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In Wizards First Rule, Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander learns that Darken Rahl has put the Boxes of Orden into play. However, he only has two boxes and lacks the Book of Counted Shadows that is necessary to open them. Zedd then asks a rather poignant question:

“What sort of fool would put the boxes of Orden in play before he had all three, and the book?”

His mother’s features sharpened into a look of ice. “A very dangerous one. He travels the underworld.”

Unfortunately, his mother's response doesn't really answer the question (and traveling the underworld seems unrelated). Zedd explains earlier that not using one of the boxes after a year would be fatal:

Once a person has at least one of the boxes, the magic of Orden can be put in play. If the person who puts them in play fails to acquire all three, and to open one within the allotted time, he forfeits his life to the magic. There is no going back. Darken Rahl must open one of the boxes, or die. On the first day of winter, his year is up.

Thus it seems unnecessarily risky to put them into play when you don't have them all, or the book that tells you how to use them.

Later in the series, in Phantom, the Sisters of the Dark also put the Boxes of Orden in play at Emperor Jagang's request, but they too were missing a third box. It didn't seem to take very long for them to put them into play, so it is similarly unclear why they decided to take what seems to be an unnecessary risk of not using them after a year or they die.

So why did Darken Rahl (and later the Sisters of the Dark) put the Boxes of Orden in play before having them all?

  • He was both arrogant and obsessed, so I don't think it an unrealistic decision. – Harry Johnston Dec 2 '15 at 9:03
  • What happens if the third box and book aren't put into play? It's been forever since I read the books. I could definitely see some sort of gambit counting on if the world will be destroyed if you don't have all three boxes the heroes will get you the third box to preserve the world. – Robert Wertz Dec 2 '15 at 17:25
  • @RobertWertz You die if you don't use them within a year. I've updated the question to include that. While a gambit that you describe might be worthwhile, it wasn't the situation in the book. In fact, Darken Rahl was in complete control of D'Hara and the Midlands when he put them into play. – Thunderforge Dec 3 '15 at 5:10
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The answer to this question can be found in the latest book Warheart. At least, I believe the information gives us an answer as to why it happened as it did. The full explanation spans an entire chapter, but I will summarize some key bits of information from the book.

Warheart, Chapter 29, page 209: "Hannis Arc is the one who gave Darken Rahl the last box of Orden." Khalan said, trying to keep track of it all in her head. "You mean he did it that to help start this prophecy to unfold? The prophecy he plays a central part in and that he would benefit from?"

[Richard replied] "Exactly. he has been moving the pieces around like pieces on a chessboard in order to bring about the events the scrolls talk about. Its as if he sees prophecy of himself doing these things, and then does them to make the prophecy reality.

"He wanted to open this gateway through this spectral fold, because he needed Sulachan's help to conquer the world of life, so he put the boxes in play by giving the third box of Orden to Darken Rahl He was making moves that would have repercussions later on, all down the line. He knew from the scrolls that giving Darken Rahl the last box he needed to put them in play would trigger events in prophecy. Unlike us, he knew from the scrolls what the power of Orden really was.

"Hannis Arc was moving a pawn, knowing from prophecy that if the boxes were in play, I would defeat Darken Rahl and therefore go on to become the Lord Rahl leading the D'Harian Empire that would then be drawn into the war against the Imperial Order.

"He knew that I would use the power of Orden to end the war with the Imperial Order, which is a part of the larger great war that Sulachan started so long ago. After all, Sulachan created the dream walkers. Emperor Jagang was a descendant of those dream walkers created by Sulachan so that he would start the war that I would end by using the power of Orden that Hannis Arc would then use, once the star shift weakened the veil, to bring Sulachan back from the dead."

Kahlan pressed her hands to her head. "Dear spirits. And they were using this knowledge of the use of Orden all along?"

Richard nodded. "Hannis Arc had already moved that pawn long ago by giving the box to Darken Rahl to begin the chain of events that would eventually get me to use Orden's power, because he didnt have the key to it, but the scrolls said I would, which would in turn get him what he was ultimately after: to be the ruler of the world of life."

So basically, what this is telling us is that Hannis Arc orchestrated this all, to fullfill his ultimate goal. Darken Rahl set the boxes in play "early" because he was destined to, is the simple answer. The more complicated answer may not be able to be found exactly, but his character and need for power are most likely what drove him to put the boxes into play "early".

It even goes a tad further than this.

Warheart Chapter 29 pg 215 Richard Rahl : "...Sulachan sent the prophecy to this world, through prophets in this world, so that they would write it in the scrolls, so that Hannis Arc would read it and initiate it all by putting the boxes of Orden in play. It is all part of Sulachans grand plan."

So, that means

Sulchan was actually the reason for everything, including the boxes of Orden being put into play. Darken Rahl was really just a tool, he was the key to "activating" Richard since Richard has the key to the boxes of Orden.

We could even take this a step further, in effort to try and answer the real question as directly as possible. Darken Rahl traveled the underworld, as your quote points out.

Sulachan was the king of the underworld as he was called in the book, and had his hands in everything in the underworld

So its quite possible he even influenced Darken Rahl to use the boxes "early" or at just the right time, to make the events happen as they needed to.

Though there is no direct evidence of them meeting or talking, Sulachan influenced all of prophecy from the underworld through spirits and Darken Rahl interacted with alot of spirits, so any information or actions Darken Rahl took because he "got information from the underworld" could be credited back to Sulcahan's manipulation.

But that part is specualtion.

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    Note that you can add quotes in spoiler markup to prevent spoiling plot details (using >! in place of >). "The answer is here, go find it for yourself" isn't tremendously helpful, and spoiler-hidden quotes would make this an excellent answer – Jason Baker Dec 2 '15 at 16:53
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    I wasnt sure of the spolier command, so thanks for that. I dont have the book with me, so when I get home from work I might try to find some relevant passages that I can quote. – Mayshar Dec 2 '15 at 16:59
  • Also, I think the "answer" was almost an entire chapter by itself, the way everything was explained, but Ill see if I can make it a reasonable read to answer this :) – Mayshar Dec 2 '15 at 17:00
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    Unfortuneately, those questions arent answered. Most likely because the decision to make it all tie together was made well after the events actually happened. I think its implied that because Hannis Arc and Sulachan were manipulating things, they would have "suggested" the boxes be put into play or simply knew they would be put into play because prophecy, true prophecy, said they would be if the boxes were given to Darken Rahl. – Mayshar Dec 3 '15 at 14:26
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    You have to keep in mind, Both the Sisters of the Dark and Darken Rahl worked "for" or very closely with the underworld. From the way Warheart explains things, Sulachan basically controlled the underworld and put out whatever information HE wanted. So both Darken Rahl and the Sisters of the Dark were most likely doing what Sulachan wanted, whether by direct suggestion from spirits he was controlling, or simply by prophecy playing out as it was supposed to all along. – Mayshar Dec 3 '15 at 14:29
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Putting the boxes of Orden into play offers the player certain protections.

  • The Sword of Truth can't be used against him.

Zed tells Richard this shortly after naming Richard as the Seeker. (I don't remember if this is specifically because of the magic of Orden, but given that nobody else in the history of ever is protected from the sword, it's very likely because of Orden).

  • It prevents spirits from interfering or divulging information about the locations of the boxes.

This is inferred from the heroes' interaction with the spirits of the Mud People at their first gathering.

  • It also protects Darken (what a ridiculous first name) from being touched by a Confessor's power (though possibly not one in the Con Dar, according to Zed's speculations after the Demmin Nass incident).

Zed informs Richard of this, I believe before they depart his house and after naming Richard the Seeker.

Combine these protections (Zed already can't harm him, Kahlan now can't harm him, and the Sword of Truth now can't harm him) with his knowledge as to the last box's location, and it seems a pretty easy decision. Not to mention that if he screws it up, his soul is forfeit... to the keeper, his BFF. Hardly a losing situation, as evidenced by the entire second book.

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