kicking off his career as a bestselling author.

Goodkind’s fantasy novels also had philosophical heft beyond their fantasy trappings. “My stories are the American ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he told the Review-Journal in 2007, illustrating “our struggle for freedom, our struggle for independence, our struggle for individual liberty and people ruled by reason.”

Goodkind didn’t view his “Sword of Truth” novels as fantasy. The novels always were aimed at mainstream readers, he said, and their fantasy elements merely grew out of “the way I told that story,” he said in 2009.

“The story I was telling needed a broad landscape. It needed to be a grand epic,” he said.

“When I was writing ‘Sword of Truth,’ I wasn’t writing fantasy. I was writing a story about characters in great trouble and characters sharing the same kinds of problems we all have.”

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.