History of the book
The book was originally authored by Wizard Quinn, known to Richard as Kolo. It was authored during the Great War as a false key to the Boxes of Orden, shortly after the Sword of Truth was created as the real key. It was kept in the Wizard's Keep since. George Cypher, with the aid of Ann and Nathan however,stole the book from the Wizard's Keep and took the book with him back to Westland. He then had his stepson, Richard Cypher (also known as Richard Rahl since the second book, Stone of Tears), learn the book, word for word, from cover to cover. Constantly, he had Richard write the book from memory then crosscheck it for errors. Eventually, Richard had memorized the entire book and the book was then destroyed, burned in a fire.
Words from the book
The book starts with the words:
Verification of the truth of the words of the Book of Counted Shadows, if spoken by another, rather than read by the one who commands the boxes, can only be insured by the use of a Confessor.
In Legend of the Seeker, the book begins with: The truth of the words of the Book of Counted Shadows can only be ensured by a Confessor.
Somewhere between the start and the end:
And when the three boxes of Orden are put into play, the snake vine shall grow.
The book ends with the words: (as Richard recited to Darken Rahl )
Once so arranged, Orden is at the ready to be commanded. Where one shadow is insufficient to gain the power to sustain the life of the player, and three more than can be tolerated by all life, the balance is struck by opening the box with two shadows; one shadow for yourself, and one for the world that would be yours to command by the power of Orden. One world under one command is marked by the box with two shadows. Open it to gain your reward.
Richard left out the following words of the final paragraph:
Be cautioned. The effect of the boxes is fluid. It shifts with the intent. To be Master of all, so you may help others, shift one box to the right. To be Master of all, so all will do your bidding, shift one box to the left. Rule as you have chosen.
There are five copies of the Book of Counted Shadows and one original text. One of the books was found in the secret catacombs of The Palace of the Prophets, another in the secret catacombs under The People's Palace, another was held in the First Wizard's Enclave in the Wizard's Keep, another in the secret catacombs of the Wizard's Keep and another in the secret tomb of Richard Rahl in Caska. The original text was found in the secret tomb of Nathan Rahl in the Bandakar Empire and can be identified by the wizard's mark in the beginning of the book. Also Kahlan is the one that notices that two of the copies are labeled The Book of Counted Shadow and not The Book of Counted Shadows.
Page 12 of the Book of Counted Shadows, under the heading "Shedding the Covers" states:
The covering on the boxes may be removed by anyone with the knowledge, not only the one who has put them in play.
Page 17, third paragraph down, states:
If not, however, in the hours of darkness, but in the hours of the sun, covering may be removed from the second box in the following manner. Hold the box where the sun may touch it, and face north. If there be clouds, hold the box where the sun would touch it if they were not present, but face west. Turn the box that the small end with the blue stone may face the quadrant with the sun. The yellow stone is to face up. With the second finger of the right hand on the yellow stone in the center of the top, place the thumb of the right hand on the clear stone in the corner of the bottom. Place the first finger of the left hand on the blue stone on the side facing away, the thumb of the left hand on the ruby stone of the side closest. Clear your mind of all thought, and in its place, put nothing but the image of white with a square of black in its center. Pull the two hands apart, taking the covering away with them.
In the Legend of the Seeker episode "Sanctuary" the book said:
To vanquish the master of all, the Seeker must wield the power of Orden.
In the Legend of the Seeker episode "Fever" the book said:
Like wind over a field of grass, all blades bend to Orden, for the one who wields the magic bends the will of all to the will of one. Orden is a voracious wolf, its strength rivaled only by its insatiable appetite. Only one power can touch the beast's heart and tame it.
Richard and Zedd interpret these lines to mean that the only way to possess the power of Orden without being corrupted and controlled by it is through a simultaneous Confessor's touch.
One true, four false and one original
- “From what Kahlan had pieced together from bits and pieces she'd overheard, there was the original of The Book of Counted Shadows, one true copy, and four false copies”
- ―Confessor: Chapter 28, page 299
The wizards of old had four copies of The Book of Counted Shadows created, referring to the original as the 'key' to Orden's power. The books were located at the following locations (in :
- Wizard's Keep - The copy that Richard memorized.
- The Catacombs under the Wizard's Keep -
- Palace of the Prophets - The copy that Jagang stole using wizards at the Palace to breach the catacombs.
- People's Palace - The copy that Jagang's Sisters of the Dark found in the catacombs beneath the People's Palace.
- The Graveyard in Caska - The copy that Jagang found under the grave marked 'Richard Rachl'.
- Bandakar - The original found under the grave marked 'Nathan Rahl' inside a containment field.
Near the end of Confessor, Richard realizes that the book was merely a ruse in order to protect the true key of the Boxes of Orden—the Sword of Truth. It dawned to him when he studied the facts about the boxes' creation, and the first Confessor. The boxes of Orden and the Book of Life were made before the great war. The very mention of the word Confessor in the beginning makes the book a false key; Confessors had been created during the great war, so the true key could not possibly mention them when they hadn't existed yet.