In the series, there is a set of rules or guidelines called Wizard's Rules. In each of the books, a new rule is introduced. The books' plots somewhat revolves around these rules (although most of the rules come into play in each book). As of December 2013, there are twelve rules total.
Of the sixteen books, four do not include a Wizard's Rule listed on this page:
- Debt of Bones (1998 prequel to Wizard's First Rule)
- The Law of Nines (2009 far future sequel to Third Kingdom)
- The First Confessor (2012 prequel to Debt of Bones)
- The Third Kingdom (2013 sequel to Omen Machine)
In abbreviation, the twelve rules and the books they originate from are roughly:
- People believe lies due to desire or fear (Wizard's First Rule)
- Harm can result from good intention (Stone of Tears)
- Passion rules reason (Blood of the Fold)
- Magic is in received and given forgiveness (Temple of the Winds)
- Mind actions over words (Soul of the Fire)
- Only allow reason to rule you (Faith of the Fallen)
- Life is in the future (Pillars of Creation)
- Deserve victory (Naked Empire)
- Contradictions don't exist (Chainfire)
- Ignoring truth is betraying yourself (Phantom)
- Seek truth through yourself (Confessor)
- Truth cannot be destroyed (Omen Machine)
In the sections below which explain them in more detail, all pages given are from the U.S. hardcover editions unless otherwise stated.
Wizard's First Rule
Given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they're afraid it might be true. People's heads are full of knowledge, facts and beliefs, and most of it is false, yet they think it all true. People are stupid; they can only rarely tell the difference between a lie and the truth, and yet they are confident they can, and so are all the easier to fool.
In the book, Zedd instructs Richard on this rule.
Wizard's Second Rule
Kindness and good intentions can be an insidious path to destruction. Sometimes doing what seems right is wrong, and can cause harm. The only counter to it is knowledge, wisdom, forethought, and understanding the First Rule. Even then, that is not always enough.
In the book, Nathan instructs Richard on this rule.
Wizard's Third Rule
Letting your emotions control your reason may cause trouble for yourself and those around you.
In the book, Koloblicin ("Kolo") instructs Richard on this rule, by means of an entry in his journal.
Wizard's Fourth Rule
In the book, the spirit of Kahlan's Mother instructs Richard on this rule. Earlier, Shota relates it to Kahlan.
Wizard's Fifth Rule
No matter what your affiliation is, either friend or foe, you should watch the person's actions instead of the lies that they use to deceive you.
Kolo instructs Richard on this rule, again by means of a journal entry.
Wizard's Sixth Rule
The first law of reason is this: what exists, exists; what is, is; and from this irreducible bedrock principle, all knowledge is built. It is the foundation from which life is embraced.
Thinking is a choice. Wishes and whims are not facts nor are they a means to discover them. Reason is our only way of grasping reality; it is our basic tool of survival. We are free to evade the effort of thinking, to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss that we refuse to see. Faith and feelings are the darkness to reason's light. In rejecting reason, refusing to think, one embraces death. Quoting Zedd: "...most important rule there is...The Sixth Rule is the hub upon which all rules turn. It is not only the most important rule, but the simplest. Nonetheless, it is the one most often ignored and violated, and by far the most despised. It must be wielded in spite of the ceaseless, howling protests of the wicked."
Richard is by this point the embodiment of the rule. Although Zedd explains it to Kahlan, no one has to explain this to Richard.
Wizard's Seventh Rule
The past can teach us, through experience, how to accomplish things in the future, comfort us with cherished memories, and provide the foundation of what has already been accomplished. But only the future holds life. To live in the past is to embrace what is dead. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew. As rational, thinking beings, we must use our intellect, not a blind devotion to what has come before, to make rational choices.
Richard learns the rule as stated in the ancient book (titled The Pillars of Creation, in-universe) sent to him by Nathan and carried to him by Friedrich. He states the rule to Jennsen and Kahlan in particular, but to the 'crowd' (e.g. Kahlan, Jennsen, Cara, Tom, and Friedrich) in general.
Wizard's Eighth Rule
High D'Haran for "Deserve Victory".
"Be justified in your convictions. Be completely committed. Earn what you want and need rather than waiting for others to give you what you desire."
The ancient old war wizard, Kaja-Rang, imparts this lesson to Richard by means of an inscription on the base of the statue guarding Bandakar.
Wizard's Ninth Rule
To believe in a contradiction is to abdicate your belief in the existence of the world around you and the nature of the things in it, to instead embrace any random impulse that strikes your fancy - to imagine something is real simply because you wish it were. A thing is what it is, it is itself. There can be no contradictions.
Faith is a device of self-delusion, a sleight of hand done with words and emotions founded on any irrational notion that can be dreamed up. Faith is the attempt to coerce truth to surrender to whim. In simple terms, it is trying to breathe life into a lie by trying to outshine reality with the beauty of wishes. Faith is the refuge of fools, the ignorant, and the deluded, not of thinking, rational men.
In reality, contradictions cannot exist. To believe in them you must abandon the most important thing you possess: your rational mind. The wager for such a bargain is your life. In such an exchange, you always lose what you have at stake.
Zedd imparts this lesson to Richard, Nicci and Cara when Richard refuses to believe that Kahlan was a myth, all evidence uncovered to that point contradicting his belief.
Wizard's Tenth Rule
The truth is what should motivate your life, not the lies, or you will fall victim to the first rule and if you ignore the truth you're betraying everything that you believe in, because the lie is more convenient to you than reality.
Zedd states this rule to Richard, Shota, Nathan, Ann, Nicci and Cara when discussing Richard's performance against the order to date, the activities of the witch woman Six, and various other 'state of the world matters' during the meeting of the world's most powerful gifted.
Wizard's Eleventh Rule
- “Confessor power. First brought into existence in Magda Searus. The woman who had been married to Baraccus. But she had been married to Baraccus back during the great war, long before she became a Confessor. . . .
- 'Dear spirits,' Richard whispered to himself, icy realization flashing through his veins.
- “Seek the truth not through others, but through yourself.”
The final rule cannot directly be quoted, but using the final book of the series, "Confessor", it can be understood. In Confessor, Richard goes through great struggle to obtain a book left for him by Baraccus, a great wizard from the past. Richard believes this book entitled Secrets to a War Wizard's Power will be a means for him to finally understand how to use his gift and therefore in essence be the solution to major problems. Once he obtains the book however, its pages are blank and his grandfather Zedd informs him that Baraccus left it blank to illustrate the meaning of the rule unwritten.
Using this knowledge Richard reasons that "The Book of Counted Shadows" could not possibly be the key to the Boxes of Orden, and that in fact the Sword of Truth was the only way to harness Orden's power of life itself. Incalculable effort had been put into obtaining the knowledge contained in The Book of Counted Shadows by Jagang and the Sisters of the Dark, and in the past that it was well protected, yet when the Sisters of the Dark finally used it that effort was all for nothing.
As far as the knowledge within the book was concerned, there was 'nothing in it', much like Secrets to a War Wizard's Power. The Sword of Truth, representative of its namesake, was key to life. The secret to Richard's power is that he seeks the truth. In seeking truth he turns a blind eye to corrupt ideas and embraces that which is the essence of life itself. The Sisters of the Dark assumed the truth to be what they had always been told by others and never thought to verify it themselves. The price they paid for such an oversight was their lives. Moreover, the sisters would never have been able to access the power of life even with the sword because they were acting through hate. Richard, on the other hand, intended to use the power to help those he cared about and thus had the ability to harness the power of life. "those who have come here to hate should leave now, for in their hatred they only betray themselves" - translated from The Book of Life. That book too was empty to the sisters because of the path they followed.
One must always seek the truth in life for themselves, rather than simply believing that which they are told without their own rational understanding and justification for that belief. Failure to do so can lead to a life of clinging to empty promises and following trails of false hope. The knowledge gained through seeking the truth, if used for the purposes of good, is the key to enjoying life to its fullest. Those who use the truth for hate however, only betray themselves.
Wizard's Twelfth Rule
While Zedd does confirm that this statement by the Omen Machine is a Wizard's Rule, he does not say which number it is given.