This was one of my first forays into the fantasy genre (despite Goodkind vehemently denying that he's a fantasist). The only other fantasy novels I've read are both by J.R.R. Tolkien, and even that was years ago. Consequently, I'm not sure where Goodkind ranks in the pantheon os bestselling fantasy authors. All I can say is that his prose was uninspired, and as the book wore on, the storyline became more beleaguered by dei ex machina. What I mean by the latter specifically is the previously unmentioned qualifications he put on certain relationships. For example, an X can kill a Y and a Z--unless, of course, Y is so-and-so, and Z is such-and-such. In those two cases, X can't kill them because [insert justification necessary so as to not screw up his carefully lain plans]."
Maybe two stars is overly harsh, but the last two- to three-hundred pages of this one became a real slog. Coupled with the (at times) silly characterizations of "the bad guys," and the disturbingly gratuitous torture-porn scenes, I can't go higher.