In my younger days I was a voracious reader of fiction. Since then, a combination of school and work have more or less completely robbed me of the inclination to read anything that isn’t grounded in reality (don’t cry for me – I still find lots of ways to have fun), but once upon a time I could truly describe myself as ‘a reader’. One of my favourite series of fantasy novels was the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind. In retrospect, it’s a bit overwritten and the last three books were pretty terrible, but I loved it in my heyday.
The sixth book of that series, entitled Faith of the Fallen was my favourite. It’s simultaneously an exploration of the primacy of human dignity and the harsh criticism of the debasing effect that religion has on it. It’s also a not-so-thinly-veiled retelling of objectivism, but I tried not to let that get in the way of my enjoyment. Moral lessons aside, a great deal of it is about sculpting because, y’know… why not?
The book’s protagonist, an uber-wizard named Richard, gets kidnapped and, for reasons that are really not relevant to anything important outside the context of the story itself, is forced to be a sculptor whose job it is to make a statue that shows humanity from the point-of-view of their religion – debased and cowering in the face of the almighty. He, of course, creates a masterpiece glorifying the power of the will and the resilience of humanity. In so doing, he changes everyone’s mind about religion and starts a riot (because, y’know… why not?). You should be thinking “Howard Roark” right about now.