In Confessor, the final book of the "Sword of Truth" cycle, we find out that

Richard's memorized copy of The Book of Counted Shadows was a fake. In fact, every version of the book was a fake, and the real way to open the boxes of Orden was to have someone capable of turning the Sword of Truth white place it on each box and see which one turns white with the Sword.

Does this mean that any of the ritual described in The Book of Counted Shadows was necessary? I can see things like a journey to the Underworld being necessary because it prepares the person for the task (having won over someone who hates them shows that they don't have hatred themself), but what about all the drawings with sorcerer's sand? Is this necessary, especially given that

All the sorcerer's sand got burned up when Sister Ulicia and the others failed to open the correct box, and thus wasn't around when Richard opened a box himself. And of course, the instructions to use sorcerer's sand, and draw the "necessary" symbols, all came from a book that was ultimately fake.


Nope. Knowing that the entire idea of The Book of Counted Shadows was a lie, from the first sentence, none of it would have been a necessary part of opening the boxes.

The only part that appeared to be relevant was the ritual to enter the Underworld, as Richard needed to retrieve everything that was destroyed by Chainfire to be able to put it back once Orden had removed the spell.

That isn't to say that those other rituals weren't without purpose. After all, that's a whole lot of nonsense ritual to write, and attempting to open the boxes of Orden with them can create a tear in the world. That tear being left open causes lots of bad things to waltz through from the Underworld, which was a large part of the plot of Stone of Tears, the second book in the series. Given that, probably the main purpose of the Book of Counted Shadows, and the rituals, is to slow down and stall (or with luck and lethality, halt) any attempt to actually open the boxes of Orden, as well as give warning (the announcements that the boxes are "in play") to the people that may be able to stop them. All the mucking about with rituals, wizard sand, the Underworld, and all the other spellwork, would allow the wizards of the time to get into position to stop the opening, or failing that, deal with the tear and the open box properly.

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  • Been a while since I've read Confessor, so if there's inaccuracies to point out, go ahead, I'll edit or take down. – Radhil Aug 24 '16 at 17:23
  • Although I can't say I'm happy with the idea that Darken Rahl was never in danger of taking over the world through Orden because the Book of Counted Shadows and everything within is useless, I do think this is the right answer given the information presented in the books. – Thunderforge Aug 25 '16 at 16:27
  • @Thunderforge - Yeah, does kinda rip out the guts of the first story doesn't it? One of the reasons I haven't gone back through these books much. Although I still have a soft spot for Faith of the Fallen. – Radhil Aug 29 '16 at 3:01

I have just finished "The First Confessor" prequel that Goodkind published recently. Spoilers below if you haven't read it:

Merritt is described as the original creator of the Sword of Truth and he created it as a key to opening the boxes of Orden. At the end, they charge Kolo with creating the lore that we knew as the Book of Counted Shadows in order to mask the fact that the Sword of Truth is the real key.

A little bit on-the-nose if you ask me, but Goodkind is about as subtle as a brick under normal circumstances anyways. It felt to me like he wrote that whole book just to answer this question.

Some quotes from "The First Confessor:

Merritt and Magda are talking to Quinn (who Richard knows as Kolo):

Quinn: "...along with the muddled history I create [for the boxes of Orden], [a book] that would further add to the sense of authority of this shadowy book.

Magda: "How about The Book of Counted Shadows."

Quinn: "...I'll also create some historical sources to make it look like the key to the boxes can be found in The Book of Counted Shadows."

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  • Could you maybe include a quote from the book that explains that the Book of Counted Shadows was created as a decoy? – Thunderforge Mar 24 '17 at 6:07

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