The world created by Terry Goodkind in The Sword of Truth series consists of two lands: the New World and the Old World.
The New World is made up of three roughly equal-sized regions: D'Hara in the east, Westland in the west, and the Midlands between the two. These three regions are divided by mountain ranges and, in the time between the series' first novel and its prequel, by magical barriers called the Boundaries as well. Additionally, the Midlands are split by the immense Rang'Shada mountain range.
D'Hara consists of a number of lands that were united under the rule of Panis Rahl, who conquered his neighbours one by one until the entire eastern third of the New World was under his sway. The Midlands is made up of several separate yet distinct lands and Kingdoms while still bowing to the rule of the Council of the Midlands. The Council of the Midlands is made up of ambassadors and representatives from all the Kingdoms of the lands of the New World and was ultimately presided over by the Mother Confessor of the Confessors Order. Westland, which also consists of a number of lands, was created for people of the Midlands who wanted nothing more to do with magic of any kind.
The background history to the series involves an ongoing war fought for many thousands of years over whether or not Wizards should be allowed to rule people or required to serve them. The story's focus is in large part tied to a dramatic attempt to stop the war roughly three thousand years earlier. In an attempt to end the conflict, both sides began constructing towers that derived their power from Wizards' life forces. The Black Towers were invested with the life force of Wizards who were forced to surrender their lives unwillingly, creating exceedingly rare, precious and powerful black sorcerer's sand in the process. The White Towers were invested with the life force of Wizards who gave themselves over willingly by believing that doing so would eventually end the war. Both sides rushed to complete their series of towers first, but neither side was able to complete their line of towers, as any wizard who came close enough to create the last tower was killed by the powerful magics. This created a virtually impenetrable but ultimately incomplete barrier separating the New World and the Old World and ending the war in a stalemate.
The Mud People reside near the boundary separating Westland from the Midlands in The Wilds, a southern area of the Midlands. They are described as being a shorter race of people who wear mud in their hair and often over their bodies. Their society is that of a hunter/gatherer type. They have very stringent ideas about strength and respect. In the outer areas of their land, they show strength and respect by hitting a person in the face - open hand for a woman and closed fist for a man. In the village, they exchange only small slaps to keep order. The Mud People are led by the Council of Elders who are in turn led by the Bird Man, an old, weathered man who can call any bird he chooses with a small whistle he keeps around his neck. The Council and Bird Man make up the group of elders who can call a Gathering- a meeting of their ancestors' spirits - for assistance or advice. In a Gathering, they will cover their naked bodies with mud painted in certain symbols and then rub their chests with a red spirit frog in order to allow the spirits to come to them.
High D'Haran is an ancient language of D'Hara; it is a literary fictional language created by Goodkind. The High D'Haran language does seem to be loosely based on the German language.
Many types of magic exist in The Sword of Truth universe. Additive magic has the power to heal, create, and alter things by adding to or changing what is already there. It can be used as a destructive force as well as a creative one. Subtractive magic derives from the underworld and has the power to eliminate, kill, destroy, or otherwise remove things from existence. When both sides are combined, magic can be used for great good or great destruction. It is explained many times in the series that magic itself is neither good nor evil; it simply exists, for its wielders to use as they wish.
Wizards are split into three categories in the New World: the First Order, Second Order and Third Order, in decreasing order of power. The casting of Wizard's Fire is a common ability of most wizards in The Sword of Truth universe. It is created using additive magic by taking the heat from the air and adding to it and multiplying it. It is sent from the ends of the wizard's fingers to the victim, who disappears into the blue heat until all that remains is a hazy smoke in the air. Wizards of various powers have various levels of Wizard's Fire. The Sword of Truth, the Seeker's weapon, has a defence mechanism created by its makers against Wizard's Fire to protect the Seeker.
Wizard's Life Fire is a variation of Wizard's Fire and is supposedly much stronger. It is created when a wizard puts all of his life force into the Fire to kill himself. It leaves a special sort of ash - the ash is sweet when the Life Fire is created in defense of another, while the ash is bitter when the wizard creates the Life Fire to save himself or to just kill his enemies.
Each novel in The Sword of Truth series contains a Wizard's rule, around which each novel is themed. These rules are a set of guidelines created by wizards to be followed by wizards:
The Creator and the Keeper are almost universally believed in. The Creator is a godlike being and His opposite is The Keeper, who is feared by almost all those who believe in the Creator. One major difference between the Creator and the Keeper is that the Keeper takes an active role in his calling. The Creator never interacts with life or interferes with anyone's beliefs. The Creator's more fervent believers, such as the Blood of the Fold, illustrate the harm that comes from people misguidedly believing they are fighting for a righteous cause, and the exploitive, manipulative power that religious leaders can have over their followers.
The Creator was established to be very similar to the Christian God in many allusions throughout the series. Goodkind implies a certain degree of cynicism in that the Creator is non-involved and is largely open to interpretation due to a lack of modern intervention. When asked by Richard how Verna can know what the Creator wants, she replies that his teachings come from ancient texts. The Sisters of Light insist that the Creator hates lies. Other than service to the Keeper, lies are the only sins directly discussed in the books.
The Keeper serves as the consumer of life; all things that die must enter the underworld, into his realm. He is said to hate all living things, simply because they are alive, and would stop at nothing to break free from the underworld, and kill every living being in existence, and then torture them for eternity. The Keeper's agents, such as the Sisters of the Dark, as well as dark wizards who wish to control a power they were not born with, are incredibly powerful and dangerous, due to the pact they have made with him.
Confessors are an ancient order of women created by wizards to be born with a magical power that enables them to serve the truth and uphold justice in the Midlands. In the The Sword of Truth universe, the Confessors have the highest authority in the Midlands. Their leader is called the Mother Confessor, who controls the council of representatives that rules the Midlands. All Confessors wear black dresses, whereas the Mother Confessor wears a white dress. To also represent their air of authority, Confessors do not cut their hair from birth, as the length of your hair shows your rank of authority. If a Confessor herself attempts to cut her hair, she will suffer immense pain. They are called upon because of their ability to make anyone they touch become devoted to them, willing to do anything including revealing the truth. Yet on top of total command, the victim confessed also fall helplessly in love with the Confessor. Once a Confessor uses her power, it may take her from hours to days to regain it. They also have the ability to dethrone kings or queens who are unjust. Because of this, they are respected, feared and even hated by the people of the Midlands.
There also comes a time in a Confessor's life that if she so chooses, she can select a mate. Confessors usually chose a strong, powerful man to be their mate. Once they have however, a problem arises if the Confessor bears a male child. If the Confessor gives birth to a male, she must command her mate to lay the child on a sacrificing table while he stands on a pole placed on the child's neck, to choke him. This is done because long ago in the Midlands, the people suffered what is referred to as "The Dark Times" where a Confessor failed to kill her son. As male Confessors, unlike females, can regain their power within seconds, the son that was kept alive was tempted by the power he held. With his power, he could claim any woman he wanted and control almost everyone to get what he wanted; he could rule. Eventually, his tyranny was brought to an end, but ever since, male Confessors have been sentenced to death as soon as they are born.
The Mord-Sith are an elite group of women warriors originating from D'Hara. They were created to defend the master of D'Hara, Lord Rahl, from creatures or people with magic. A Mord-Sith has the unique ability to capture others' magic and use it against them. A Mord-Sith is selected from the gentlest and kindest girls in D'Hara and is trained from a young age on three levels. Each time, she must be "broken." The first breaking is a time during which she is tortured to the point of obedience so strong that she would do absolutely anything her master/mistress tells her, without question or hesitation. This part of the training breaks her of her sense of self and personal desires. During the second breaking, she is forced to watch as her teacher slowly and brutally tortures her mother to death. This is to break her of compassion. The third, and arguably the most difficult breaking, is when she is given the instrument of torture and must inflict pain and suffering upon her own father until she finally kills him. When she has completed this task, the Lord Rahl instils in her the magical ability to take the magic of anyone who uses magic against her. Once a magical being uses magic against a Mord-Sith, she can inflict intense pain upon him/her with a thought. He/she has no defence.
Mord-Sith wear their hair in a single, long braid and skin-tight leather outfits. They usually wear brown leather, but when they are training a captive, they wear red, because it hides the blood of their victims better. If a Mord-Sith happens to select a mate, she will don white leather, as a symbol to show that she does not need to use the Agiel to cause blood as the man/woman is broken and is her mate. The leather uniform always has a crescent and a star on it, as the symbol of the Mord-Sith. The only weapon they carry is an Agiel, which has the power to inflict unbearable pain, break bones, or kill with only a touch. An Agiel appears simple. It looks to be a plain rod covered in red leather, about a foot long, and about an inch and a half thick. It inflicts constant pain on anyone who wields it, including the Mord-Sith. Mord-Sith use the same Agiel that was used on them in their training. The power of the Agiel stems from the bond of all D'Harans to the Lord Rahl. Without the bond, the Agiel is useless. In addition to her Agiel, a Mord-Sith may wear armoured gloves with spikes on the back when training a captive.
The Seeker of Truth is a post created by the wizards to help bring about and maintain justice. For a time, the post of Seeker was used as a political appointment by the rulers of the Midlands, eventually causing the First Wizard to abandon the Ruling Council and steal the sword from its then current wielder, Samuel. A true Seeker may only be appointed by a wizard. The Seeker's weapon is the Sword of Truth, which is imbued with magical properties including, but not limited to, additive and subtractive powers. It absorbs the memories and knowledge aspects of those who have used it previously, and endows the true Seeker with the ability to draw on the memories of past users of the sword in order to enhance and aid him/her. It has the ability to cut through anything considered a threat, including iron and steel, and other materials that can generally not be cut with a sword. Conversely it will not work or harm anyone or anything not considered a danger. Thus the Seeker must trust to his own judgement of people as the sword defers to him to decide who is evil and who is innocent. While wielding The Sword of Truth one must have absolute conviction or its magic will not work. The Sword also instils and amplifies great anger and rage thereby giving the one wielding it added strength, agility and conviction, turning the blade of the sword red. The power of the sword is fuelled and driven by the Seeker's own righteous rage. However, there is also another side to the sword that comes from love and forgiveness, which allows a true Seeker to turn the blade white and kill even those whom the Seeker believes to be innocent.