Terry Goodkind wrote a good first novel. As with most first fantasy novels, it is intended to be able to be read on its own, while leaving the opportunity for sequels. Well, he got the chance to write his sequels, but he mostly squanders the momentum he had from his first book. It meanders, fails to develop the characters significantly, and introduces "Oh shoot, did I kill off the last bad guy, who I represented as the ultimate personification of evil? Just kidding, this new bad guy is way worse, wink wink."
This book starts what will become a pattern in the series: Goodkind starts nakedly ripping off other fantasy series in comically inept fashion. Stone of Tears? How about the Stone of Tear, an important fortress from Robert Jordan where the protagonist grows into his power. Or the Sword of Truth? No relation to Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara, whose eponymous artifact is sometimes called the sword of truth. Yikes. Even if Goodkind didn't intend this rehashing (which seems dubious), his editors or SOMEBODY at his publisher should have pointed out the painfully obvious. Avoid this book, and avoid this series.