- “This damn sword!”
- ―Richard Rahl[src]
The Sword of Truth is the weapon wielded by the Seeker of Truth. The sword is watched over by the First Wizard when there is no Seeker to wield it. Although it has very powerful magic, the most important thing to remember is that it is only a tool, and does not make the Seeker. The sword has the power to cut through anything that is perceived by the Seeker as the enemy.
- “You see, the key I would create isn't simply coded to the magic of Orden, it is also coded to work with the person using it. It has to be the right person, for the right reasons, or it won't work. The magic can read, not only the key, but the intentions of the one holding the key.”
- ―Merrit, Creator of the Sword of Truth
The concept of the Sword of Truth was first drawn up by the powerful Maker Wizard, Merrit, during the time of the Great War. Merrit sought to create the "key" to the Power of Orden. He researched ancient texts that referenced the "key" and it's creation, as well as the kind of magic it would contain, realizing that this "key" that he would create must be a sword. Merrit also understood the reason why the "key" would need to be a sword. The key is meant to be a way to Protect the Power of Orden from being used or sought after by evil, not just unlock the boxes.
Merrit eventually forged a blade with the word 'Truth' engraved in the hilt. This masterfully crafted sword was only the base catalyst he intended to later infuse with the "constructed magic" it needed to act on its purpose. To do this, he required a seventh-level breach, the rift calculations for which have been sealed away in the Temple of the Winds. Without these calculations, the key could not be completed, yet the Midlands Council insisted the work on its creation continue, resulting in the deaths of several makers caused by the instability of the reaction between Additive and Subtractive magic.
During the work on the key, Merrit came up with the Confessor magic, as a opposing element to the key. Magda Searus came to Merrit to question him about accusations of treachery made against him. Upon hearing him out, Merrit also revealed to her the base blade he made with the word 'Truth' engraved into hilt. Magda then gave that blade a name.
Working together, Merrit and Magda Searus uncoverd treachery within the Wizard's Keep. In the later portion of their investigations, Merrit used his magic transform Magda into the first Confessor which helped to conclude their investigations. Later, they learned that Baraccus had already retrieved the rift calculations needed to forge the key from the temple of the winds and had hidden them, intending them to be found by Magda and Merrit.
Now able to use a seventh-level breach using the rift calculations, Merrit was able to infuse the powerful constructed magic of the "key" into his sword he had made precisely for that purpose. Thus, with the magic of Righteous Wrath, Reasoned Empathy, and ever seeking Truth, was the key finally completed. That key would be bestowed upon those dubbed the Seeker of Truth for the next three thousand years, the first of which was it's creator Merrit, and as named by Magda Searus, the first Mother Confessor, be forever known as the "Sword of Truth".
Magic of the Sword of Truth
- “Righteous anger can be an extraordinary thing to behold.”
- ―Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander[src]
The nature of the sword's magic at heart is Truth, and seeks out that truth. It contains both Additive and Subtractive magic, and in the hands of a true Seeker, it serves as a weapon, a guide to the truth, an instrument of judgement, and a "key" intended to both protect and unlock the Power of Ordin. The sword's two sides of righteous wrath and counter of compassion/empathy are merely one aspect the sword employs as a means to seek out that truth, determining whether or not targets or potential targets are guilty or evil. If the wielder is certain the target is evil or guilty of committing evil, magic of righteous rage fills the seeker and compels the seeker to bring death as judgement upon the target. However, the Sword of Truth cannot harm those the wielder knows to be innocent. Only a true Seeker can use this forgiving, benevolent "good judgement" half (the opposite or 'counter' to the righteous rage) side of magic. This "good judgement" side of the Swords magic, when fully manifested, will turn the Sword of Truth white, indicating that the Seeker's judgement and/or decision that has been made is the right one.
Additive Magic Side
The Sword of Truth's magic is extremely powerful and it's anger works in unison with the wielder's anger, glowing red when anger turns to rage inside the wielder. It's power flows through the Seeker as the magic and rage provides a large boost to it's master in strength, stamina, speed, endurance, and even will power to keep going long after the user would normally be too exhausted to continue fighting. The magic power of the Sword's rage is the main means by which the blade is relentlessly brought to bear upon the enemy, capable of cleaving through grown men and even tree trunks. It has been described as being able to cut through anything, even any metal, and demonstrates this ability countless times in the series. Such is the heart of it's destructive side of the magic of rage. This magic embodies an unwavering desire to bring destruction and death to those judged as evil or guilty of evil. When wielded by a real Seeker of Truth, the magic of rage is tempered, and can be tamed and directed by the Seeker as it's master, and not the other war around.
This magic of rage is so powerful, if not wielded by a true Seeker of Truth, it will slowly eat away at the wielder. The Sword of Truth causes a wielder who kills without releasing their anger the insufferable agony of fully realizing that they destroyed life. Eventually, it will turn the user into a shadow of their former self, warping their mind and even their physical features into out-of-control creatures of destruction, as seen with Samuel.
Dance with Death
As the Seeker wields the Sword of Truth, and carries out the Sword's judgement and desire to cut - to bring death - the Seeker begins to absorb the magical knowledge of the the Dance with Death. The commands to cut stemming from the sword begin to indicate exactly where to cut, and how to continue to cut, in the form of lines, arching and tracing out a pattern that forms the symbol or emblem of the Dance with Death. The emblem of the Dance with Death is a symbol ancient magic that represents the ability to bring death, to deal death, as an end result. It is part of the language of Creation, and as such, wields the very essence of what it means to bring death. The Dance with Death is one of the ingredients of the constructed magic used by Merrit to forge the Sword of Truth. In this way, the sword is a catalyst for the magical, inherently built-in ability to guide the Seeker in dealing death, and bring death, to any and all enemies. A rhythm movement and fighting style begins to form, slowly being perfected, and the final form this fast-cutting, continuously moving, death-bringing style of fighting becomes known to Richard, through the sword, as the Dance with Death. However, the sword can also be turned white should the user gain control of their anger and wield the blade with heart full of love and forgiveness. Only during this state can the sword be used to slay an innocent.
Subtractive Magic Side
Part of the Sword's truth magic is also used to help guide the Seeker toward the right judgement or truth. The balance to the Sword's rage to kill evil is that it cannot harm the innocent. The Sword will come to a complete stop, even if the sword is in full swing with the intent to kill, if it is about to harm those whom the seeker has judged to be good or innocent. This part of the Sword's Subtractive side can also help guide the Seeker toward the right judgement or truth. Since it's magic seeks the truth, it must have the ability to correctly judge that which is good and innocent in people. This Subtractive side of the Swords magic, when fully manifested, will turn the Sword of Truth white, indicating that the Seeker's judgement of good, and/or the merciful decision that has been made is the right one.
Additive & Subtractive
An example of the swords complex magic of morality is shown when Richard is able to turn the sword white with "good judgement" of forgiveness, and yet is still able to use it to kill Denna due to her guilt of evil acts. Denna was a Mord Sith who tortured and killed countless others (making her guilty of evil acts), yet was trained and forced to do so since childhood. She captured Richard and with her Mord Sith power, turned the swords rage magic against Richard when he tried to use it. Learning the truth of how Mord Sith are forged from youth, and knowing Denna felt the guilt of her evil deeds and merely hid that fact, Richard understood her deeds were forced on her, tortured to be made to commit evils she hated, and knew she wished for Richard to kill her. Athough her indoctrination and conditioning prevented her from physically allowing him to do so, Richard was able to surprise her by using forgiveness to turn the Sword of Truth white and negate the Mord Sith's ability to use his magic against him, giving him the opportunity to attack, and he ran her threw with the sword, killing her.
Aspects of the Sword of Truth's Magic
The Additive & Subtractive sides of the sword's magic, rage to slay evil and forgiveness/recognition of innocence, are actually only one aspect of it's magic of Truth. They are the means by which the Seeker can employ a conscious use of the Sword's magic. Truth may be hidden from the Seeker for a time, but it is always perceived by the Sword. It's magic is always aware of and can perceive any truth. As the Seeker's guide to truth, regardless of the odds or intervening attempts to cover it up, the inevitable end and only possible outcome is that the truth will eventually reveal itself to the Seeker, so long as that seeker pursues it, and is alive. However, there is far more to truth than actively pursuing it. Truth exists in reality, regardless of whether it is perceived by others or not.
When a powerful spell called Chainfire was unleashed by several Sisters of the Dark, the magic of that spell weaved it's way through world of life to destroy all memories of Kahlan Amnell, the Mother Confessor, from every single person. Chainfire was designed to completely eradicate the intended target's perceived existence to others. After and during the spell's active state, even if the target is seen by another, the memory of having ever seen her at all is wiped from memory. However, the magic of truth from the Sword of Truth can negate this effect in two ways: preventing the Chainfire affect in the first place by holding the Sword of Truth when the spell is cast, or if already affected, it can prevent further continuous effects from the spell by gripping the hilt.
Richard Rahl was gripping the hilt of the sword when the Chainfire spell was cast on Kahlan, so he was never affected, and his memory of her remained perfectly intact. Even though all memory of her existence in others was being erased, even as Kahlan herself forgot all of who she was, the reality (or Truth) was that Kahlan Amnell indeed still existed. She was not dead, and all of her deeds and actions in life really DID happen, so Richards memory of everything about Kahlan, because it was the truth, was protected while holding the sword. As such, he could 'see' her and retain that memory of seeing her. After rescuing Kahlan and meeting up with Zedd, Chase, and Cara (whose memories of Kahlan, like everyone else, had been destroyed) in Tamurang, Richard had each of them grip the hilt of the Sword of Truth, and they all instantly noticed Kahlan standing beside Richard, and could feel they somehow knew her. Even though their previous memories of her had already been destroyed, the truth of her existence, of having known her before, was revealed by the Sword's magic of Truth, (though details of how/when/what they knew of her were still gone).
The Sword of Truth's magic and it's power of truth is all part of it's purpose as the key to the Boxes of Orden. When held over a box, the blade turns either white or black. By striking the box over which the blade turns white, the wielder can gain the power of Orden. The implication of the prophecies is that the Sword was made for this purpose and, therefore was made for Richard who was prophesied to be the one to unlock the power of Orden.
The true Seeker of Truth, is Richard Rahl. Richard does not need the sword in hand to call upon its power, for the sword's power is just a mirror image of his own.
In addition to be having a perfect, always sharp edge, the sword is unable to be damaged or destroyed by any normal means, as it is still in perfect condition even after thousands of years of use. It is only ever so slightly off-balance, the heavier portion being the blade, but much more balanced than is possible for any other normally crafted longsword to obtain. It's magic enables it to deflect and even reflect powerful magic attacks, and can cut objects of magic, as well as kill creatures of magic or occultism, such as the undead, that otherwise could not be slain by a ordinary weapons.
Known Wielders of the Sword
- Merritt (Creator of the Sword and First Seeker of Truth)
- Magda Searus (Used in defense of Merrit)
- Samuel (Pretend Seeker)
- Richard Rahl
- Kahlan Amnell (Wielded in battle)
- Leo Dane (Temporary Seeker)
Known Possessors of the Sword of Truth
Behind the Scenes
The Sword of Truth has different magical characteristics in the Legend of the Seeker television program than it does in the novels. The program does not describe the sword's magic with as much detail as the books do, but several things have been revealed so far. First, the sword feeds on anger to make its wielder powerful. Second, it allows its wielder to fight with the strength of many men. And third, it can cut through nearly anything. The sword glows red when the Seeker's anger turns to rage.